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Château des Graviers 2010

Château des Graviers 2010

Back to Bordeaux this week. I mean ‘back’ in a vicarious fashion obviously, as I’m not quite sure at the moment at what point I will be able to return to Bordeaux in a more corporeal sense. Rumours (which I won’t give air to here) about when the 2019 vintage primeurs might be restaged continue to rumble on, although none of the dates I have seen touted seem realistic to me; I think it will be a while before we can even consider such a thing. And judging by the number of 2019 barrel samples currently being delivered to my address in the UK many of the Bordelais have also realised that it will be a long time before they can reopen their doors to the world’s buyers, traders, critics and journalists.

One problem with the primeurs (and indeed any vintage-focused visit to Bordeaux, including my annual trip to taste the wines after bottling) is that by the time you have done the rounds of all the big-name châteaux it’s time to get back on board the flight home. The rest of Bordeaux, including many cru bourgeois estates, little domaines in Montagne-St-Emilion and Fronsac, the Côtes de Bourg and most of Graves, for example, indeed huge numbers of châteaux, simply never get a look in. This week, in what you might think of as a ‘not from the primeurs‘ report, I cast the spotlight in the direction of one such overlooked estate which I ‘visited’ this weekend, Château des Graviers.

Château des Graviers 2010

Château des Graviers is a family-owned estate in the Margaux appellation, one which is in the hands of Christophe Landry. It is located in Arsac, a commune which sits west of Château Giscours. This is a curious landscape, part vineyard and part forest, the vines and woodland interspersed with pools and ponds which presumably provide the locals with some good fishing. The estate sits on the edge of the town, although its vineyards are scattered more widely, in four main parcels; some of the vines are on Christophe’s doorstep, although others are more distant, near Château Rauzan-Ségla, Château d’Issan, Château du Tertre and Château Monbrison. All in all there are 14 hectares, mostly on deep Quaternary gravels, and the entire domaine is certified organic with Agrocert. In truth Christophe adheres to many biodynamic practices as well, although he has no interest in certification at that level.

He makes only two wines, an occasionally produced super-cuvée named Quintessence, and the wine featured here, his real grand vin. There is no second wine, Christophe preferring to sell off lesser aliquots to local négociants. The 2010 Château des Graviers is a blend dominated by 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remaining 30% mostly Merlot with a small part for Cabernet Franc, although Christophe has also recently planted Carmenère and Petit Verdot. The élevage is mostly traditional, with larger barrels for the Merlot and traditional Bordeaux barrels for the Cabernet Sauvignon. Now ten year’s old this is still a great colour for its age, a finding which appears to be a feature of the vintage at this stage, as many of the 2010s I have tasted over the last few months show this. It has a nose of perfumed blackberry and blackcurrant, with nuances of rose petal, charcoal and pepper, with a chalk dust freshness. Cool and fresh on the palate, nicely polished, with a lightly grained backbone of tannin and a medium-bodied substance, yet it is still brimming with vigour. Grained, with a long grip, this still feels appropriately youthful, and it should develop nicely over at least another decade with ease. 92/100 (20/4/20)

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