Recently our Senior Wine Advisor Sarah Jane-Tweed visited Bordeaux, a haven for good-quality prestigious wine. Over the last three weeks she has taken us all along with her on her journey, from chateau to chateau, vineyard to vineyard. In the final segment we visit Chateau Guibeau and Puisseguin St-Emilion.
It is a gorgeous day on the way to St-Emilion and the weather has shot up to 28 degrees, which gives some hope for the grape ripening over the next two weeks. We arrive at the beautiful Chateau Guibeau in the village of Puisseguin to warm smiles from Brigitte and Eric, who run the winery. As with Nicola, this vineyard is certified organic and of the 41 hectares here, 33.5 are of Puisseguin St-Emilion and 7.5 in Castillon-Cotes de Bordeaux. The latter vines we can see on the other side of the road.
The major grape on the right bank is Merlot and their Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon vines are located at one of the highest points in Bordeaux. We have the chance to try the Puisseguin St-Emilion 2009, and there is such vibrant fruit on the palate. The Merlot is full of supple fruit, and the Cabernet adds a firm yet silky structure. This is a classic St-Emilion with a modern style.
Throughout the vineyard continues this seamless crossover of the old and new, still manually ‘punching the cap’, (increasing contact of the skins and juice) whilst also keeping the optimum temperature in their tanks by means of thermo-regulation.
So behind the Chateau, what you find are winemakers that are dedicated to their craft from their root to tip, like the vines themselves. They are in tune with the elements, nature, the individual needs of their vines and the harmony they are trying to achieve when finally blending their grapes. Some of the winemakers we met had named their day of vintage as 14th but this was brought forward after a decline in the weather and the vineyards have had to work quickly with the grapes before rot has set in. Therefore, there is constant battle between what the winemakers here can control and what they can’t. The state of wine is in constant evolution, as indeed the winemaker, where their ongoing maintenance and attention of the vines is combined with balancing old and new techniques and adapting to the seasons and weather. You also see behind the eyes of these winemakers their ancestors that are deeply embedded in driving them on to produce wines of a quality that generations to come will aspire to.