Day One, the Final Stop: Chateau Pontet Canet

Chateau Pontet Canet is the only certified biodynamic winery of the classified Bordeaux estates in the Medoc and is located right next to Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac.  This was another estate that many people talked about during our trip due to the incredible amount of strict work being done to be certified biodynamic.  The quality of the wines being produced at Pontet Canet has increased dramatically starting with the 2000 vintage.  This is a direct result of all the hard work that is being done in the vineyards and the improvements throughout the whole winemaking process.

The main estate.
The main estate.
Another great view.
Another great view.
The newer buildings of the estate.
The newer buildings of the estate.

Pontet Canet is producing wines that often compete directly with the First Growth Chateaux, like it’s neighbor Chateau Mouton Rothschild, but their wines sell for a fraction of the price.  In my opinion, Chateau Pontet Canet has been a shining star in Pauillac over the last decade.

The vineyards.
The vineyards.

Our tour guide, Daniel, did a great job and was very knowledgeable, explaining Pontet Canet’s philosophies of innovation and experimentation in winemaking.  The estate uses large wooden vats for the fermentation process and then aging in French oak barrels.

The wooden vat room felt very rustic.
The wooden vat room felt very rustic.
The barrel room.
The barrel room.

Starting with the 2012 vintage, Pontet Canet has started to use clay amphoras for the aging of their wine, which look like upside down elongated eggs with the pointed ends at the bottom.  Chateau Pontet Canet’s owner, Alfred Tesseron, wanted the amphoras to be as neutral as possible to the wine to bring out greater fruit expression, so he had the clay from which the amphoras were made excavated directly from the estate’s property.  Therefore, the wine is aging in the exact same clay that the estate vines are planted in.  The reason for the amphora shape (upside down egg) was to make it so the lees would settle down to the bottom in the pointed end and have less wine volume in contact with the lees.

The amphoras made from the same clay the vines are grown in.
The amphoras are made from the same clay the vines are grown in.

We tasted a 2007 – here are my notes:

2007 Chateau Pontet Canet – Floral nose with red/black fruit.  Semi-sweet ripe black fruit with red pie cherries.  There is a good dose of acid, a little minerality and some wood, with slightly dry tannins.  Primary slightly monolithic fruit finish of medium length at present, with the tannins kicking in again on the final note.  This is a nice wine that will get better with more time in the bottle.

The estate was very picturesque.  Wishing this photo turned out a little better.
The estate was beautiful- too bad we didn’t have quite the right lighting.  But you get the picture!
Christina chatting with Daniel, the tour guide.
Christina chatting with Daniel, the tour guide.

In the interest of not dragging this first (!) day out any longer – here’s a quick photo or two from our dinner that night at a restaurant called Le Saint- Julien.  We loved the ambiance.  Can you have too much foie gras in one day?  Our conclusion – no way!

The restaurant St. Julien.
The wonderful restaurant Le Saint-Julien.
Another foie preparation.
Another foie preparation – this time a terrine typical of the region.

Stay tuned for Day Two!

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!