En Primeur 2014: Visiting Chateau Carbonnieux


PERRINOn Tuesday night I spent a pleasant evening with Madame Perrin and her daughter Christine at Chateau Carbonnieux, a large castle-like wine estate that dates back to the 13th century.  As one arrives it looks like a medieval fortress, with a large gate and several buildings surrounding a beautifully manicured courtyard.

I had met Eric Perrin and his wife Isabel the year before when I was a dinner guest at Chateau Cantenac-Brown and enjoyed their 2005 white wine, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon..

One can vividly imagine the history the Chateau must have expienced in the last 700 years – and of course it entailed the usual themes of owners who have come and gone for a variety of reasons (war, revolution, debt).

The property was purchased by Marc Perrin, the grandfather of sibblings Eric, Philibert, and Christine, in the late 1950s. At the time, the property had not been occupied in decades and much work was to be done in the chateau and the vineyards.

Dinner with Christine and Madame Perrin was a cosy affair and the following morning, Philibert showed me around the property. Though Carbonnieux was once known for its rich oaky whites, current fashion demanded a change in the winery. Now the white wines have only a whisper of oak, thanks to maturation in larger barrels.

The red wine is made in a traditional fashion with a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon rounded out by Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. More than fifty percent of the production of both the white and the red remain in France.

Philibert also showed me the improvements of the winery, which includes a new gravity-led system and Swiss press that avoids oxidation.

Overall it was a very nice visit …. as always, En Primeur is a time to try the new wine of the season, yet equally important, experience the culture of its hard working citizens who dedicate their lives to the vine.

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