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Chateau Charmail 2000

Bordeaux Red Blends from Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France
  • RP93
0% ABV
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  • JS92
  • JD92
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Winemaker Notes

Château Charmail is located in the parish of Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne, perhaps best known for another deservedly reputed wine Château Sociando-Mallet, whose vineyards are immediately adjacent to those of Charmail. Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne itself borders the well-known Haut-Médoc appellation of Saint Estèphe with whom its wines share many characteristics, notably those of deep color, ripe fruit and sturdy, tannic backbone.

Like Sociando-Mallet, Château Charmail's vineyards are planted along the rolling hills which overlook the Gironde River in profoundly gravelly soils. The sub-soil, deep beneath the gravel, is chalky. This combination of soil and sub-soil provides for ideal, natural drainage conditions and maximum retention of the sun's warming rays. Merlot is the predominant varietal cultivated at Charmail and represents 50% of the planted acreage. Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Cabernet Franc (20%) constitute the balance of this 21-year old vineyard. The density of plantation is high, oscillating between 6,700 and 8,500 vines per hectare - an incontrovertible quality factor.

Winemaking is performed by the owner, Olivier Sèze, a trained agronomist, well-versed in the latest enological methods. Indeed, in tandem with the Pauillac-based enologist, Michel Couasnon, 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. This is particularly true in colder, wetter vintages. After two weeks at sub-zero temperatures, fermentation is subsequently conducted at warm temperatures (high 80's, low 90's) and the cuvaison rarely lasts less than three to four weeks. Aging takes place in Alliers oak barrels, a third of which are renewed with each vintage. Selection, a prerequisite to producing a top flight grand vin, is severe: a second label, Château Saint-Seurin, is reserved for wines not deemed worthy of the Charmail label.

The resulting wines are surprisingly deep in color, even after several years in bottle and even in supposedly mediocre vintages. Aromas tend to be of ripe, black fruits with more oaky notes than one would expect from a wine which has seen less than a third new oak. Most notably, the wines are plumper, with softer tannins than one normally associates with wines from this part of the Médoc.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 93
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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Chateau Charmail

Chateau Charmail

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Chateau Charmail, Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France
2000
Built in the middle of the 19th century, Château Charmail commands a charming estate overlooking the Gironde. Surrounding the château, the vineyard is all of a piece, situated on gravel crests and at present covers some twenty hectares. It is planted to Cabernet franc and Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Winemaking is performed by the owner, Olivier Sèze, a trained agronomist, well-versed in the latest enological methods. Indeed, in tandem with the Pauillac-based enologist, Michel Couasnon, 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.

Haut Medoc

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Bordeaux Blends

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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, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

PDG58273_2000 Item# 58273

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