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Ric visits Chateau La Conseillante

September 20, 2016

Chateau La Conseillante has always been a perennial favourite of mine. Rich, classy, sophisticated and complex, this wine is always reliable and, importantly as well, is still sensibly priced. As such, it was with certain delight that we made the short drive to Pomerol on 17 September 2016 and soon, we were rolling up the long driveway of Chateau La Conseillante which immediately abuts Chateau L’Evangile. We were welcomed by none other than the winemaker herself, Marielle Cazaux who immediately brought us up to speed with the winemaking at this venerated estate.


La Conseillante’s winemaker Ms Marielle Cazaux (right)

La Conseillante, which has been producing wine for more than 140 vintages, is currently owned by the Nicolas family, one of whom is actually a doctor. Marielle wasted no time bringing us straight to the vineyard proper, where all its 12 ha, which are split into 18 sub-plots, are planted with 80% merlot and 20% cabernet franc on soil that is 60% grey clay and 40% sandy gravel. Planting density is cropped at 7000 vines per ha, where the average age of the vines is about 34 years. dsc_8758Like most other estates at this time, the vines of La Conseillante are heavy with ripening merlot that hung low, waiting to be picked. Deciding on the right time to pick is always tricky, and for La Conseillante, workers walk down the vines twice weekly when harvesting is nearing, each time picking about 200 berries for tasting and lab analysis. Indeed, in this third week of September, the merlot already tasted sweet but we were told that the grapes were still not quite ready, the skins still a tad thick and chewy while the pips, still decidedly bitter, have yet to become rounder and sweeter. Nevertheless, the chateau is already prepared for harvesting which will take place within the next couple of weeks, with outdoor tents already set up and its sorting table installed. The juice from each sub-plot will be individually fermented in concrete vats and subsequently aged in 70% new oak for up to 18 months. Fining with egg white is utilized, as is racking every quarterly. About 10% of pressed wine is added to the final blend for additional flavouring, colour and intensity.


Sorting table and fermentation vats of Ch La Conseillante

Thereafter, we adjourned to the tasting room where a half bottle of 2015 Ch La Conseillante was opened for tasting. Of course, this wine is still ageing in barrel, and so what we were tasting isn’t quite the final blend, though it’s close. dsc_8779This wine displays quite an abundance of rose petals, red fruits, strawberries and irises with a trace of earth, its aromas lovely and beguiling, gentle on the palate with good levels of ripeness, acidity, concentration and understated sweetness, finishing with silky tannins. Already very fine at this stage and, like many other wines of 2015 that I have tasted en primer, it should develop very well later in bottle, fulfilling the promise of this much-heralded vintage. I must thank Marielle for her time and to FICOFI for making this trip possible.


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