Chateau Charmail 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Blueberry and blackberry character with hints of stones and minerals. Medium to full body and firm and silky tannins. Wonderful tannin quality here. Rating: 91-92
Charmail takes its name from its history that dates back to the 16th century, namely the Trevey family of Charmail who settled at that time in the Médoc. Built in the middle of the 19th century, Chateau Charmail commands a charming estate overlooking the Gironde on the northern side of Saint-Estephe. Surrounding the chateau, the vineyard is all of a piece, situated on gravel crests and at present covers some twenty-eight hectares. It is planted to Cabernet franc and Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
The owner Bernard d'Halluin strives to create wines of balance, and since 2017 has HVE3 certification for sustainability. Winemaking is performed by the former owner, Olivier Sèze, a trained agronomist, well-versed in the latest enological methods. Sèze has be-come a veritable pioneer ("maverick" might be the more accurate term) in the Médoc. Since 1991, his successful development of the technique called, "pre-fermentation, cold maceration" has roused interest through-out the Médoc, in Saint-Emilion, and even at the Institute of Enology in Bordeaux. The technique is similar to that widely employed by the Burgundian enologist, Guy Accad, although much less sulfur dioxide is used at Charmail. It results in deeply colored, "fatter" wines with softer tannins than might otherwise be the case using traditional fermentation techniques.
While it claims the same basic landscape as the Medoc—only every so slightly elevated above river level—the Haut Medoc is home to all of the magnificent chateaux of the Left Bank of Bordeaux, creating no lack of beautiful sites to see.
These chateaux, residing over the classed-growth cru in the villages of Margaux, Moulis, Listrac, St-Julien, Pauillac and St. Estephe are within the Haut Medoc appellation. Though within the confines of these villages, any classed-growth chateaux will most certainly claim village or cru status on their wine labels.
Interestingly, some classed-growth cru of the Haut Medoc fall outside of these more famous villages and can certainly be a source of some of the best values in Bordeaux. Deep in color, and concentrated in ripe fruit and tannins, these wines (typically Cabernet Sauvignon-based) often prove the same aging potential of the village classed-growths. Among these, the highest ranked chateaux are Chateau La Lagune and Chateau Cantemerle.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.