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2004 Ch. Nenin, Pomerol
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Scores and Reviews
Château Nenin is a large property by Pomerol standards and one which has long been a favourite of the British Royal Family. Nenin was owned by the Despujol family until 1997 when it was bought by Jean-Hubert and Michel Delon, the proprietors of Château Léoville-Las-Cases. Michel Rolland has been retained as a consultant and the wines are now cleaner and displaying more depth of fruit than before.
Nenin is located just outside the village of Catusseau and consists of a handsome, 19th century château and a 25 hectare vineyard set in a large park. The vineyard is south-west facing and located on a high plateau, where the soils are a mixture of deep gravels and sand.
Nenin is a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are machine-harvested and then fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel vats. The wine is then matured in oak casks (50% new) for 18 months.
The most widely planted grape in Bordeaux and a grape that has been on a relentless expansion drive throughout the world in the last decade. Merlot is adaptable to most soils and is relatively simple to cultivate. It is a vigorous naturally high yielding grape that requires savage pruning - over-cropped Merlot-based wines are dilute and bland. It is also vital to pick at optimum ripeness as Merlot can quickly lose its varietal characteristics if harvested overripe.
In St.Emilion and Pomerol it withstands the moist clay rich soils far better than Cabernet grapes, and at it best produces opulently rich, plummy clarets with succulent fruitcake-like nuances. Le Pin, Pétrus and Clinet are examples of hedonistically rich Merlot wines at their very best. It also plays a key supporting role in filling out the middle palate of the Cabernet-dominated wines of the Médoc and Graves.
Pomerol is the smallest of Bordeaux's major appellations, with about 150 producers and approximately 740 hectares of vineyards. It is home to many bijou domaines, many of which produce little more than 1,000 cases per annum.
Both the topography and architecture of the region is unremarkable, but the style of the wines is most individual. The finest vineyards are planted on a seam of rich clay which extends across the gently-elevated plateau of Pomerol, which runs from the north-eastern boundary of St Emilion. On the sides of the plateau, the soil becomes sandier and the wines lighter.
There is one satellite region to the immediate north, Lalande-de-Pomerol whose wines are stylistically very similar, if sometimes lacking the finesse of its neighbour. There has never been a classification of Pomerol wines.