Château Tour des Gendres Bergerac Cuvée des Conti 2016
I’ve been tasting and drinking a few wines from southwest France recently, from well-known appellations including Bergerac and Jurançon, as well as some which are less commonly encountered, the prime example of which has to be the 2015 Château de Bachen Tursan I enjoyed a few weeks ago. Overall I have been impressed by the diversity and good value that this region offers; it is a long time since I took an in-depth look at the wines from this corner of France, and it seems clear it still has as much to interest us all today as it did when I first explored it, nearly twenty years ago.
Château Tour des Gendres was one of the first domaines in the region I encountered. It is an ancient property, dating back to perhaps the 12th century, and viticulture has long had a presence here. It was only with the arrival of phylloxera at the end of the 19th century that this all came to an end, and when Vincenzo de Conti acquired the estate in 1925 it was operating as a farm rather than a vineyard. This remained the case for many decades, life on the farm essentially unchanged as it was handed down first to his son Primo de Conti, and then to the next generation, Luc de Conti. It was Luc who reinvented the estate, planting the first vines on the property for more than a century, his work beginning in 1984.
The first vintage was therefore in 1986, and since then Luc de Conti and family haven’t looked back. Today the vineyard has been greatly expanded, with a large array of white and red varieties planted. He began trialling organics in 1994, going on to convert the entire vineyard in 2005, not bad for an estate with more than 50 hectares of vines. Today Luc and his team turn out a diverse array of wines, including Gloire de Mon Père, a serious red destined for the cellar which I last drank (far too young, admittedly) when I stayed at the Isle of Eriska Hotel, and he has recently added a pétillant natural sparkling wine to his portfolio.
The Cuvée des Conti is a white Bergerac blend of 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadelle; the rather Bordelais blend reflects the proximity of this more famous region. Here the bunches are destemmed and the juice cold-soaked for 48 hours, after which it is fermented in stainless steel cuves at a cool temperature. The wine ages on its lees for eight months, with a little bâtonnage along the way.
In the glass the 2016 Bergerac Cuvée des Conti from Château Tour des Gendres presents a nose of rich orchard fruits, in particular peach and apricot, scented with acacia and honeysuckle, surely the perfume of the skins coming through. The palate is correspondingly delicious, with a lightly creamed texture, but also a savoury and gripped presence in the mouth, with a touch of phenolic bite, as well as a waxy and grained substance. It is all lifted by the orange zest, peach skin and a flowery perfume that lies within. It has but a modest acidity, and although it adds a welcome tingle to the finish it is the grip that dominates and provides the frame for the fruit. All in all a delicious wine, especially with the added benefit of a couple more years of bottle age, as I have here. The declared alcohol is 13%. 92/100 (30/8/21)