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Château Pey La Tour Réserve, Bordeaux Supérieur 2013

Red Wine from France - Bordeaux
An outstanding estate making rich, fruity claret from well-ripened grapes. The merlot dominated blend is firm yet fleshy. Classic Bordeaux to serve as a fine accompaniment to rare roast beef.
is no longer available
Code: CB4971

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Merlot
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • Cork, diam

Bordeaux/Bordeaux Superieur

If the word Bordeaux is mentioned most people take it to refer to red wine. Though a good deal of white wine is made in Bordeaux, and some of the finest white Bordeaux are only entitled to that generic appellation contrôlée nomenclature, it is reds that are most associated with the region.

The Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur regional appellation contrôlées are spread throughout the Bordeaux region. A bright colour, a clean, deep, appealing red-fruit nose (with hints of vanilla and spice if the wines have been aged in oak) and the classic balance of alcohol, tannin and acidity are the hallmarks. These modest designations verify that the wine comes from a particular region and conforms to certain criteria, such as alcohol content, but cannot be relied upon as a guarantee of quality. Many good wines are made in little-known appellations, just as mediocre bottles can have grand origins, so the key is to follow a property or grower you like and trust.

The climate of Bordeaux is deeply...
If the word Bordeaux is mentioned most people take it to refer to red wine. Though a good deal of white wine is made in Bordeaux, and some of the finest white Bordeaux are only entitled to that generic appellation contrôlée nomenclature, it is reds that are most associated with the region.

The Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur regional appellation contrôlées are spread throughout the Bordeaux region. A bright colour, a clean, deep, appealing red-fruit nose (with hints of vanilla and spice if the wines have been aged in oak) and the classic balance of alcohol, tannin and acidity are the hallmarks. These modest designations verify that the wine comes from a particular region and conforms to certain criteria, such as alcohol content, but cannot be relied upon as a guarantee of quality. Many good wines are made in little-known appellations, just as mediocre bottles can have grand origins, so the key is to follow a property or grower you like and trust.

The climate of Bordeaux is deeply influenced by its proximity to water, whether it is the sea, the estuary or the rivers, all have a major impact on the grapes grown and the wine made with them. The maritime climate is mild and gently warmed by the Gulf Stream which has a ready conduit deep inland via the Gironde estuary. The estuary acts as a moderator of the extremes of winter and summer. Summers are generally hot and autumns fairly long and mild. Winter and spring too are relatively mild but also often wet, and overall, give or take the odd and very rare major weather event, the climate is generally stable and consistent. Dampness is indeed on of the major difficulties of wine production and it is no coincidence that the anti-fungal spray ‘Bordeaux Mixture’ was developed here in the 19th century. In terms of weather events the two that are often encountered, sometimes with devastating effects, are hail and frost. Bear in mind that Bordeaux lies on a latitude of 45 degrees and should you travel across the Atlantic on that latitude you would make landfall in Nova Scotia. Without the Gulf Stream and proximity to bodies of water Bordeaux would be a much more marginal climate for making wine.

Red wines are the biggest part of the wine production of Bordeaux. Some 55,000 hectares of vines are employed in the making of Bordeaux AC and Bordeaux Supérieur AC. The most planted red grape is merlot, followed by cabernet sauvignon. Most of these generic Bordeaux are made outside of more specific communes, and indeed may be made from grapes grown anywhere in the Bordeaux region, and it would be strange indeed, in commercial terms, if a grower could label his wine as something more prestigious but chose the Bordeaux AC for his bottles. The Entre-Deux-Mers region, between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, is home to much of the production of generic Bordeaux on its clay, or sand and clay soils with occasional outcrops of limestone and gravels.

However, there are regulations and strictures that must be adhered to. To qualify for Bordeaux AC status the wine must naturally achieve 10% abv, and for Supérieur status the requirement is 10.5%. In actual fact the majority of wines are between 11% and 12.5 % abv, and as the climate warms up and vine canopy management and vineyard techniques continue to improve this may rise. Most reds from these appellations are designed to be drunk young.

At this level some of the fruit is machine harvested, though much is still picked by hand because of the narrow row width of most Bordeaux vineyards, and the winemaking is fairly standard, with temperature control now the norm and chaptalisation less common than it used to be. Barrels are not often used for these wines due to their expense, though large wooden vats or hand me down barrels previously used by a wealthier producer might be utilised. Such second-hand barrels require great care to be taken to maintain them.

Co-operatives still make most of these generic bottlings, but there are many smaller estates, many of them conscientious and making excellent wines that represent terrific value, that are finding the going tough in the prevailing economic climate and in the face of stiff competition at their price point from wines made in places where conditions and costs are more propitious for making fruity affordable wines. Négociants operate within Bordeaux and a good deal of the wine or grapes that make generic Bordeaux pass through the hands of companies like Maison Sichel and Dourthe.
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Château Pey La Tour

Pey La Tour is a model estate at Salleboeuf in the Entre-Deux-Mers, around 15km east of Bordeaux, and has been owned since 1990 by négociants Vignobles Dourthe. Dating back to the 18th century, the vineyards here still contain the ruins of the 13th century château which gave the estate its name, and today the vines span 146 hectares.

There are 90 different parcels of vines which are all vinified separately. Clay-limestone soils are used for producing fresh, concentrated merlot whereas compacted gravel plots are ideal for cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.

Grapes are vinified in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks. Dourthe makes two wines under the Pey La Tour label and we buy the Réserve, which is the cream of the crop, aged in barriques for 12 months, 35-55% of which is new oak. The blend is usually up to 90% merlot, with around 5% cabernet sauvignon and small quantities of petit verdot and cabernet franc, producing a wine that is full of ripe fruit and charm.

Investment in the vineyards to reduce yields and improve quality, through a progressive replanting and vine retraining programme, has paid dividends here, and Pey La Tour performs consistently at the top of its misleadingly modest Bordeaux Supérieur appellation.

Bordeaux Vintage 2013

If you are a claret drinker who rates charm and finesse over power, and who likes to drink their wines rather than speculate in them, then 2013 is a vintage for you. The best red wines have great freshness, modest alcohol, perfumed fruit flavours and moderate tannins, and most of them will be ready to enjoy over the short to medium term.

This was a testing year for the Bordelais. A damp winter gave way to a cool and wet spring, and flowering took place in less than ideal conditions in the middle of June. As a result, fruit set was poor, particularly so for merlot so that wines from those areas where merlot is usually very dominant have a higher proportion of cabernet in the assemblage. The sun eventually came out though, and in July and August temperatures were several degrees warmer than the average. Humidity was something of a problem, with Christian Moueix describing conditions as ‘tropical’, and crop thinning was vital to rein back the vegetative cycle of the vines.

Hot, humid...
If you are a claret drinker who rates charm and finesse over power, and who likes to drink their wines rather than speculate in them, then 2013 is a vintage for you. The best red wines have great freshness, modest alcohol, perfumed fruit flavours and moderate tannins, and most of them will be ready to enjoy over the short to medium term.

This was a testing year for the Bordelais. A damp winter gave way to a cool and wet spring, and flowering took place in less than ideal conditions in the middle of June. As a result, fruit set was poor, particularly so for merlot so that wines from those areas where merlot is usually very dominant have a higher proportion of cabernet in the assemblage. The sun eventually came out though, and in July and August temperatures were several degrees warmer than the average. Humidity was something of a problem, with Christian Moueix describing conditions as ‘tropical’, and crop thinning was vital to rein back the vegetative cycle of the vines.

Hot, humid conditions continued in late September and early October, and encouraged the development of rot in the ripening grapes. As a result, châteaux were forced to move extremely quickly to pick their grapes before disease could spread. Those who did so, and particularly those with vines on free-draining soils, achieved ripeness in their grapes, and produced wines worthy of their reputations.

At the more modest petit château level, where means are more limited, many producers opted to sell off their wine in bulk rather than bottle it. Thus 2013 at this level is either best avoided or be sure to taste first, or stick to the tried and tested names.

For the production of sweet wines, conditions at harvest were nigh-on perfect with noble rot prevalent. The resultant Sauternes and Barsacs exhibit lovely balance and freshness, and have a very long life ahead of them. Dry whites are aromatic and zesty with the same backbone of fresh acidity that the reds and sweet wines display.
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2013 vintage reviews
2012 vintage reviews
2011 vintage reviews

Scotland on Sunday

For those bored withtoday's immodest fruit-forward reds, here is a very traditional claret style.Behind its classic Bordeaux nose there is predictable minty, blackcurrant andbramble fruit with gentle...
For those bored withtoday's immodest fruit-forward reds, here is a very traditional claret style.Behind its classic Bordeaux nose there is predictable minty, blackcurrant andbramble fruit with gentle acidity. Enter then, though, the firm tannin twistsand graphite minerality that makes this region's wines so distinctive.
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- Brian Elliott

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