Domaine La Chapelle has announced this week, the inclusion of two of its most renowned wines, La Chapelle and Le Chevalier de Sterimberg, into Bordeaux La Place.
“This marks a significant milestone for La Chapelle as we proudly associate ourselves with the esteemed wines of La Place de Bordeaux,” stated Caroline Frey, President and winemaker of Domaine La Chapelle. Reflecting on the heritage of the vineyard, Frey further shared, “The hill of La Chapelle, once tended by the Chevalier de Sterimberg in the 13th century, has an emotional resonance that every visitor can feel.”
The highly anticipated release is being rolled out starting today, August 31st, featuring the debut of the 2021 vintage of La Chapelle and Chevalier de Sterimberg. Wine experts and collectors can also delight in the availability of the 2006, 2011, and 2013 vintages of La Chapelle.
“Over nearly two decades, our team has passionately worked to sustain the unique heritage of this terroir, and we believe this partnership with La Place de Bordeaux will further complement our journey,” explained Frey.
Domaine La Chapelle, held by the Frey family alongside esteemed estates such as Château La Lagune and Château Corton C, stands as a testament to winemaking’s artistry and heritage. Spanning 26 hectares across the exquisite terroirs of Hermitage, La Chapelle continues to shine among the world’s most exceptional wines.
Jean-Marc Lafage, renowned winemaker from Roussillon’s Domaine Lafage, made history as the first producer to start harvesting in France this year. Lafage’s picking season commenced August 2nd in what has been a particularly dry year for the region. Despite the challenges posed by the drought, Jean-Marc remains optimistic about the quality of their harvest.
The first grapes to be harvested were Muscat à Petits Grains – these are used to create a lower-alcohol dry white blend called Miraflors. This blend also includes Macabeo and Colombard grapes, resulting in a wine with an ABV of approximately 10.2%. Lafage describes Miraflors as having a slight fizz, creating a light and refreshing style.
Regarding the growing conditions this year, Lafage notes that Roussillon experienced a severe drought. The region received only a third of its average rainfall over the past 20 years, with Domaine Lafage recording a total of just 200mm for 2023. However, Lafage states that their vineyards near the sea or high in the mountains fared relatively well.
In contrast, vineyards in areas between the coast and mountains, which traditionally produce fortified wines, faced significant challenges. Lafage anticipates losing up to 60% of the crop in these vineyards. But where regenerative viticulture techniques have been applied, such as permanent ground cover and no tilling of the soil, yields are expected to be higher.
Lafage highlights the success they have observed in vineyards practicing regenerative viticulture and utilizing biochar and cover crops. He states, “In these places, instead of losing 60% of the crop [due to desiccation], we are seeing maybe a 25-30% reduction [in yields], and we see fresh grapes and bigger berries.” The presence of a cover crop has resulted in berries that are nearly twice the size compared to other areas, weighing around 0.8-1 grams per berry compared to 0.5g elsewhere. Lafage attributes this difference to the ability of the cover crop and biochar to help the soil retain water.
In terms of quality, Lafage believes that in vineyards where the vines did not suffer excessive heat stress, they may harvest the best grapes they have ever had. Furthermore, these fully ripe berries have achieved lower sugar levels, resulting in an ABV of 12.5% to 13% yet retaining the same flavor as fruit that would typically be harvested at 14-15.5% ABV.
Lafage also notes that their vineyards in Roussillon have been fortunate to not experience mildew, unlike other parts of France such as Gascony and Bordeaux. The constant wind and arid conditions in the area have helped protect the vines.
The Bordeaux Wine Festival was held June 22nd to 25th, where attendees were part of wine-tasting programmes and other fun experiences. But the highlight of the festival was the spectacular drone show. The Bordeaux Wine Festival 2023 took an environment-friendly approach to replace its annual firework with drones.
Over 400 drones lit up the night sky over the Garonne River in Bordeaux. There were 20-minute shows held on both Friday and Saturday where the drones created stunning formations of wine being poured into a glass from a bottle, a vineyard, and the drones went into formation spelling: ‘Bordeaux celebrates wine’ in bold letters in the stunning night sky. The drones were operated by the French company Dronisos.
Experts from the Bordeaux Science Agro have just revealed a report which includes mapping of the terroir’s potential. The main objective of this eighteen-month study is to evaluate the viticultural potential of the terroir of the Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux appellation for red wines.
Other objectives of the study include:
to preserve the great viticultural terroirs;
improve winegrower’s knowledge of their terroirs;
identify the soil and climate characteristics of the AOC;
highlight the specific characteristics of the intercommunal area; and to
improve viticultural practices in relation to the soil, and lastly, ensure the ecological transition of properties and enhance the landscape.
The aim of the study was to also analyze and map out the AOC, which is spread over 39 communes and covers 27,000 hectares, including an AOC area of 13,200 hectares.
This study was broken down into three phases, as follows:
Construction of the model, modelization: Initial mapping showed that over 60% of the AOC area is in favorable or even extremely favorable zones;
Validation of the model: consideration of geographical and non-geographical results following interviews with winegrowers. Non-geographical results: soil, exposure, topographical position, slope; and to
Improvement of the model by experts.
Here are the findings:
Five zones were established from ‘not very favorable’ to ‘extremely favorable’, with
the less favorable areas being the zones of humid alluvial plains (locally known as ‘palus’), and deep valley bottoms. Moderately favorable areas are the plateaux of redoxic silty luvisols (hydromorphic silty ‘boulbènes’) and the areas of calcareous colluviosols at the palus/slopes interface. The most favorable areas are the slopes on ‘Agenais’ molassic formations, which are predominantly to the north. The east/west facing slopes on Agenais molasses are very favorable areas, as are the areas bordering plateaux, and hilltops too. And finally, the slopes on the predominantly southern Agenais molasses, as well as convex plateaux and gravelly outcrops bordering plateaux (known as ‘peyrosols’) are extremely favorable zones in our region.
In conclusion, the findings report that 70% of the region is “favorable” to “extremely favorable” zones for red production. To take this even deeper, here are a few facts you need to know:
Gravelly soils are the hallmark of the appellation. These deep soils provide a significant water reserve, and their depth is an important asset when it comes to coping with climate change.
The most important thing to bear in mind about the terroir is its clay soil. Soils on molassic formations are good for making wines that can be kept for a long time or aging. Swelling clay soils are the best. They provide a balanced water supply that is ideal for the vines. But clay-limestone soils also have their advantages. They help to limit water supply, control nitrogen levels in the soil, and protect the vines.
Currently, it is still very difficult to map clay soils. The variability of molasses is not conducive to mapping.
“Soil management and the development of terroirs are major challenges for the sustainability of AOCs,” explains Chantal Larnaudie, President.
The ambition is also to bring new winegrowers on board (out of 14,000 hectares of AOC vineyards, only 7,000 are planted, and 1,900 are declared as Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux).
Finally, this study will also enable us to select the best terroirs to produce dry white wines, sweet wines, and rosé wines as the Cadillac, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux, and Premières Côtes de Bordeaux PDOs are the only ones in the Bordeaux region to be able to claim all wine colors as PDOs, including crémants.
The ODG is also considering widening its specifications to include new colors now that scientific data are available.
Sustainable Wine Tourism
Easy to reach, the Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux region meets the criteria of sustainable tourism. Follow the dedicated cycle track from Bordeaux and stop off at the estates or take the train to Cérons from Gare Saint Jean in Bordeaux and you’re here in 20 minutes with an electric bike. Another possibility is by boat!
Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux
AOC red wines (97% of volumes): Cadillac – Côtes de Bordeaux: 57,400 hl – 1,628 ha – 158 producers – 35 hl/ha – AOC white wines (3% of volumes): Cadillac: 785 hl – 45 ha – 31 producers – 14hl/ha and Premières Côtes de Bordeaux: 1,200 Hl – 48 ha – 26 producers – 24 hl/ha
* Preserving biodiversity: 90% of winegrowers have certification. 100% local products from independent winegrowers
* History: A true pioneering spirit
* Winegrowers to discover: Authenticity, with a large number of family estates (82%) handed down from father to son… or father to daughter!
* Les Grandes Côtes: A large wine-growing area with, from bottom to top, 3 geological formations perfectly well drained by the tributaries of the Garonne:
Shallow, brown soils on starfish limestone and clay, stony brown soils (clay / gravel high terraces), leached soils on plateaux (‘Boulbènes’)
* The Garonne effect: The river contributes to the uniqueness of Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux wines thanks to the temperate local climate
* Modern wines: Perfect balance between the 4 Bordeaux grape varieties, Merlot (55%) Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Cabernet Franc (15%) and Petit Verdot (5%).