The List




The List


Chateau La Conseillante

The 1855 classification system casts a long shadow over Bordeaux. Despite being the subject of much criticism over the past century or so, the system, and its various ‘grand cru’ epithets, still maintain a hegemony, of sorts, with the aristocratic cru classe chateaux lording it over the middle class cru bourgeois and the plain old working class AOC wines.

Pomerol, though, was spared having its wines allotted their individual social classes in this way, primarily because the appellation, together with Saint Emilion and the Graves (with the notable exception of Haut Brion), was not particularly highly regarded at the time. The irony is, of course, that Pomerol’s top estates, such as Petrus and Le Pin, have been producing some of the most highly regarded and expensive wine in the world for some years now – an irony perhaps not lost on the estates themselves, which, unlike neighbouring Saint Emilion, have never felt the necessity of introducing their own system.

Most fans of Pomerol, though, will know that there is a widely established, albeit slightly covert, pecking order. And, at the top of this order, sitting alongside such wines as Lafleur, Petrus and L’Evangile, is the lesser known, and, thankfully, considerably cheaper, Chateau La Conseillante; a wine that embodies all that is great about Pomerol.

Situated near to the border with Saint Emilion (and just across the road from Cheval Blanc), La Conseillante’s vines sit on mixed soils; there is some clay, some sand and some gravel. There are twelve hectares of vines, and the mix is around 75% merlot, 15% cabernet franc and 5% malbec, which, generally is mirrored in the blend of the final wine. Harvesting is manual, and the wine is aged in primarily new oak barrels for around eighteen months prior to bottling.

For those of you brought up on the notion that merlot dominated wines are flavoursome, but ultimately shallow wines that one drinks before progressing to more serious stuff, a great Pomerol, like La Coinseillante, will come as something of a surprise, such is the sheer depth of flavour of the finest examples.

Our recommended vintage – the 2005 – exemplifies everything that is fine, both about this estate and the appellation in general. On the nose there are extremely well defined notes of plums and damsons, whilst the palate exhibits a supremely stylish combination of redcurrants, bitter dark chocolate and a notion of vanilla pods. The tannins are well developed, but do not dominate, lending the wine ample complexity and a firm but smooth finish.

This is a wine that will develop for many years in the bottle, but, although it will reward patience, it remains a comparatively forward wine that will not punish, with austerity and harshness, the inquisitive early drinker.

In essence, despite its long history, La Conseillante is not an outwardly showy wine; it does not have the fame of Petrus, the infamy of the right bank’s garage wines, or the honorific titles of the grand premier cru gang. Instead, it lets the wine speak for itself, and with a wine as good as this, that is all that is needed.