The day after a splendid evening of Trotanoy at La Fleur Petrus (yes I am very late posting this) the C&B team gathered early in Libourne and headed out to Petrus for a full visit. It was a brilliant day, even the weather performed as I hope you can see in the pictures below. I had visited Petrus before but only during “primeurs” to taste the vintage. The last time being the “perfect” 2010…
The weather is a point worth going back to because 2014 is a vintage that to a large degree was saved by September sun and heat, the date of this visit was September 17th. They did not start picking in earnest for another week, it was pushing 30 degrees and very settled.
|Elisabeth Jaubert shows us the vineyards…|
Petrus is written about in many places – Neal Martin’s book has a large and brilliant chapter on it – so I will not bore you here. It is an amazing site on a button of blue clay that is the high point of Pomerol. Interestingly the vines do not go deep but go into the blue clay that is 4-8 metres in depth. There are many parcels to the plot and the wine in recent times has been 100% merlot, a rarity even in Pomerol. One of the advantages to being on one site is that picking can be precise and as shift or slow as needed. It can be 2-3 days or 2-3 weeks.
Once the grapes are harvested in terms of winemaking things are kept “simple”, approximately 50% new oak with racking every 3 months or so. Petrus uses three coopers for the barrels.
|The Chai allows for lots of parcels to be kept “apart”|
After the tour of the vineyard and chai we moved inside to taste the 2013.
2013 – Vibrant, rich, bright, it has an opulence as well as a nervousness, an almost stem-like crispness, cranberry and black berry. A stoney minerality that goes when the glass is swilled, tart opulence again, over time the middle will fill out. It is a relatively feminine Petrus.
We moved onto Clos Videlot, Jean-Pierre Moueix’s stunning former home, for lunch around one large table with every topic covered. Olivier Berrouet and Christophe Jacquemin were both on great form along with Elisabeth and Virginie.
After some lovely Bollinger NV (a little bottle age I am guessing) and a Beaune Blanc 2008 from Drouhin the real “work” began as we had two vintages of Petrus in front of us, one from magnum and one from bottle. Having had a few older vintages through the generosity of customer/friends I was fairly sure I had not had these two before. There was a pause with everyone slightly hoping someone would dive in. Adam made a good call and said lets nail it down to a particular decade…are we talking 1980’s? The answer was “yes” for both wines. I now stepped up to the plate and picked the left hand glass (the wine from bottle, not magnum) as 1985. My logic being it was balanced and elegant, seamless…I thought it was not a potentially “weaker” vintage – 80, 81, 84, 87 but not a “bold” vintage either – 82, 86, 88, 89…this only left ’83 and ’85 and I expected ’85 is more complete and precise. To great relief I was correct…exam passed!
The wine from magnum was left to the others, I was keen not to take any of the gloss off my respectable performance. The magnum was 1989, a more savoury, bigger, bolder wine with more richness but not over the top sweetness. I found the 1985 more complete at this time but that is the age and fact it is bottle not magnum. It was a truly brilliant lunch and we headed back to the airport without really wanting to!