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Chateau de Sales 2011
Built in the 17th century, Château de Sales is largest estate in the Pomerol appellation on the Right Bank. The château possesses exceptional beauty and elegance, and the same is true for its wines as they are the true expression of the Pomerol terroir from which they originate. Located in the northwest corner of Pomerol, it is the only true château building in the appellation and has been owned by the same family for more than five hundred years. Château de Sales wines are the expression of their terroir: fruit-driven, round and full-bodied, with good structure on the palate, smoothness, refinement and elegance.
Located 22 miles east of Bordeaux, the vineyard of Château de Sales is situated in the northwestern part of the Pomerol appellation. The château's vineyard has a surface area of over 200 acres, of which 118 acres are planted — the largest in Pomerol. The soils of Château de Sales are comprised of fine gravel and sand, with clay in some areas and an omnipresence of iron oxide, known as "crasse de fer."
The vines are an average of more than 30 years old. The grape varieties planted here are typical of this appellation: 73% merlot, 15% cabernet sauvignon and 12% cabernet franc. The vines are cultivated in the traditional way: the soil is regularly ploughed, vineyard practices are environmentally sound, leaves are removed with clusters thinned at regular intervals, and the grapes are harvested by hand at optimum maturity for each parcel.
A source of exceptionally sensual and glamorous red wines, Pomerol is actually a rather small appellation in an unassuming countryside. It sits on a plateau immediately northeast of the city of Libourne on the right bank of the Dordogne River. Pomerol and St-Émilion are the stars of what is referred to as Right Bank Bordeaux: Merlot-dominant red blends completed by various amounts of Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon. While Pomerol has no official classification system, its best wines are some of the world’s most sought after.
Historically Pomerol attached itself to the larger and more picturesque neighboring region of St-Émilion until the late 1800s when discerning French consumers began to recognize the quality and distinction of Pomerol on its own. Its popularity spread to northern Europe in the early 1900s.
After some notable vintages of the 1940s, the Pomerol producer, Petrus, began to achieve great international attention and brought widespread recognition to the appellation. Its subsequent distribution by the successful Libourne merchant, Jean-Pierre Mouiex, magnified Pomerol's fame after the Second World War.
Perfect for Merlot, the soils of Pomerol—clay on top of well-drained subsoil—help to create wines capable of displaying an unprecedented concentration of color and flavor.
The best Pomerol wines will be intensely hued, with qualities of fresh wild berries, dried fig or concentrated black plum preserves. Aromas may be of forest floor, sifted cocoa powder, anise, exotic spice or toasted sugar and will have a silky, smooth but intense texture.
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 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 lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally 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.
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.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.