Robert M. Parker, Jr. - 25/02/2009
(Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, Feb 2009)
About this WINE
The dominant commercial force in Pomerol and St Emilion is the negociant company of Jean-Pierre Moueix. They own a clutch of prime wine estates, have exclusive distribution rights for a further selection and have worked assiduously to promote the lesser lights of the region and its associated appellations.
World-renowned names such as Château Pétrus, Trotanoy, Magdelaine, Lafleur and Lafleur Petrus feature in their portfolio, but one of the less known properties is La Fleur Gazin, situated appropriately between two heavyweights in Lafleur and Gazin.
Pomerol is renowned for producing wines of lush richness, with the fleshiness of the Merlot grape balanced by the firm acidity of the Cabernet Franc to produce wines which, while easy to enjoy young, nevertheless have the capacity to age. Pomerol is a tiny appellation and demand is high, so the effect on prices needs little imagination to calculate, but wines such as this still represent good value as they have yet to scale the lofty heights enjoyed by their better-known neighbours.
The La Fleur Gazin vineyards are planted with a typical Pomerol mix of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. After fermentation the wine spends 20 months ageing in oak barrels, 25% of the barrels are new, each year.
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.
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.