Visit to Chateau Pontet-Canet Pauillac Bordeaux
Chateau Pontet-Canet is a Fifth growth Bordeaux in Pauillac, and is one of my most memorable wine estate visits. It was part of my MW student Bordeaux trip in March of 2017.
Alfred Tesseron was a welcoming and warm host, and along with his “régisseur”(viticulturist and winemaker) Jean-Michel Comme, we tasted through several vintages, wandered through the vineyards and winery learning about this biodynamically certified estate. The wines we tasted were all elegant, delicious, with fine tannin and black berried brilliance.Tasting through the vintages, you can see the stamp that is Pontet-Canet, and the freshness and purity of the fruit featuring more prominently in more recent years; mirroring their farming and cellar practices.
At the end of the tour, with all of our questions answered, we were treated to an amazing dinner in the Chateau, which is still their home. Truly an overwhelmingly amazing experience.
Chateau Pontet-Canet goes back to the 1700’s, and has belonged to three different families in the past 3 centuries. Alfred’s father Guy, purchased the Chateau in 1975, and Alfred’s first vintage was 1994. In 1995 organic practices were being implemented and slowly they changed the focus toward the vine and its needs away from practices that harkened back to post WWII. They started Biodynamic certification in 2005, with a small setback in 2007 (due to a mistake in chemical inputs and a very wet vintage);They earned the Biodynamic certification in 2010.
The vineyards span a total of 81 ha, and are planted to mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Horses are used in the vineyards, creating less compacted soils than tractors, and their hooves allow rain to soak in more easily.
In the gravity fed winery there are 3 different fermentation options: concrete, wood, and clay amphorae(the amphorae have been made from clay excavated from the vineyards). This allows Jean-Michel and his team a range of options to create their complex, balanced and terroir driven wines.
Melanie Tesseron, Alfred’s niece, works alongside Alfred and Jean-Michel at Chateau Pontet-Canet, as it transitions slowly into the hands of the next generation.