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Hard to beat in terms of value for money, the 2016 Reynon has vibrant, plummy fruit character and notes of dark chocolate on the palate. The higher proportion of cabernet sauvignon (17%) this year lends the wine energy and freshness. 2019–2027.
Product Code: CB5211
View all products by Denis Dubourdieu
The late and much missed Denis Dubourdieu, who died in the summer of 2016, did more than follow his winemaking father and grandfather’s footsteps. A professor of oenology since 1987, he has been described in the past as wine’s most famous scientist, and he advised some of the greatest properties in the world, including Cheval Blanc and Yquem. His skills were highly sought after.Denis and his wife Florence ran several Bordeaux properties : Château Doisy-Daëne, Clos Floridène, Château Reynon (purchased by his father-in-law Pierre in 1958 and where Florence and Denis moved upon their marriage in 1976), Château Cantegril and Château Haura. The management of these estates now falls to Florence and his eminently capable sons, Fabrice and Jean-Jacques. As well as their legendary sweet wines, they also produce an impressive range of dry reds and whites.The Dubourdieu family owns 135 hectares of vineyards in the Sauternes, Graves, and Cadillac-Cotes de Bordeaux regions. They use a traditional ploughing system, and are committed friends of the environment: they no longer use weed killer, they fertilise the vines with organic manure, and all bud removal, trellising and leaf removal is done by hand. Their carbon footprint is a conscious issue too: they own a forest equal to the size of their vineyards as a way of repaying their debt to the land.Although there are a few notable exceptions, much of the family’s vineyards are planted on the famous Barsac red sands, composed of red clay on a limestone subsoil. This slightly porous rock stores water throughout winter that can be dispensed to the vines during summer dry spells.Clos Floridène, named after both Florence and Denis, was established in 1982 to complement Florence’s family property at Reynon and Denis’ at Doisy-Daëne. Unusually in Graves, the soil is based on limestone, which allows them to make a distinctive, floral, cabernet-based red that ages well for up to a decade and a remarkable, mineral white deserving of ageing for two to ten years. Both are excellent value.Doisy-Daëne has been owned by the Dubourdieu family since 1924. Denis' father, Pierre Dubourdieu, was one of the most original and inventive winemakers in the region, constantly experimenting, and the first on his property to make a delicious and successful dry white, Doisy Daëne Sec.Denis clearly followed in his father's footsteps: he became a professor at Bordeaux University and was acknowledged as the leading Bordeaux expert in white wine in Bordeaux. Château Reynon, which was Denis and Florence Dubourdieu’s home property, is managed and harvested, parcel by parcel, with the same care as the family's famous Sauternes, Doisy-Daëne. The vineyard at Béguey, on a gravel and clay slope overlooking the Gironde in the Entre-Deux-Mers, is planted with half red and half white grapes. No herbicides are used here, and all of the grapes are handpicked. When they moved in the vineyard was not old but was badly planted so Denis began to replant 4 hectares a year from1988. Gradually they have also replaced the cabernet and will have 10% petit verdot (first used in 2008) with 90% merlot, because petit verdot succeeds, if well-pruned, on the land at the bottom of the slope where the other grapes do not. The vineyard is on a south-facing slope overlooking the Garonne. Merlot ripens early here, as early as in Pomerol in fact.Reynon’s red wine – a blend of 82% merlot with 13% cabernet sauvignon (a figure that is gradually decreasing) and 4% petit verdot – has ripe black-fruit aromas and fresh balance, and can age for three to eight years. The white wine, with grapefruit aroma and good length, ages equally well, and is a blend of 89% sauvignon with 11% semillon. Both wines are also aged in oak, a third of which is new, which gives a rounder texture. Château Cantegril in Barsac has been the home of The Society’s Exhibition Sauternes since 2001 (it is worth remembering that all Barsac can be Sauternes, but only Barsac can be Barsac) and this lusciously sweet wine is a blend of 64% semillon, 34% sauvignon blanc and 1% muscadelle, which is aged in 25% new oak and keeps beautifully for three to ten years. Cantegril is now also the home of Fabrice Dubourdieu, who got married in 2012. In 2013 his wife gave birth to their first child – a new generation to continue and further the family’s winemaking reputation for generations to come.
The best growers in the less-fashionable regions of the satellite appellations Blaye, Bourg, and the old Premières Côtes have to work that bit harder to get their wines known and the quality is often exceedingly high while the prices remain sensible. Blaye is the northernmost of these satellites, named after the town of Blaye (pronounced ‘Bly’), which sits on the varied soils of the right-hand shore of the great Gironde estuary. Merlot dominates and the majority of the wines are soft and easy-drinking, balanced and flavourful, but without the dominance of new oak. The wines are usually ready to drink much sooner than those of neighbouring Bourg.Côtes de Bourg is a smaller region south of Blaye, where the Dordogne joins the Garonne to become the Gironde. The soils here are more homogenously clay with limestone and the wines, though still generally merlot dominated, are more robust with delectable tannins, and they benefit from a little more time in bottle as a result. They can develop extremely well with short to mid-term cellaring.Before the draining of the marshes of the Médoc in the 17th century it was these areas that provided a good deal of the wine exported to Britain.Castillon adjoins Saint-Emilion to the east along the Dordogne and inland to the north. It is developing a good reputation for its wines and several prestigious producers from neighbouring appellations have invested a good deal to make wine here and too very good effect alongside a number of excellent locals such as Château de Pitray. Merlot again dominates on a mixture of soils from clay to sand and gravel, though cabernet sauvignon is also has a presence. A wider umbrella appellation controlee called simply Côtes de Bordeaux identifies special terroirs, which includes Blaye and Castillon with one or two others on the banks of the two rivers Garonne and Dordogne. The vast majority of production is red, made mostly from merlot, and there are many excellent producers here, such as Denis Dubourdieu.
Bordeaux has produced an abundance of superb wines in 2016. The reds exhibit real energy and vitality, with pure bouquets, plush silky tannins, plenty of mid-palate fruit and impressive length of flavour. Slightly lower-thanaverage alcohol levels, allied to the perfumed fruit and ripe tannins that typify the vintage, will ensure wines with exceptional balance and ageing potential. Comparisons of 2016 with previous vintages are hard to draw, and none of the owners and winemakers that we talked to during our visits were willing (or able) to suggest a similar vintage in terms of wine style. Nicolas Audebert, who makes the wines at Château Rauzan-Ségla, uses the description ‘un kilo de plumes’, or a pound of feathers for those preferring imperial measures, meaning that the wines have volume as opposed to weight. This comes closest to capturing the essence of the 2016s. Unlike last year, the successes of the 2016 vintage come from all corners of Bordeaux. Cabernets from the Médoc ripened beautifully from Margaux to Saint-Estèphe, as they did in PessacLéognan and the Graves, while both Pomerol and Saint-Emilion enjoyed a healthy, ripe merlot crop. So-called second wines were almost uniformly excellent too. This is partly due to the fact that with cabernet sauvignon ripening so perfectly, many châteaux increased the proportion of that grape in their grand vin. The knock-on effect was that high-quality merlot grapes, normally destined for the first wine, ended up in the properties’ second wines, to their undoubted benefit. One point of caution to note is that vineyards in some parts of Bordeaux this spring have been devastated by late frost (around 26th and 27th April), and consequently there will be little or no wine available from some châteaux in the 2017 vintage. The overused adage ‘buy now while stocks last’ may actually be relevant this year!
"This is a more serious wine than the Argadens 2016 I had a few days before. Merlot dominated but with a definite cassis component presumably from the Cab Sauv, the tannins have softened a little over the years but I think it still has room for improvement given its structure. Does need decanting, it has some sediment, but it probably benefits from that, to my mind it improved over the evening. Will be buying more."
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