2015 Chateau Rouget Pomerol
The great wine-growing region of Bordeaux nicely divides into two parts, which the British (who love Bordeaux) named in their straightforward way. On the left side of the Gironde Estuary that reaches out of the city of Bordeaux to the Atlantic you have the “Left Bank” and its famed villages of Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac and St. Estephe. On the right side, you have the “Right Bank,” up and far inland with the villages of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. We focus on the tiny village of Pomerol today.
Although the British lumped the Left and Right Banks together under the moniker of Bordeaux, they are culturally, historically and wine-production-wise, very distinct. While all the lands are now French, for many years it was the British who owned and conquered the Left Bank, and then later commercialized it, and then later still bought much of it. That’s not wrong or right, but it gives a particular flavor to the region – certainly more English (chateau names like Talbot and Barton, and even the very word Claret) are all from English stewardship).
In contrast, Pomerol, and its sister region Saint-Emilion, remained throughout the centuries as solidly French. You can see that in many Right Bank wine labels (via flags and banners) that honor the Catholic Church, which was so essential to the region’s winemaking until the dastardly days of the French Revolution. But even more striking is the size of the estates. On the Left Bank, it’s not uncommon to have a chateau produce over 200,000 cases. In Pomerol, the average is just 500 cases. At that brings us to our wine of the day.
Chateau Rouget, Pomerol, is like a Bordeaux estate that has a Burgundy soul. What do I mean by that? The estate is tiny, all of 30 acres, and it is completely domaine. All production is on site. The viticulture is biodynamic (although not yet certified). In essence, this is one family, one soil, one aspect, one grape, from a site specific place like no other in the world. And actually, it is run by a family whose roots are in Burgundy. The Labruyere family of Domaine Jacques Prieur are based in Musigny. When I say this wine has a Burgundy soul I’m not kidding, and in the wine, it much shows:
This is Pomerol at its best: a dark, sensual wine, with oodles of plums, black cherries, and chocolate with silky contours that weave through depths of flavor and richness. This is from the famed and powerful 2015 vintage, so while you can drink it now I recommend decanting it for at least 30 minutes. And of course, in the cellar there is no rush. Its oceans of wild berry lush fruit give way to a velvety backbone and seamless finish. This is extraordinary Pomerol.