Château Peyredon Lagravette Chardonneret 2018
Château Peyredon Lagravette is located in the little-known village of Médrac, on the Médoc peninsula, squeezed between the Moulis-en-Médoc and Listrac-Médoc appellations. At first glance it offers us nothing out of the ordinary. The vines are rooted in the gravelly soils which typify this region, also taken advantage of by nearby Château Poujeaux and Château Chasse-Spleen, along with a handful of other familiar names. The planting leans towards Merlot, which accounts for about 6 hectares, with 4 hectares dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon, the resulting blend sold under the Haut-Médoc appellation.
But that isn’t the whole story here. Because alongside this red cuvée, there is also a white.
That the proprietors Laurence and Stéphane Dupuch – who purchased the property back in 2009 – are producing a white as well as a red should not surprise us, as there is a long history of making dry whites in this corner of Bordeaux. It is not just a recent fad. Indeed, some of their neighbours have been making a white since the latter years of the 19th century. The wines were highly regarded; the authors of the 1922 Cocks et Féret heaped praise on them, particularly that from Château Clarke, which even at this time had 10 hectares of white vines.
The first time I encountered the white from this estate, named Chardonneret, I had it pegged as an idiosyncratic Bordeaux Chardonnay, of which there are a handful of examples in existence (from Château Grâce Dieu des Prieurs and Clos Dubreuil). It is not just the name, but the Burgundy style of bottle which had me fooled. In truth it is a much more traditional blend featuring three of Bordeaux’s authorised white varieties, Sauvignon Blanc, its old friend Semillon, with Sauvignon Gris bringing up the rear. As it turns out chardonneret is not hinting at Chardonnay, but is the French name for the European goldfinch. I guess the image on the label should have given me a clue.
The fruit for this cuvée comes from a very small parcel of vines, and production is thus very limited, to just a few thousand bottles. The grapes are picked by hand into small trays, pressed cold and the liberated juice is fermented in a handful of 400-litre French oak barrels. Once done the wine is then aged for six months, but in amphora rather than in barrel, which I am sure has some impact on the palate’s rather strict style. Once released from behind the wax-sealed cork (wax haters should perhaps move on), the 2018 Chardonneret from Château Peyredon Lagravette displays a pale straw-coloured hue in the glass. The nose opens with some intriguing aromas, always subtle, with hints of citrus pith bitterness, especially lemon peel, alongside sage, chamomile and touches of smoky, freshly knapped flint. It suggests tension, and indeed this is the direction the palate takes with a very delineated form, filled with smoked citrus zest and hints of orange oil. This comes set within a supple substance, lean, sinewy and tightly defined, surely related to élevage in amphora rather than wood, all underpinned by a bitter grip which does have some appeal. It also has an attractive vein of acidity, a welcome finding in white in this vintage. So it turns out first impressions can be wrong, as in this wine we certainly have something out of the ordinary. The declared alcohol is 12.5%. 88/100 (21/3/22)
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