Who is Chateau de Lamarque?
A winery with a long history in Bordeaux. From the Chateau de Lamarque website, “…The feudal lord of Lamarque (the step) was so named because it was situated on the border of Guyenne. Along with two other fortresses, the Lamarque fortress had to defend the Médoc territory from Viking invasions coming from the Gironde. Later on, during the Hundred Years’ War, the fortress was subjected to heavy attacks. In the XIVth Century, Pons de Castillon, built the defence towers, the entrance gate, the battlements and crenellated walls around the original fortress to create the building which exists today…
…In 1839, the Château de Lamarque was bought by the Comte de Fumel, a descendant of an established Quercy family, whose most famous members include, one of the first ambassadors sent to Turkey by François 1st, Henri III’s famous adviser, a Chief of Staff of the French Army stationed in India, a Commanding Military General of the Médoc, and the first elected mayor of Bordeaux in 1790, who is the great-great-grandfather of Pierre-Gilles Gromand-Brunet d’Evry. Pierre-Gilles Gromand d’Evry today is responsible for the future of the Château’s vineyard…” And the person I shared dinner and his wine with at the Provence Marinaside Restaurant.
Château de Lamarque is located in the Haut-Médoc on the left bank of the Gironde, between Margaux and Pauillac. Marie-Hélène Gromand d’Evry undertook steps to improve vineyard practices as the quality of the harvest and care of the vines is of utmost importance. This involved monitoring and analyzing the vines from the soil through to the grapes, leaves, and vines. A detailed map of the vineyard, parcel by parcel, was produced to enable a much greater understanding of the diversity of soils and how to best look after the vines.
The vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot but the amount of Cabernet Franc is being reduced and Cabernet Sauvignon is being increased for qualitative reasons.
Dinner With Pierre-Gilles Gromand d’Evry at Provence Marinaside
Three vintages of Chateau de Lamarque were poured this evening; 2012, 2010, and 2001. The 2001 came in a magnum, while the other two were in 750 ml bottles. I did not know what to expect when I met Mr. Gromand d’Evry, but was quite happy to see how relaxed and willing to share information about their wines, vinification, and anything else wine related in the world. His passion comes through in his discussion of questions that I, and others posed to him. Even something as simple as a question about the percentages of different grape varieties in the Chateau de Lamarque, comes with detailed information on individual sites, free run vs press juice, and more. It makes what you taste in the glass make more sense. All the wines are
top quality in my opinion. I cannot say that one should be preferred over the other. Each year you are presented with different variables of sunshine, rain, wind, etc., that all affect the grapes and the wines that are produced. So each you can say is unique; like children in a family.
For my main course, I ordered Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb crusted with Dijon and fresh herbs, market vegetables. The lamb was done medium, wonderfully pink and soft. All three of the vintages of Chateau de Lamarque made a complementary pairing with the dish. The flavours of the wines did not overpower the dish. The tannins, although already fine in the wine, softened a bit more with the lamb, and the acidity in the wine, cut through the fattiness in the lamb. A recommended pairing.
Chateau de Lamarque 2012 (~$40) – This will be available for purchase at the 2017 Vancouver International Wine Festival. It is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. Medium garnet with a solid core. Medium intensity nose with aromas of red plums, ripe black fruit, floral, cedar, oak, and nutmeg. I would say that the nose on this wine is very structured; a balance of fruits, oak, and spice. Medium minus body, with a lighter mouthfeel. Dry, round and silky. Black fruit, red cherries and nutmeg flavours; a hint of perfume; getting spicy starting at the mid palate. Some salty minerality. Medium tannins that finish soft. Not too heavy a wine, and not too light; just right.
Chateau de Lamarque 2010 – A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque garnet in the glass. Light intensity, ripe red fruit, red cherries and sweet spice on the nose. Medium plus body, and quite spicy. Ripe black and red fruit flavours. Medium plus length with fine tannins. Pierre-Gilles thought that the wine was served a bit too warm, and had it chilled down a few degrees; it made significant changes to the wine. The wine became very smooth on the palate and the pepperiness decreased. A rich, ripe wine.
Chateau de Lamarque 2001 – This wine was served to us from a magnum, which affects how slowly wine ages in the bottle. In general, the bigger the bottle, the slower wine ages. This wine didn’t show any bricking; it was inky solid garnet in colour. This wine is a bit different in the blend compared to the other 2 vintages. It is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. A light nose, showing a hint of floral, ripe black fruit and some oak. Fuller bodied, dry and round with medium minus mouthfeel. Salty minerality was quite prominent to me, along with a mix of red and black fruits and pepper. Medium plus length. The tannins start grippy but finish soft. This wine, with 16 years of age already, can still last many more years.
An Observation about these Wines
One of my observations about these 3 wines is that the oldest vintage has very prominent salty minerality on the palate. The main difference that I could see between this wine and the other two wines was the presence of Cabernet Franc. Could it be that Cabernet Franc, on the soil type of these vineyards, extracts more of the minerality from the soil and presents it in the glass? I asked Pierre-Gilles about this and he did think that this is a possible answer to my question.
It would be interesting to further explore this hypothesis. Are there certain grape varieties, on certain soil types that show more minerality? This is a very interesting question; one which I will research and hopefully post the results of my investigations to you in a later article.
Thank you to Provence Marinaside for serving us wonderful food to go with these wonderful wines from Chateau de Lamarque.