Thursday, 29 October 2009

Chateau Troplong Mondot

This is one of the slightly more bizarre named Chateau in Bordeaux. The property is in the tiny hamlet of Mondot just to the south east of the village of Saint Emilion. The vineyards belonged to the Abbe Raymond de Seze in the 17th Century and the size of the vineyard area (33 hectares) has not greatly changed in the last 300 years. Raymond Troplong,owned the Chateau from 1850 and his nephew and succesor at the Chateau Edouard Troplong added the name Troplong to the estate before he sold it.
The Valette family bought the estate in 1936. Alexandre Valette was a Parisian wine merchant who already owned Chateau La France in Fronsac and he later bought Chateau Pavie very close by in Saint Emilion.
The most notable point is that the vineyards are the highest vines of the Saint Emilion area (over 100 metres above sea level)...there is a large water tower next to the Chateau(hidden by the trees in the pic) which is a bit of a landmark. Also the size of the property is significant when many of the Right Bank Chateaux are less than 10 hectares.
The Chateau is currently operated by the delightful Christine Valette and her husband Xavier Pariente.
I wanted to visit the Chateau as the wines have recently been elevated from Grand Cru Classe to Premier Grand Cru Classe status in the controversial 2006 re classification of the Saint Emilion AOC system. Also the prices for Troplong Mondot wines have leapt upwards recently on the back of some extremely high Parker notes.
The impressive barrel store.

I was met by the elegant Stephanie Libreau who gave me a guided tour of the estate. The harvest was in full swing and the gypsies seemed to be all over the place. I noticed some of these grapes ready to be sorted. You can see the slight damage and inconsistency of ripening in these tubs in the picture below. These are actually grapes from a block of vines that was effected by a hailstorm during the early summer. The estate was very lucky as only 20% of the grapes were effected. Essentially a cold funnel of air rose up from the river Dordogne and dropped some large hail stones mainly on the neigbouring property. Hail is a nightmare for a vigneron, but it can be very isolated.
Some slightly iffy grapes.
The resultant wine from these grapes will not go in to the main Chateau wine, but their second label which is called Mondot. The normal production is 60-90,000 bottles of the 1st wine and 10-30,000 bottles of the 2nd wine.
The 33 hectares are planted mainly with Merlot (90%) with Cabernet Franc (5%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%).
After a tour of the vines and the winery I tasted the following:

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2007, Premier Grand Cru Classe Saint Emilion
Excellent dark concentration of deep spicy autumn fruits. A note of dark chocolate and mocha intensity. Very tight and ripe tannins with an elegant finish. A good wine for the 2007 vintage.

Mondot 2004
This was a slightly hollow and aggressive style. The Cabernet character and harshness did not seem to be nearly as harmonious as the main wine. It was robust drinking!

I was then invited to lunch with Christine Valette and Xavier Pariente. It was a great fun harvest lunch with the many gypsy families who pick the grapes. It was a fun and informal lunch and we opened a couple of interesting wines:

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2001, Grand Cru Classe Saint Emilion
Again a very concentrated rich style. Not showing massive ageing at the rim. Power packed and silky smooth tannin/fruit balance.

Chateau Troplong Mondot 1995, Grand Cru Classe Saint Emilion
Showing major development in colour and very mature meaty secondary fruit aromas. Less powerful than the 2007 or 2001 in alcohol and punch. Tannins smooth but not in the same league as the other two.

Overall it was a fascinating visit and enhanced by Madame Valette's hospitailty to invite me to lunch!
The more recent wines were excellent. They certainly have the 'stamp' of their consultant winemaker Michel Rolland. Powerful, full on wines with quite high alcohols but very smooth tannins. Certainly a Chateau to follow.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Bordeaux 2009

It looks like the Bordeaux grape harvest for the 2009 vintage could be rather special. This follows a good 2008 harvest and an exceptional 2005.
This information from the CIVB gives general background detail for the 2009 weather pattern and the sunshine, temperature and rainfall. The only anomaly seems to be the lack of rain compared to previous years.
I know that there is a high level of optimism in Bordeaux at the moment where the harvest is in full flow. I will be back in St.Emilion this Wednesday and Thursday.