Andre Lurton and Chateau de Rochemorin

If you, my loyal reader, have been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that my blog posts are always about wines I’ve enjoyed. Why waste time writing about lousy wines when there are so many good ones, right?

And the first thing I do, when I want to write about a wine I’ve enjoyed, is research. I want to learn about the wine’s region, the people who contributed to its creation, and the winery that produced it.

So after drinking this really good Bordeaux the other night — Chateau de Rochemorin 2009 – I set out to do my usual. But what I discovered in my research wasn’t “the usual”. Take the winery’s history, for example: this Chateau traces its roots back to 1520. Really! That’s a long time ago.

And over the next 400 years the Chateau at Rochemorin was home to Lords and Ladies, Poets, one of the great philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment, and even an honest-to-God Musketeer! (the dashing, sword-wielding type, not the candy bar type).

Vines were planted on Lord Rochemorin’s estate in the region we know as Graves in the 16th century, and good-to-very-good wine was made there continuously for four hundred years. Holy cow! That kinda puts the “Old” into “Old World” wines.

Then in 1919, the estate was sold to a lumber baron, and it wasn’t until 1973 that it  was rescued  by Andre Lurton, a man whose family wine history isn’t too shabby, either. The Lurton’s have been wine producers in Bordeaux since 1650, and at this point there are “no fewer than 17 family members of the currrent generation working in the wine trade today.” In fact, the appellation within Graves where the winery sits, Pessac-Leognan, was created in 1987 after 20 years of lobbying by none other than Andre Lurton.

So enough preamble: let’s get to the wine. Bordeaux is arguably the King of Old World wine. Reds from Pessac-Leognan, which is part of Bordeaux’s Left Bank, can be blended from the six traditional Bordeaux grapes (the Lurton website includes Carmenere as the sixth grape). The Chateau de Rochemorin is blended from just two grapes — 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.

Right off the nose, I got  a whole lot more fruit than I’d expected. Ripe blackberries came first, with some soft vanilla behind them. I was really looking for Old World leather and barnyard, but I just didn’t get it. Not that that’s a bad thing — this wine fit right in with my New World sensibility.

But as I sipped I thought, “OK, here comes the barnyard.” But it didn’t! The palate showed lots of ripe, rich blackberry and cassis, with sweet vanilla oak on the finish.

Where was the barnyard?? Where was the Old World austerity??

I think they disappeared with the wonderful 2009 weather. This is an exceptional vintage in France and particularly on the Left Bank. The Wine God himself, Robert Parker Jr., has dubbed it “One of the best in decades.” It was warm and dry, so grapes were able to reach a level of ripeness that’s not typical of the region.

What that means for this wine, and others like it, is that the Old World doesn’t taste so Old. The stylistic differences we’ve come to rely on — that New World is fruit-forward and rich and Old World is elegant and austere — just don’t hold much weight.

I really enjoyed Chateau de Rochemorin and hope I’ll find lots more 2009 Bordeaux’s just like it. Do yourself a favor and try this one, and do me a favor and let me know what you think. Cheers!



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