Four from Château Fleur Haut Gaussens, 2021
Château Fleur Haut Gaussens is located in Vérac on the right bank of the Dordogne, not far from the Fronsac appellation. It has been in the Lhuillier family for four generations, but in times gone by the family were happy selling their wine to local négociants. That is no longer the case today. With a new vision Hervé Lhuillier, the latest generation to take the reins, has set about transforming the estate, even buying up new vineyards, all with highly prized clay-and-limestone soils. Here in the more peripheral corners of the right bank such vineyards can be acquired without breaking the bank because, being outside the St Emilion and Pomerol appellations, they simply don’t have the prestige to command a high price.
The approach in the vineyard is interesting, because while there is a domaine cuvée, and a prestige cuvée which goes by the name of Grand Vin, Hervé has also created two single-variety, single-parcel cuvées featuring Cabernet Franc and Malbec. And in the cellars he has also invested in a new Bucher Vaslin sorting machine. These machines sort by densitometry, differentiating between ripe and unripe berries by whether they float in a sugar solution, the concentration of which can be calibrated depending on the desired degree of ripeness. The concept was first introduced to the region by Tribaie – I recall seeing a Tribaie machine in action with Philippe Bardet at Château Val d’Or during a visit to the region back in 2013. Hervé is the first in the region to invest in one of the more compact Bucher Vaslin versions, and he is certainly not alone; during my many visits in Bordeaux last week I learnt of several other domaines that have followed suit.