Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Saint Julien Wines

Saint Julien Wines

Saint Julien lies on two plateaus between Pauillac and Margaux on the left bank of the Gironde Estuary. It is divided into essentially 2 areas - the riverside estates around the village of Saint Julien and the southern estates around the village of Beychevelle where the area's Cru Bourgeois are also grouped. The vineyards cover 2,200 acres.

Saint Julien has the highest proportion of classified estates of all the regions in Bordeaux – 11 in total. The quality is so good in Saint Julien that second wines from those châteaux are very attractive. It is home to the 5 great second growths: Châteaux Ducru Beaucaillou, Léoville Poyferré, Léoville Barton, Gruard Larose and Léoville Las Cases and has a raft of high performing Châteaux in its ranks from 2ème (2nd Growths) to 4ème (4th Growths).

Terroir and Grapes

The waters of the Gironde Estuary have a warming influence on the climate which, coupled with the south easterly exposure of most vineyards, helps to fully ripen the Cabernet Sauvignon vines in this area. The terroir is very similar throughout Saint Julien - gravelly soils dominate and only the proximity of the estuary can cause slight variations in climate. In fact, Saint Julien's layer of glacial gravel takes the form of a huge rectangle over 3 miles long and 2 miles wide which sits on a limestone plateau. Saint Julien is a Cabernet Sauvignon commune. Blends of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with around 20% Merlot and a bit of Cabernet Franc are not unusual.

Wine Style

Many people say that Saint Julien is the classic claret, robust, powerful and refined with a balance of perfume, structure and mineral fruit. Saint Julien combines the Médoc's best qualities – its wines have the elegance of Margaux, the power of Pauillac and the cedar and blackcurrant nose of Saint Estèphe. The wines age well and have the ability to develop for a decade or more

Famous Châteaux and Recommended Wines

Château Léoville Poyferré
Château Léoville Barton
Château Léoville Las Cases
Château Ducru Beaucaillou,
Château Beychevelle
Château Gruaud Larose
Château Branaire Ducru
Château Lagrange
Chateau Saint Pierre
Château Talbot

Château Saint Pierre is a Fourth Growth (4ème Cru) and lies opposite its sister Château Gloria just outside the town of Beychevelle. The château is one of the most ancient in Médoc and early records in 1693 show a wine growing property called Serançan belonging at the time to the Marquis de Cheverry. During the reign of Louis XV, Baron de Saint Pierre bought the estate, gave it his name and kept it until his death.

Château Saint Pierre was bought in 1982 by Henri Martin who also owned Château Gloria. Martin was born at Château Gruaud Larose in 1903 and came from a family of coopers who had been barrel making for the châteaux of Bordeaux for more than 3 centuries. Gloria was created in 1942 when Martin bought 14 acres of vines in Saint Julien, taking its name from the land on which the Martin family home was built. Martin became Mayor of Saint Julien, President of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux, co-founded the Commanderie de Bordeaux and is responsible for reviving the ancient fame of the village.

Martin didn't stop at Château Gloria, his tireless quest to own a classed growth estate was realised when he bought at the grand age of 78. Saint Pierre is the very reverse of Château Gloria – its as old as Gloria is young. However the quality of the wines is the one thing they have in common. Martin breathed new life into the ancient Saint Pierre and renovated the château and the winery and rejuvenated the vineyards. Henri Martin died in 1991 and the Châteaux are now owned by his daughter Françoise and husband Jean-Louis Triaud who continue to improve the wines.

The vines stretch over 42 acres and it is one of the smallest vineyards in Saint Julien – if not the smallest. Martin sold some of the land to Ducru Beaucaillou and Gruard Larose and kept the old vines to make his wine – the average age of the vines is over 50 years old. The wines of Saint Pierre are fuller bodied than others from the appellation, fruity and smooth. They have smoky flavours of blackberries, ground coffee, toast, toffee, violets and oak. They are well balanced with firm tannins and good acidity. The wines age well and are also approachable when young.

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