Château Pontet-Canet, 2021 Update
It is difficult to think of a feel-good comment to make about the wines made at Château Pontet-Canet during the 1970s, the decade when the property was acquired by Guy Tesseron. When you consider the vineyard’s position this is nothing short of criminal. The property is located just outside the village of Le Pouyalet, in the Pauillac appellation, on Terrace 4, the main gravel terrace dominating the Médoc. One of Bordeaux’s most significant terroirs, Terrace 4 is home to a huge number of classed growths and is renowned for high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon, with several of the Tesseron family’s neighbours, not least Château Mouton-Rothschild right next-door, showing us how it should be done.
Under Guy and then his son Alfred Tesseron (pictured below), who wrested control from his father during the 1990s, the property rose to claim its rightful place near the top of the Pauillac hierarchy. Much of the work I have already described in my profile of Château Pontet-Canet and in this vertical tasting of the wines of Château Pontet-Canet I attended more than a handful of years ago. For that reason I won’t list every change Guy made here, but he started with an illicit green harvest conducted while his father was away for a few days, and ended with full-blown conversion of the 80-hectare vineyard to biodynamic methods, the exclusive use of horses to work the soils, bespoke amphoras for ageing and the construction of new electricity-free sorting, destemming and vinification facilities devoid of all the bad vibes that apparently come from Faraday’s great discovery.
What has been achieved has not been down to Alfred Tesseron in isolation. He deserves credit for having the courage to follow a new path, but much of his route was mapped out by his long-time right-hand man, technical director and biodynamic guru Jean-Michel Comme. And along the way they were assisted by Alfred’s niece, Melanie Tesseron, who seemed on many levels to be the new face of Château Pontet-Canet and who for a while looked set to eventually take over the running of the property. The future of the estate seemed secure…..