2018 Les Cailloux Bordeaux



Here is the official version I got about this wine:

“The importance of ‘Les Cailloux ’”

“Two centuries ago, the proprietor of a leading Bordeaux château stunned the Court of Versailles by wearing a waistcoat studded with gems of a rare luster. King Louis XV was so taken with their beauty that he exclaimed, ‘Messeurs, here must be the richest man of my kingdom.’ ‘I am the the richest man,’ replied the proprietor, ‘for I am wearing the diamonds of my soil, and from the diamonds I make nectar.’

“The nectar was the wines of Bordeaux. The diamonds were the plain quartz stones of the Bordeaux top soil, cut and polished like gems. In their more familiar, unpolished form, the egg-shaped stones are called cailloux (pebbles).

“Dragged to Bordeaux in great abundance by glaciers that have since retreated to the Pyrennes, the cailloux today are known to be a key to the greatness of the Bordeaux soil and its wines. Many, if not most, of Bordeaux’s greatest chateaux are located above deep beds of cailloux. In the Medoc, all but a handful of the 62 classified growths are located in communes with the highest concentration of cailloux: Margaux, Pauillac, St. Julien and St. Estéphe. Indeed, in parts of Margaux, the topsoil is so stony that it is white. In Graves, (from ‘gravier,’ or gravel), first growth Haut Brion and rival La Mission Haut Brion sit on the deepest beds of stone — so deep in fact that workers digging a new cellar at La Mission Haut Brion a few years back were stymied by loose stones that ran 18 feet deep.”

The un-official version that I got was that none other than Prince Robert of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg parks his fruit in this bottle of wine.

Now what the heck does that mean? And who knew that Luxembourg was the world’s last remaining Grand Duchy?

Prince Robert comes about through a loving transatlantic relationship between Clarence Dillion and Anne McEldin Douglass, his great-grandparents. They married right here in Milwaukee and together purchased Bordeaux First Growth Haut Brion in 1935. So that is where the high-powered wine part of the equation comes into play.

Prince Robert’s mom, Joan de Noailles, Duchess of Mouchy and Poix, is where the royalty comes in – American born, she married the Prince of Luxembourg, thus scoring her, and her son’s, title. She was also a titan of the wine industry, not only running Haut Brion, but also purchasing La Mission Haut Brion, Laville Haut Brion, La Tour Haut Brion, and many other wineries worldwide. Basically, the empire she created puts her son in the top 10 wine producing families in the world.

So what’s he doing with this juice? Well, the DL I got was that all that wonderful stuff going on in the First Growth world actually, occasionally, filters down to the rest of us. And while I can’t find anything about this bottle that makes these links axiomatic, after tasting this wine, I don’t really care:

Here is a Bordeaux of richness and depth, power and strength. The nose opens with rich black fruits, graphite, vanilla, pencil shavings and loads more blue fruit character. The palate is voluptuous, super smooth, yet it also has enough tannins to give it density and richness. This is mighty Bordeaux, showcasing why Bordeaux blends are among the top wines in the world.

Is it Haut Brion? No, it isn’t. But personally I don’t need it to be. It’s hedonistic, impressive, and great drinking right now. All I need for a warm up on these cold winter days. Trust me, order a case and dig right on in.