Built in the middle of the 19th century, Château Charmail commands a charming estate overlooking the Gironde. Surrounding the château, the vineyard is all of a piece, situated on gravel crests and at present covers some twenty hectares. It is planted to Cabernet franc and Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
Winemaking is performed by the owner, Olivier Sèze, a trained agronomist, well-versed in the latest enological methods. Indeed, in tandem with the Pauillac-based enologist, Michel Couasnon, Sèze has be-come a veritable pioneer ("maverick" might be the more accurate term) in the Médoc. Since 1991, his successful development of the technique called, "pre-fermentation, cold maceration" has roused interest through-out the Médoc, in Saint-Emilion, and even at the Institute of Enology in Bordeaux. The technique is similar to that widely employed by the Burgundian enologist, Guy Accad, although much less sulfur dioxide is used at Charmail. It results in deeply colored, "fatter" wines with softer tannins than might otherwise be the case using traditional fermentation techniques.
Learn More About Bordeaux Red Blends
Bordeaux Blends The Fab Five With so much history under its belt, it's no wonder that Bordeaux has figured out the recipe to produce amazing wines. Centuries of making (and drinking) wine led to the blend that has become synonomous with Bordeaux. Winemakers in the New World replicate this formula to create successful blends in their respective regions - you may see Bordeaux blends from the US labeled Meritage (rhymes with heritage). The name defines American wines made from Bordeaux grapes.
Notable Facts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. These five red grapes are the components of a classic Bordeaux blend. Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot usually play the lead role, while Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot act as the supporting cast. These three grapes help to add color, structure and body in varying amounts. A Bordeaux blend typically, but not exclusively, uses at least three of the five grapes to be labeled as such, but many wines in Bordeaux and else where stick to just two. The beauty of the blend? Each year the percentage of each grape in the blend can vary and the winemaker can include more of the variety that excelled in that particular vintage.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Bordeaux, California, Australia, Washington
Learn More About Medoc, Bordeaux, France
Mecca of Wine
Médoc is the region that encompasses the smaller appellations of Pauillac, Margaux, St.-Estèphe & St.-Julien. As a larger appellation, it contains many chateaux that are the same style of the smaller appellations, but at a smaller price. There are two regions of the Médoc – the Bas Médoc (or lower-Médoc) and the Haut Médoc (or upper-Médoc) – so given the names as the Bas Médoc is lower elevation (yet northern) and the Haut Médoc is higher elevation (but south of Bas Médoc). Most quality wines come from the Haut Médoc, although many wines carry just the appellation Médoc.
Situated in the Haut-Médoc, west of the river are the communes Listrac & Moulis. Between these two appellations and the river lie many Médoc chateaux producing delicious, Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines, often at a good value. Wines of the Médoc and Haut-Médoc appellation are less expensive, yet delicious, ways to experience the left bank of Bordeaux. Most are not as complex or age-worthy as those wines from the smaller communes along the riverbank, but many are great everyday wines, particularly suited for enjoying with food.