French Wine – At any Price?


Chateau Margaux gets experimental

The Wine Sleuth

If you are one of the 5 First Growths of Bordeaux (Ch. Margaux, Ch. Lafite Rothschild, Ch. Latour, Ch. Haut-Brion and lastly, Ch. Mouton Rothschild), you might think you could rest on your laurels, not give a fig for any new fangled advancements and just continue to produce wine the way it’s always been done. I mean, the first classification was done in 1855 and only one chateau has been added since then (Mouton Rothschild), and that was back in the 1970’s.

You could do that but if you’re Chateau Margaux you won’t or rather, you don’t. That’s not to say the others are not also innovating but Ch. Margaux is the first to go public with their experimental findings.  Paul Pontallier, Managing Director and winemaker of Ch. Margaux was in town recently to give us a sneak peek into the inner workings of Ch. Margaux and how they…

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What are France’s three most famous wines ?


The answer may differ depending upon you ask the question to.


However these three wines are undoubtedly among the best:


– Romanée Conti in Burgundy:


In Burgundy, between Gevrey and Vougeot, in Vosne Romanée, the plot called Romanée-Conti has at first glance nothing extraordinary. Did not Stendhal use to say ” Whithout those magnificent wines, I would think nowhere in the world is uglier”.

Romanée-Conti covers about 1,8 hectares. It is exposed south at the limit of the Richebourg. Its ground contain a very fine clay which does not exist in the neighbouring plots. The natural draining is perfect.

The plot Romanée-Conti was traced during the XVth century, and maybe earliest in the XIIth century by the monks of Saint-Viviant. You must imagine the Pinot Noir the monks collected in Burgundy forests and very carefully selected; any how it does not give satisfactory results any where, except there.

The result his a subtile equation between grape, soil, climate, orientation and watering. The legend pretends that, until 1945, a good vine-plant was sacrificed and buried, just living two shoots out, developing itself it gave two new vine-plants. When the vineyard was reconstituted, intricate roots more than a meter deep where discovered. It was from that mulch that the new vine-plants had drawn the specific feature of Romanée-Conti.

“We are the keeper of a certain philosophy of wine and, mainly, we are concern by the perfection in details” assures Aubert de Vilaine, one of the owners of the place with the Leroys.

Those two families also look after 25 hectares of some of the most famous Burgundy crus. Thus, the client must aqcuire the wines of the domains by boxes of twelve, which means one bottle of Romanée-Conti among 11 bottles of other domains. A box of twelve bottles is worth about 3,000 Euros.




– Pétrus in Pomerol, Bordeaux:


Nowadays Pétrus is considered to be the most interesting of the Pomerols.

Yet before 1945 it stayed confidential. In 1920 Mrs Loubat inherited that vineyard situated on the highest part of the appellation Pomerol, in the Bordeaux region. Twenty years later she was joined by Jean-Pierre Mouex, wine-merchant established on the quay of the River Dordogne. Château-Pétrus began to come out of its anonymity.

Madame Loubat presented her bottles in England for HRH Princess Elizabeth and Philip, duke of Edinborough’s wedding. Across the Atlantic, Pétrus became the special wine of the Kennedy’s.

In Pomerol there is no classification as in Médoc or Saint-Emilion. But the small surface, 11,50 hectares (9 time smaller than Lafite) of Pétrus makes it rare.

Situated on the higher point of Pomerol. The new barrels are washed in order not to mark the wine to much. The grapes are harvested when fully matured for the purity of taste to the detriment of productivity.

Pétrus, tremendous soil, is first of all the rendez-vous of men in love with wine; Michel Gilet, master of the vines, dreams of nature without chemistry; Francois Veyssiere, cellar-master is also collector of fruit-trees in danger of extinction; the winemaker, Jean-Claude Berrouet brings his enthusiasm of Basque to Pétrus as well as to Lafleur-Pétrus, La Magdeleine and Trotanoy.

Today Pétrus is owned by the eternal Jean-Pierre Mouex and by Lily-Paul Lacoste Loubat, heiress and niece of Madame Loubat. At present a bottle of Pétrus sells at around 600 Euros.


– Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux:

Château Margaux, interplanetary symbol of wine, has a very old reputation. In the 15th century, it was known as Lamothe, a fortified castle site in Bordeaux region. In 1750, Mr de Fumel planted a large quantity of fine grape-variety. In 1802, it was brought by the Marquis de la Colonilla, who razed the old castle to the ground and built a new one.

The vineyard of Château Margaux covers about 100 hectares (250 acres) carefully cultivated. Learn more about Margaux wines

The grape-varieties are 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

The Château produces slightly over 300,000 bottles every year.

The quality dropped in the 70’s, but the 1978 vintage distinguished itself by its quality. Ever since there has not been any weakness even in the small years.

It is unnecessary to praise those wines; their reputation is universal.



Other great wines are Yquem in Sauternes, Haut Brion in Pessac, Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac, Cheval Blanc in Saint Emilion, Chateau Grillet in Rhone and Hospices de Beaune in Burgundy.



What about Bourgogne (Burgundy) vineyard ?

Burgundy vineyardBurgundy

Burgundy or Bourgogne in eastern France is a region where red and white wines are equally important. Probably more terroir-conscious than any other region, Burgundy is divided into the largest number of appellations of any French region. The top wines from Burgundy’s heartland in Côte d’Or command high prices. The Burgundy region is divided in four main parts:

  • The Cote de Nuits (from Marsannay-La-Cote down to Nuits-Saint-Georges)
  • The Cote de Beaune (from north of Beaune to Santenay)
  • The Cote Chalonnaise
  • The Maconnais

Two parts of Burgundy that are sometimes considered as separate regions are:

  • Beaujolais in the south, close to the Rhône Valley region, where mostly red wines are made in a fruity style that is usually consumed young. “Beaujolais Nouveau” is the only wine that can be legally consumed in the year of its production (Third week end of November)
  • Chablis, halfway between Côte d’Or and Paris, where white wines are produced on chalky soil giving a more crisp and steely style than the rest of Burgundy.

There are two main grape varieties used in Burgundy – Chardonnay for white wines, and Pinot Noir for red. White wines are also sometimes made from Aligoté, and other grape varieties will also be found occasionally.



Owns a legend rich in wine production. It is known worldwide as a manufacturer of fine selected wines and more special. In France there is a huge space dedicated to wine. Many varieties are produced here that meet the most severe requirements. Bordeaux areas are known, the Rhône Valley, Burgundian, Alsace, Bandol, Loire, Languedoc and Roussillon, Palette. Here has kept the tradition of wine production and all connoisseurs are insenineaza when a French wine taste.

Bordeaux. The first region with controlled designation of origin, the region of Bordeaux in France represents 13% of the vineyards of France and 1.5 per cent of vines in the world.Red, white, rose, sweet or dry, Bordeaux wines are classified according to 57 controlled designation of origin (where the ignore color wine) that identifies the wine production regions and provides quality assurance to the consumer. Beyond their common qualitative numitorii, historians and climatic, Bordeaux…

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What about Bordeaux vineyard and wine ?

A Bordeaux wine is any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. Average vintages produce over 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine, ranging from large quantities of everyday table wine, to some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world. 89% of wine produced in Bordeaux is red (called “claret” in Britain), with notable sweet white wines such as Chateau d’Yquem, dry whites, rosé and sparkling wines (Crémant de Bordeaux) all making up the remainder. Bordeaux wine is made by more than 8,500 producers or châteaux. There are 60 appellations of Bordeaux wine.

Boordeaux Castel

What about Languedoc Roussillon vineyard ?

Languedoc – Roussillon wine, including the vin de pays labeled Vin de Pays d’Oc, is produced in southern France. While “Languedoc” can refer to a specific historic region of France and Northern Catalonia, usage since the 20th century (especially in the context of wine) has primarily referred to the northern part of the Languedoc-Roussillon région of France, an area which spans the Mediterranean coastline from the French border with Spain to the region of Provence. The area has around 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) under vines and is the single biggest wine-producing region in the world, being responsible for more than a third of France’s total wine production. As recently as 2001, the region produced more wine than the entire United States

Roussillon wineyard