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Château Bourgneuf Pomerol 2007

Château Bourgneuf 2007

I hesitated about looking to Bordeaux, especially right-bank Bordeaux, for my latest Weekend Wine report. I wasn’t sure that somewhere between drinking this wine on Saturday, writing it up on Sunday, and posting my thoughts on Monday, that the domaine wouldn’t have been sold and all my words wouldn’t suddenly require an urgent update. Why? Because during the past week or two Bordeaux, in particular St Emilion, has resembled a game of musical chairs, one in which the minimum stake is your château and its vineyard.

It is rare for a big-name château in Bordeaux to change hands, so to have such a flurry of sales in such a short space of time is noteworthy, especially as one of those properties sold was Château Troplong-Mondot, an estate ranked as premier grand cru classé B in the 2012 St Emilion classification. In truth there have been rumours that the estate was up for sale for a few years now, ever since the premature passing of proprietor Christine Valette from cancer in 2014, leaving her husband in sole charge. Even so it was still a surprise to learn that Xavier Pariente had finally found a buyer. I have met Xavier a few times at the estate; he always seemed very genuine, affable even, and I wish him well with whatever plans he has.

The new owner of Château Troplong-Mondot is SCOR SE, an insurance company, and the new owner of Château Fonroque – also recently sold – is Hubert Gaillard, a Nantais business who also made his money in insurance. The outgoing proprietor Alain Moueix will be staying on as a consultant. Château Berliquet was also sold last week, the buyer being Chanel, which led some to question which this property was about to be absorbed into neighbouring Château Canon, which they acquired in 1996, although personally I think this unlikely.

Château Bourgneuf 2007

And lastly Clos La Madelaine, a tiny estate on the Magdelaine plateau, was sold, the buyers being Etablissements J-P Moueix, who of course own Château Bélair-Monange, itself created from the amalgamation of two properties, Château Belair and Château Magdelaine. I think Clos La Madelaine may well be on borrowed time, much more so than Château Berliquet. We shall see……

Just down the road from St Emilion, Pomerol has not seen quite the same level of wheeling and dealing as its larger neighbour. There have been some significant changes in recent years though, most notably the juggling of names and vineyards by the Moueix family, so that what was once Château Providence, which stands on the top of the Pomerol plateau in the shadow of its church, is now known as Château La Fleur-Pétrus. And what was once known as Château La Fleur-Pétrus, on the far side of Château Lafleur, would seem to have no name at all now. Elsewhere the Fayat family, perhaps best associated with Château La Dominique in St Emilion, have also been shuffling their Pomerol cards in recent years. Having acquired three vineyards, these being the Commanderie de Mazeyres (next to Château Mazeyres), Prieuré de Commanderie and Château Vieux Bourgneuf, these have been unified under the name of Château Fayat.

Which brings us to this weekend’s wine, the 2007 from Château Bourgneuf, a neighbour of the aforementioned Château Vieux Bourgneuf. There is no sale of this property planned, by the way, and the most dramatic change here was the pruning of the name, previously Château Bourgneuf-Vayron. This estate has 9 hectares of vines, the fruit of which has since the 2008 vintage been vinified by Frédérique Vayron. The 2007 Château Bourgneuf has a reassuring depth of red pigment, but with a little maturity around the rim. The nose kicks off with scents of tobacco and cigar box, laced with nuances of smoked black olive, minerals and meat juices. It feels medium bodied on the palate, rather gently textured which I think is the best you can hope for in 2007, with a sweetly grained tannic frame, integrated with the slightly plump substance. This is a wine that feels quite energetic, open and fresh, with lingering notes of green peppercorn and some lightly degraded hedgerow fruit. It is a charming effort for what was a more difficult vintage, and it deserves credit for its reasonably mature fruit profile and for its sense of balance. Nevertheless, this is certainly easy-going and relaxed rather than anything profound. 15.5/20 • 91/100 (7/8/17)

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