A Harvest Visit to Château du Val d’Or, 2012

My harvest-time trip to Bordeaux was turning out to be informative, even if my tastings – whether of fruit or of unfermented juice – did not instil a great sense of confidence in the 2012 vintage. In previous instalments of this informal and loosely held together series of reports I have described tasting the fruit alongside Frédéric Massie, a Derenoncourt consultant, in the Médoc appellation at Château Preuillac, and I also recounted my tasting of the first Merlot juices in the Haut-Médoc appellation, during a harvest visit to Sociando-Mallet. A visit to Château Brown did instil some hope, as although the reds were at the time not harvested, the barely fermented white wines were brimming with character and mouth-watering acidity. Now, though, it was time to leave Bordeaux’s left bank behind and head over to the right bank, in particular to St Emilion, and to Château du Val d’Or.

Château du Val d'Or, October 2012

Château du Val d’Or is an estate I have visited once before, many years ago now, although I never got around to adding a full profile to the site. That is a mistake I will rectify very soon though, and so in this report I will restrict myself solely to reporting in the harvest activities. But, to set the scene, we should at least consider the location of the estate, which sits on the bank of a sweeping bend in the Dordogne. On my most recent visit the waters of the Dordogne were high, swirled brown with mud and sediment, and they were carrying along a lot of debris, branches, leaves, twigs and other flotsam (and the occasional hardy kayaker), the result of recent heavy rain further upstream.

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