Friday, March 26, 2010

In the Glass: 1970 Chateau de la Rivière, Fronsac, Bordeaux

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller

In the Glass: 1970 Chateau de la Rivière, Fronsac, France


When I bought a case of this Fronsac wine some 30 years ago, my cousin Karlheinz had recommended the wine, because the two Fronsacs offered a good value. And I believe they still do.

Surrounding Pomerol and Saint-Emilion and the town of Libourne, 40 miles east of Bordeaux, are the Libourne satellites: Lalande-de-Pomerol, various Saint-Emilion neighbors such as Montagne-Saint-Emilion, as well as the Fronsac

Fronsac has two wine regions. There's a smaller Canon-Fronsac inside the larger Fronsac appellation. Both make reds, using merlot as the dominant grape variety.

Picture: The Bordeaux region

In the 1800s, Fronsac's wines were the stars of the Libournais. They were higly sought after by the French Court. However, Saint-Emilion wines rose in fame in the mid-19th century and those of Pomerol somewhat later while those from Fronsac lost in popularity. By the 1950s, this decline had come to a point, where the price of a Fronsac was little more than that of Bordeaux Supérieur. Since then, however, there was a turn around and in particular since 1970, things have been improving in Fronsac.

Chateau de la Rivière

Chateau de la Rivière has an impressive history, going back to the 8th century. In fact, it is something of a surprise to discover what history there is in Fronsac, languishing in the shadow of the exalted properties of the Medoc, Graves, Pomerol and St Emilion.

On the remainders of tombelle Gallo-Roman, Charlemagne was the first builder of the Château de la Rivière in the 8th century. This defensive fortress was positioned in a strategic point for the observation of possible invaders. Then in the 16th century, Gaston de l' Isle, from Bordeaux build what still can be admired today.

After Jean Balluteaud (1927), Jacques Borie (1962) and Jean Leprince (1994), it is today James Grégoire (purchase in 2003), who owns the Château de la Rivière.

It is the largest wine estate in Fronsac, with over 50 hectars of vineyard planted, compared with 10 hectars of most other estates. The Chateau produces 300.000 bottles annually.

The vineyards at Chateau de la Rivière are planted with Merlot, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the area planted to vines, with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon and some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The terroir is a mixture of clay, sand and limestone, arranged in a south-facing amphitheatre.

The wine is made using a cold maceration of three to four days and the fermentation is temperature controlled, with pumping over.

My Tasting Notes

Milky-red, brownish in the glass, leather, raspberry and fruitcake on the nose, generally restrained aromas, black and red fruit on the palate, with good acidity and solid tannins, showing some signs of maturity, but is still fresh, is unlikely to improve.

Mission Bordeaux

My fellow-Blogger Heike Larsson has posted a very good introduction for newcomers to the Bordeaux wines, which you can find here.

Her posting, as well as this one, is part of an effort called “Mission Bordeaux”, initiated by Uli Kutting. He is one of 4 authors of the Wine Blog Weinspion. They write in German.

Mission Bordeaux is supposed to be a digitale journey to Bordeaux with the view of discovering the Bordeaux region with its fine wines from different angles. The Weinspion has created a facebook group which has about 50 members currently. Hopefully, it will grow into a comprehensive data base for the Bordeaux region and its wines over time.

Chateau de la Rivière, 33126 Fronsac
Telephone: +33 (0) 5 57 55 56 56
Fax +33 (0) 5 57 24 94 39

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

In the glass: Hugel et Fils wines at the cuisine des emotions de Jean Luc Brendel at Riquewihr in Alsace

In the Glass: Iroulegy - A Wine from the South West of France

In the Glass: 2007 Rheinhessen with Oysters at the Ten Bells in the Lower East Side in Manhattan

In the Glass: 2001 Riesling Gold Quatrat trocken Weingut Sybille Kuntz Mosel

In the Glass: 2005 Christian's Cuvee Woelffer Estate Vineyard Long Island USA

In the Glass: A 2007 Pinot Noir from the Gault Millau Shooting Star of the Year - Estate Baron Gleichenstein, Germany

In the Glass: Pinot Noir from France, Germany and California


  1. Nice way to spend an evening - drinking wine from 1970... :-) Just for reference, which price category would this one roughly belong to?

    I bought a Cru Bourgeois in FRA the other day, following your hint.

    Thank you for mentioning my 5-min-introduction. I think this 'project' is very interesting and it will be fun to see how much information we can collect.

  2. hi
    would you happen to know if in the 1760's the family living/owning this chateau was that of Joseph Octavius GREENE ? or a link to trace please? I am in Australia & have struck "dead-end" reply