So here I am in Bordeaux the Sunday before the beginning of En Primeur, where journalists will sample the new 2009 vintage. Already the word is that 2009 is a fantastic vintage, and as I had some great early tastes this week (and was warned not to write details!) I quite agree.
As is the custom during this week, journalists are hosted by Chateaux all around Bordeaux. I knew that tonight — Sunday — I would be spending the evening at Chateau Reynon, but I couldn’t find much information about it, including who its owners were, on the web.
Once our car maneuvered the long, winding, majestic driveway, I was greeted by charming young Jean-Jacques Dubourdieu (responsible for Marketing and Sales Management) who I initially met in Manhattan at a Sauternes tasting event. But wait! What was Jean-Jacques doing here?! When I had seen him two weeks earlier, he was representing the prestigious Second Growth Sauternes Chateau Doisy-Daene at an event for Master of Wine Students (and freely pouring the 1998 vintage). Standing next to him was an elegantly dressed and equally charming woman introduced as his mother, Florence who runs administration for the chateau.
After a trip up an elaborate marble staircase, I was shown into my bright yellow room with very high ceilings and two enormous windows that look out to the vineyards. When I went downstairs for a pre-dinner tasting, I found my host was Professor Denis Dubourdieu (Jean-Jacques’ father), whom I had also met two weeks earlier with Master of Wine students.
Professor Dubourdieu has a very grand name in Bordeaux and indeed the world, as he is a dignified and much sought-after consultant. Fellow students in the Masters of Wine program felt so privileged to have met him on the trip, as Professor Dubourdieu was kind enough to give a lecture and take us all into the university’s technical room where we were able to sample bottles of different varietals from different areas and create our own blended wine. One of the more memorable quotes from his interesting lecture to Master of Wine students was his analogy of how wine and humans are so much alike — something to the effect that it is beneficial for both fine wine and humans to become more interesting as they get older, and to appear a bit younger than their actual age.
Chateau Reynon, I discovered, was built in 1848 and acquired in 1958 by Florence’s father. The young Dubourdieu newlyweds took over the Chateau in 1976. Though it is gorgeously decorated enough to appear in a decorating magazine today, I am told it took quite a bit of work on the part of the Dubourdieus to bring it back to its former luster.
Reynon is just one of five domains in the family’s collection and is considered one of the most renowned Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux estates. The soil is deep gravel on clay subsoil on top of a well-drained hill. At mid-slope the soils are clay and calcareous, with soils sandier at the foot of the slope. At 21 hectares for red varietals, the vineyard is composed of 82 percent Merlot, 13 percent Cabernet Franc, and 4 percent Petite Verdot. The 16.5 hectares of the white vineyard are made up of 89 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 11 percent Semillion.
The Chateau produces a Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux appellation red wine, a Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc dry white wine, and a Bordeaux red wine. Sometimes (when conditions are favorable for noble rot) a small quantity of Cadillac (an appellation) sweet wine is produced.
I tasted through the wines of Chateau Reynon and the other properties, and listened with fascination as the professor explained many intricacies of terroir and wine-making my fellow students would be most envious to hear!