3 Wineries Break The Mold in Bordeaux

Thanks to Emperor Napoleon and his infamous Grand Cru Classification of 1855, traditional winemaking methods have been upheld to ensure the quality and reputation of Bordeaux wines.

But this didn’t leave much room for change and innovation.

So, with climate change and a new generation of winemakers doing things differently around the globe, Bordeaux producers are deciding whether to stick to the rules, or do something different. (Now more than ever, since both national and international sales have fallen over this last year).

Fortunately, several small vineyards are leading the charge by transforming the ways they produce, sell, and market their wines. Let’s take a look at three wineries breaking the mold in Bordeaux.

Forbidden Fruit

In 1936, the AOC rules were altered and certain grapes were no longer grown, as they did not ripen during the past era’s climate.

chateau-cazebonne-biodynamic-bordeaux
Château Cazebonne’s line up features Bordeaux’s lost grapes, all biodynamically grown.

Some of these grape varieties included Saint-Macaire, Sauvignonasse, Castets, and Macins, among others. Now there is a rebel taking back these ancient grapes!

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Jean-Baptiste Duquesne (left) and grower, David Poutays (right) in their Graves-area vineyard.
Jean-Baptiste Duquesne (left) and grower, David Poutays (right) in their Graves-area vineyard.

Jean-Baptist Duquesne, owner of the unique Chateau Cazebonne in Bordeaux’s Graves region, is giving new life to forgotten grapes. Once forbidden to use in Bordeaux wines, you can now taste some of the original flavors of the region.

Duquensne’s wines reinvigorate past traditions rather than relying on chemistry to sustain quality in modern Bordeaux. Plus, the grapes and wines are produced biodynamically.


Hi-Low Bordeaux

Bordeaux Superieur wines have a reputation for being inferior to neighboring Grand Crus, but some of them pack quite a punch!

blind-tasting-wine-bordeaux-judging-reignac

For example, Château de Reignac came in second place in a blind tasting against Grand Cru estates like Château Pétrus and Cheval Blanc. What’s great is that their wines have a much more accessible price tag.

Reignyx - a comical wine cartoon from Bordeaux
Reignyx is the satirical voice of Chateau de Reignac on social media.

Embracing their hi-low reputation, Château de Reignac created a mascot, Reignyx. This is the hand-drawn convivial wino illuminates about life, death, and wine on social media. Reignyx also streams live on Facebook each week from the château.

And, Château de Reignac sells wine direct online, which means buyers and enthusiasts can find these wines beyond the local market.


Modernizing a Classic

In the sacred heart of the village of Saint-Émilion, you’ll find Cloître des Cordeliers. This is not a classic château, but the old ruins of a cloister from the 14th Century. Les Cordeliers has accomplished a small feat; they have revamped the image of sparkling white wine in Bordeaux!

The Clos Cordeliers sparking wine destination in St-Emilion, Bordeaux
Visitors enjoy wines within the cloister’s limestone walls.

While winemakers keep the traditional Crémant recipe, visitors enjoy wines in a French picnic setting within the cloister’s limestone walls and ailing pillars.

les-cordeliers-boutique-bordeaux-wine
Les Cordeliers reconditioned a monastery into a food and wine experience space.

Within the Clos, parts of the ruin have been transformed into a large boutique and tasting lounge with a restaurant. Future plans include a music stage and bar and is anticipated by 2021.

les-cordeliers-sparkling-pic-nic-bordeaux
The grounds at Les Cordeliers have a picnic area.

For Bordeaux, this is practically unheard of. The “dine and wine” hospitality approach is a New World wine tourism advent; the monks are rolling in their graves!


A New Old World is Coming

Old World and New World techniques both bring something to the table, and not just the wine! From ancient ruins to funky arty wine labels, ancient and modern methods are now colliding, mirroring, and influencing one another. It’s a world of wine and one that we are all lucky to enjoy!

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Sources:
  • Watch YouTube video about Château de Reignac's blind tasting.
  • Special thanks to Bordeaux Wine Trails, a wine tour company in Bordeaux, for bringing the new stories of Bordeaux to life!
  • Les Cordeliers sparkling wines in Saint-Émilion.
  • More information about Chateau Cazebonne's biodynamic wine project on wine funding.

About Kalpana Wright

I'm a girl from down under, living in Bordeaux and discovering what this beautiful world of wine has to offer. I do wine tours with bordeauxwinetrails.com