miércoles, 20 de marzo de 2013

Chateau du Courlat Cuvée Jean-Baptiste, Lussac Saint Emilion, Vignobles Bourotte 2006


"This well-made, low level wine possesses attractive elegance, sweet black cherry and plum-like fruit, hints of incense and underbrush, and a dark ruby/purple color." Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #188, April 2010.

- Winery: Chateau du Courlat Cuvée Jean-Baptiste is a red wine from the Lussac-Saint-Emilion wine growing appellation. From 1991 to 2002, Pierre Bourotte, grandson of Jean-Baptiste Audy, ran the company and since 2003 his son Jean-Baptiste has been at the helm. Jean-Baptiste Audy is a family-run company negociant which also owns several Chateaux including Chateau du Courlat. In 1906, Jean-Baptiste Audy settled in Libourne, and began a wine trading company along the banks of the Dordogne river, on the celebrated Quai du Priourat, well known for its many wine merchant offices. He distributed all the leading wines of Bordeaux, with a clear preference for the Right Bank, and most particularly the appellation of Pomerol. Chateau de Courlat Cuvée Jean-Baptiste, in honour of Pierre Bourotte’s grand-father, and is a wine of power and depth. It is 100% Merlot from vines with an average age of 25 years grown on the estate's clay-loam vineyards and aged for 18 months in French tight-grain oak barrels (1/3 new, 1/3 first fill and 1/3 second fill). Robert Parker considers Chateau de Courlat "always among the best in the appellation" whilst Decanter Magazine says it is "among the 10 best wines of the Saint-Emilion satellites". Consultant winemakers are Michel Rolland and Christian Veyry.

- Price: £14.76


Merlot is a red wine variety with strong historic ties to Bordeaux and the south-west of France. It is the predominant variety in most wines from Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. the area in which the variety originated. The variety is now widely planted in wine regions across the world, and in terms of the volumes of wine produced internationally, it is rivaled only by its Bordeaux companion, Cabernet Sauviqnon.

In France, Merlot is the most widely planted red wine variety of all, and it is also extremely popular in northern Italy and the warmer areas of southern Switzerland. The popularity of Merlot in the United States resulted in a significant increase in planting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly in California and Washington on the country's west coast. However, while Merlot-based wines were the height of fashion then, popularity has since dropped significantly in favor of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir.

Chile, a country which has long been known as a source of good value wine, has built its reputation mainly on its Meriot-based cuvees. The country has made good use of Merlot in both the high-production wines and some of its finer wines, particularly those from Apalta and the wider Colchaqua Valley.

Investigations into the genetics of Merlot suggest that it is dosely related to Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, its Bordeaux blending partners. Carmenere, an historic member of the extended Bordeaux variety is also a close relative, and has been mistaken as Merlot for many years in the vineyards of Chile.

The precise flavors that Merlot imparts to a wine are not easily grouped. It is a grape used for producing wines of a particular texture, rather than a particular taste, relying on organoleptic properties other than Just flavor and aroma.

Smooth, rounded and ,easy-drinking, are common descriptions of Merlot wines. The main reason for this is that Merlot grapes are relatively large in relation to their pips and the thickness of the skins, in which tannins are found. For this reason, the variety is used to soften wines made from more tannic varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon (in the Medoc) or Malbec (in Cahors). It is also used in cooler vintages to balance the austerity of under-ripe grapes and to make the wines more approachable at an earlier age.

Merlot might be seen as the 'reliable' grape variety, or as an insurance policy. Along with its capacity to soften wine, it is early-maturing - meaning that it ripens even in slightly cooler climates. Its key drawback is that the early-developing flowers are more susceptible to frost damage in spring.

Popular blends include: Cabernet Sauvianon - Merlot, Bordeaux blend, Cabernet Franc - Merlot, Meritaae, Cabernet - Merlot - Shiraz, Cabernet - Merlot - Tempranillo, Chianti blend, Merlot - Sanaiovese, Merlot - Tempranillo, Cabernet - Merlot - Sanaiovese.

Synonyms include: Merlot Noir.

Related grape varieties include: Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvianon.


Lussac-Saint-Emilion is the most northerly of the 'satellites' of the larger Saint-Emilion appellation in the 'right bank' Libournais district of Bordeaux.

The Lavie stream runs along the southern boundary of Lussac-Saint-Emilion, neatly separating it from Montagne-Saint-Emilion. To the east is the Cotes de Francs appellation, which, together with Lussac, marks the north-eastern edge of the Bordeaux region. The landscape here is slightly higher and more rolling than that which prevails closer to the Dordogne, although a certain element of alluvial day is still found in its soils.

The grapes permitted within the Lussac-Saint-Emilion appellation are Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is the dominant variety by far, most often partnered with Cabernet Franc (known here as 'Bouchet'). Cabernet Sauvignon is much less commonly planted in the cooler soils of the Saint-Emilion area in general, and only produces wines of reliable quality when located in very specific spots. The prevalence of Merlot (an early flowering variety) means that the appellation is susceptible to spring frosts and can lose the majority of its output in a cold year.

To qualify for the Lussac-Saint-Emilion appellation, wines must contain a minimum of 11% alcohol and come from vineyards planted to a density of less than 5500 vines per hectare. Wines made from hybrid vines or those under three years old do not qualify.

The four Saint-Emilion satellites are Saint-Georaes-Saint-Emilion. Montaane-Saint-Emilion, Puisseouin-Saint-Emilion and Lussac-Saint-Emilion itself - all located to the north of Saint-Emilion town. Previously, Parsac-Saint-Emilion and Sables-Saint-Emilion were also valid appellations, but the four named above are those recognized in the early 21st century. They are known as satellites because the area's more prestigious wine estates historically resented these supposedly inferior wines using the Saint-Emilion name. In the middle of the 20th century, several boundaries were changed and the villages of Lussac, Montagne, Puisseguin and Saint-Georges were granted their own independent Saint-Emilion appellations.

The Barbanne river, which runs parallel to the Dordogne, marks the southern boundary of three of these appellations. The river is of particular significance because it is the historical boundary between the 'Langue d'oil' and the 'Langue d'oc' - the northern and southern halves of old France respectively. This is where the Languedoc region derives its name.

References: farehamwinecellar and wine-searcher 

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