Tasted blind. Dark crimson. Light but mellow nose. Racy and elegant. Far from a blockbuster but nicely balanced as a relatively lightweight claret. Very fine tannins.
Drink 2021 – 2030
Jancis Robinson (February 2018)
About this WINE
Chateau de Lamarque
Ch. de Lamarque is an estate in the Haut-Médoc appellation on the Left Bank of Bordeaux. The château itself is a superbly preserved medieval fortress, established nearly one thousand years ago; it is the oldest in the Médoc. The property is still owned and lived in by the direct descendants of the founder, encompassing 25 generations.
Today, husband and wife Pierre-Gilles and Marie-Hélène Gromand-Brunet d’Evry are at the helm. Both are hands on: Marie-Hélène manages the vineyards and Pierre-Gilles supervises the winemaking.
There are records of vines here since the 15th century. The estate and its three parcels of vineyards lie close to the Gironde, in the buffer of Haut-Médoc land between Margaux and St Julien. This is lower-lying land with deep gravel over clay and sandstone.
Since taking over in 1987, Pierre-Gilles and Marie-Hélène have slowly and methodically improved all aspects of the estate. Now, with the well-connected Eric Boissenot as consultant, they are making the best wines of the property’s extensive history.
Despite being as visually unprepossessing as the rest of the Médoc (despite its grandiose châteaux) this large red-wine appellation of Haut-Médoc is home to some of the world’s greatest wines. Its 4,500 hectares of vineyards form a largely continuous strip that follows the Gironde from St Seurin-de-Cadourne, just north of St Estèphe, to Blanquefort in the northern suburbs of Bordeaux.
All the great communes of the Left Bank fall within its boundaries: Margaux, St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe, as well as the up and coming Moulis and Listrac. These are labelled under their own, more illustrious and expensive appellation names. Châteaux labelled simply as Haut-Médoc rarely reach such heights, but nevertheless offer consistently good quality and offer some of the best value in Bordeaux.
Haut-Médoc wines tend to be firm and fine with generous fruit and a nice minerality – what many would consider ‘classic Claret’. They come from loftier vineyards and offer higher quality and more complexity than those labelled simply as ‘Médoc’. Almost all wines are a blend of the principal varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – which helps producers hedge their bets if the slightly capricious climate causes one variety to fail. Small amounts of Petit Verdot, Malbec and even Carmenère are also used.
The higher proportion of sand and gravel to the south tends to produce finer wines, while the heavier clay and gravel north of Margaux yields sturdier examples. The best Haut-Médocs are found north of Ludon, a village just below Margaux. These include five classified Growths: Third Growth Ch. La Lagune, underperforming Fourth Growth Ch. la Tour Carnet and Fifth Growths Ch. Cantemerle, Ch. Camensac and Ch. Belgrave – as well as a number of fine Cru Bourgeois. Ageing ability varies but the lesser wines are usually delicious after three to four years, lasting around a decade, while the Cru Classés have a drinkability window of around six to 15 years.
Recommended Châteaux (labelled as Haut-Médoc): Ch. Beaumont, Ch. Belgrave, Ch. Cantemerle, Ch. Peyrabon
The most famous red wine grape in the world and one of the most widely planted.
It is adaptable to a wide range of soils, although it performs particularly well on well-drained, low-fertile soils. It has small, dusty, black-blue berries with thick skins that produce deeply coloured, full-bodied wines with notable tannins. Its spiritual home is the Médoc and Graves regions of Bordeaux where it thrives on the well-drained gravel-rich soils producing tannic wines with piercing blackcurrant fruits that develop complex cedarwood and cigar box nuances when fully mature.
The grape is widely planted in California where Cabernet Sauvignon based wines are distinguished by their rich mixture of cassis, mint, eucalyptus and vanilla oak. It is planted across Australia and with particular success in Coonawarra where it is suited to the famed Terra Rossa soil. In Italy barrique aged Cabernet Sauvignon is a key component in Super Tuscans such as Tignanello and Sassicaia, either on its own or as part of a blend with Sangiovese.