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Château Doyac Bordeaux Blanc Le Pélican 2020

Château Doyac Bordeaux Blanc Le Pélican 2020

Having started with the 2020 Le Cygne from Château Fonréaud a few weeks ago, this week I continue with the theme of whites from Bordeaux with another example from even further north on the Médoc peninsula.

Château Doyac Is situated to the north of all the Médoc’s most famed appellations, and sits directly to the west of Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne, so not that far from Château Sociando-Mallet and the vineyards of St Estèphe. The property has ancient origins, and was listed in the first ever edition of Cocks et Féret, in 1850. In 1998 the estate saw the dawn of a new era, when it was purchased by Max de Pourtalès. Originally from the Bordeaux region Max and his wife Astrid gave up glittering careers in international banking and theatre production in order to purchase and revitalise the estate.

The property sits on a series of small clay and gravel hills over a limestone bedrock, with 27 hectares of vines planted for the most part in a single block around the château. The vines are Merlot in the main, this variety accounting for 80% of the red vineyard, the remaining 20% entirely Cabernet Sauvignon. Alongside the red vineyard, however, there is a small 1.5-hectare parcel dedicated purely to Sauvignon Blanc. This is an entirely new project for the estate, Max and Astrid having supervised the planting of these vines in 2016. The decision to establish a white vineyard was contemporaneous with the estate’s conversion to organic and biodynamic viticulture with organic certification coming in 2018, followed by biodynamic certification from Demeter in 2019.

Château Doyac Bordeaux Blanc Le Pélican 2020

The Sauvignon Blanc vines are planted on a clay-limestone soil at a density of 7,000 vines per hectare. The fruit is picked and sorted by hand, pressed at the cellars and the juice allowed to settle. It is then fermented by indigenous yeast in a mix of barrels and amphorae, the temperature regulated to a cool 18°C. The élevage takes place in a combination of 20% amphorae, 40% barrel and 40% oak cuve. The wine is made with consultation from oenologists Eric Boissenot and his colleague Marco Balsimelli.

The choice of name is a good one I think. Named Le Pélican for the bird, which appears on the de Pourtalès coat of arms, it echoes the tradition in the Listrac-Médoc region, where the white wines long been named for local birds.

The 2020 Bordeaux Blanc Le Pélican from Château Doyac is only the second vintage for this new cuvée, from these young vines, and just 6,600 bottles were produced. As already noted it is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, Demeter certified, and sealed with a DIAM 3 closure. In the glass it displays a pale straw hue, and the nose presents layers of peach stone, grapefruit pith and orange peel, with a smoky touch of freshly knapped flint. The palate feels dry and pithy, a bold style, quite robust in its composition, a little rustic even, with pithy fruit and a solid varietal bite. It does soften a little with air though, and it still has the more exotic orange and peach fruit seen on the nose. It concludes with a slightly dusty mineral trace and a touch of white pepper, set in a richly built, pithy although somewhat unfocused finish. The alcohol is 12.6%, with 13% declared on the label, proof I suppose that not everybody rounds down instead of up. It is early days for this cuvée, and this seems to be a decent start to build upon. I look forward to future encounters with subsequent vintages. 86/100 (5/9/22)

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