Château La Grave de Bertin is a testament to the excellent, good-value wines being produced in the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux. The property has been in the Furt family for six generations. Although they used to be represented by JP Moueix, the current generation are now successfully bottling and marketing their fresh, fruity wines themselves.
In 1895, the family began producing wine in an old barn next to the family house, which they sold in bulk to larger wineries. The name La Grave de Bertin didn't actually appear on the label until 1976, when Michel Furt first decided to make wines under his own name: the grave refers to the soils in their vineyards, whereas the bertin refers to the passageway where the house and cellars are still situated today. In fact, the Furt family house still appears on the label.
Yannick Furt took over in 1997, and made major investments, both in the winery - introducing temperature-controlled tanks - and the vineyards, where he purchased a harvesting machine and doubled the vineyard area in size.
The family now has 20 hectares between Bordeaux and St. Emilion, 70% of which are planted with merlot, 20% of which are cabernet franc, with the remaining 10% cabernet sauvignon. Correspondingly, the property's soils are mostly sandy limestone and clay, both of which have good water-retention qualities and help produce aromatic, fresh merlot. Much of their cabernet sauvignon is planted on warm gravelly soil, which produces brilliantly ripe cabernet to complement their blends.
The natural surroundings also provide protection for the vines: the Pyrenees and the Landes Forest act like barriers to adverse weather conditions, whereas the temperate oceanic influence on the climate helps the vines to ripen at a steady pace.
In the winery, the temperature-controlled vats are key to the style of La Grave de Bertin wines: they help regulate the wine's temperature throughout the entire process, including controlling rising temperatures during fermentation to retain as much of the grapes' freshness and natural aromas. After fermentation, the Reserve Rouge we buy is aged in the tanks for a further 12 to 15 months for added complexity and maturity.
Yannick and his wife Nadine's two sons, Maxime and Sebastian, are the latest generation of the Furt family to get involved in the production of Château La Grave de Bertin. While Maxime helps oversee operations in the vineyard and the winery, Sebastian focuses on the commercial side. The most recent addition to the La Grave de Bertin winery is a bottle storage building and tasting area.