Day Two, Stop Two: Chateau Lascombes

Chateau Lascombes is a beautiful, old, ivy-covered stone Chateau, but it is not one of the most widely known Chateau from the Margaux region.  Under new ownership in 2001, Chateau Lascombes changed how they were doing things in the vineyards and in the cellar.  They have made big improvements in their winemaking, especially since the 2004 vintage, which I think was their breakout year.  Lascombes was recently sold again in 2011, and currently employs Michel Rolland as a winemaking consultant.

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Christina and Bob Watt at Chateau Lascombes.

As explained by our tour guide, Benedicte, Chateau Lascombes is mixing both traditional and modern techniques in their winemaking, using large wooden vats as well as stainless steel, the use of dry ice in the fermentation process and gravity fed blending.  The Chateau uses a very modern looking Oxoline barrel racking system, where the barrels can be rotated in place.  The long Chai (barrel room) is very modern looking with its space age blue lighting.

Christina and Benedicte, our tour guide, in the Chai room with it's distinctive blue lights.
Christina and Benedicte, our tour guide, in the Chai room with it’s distinctive blue lights.

The wines that we tasted at Chateau Lascombes were the second label wine Chevalier de Lascombes from the 2007 vintage and grand vin 2002 Chateau Lascombes.

2007 Chevalier de Lascombes – Nice simple red fruit, very approachable, with good acid and a slight bit of tannin on the medium length finish.

2002 Chateau Lascombes – Darker, ripe black fruit with more complexity, good acidity and some tannin kicking in on the medium-long dark fruit filled finish.  This is a nice wine for the vintage, which was highly variable depending on the region and Chateau.

Chateau Lascombes is what I would classify as a more modern producer (in Bordeaux terms) for the region.  The wines tend to be a little more ripe compared to some in Bordeaux, but are not quite as ripe as what you get from California or Washington.  The wines of Chateau Lascombes are a little more approachable in a shorter time period than some of the other more traditionally-styled Bordeaux wines.

Our tour guide was very charming, and we learned that she had recently completed her degree in wine tourism.  Quite a few of our guides in Bordeaux had studied wine tourism and you could see from talking with them that they were very excited to bring more tourism to the Bordeaux region in general.  What surprised us was the actual lack of tourists in the Bordeaux region during crush time, as compared to say, Napa Valley in California which would be crawling with tourists during harvest.

Ironically, wine tourism in Bordeaux reminds me of wine tourism in the up and coming Walla Walla, Washington region at home. From what we could see, tourism is still just very young in Bordeaux.  Some Chateaux told us that they had actually only opened their doors to the public just two years prior, and most said that they began to be open to more than just the press and trade between five to eight years ago.   Though Bordeaux’s tourism business is still in the building stages, they seem committed to throwing the doors wide open, and we certainly experienced a very warm welcome.

Bordeaux Bound

Next week, my wife and I head to Bordeaux, sans children – for a highly-anticipated trip of wine tasting (a big thank you to my in-laws for staying with our kids!).

Although those in the industry would call our tour a “death march,” we’re quite excited by the itinerary we have lined up.  The extraordinary team at Bordeaux Saveurs has helped us put together this remarkable tour, complete with a few cooking classes on estates, as well as numerous great meals.

Over roughly two weeks, we will visit:

  • Chateau Phelan Segur
  • Chateau Cos d’Estournel
  • Chateau Pontet Canet
  • Chateau Leoville Barton
  • Chateau Lascombes
  • Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  • Chateau Lynch Bages
  • Chateau Haut Brion
  • Chateau Pape Clement
  • Domaine de Chevalier
  • Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron
  • Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
  • Chateau Palmer
  • Chateau Suduiraut
  • Chateau Y’Qeum
  • Chateau Guiraud
  • Chateau Haut Bailly
  • Chateau Smith Haut Lafite
  • Chateau Troplong Mondot
  • Chateau Angelus
  • Chateau Figeac
  • Chateau Soutard

We will stay at the Cordeillan Bages hotel for the first part of the trip, then in a private apartment in Bordeaux proper over the weekend, and finish out our stay at les Sources de Caudalie, which friends tell us is heavenly.  A big thanks to dear friend and awesome travel agent Kelly Bonewitz at Woodside Travel for her assistance pulling things together – we can’t wait to give a full report on our adventure!

Speaking of which, we have never blogged remotely before, so we’ll have to see how it goes.  Given how much we’ve packed in, the updates will probably happen once we return, jet-lagged and happy…and dreaming of our return!