Bordeaux's Right Bank is best known for its great appellations of St. Emilion and Pomerol. But there are hundreds of chateaux making wine east of the Gironde River. Merlot is the dominant variety. Most of these Chateaux have vineyards that are planted on less than optimal soil, many in poorly drained locales. It's really a case of the 'haves' and 'have nots.' While some estates are producing green, herbaceous reds that are unsellable on the world market, a handful are making delicious, fruity reds with structure that is typical of the better Right Bank appellations.
Alain Martung spent years working for Jean-Michel Cazes. owner of Chateau Bages, before taking the leap, and investing with a few friends in this 48 hectare estate, 23 of which are planted to vines. While the Chateau's lower end bottling, Chateau Barreyre, is of good quality, we were particularly pleased with the smaller production Chateau Haut Barreyre; a barrel-aged bottling made from grapes harvested from 20-30 year old vines at the summit of the estate.
Made from a blend of 77% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is the best release to date from the Chateau. The 2005 vintage was extraordinary on Bordeaux's Right Bank, providing an almost perfectly sanitary growing season. Grapes at Barreyre came in full with wonderfully high natural sugar levels and with fine, firm acid backbone. Yields were low at less than 3 tons per acre.
After a cool, three day pre-fermentation, the grapes fermented at cool temperatures for three weeks so as to enhance color and extraction. The wine was aged for twelve months in largely French cooperage.
Enjoy this classical Bordeaux with meats, poultry and game with almost any sort of preparation. Serve on the cool side at 60 degrees.