Château Gombaude-Guillot, 2013 Update

Sauntering up and down the aisles at the Renaissance des Appellations tasting in Angers, gently elbowing the heaving crowds of French sommeliers out of the way so I could get to the tables and taste some wine, I decided to take a look beyond the numerous Loire domaines which dominated the tasting. It was well worth doing so; the tasting draws in top organic and biodynamic domaines from across France (and a number from further afield as well), which means that along with the likes of Pithon-Paillé, Richard Leroy, Eric Nicolas and Mark Angeli, a dedicated taster (and you do have to be dedicated – there is a lot to do in just two days) can also familiarise themselves with the wines of Pierre Larmandier, Stephane Tissot, Jean-Michel Deiss, Olivier Humbrecht, Antoine Kreydenweiss and many others. As that list suggests Alsace was well represented, with some top names in attendance, but my destination lay elsewhere. I was leaving the Loire momentarily not for Alsace, or even Champagne or the Jura, but for a brief excursion into Bordeaux. I made a beeline for Claire Laval, and the wines of Château Gombaude-Guillot.

Château Gombaude-Guillot

As I have already detailed in my profile of Château Gombaude-Guillot, the domaine is located very close to the church at the centre of the Pomerol appellation, and the vineyards have been managed using biodynamic methods for some time now. Claire Laval (pictured above), who runs the domaine with the help of her husband Dominique Techer, started this process first with a conversion to organic viticulture in 1992, with certification from Ecocert in 1998. It was in 2006 that she introduced biodynamics, and it is my understanding that the domaine has long been fully converted, although even now – writing in mid-2013 – it has yet to be certified. In the cellars there is minimal use of sulphur dioxide, and the winemaking process is generally free of interventions. The wines are somewhat idiosyncratic, having the lighter but pure and crystalline character that you can find in biodynamic and particularly ‘natural’ wines, but perhaps not the texture and depth that you can often find in other wines of Pomerol.

Having located Claire, I saw that she had four vintages lined up, as well as one from a second property that she and Dominique own, Clos Plince.

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