Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Wines from Entre Deux Mers Winemaker Joel Duffau

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Sandrine and Joel Duffau at Laurent Givrey's Grand Storage Tasting

Laurent Givrey from Elite Imports brought a large group of winemakers over to the Washington DC area at the end of April. I was able to establish contact with and taste the wines of a number of them. One of the winemakers, who impressed me very much, was Entre Deux Mers winemaker Joel Duffau. I had the opportunity to taste his wines at Paul’s on Wisconsin Avenue.

Bordeaux – Left Bank, Right Bank and Entre Deux Mers

Bordeaux wine takes its name from the region’s main city, which derives from the French bord de l’eau, meaning “along the waters.” The Bordeaux region is the second largest winegrowing area in the world, with more than 287,000 acres under vine. More vineyard land is planted in Bordeaux than in all of Germany, and ten times the amount planted in New Zealand.

The Gironde estuary dominates the regions along with its tributaries, the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers. These rivers define the main geographical subdivisions of the region:

The Left Bank is situated on the left bank of the Garonne, in the west and south of the region, around the city of Bordeaux itself. The Left Bank is further subdivided into: Graves, the area upstream of the city Bordeaux and Médoc, the area downstream of the city Bordeaux, situated on a peninsula between Gironde and the Atlantic. The five First Growths are situated here.

The Right Bank is situated on the right bank of the Dordogne, in the northern parts of the region, around the city of Libourne.

Entre Deux Mers is the inland region sculpted into a somewhat irregular wedge by the two rivers that give it its name, the Pyrenees-sourced Garonne to the west and the Massif-Centrale-sourced Dordogne to the east.

Picture: Entre Deux Mers and the Other Bordeaux Regions

Wine grapes in Bordeaux

There are five red grapes varieties grown in Bordeaux region: Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc which give vigor, tannin and good aging capabilities; Merlot which brings softness and suppleness (Merlot is the most planted grape in Bordeaux, covering about 50 percent of the wine region); Malbec and Petit Verdot, which are used in lesser proportion. White wines are produced mostly from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.

A general rule of thumb is that the Left Bank is predominately more Cabernet Sauvignon based and theh the Right Bank more Merlot based. The Graves area produces both red wine and white wine. The area of Sauternes and Barsac are more known for the botrytized dessert wines. Entre Deux Mers is known for its white wines.

Entre Deux Mers

Entre Deux Mers may be among Bordeaux's least heralded regions, but it is a most beautiful area, with rolling hills, bucolic pastureland, and quiet woodland.

It's best known for its whites and only the whites get to put their place of origin on the label; the reds are labeled merely Bordeaux AC.

The main grape variety in Entre-Deux-Mers wines is Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc's favorite companion is Semillon. Generally, the Entre-Des-Mers wine is smooth, dry and aromatic.

Chateau La Mothe Du Barry and Chateau les Arromans

Chateau La Mothe Du Barry and Chateau Les Arromans have their origin in one larger Chateau founded by Jean Duffau in 1965. It was called Chateau Les Arromans and grew to 30 hectares in the village of Moulon over the years. When Jean retired in 1998, he devided the vineyards and the winery into to, the (new) Chateau La Mothe Du Barry and the (remaining) Chateau Les Arromans between the two brothers Joel and Eric. I do not know what happened to Eric, but it looks to me as if both Chateaus are now run by Joel Duffau. He is the winemaker of both Chateaus.

What we tasted

Château les Arromans Entre Deux Mers 2009

Tasting notes: Beautiful pale golden color in the glass, notes of grapefruit, blackberry leaf, and citrus on the nose, a light to medium-bodied wine, good acidity, on the palate this wine is round with flavors of almonds and honey, a lovely crisp, dry white that should be consumed young.
Sale $9.99 Reg. $11.99

Château les Arromans Rouge 2007

Tasting notes: 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, harmoniously blended to create a deep ruby colored wine, the nose offers up aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and blackcurrant from the Merlot, and licorice, green peppers, and spice from the Cabernet Sauvignon, with its aromatic finesse and velvety tannins, nothing to get awfully excited about, but a very good wine, relative to its price.
Sale $9.99 Reg. $11.99

Château la Mothe du Barry Rouge 2007

Tasting notes: A blend of 80 percent Merlot and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, a concentrated Bordeaux at a very good value, round and supple, Chateau La Mothe du Barry offers a mouthful of flavors; dark fruits, soft tannins and great chocolate notes.
Sale $10.99 Reg. $12.99

Château la Mothe du Barry Cuvée Design 2007

Tasting notes : 100 % Merlot, aged in oak for 12 months, a voluptuous, yet elegant wine full bodied, concentrated with notes of black berries, plums, black currant, long finish with velvety tannins.
Sale $14.99 Reg. $17.99

During that period, air traffic was hampered by the Island vulcano clouds and some of the winemakers that Laurent had invited to Washington came late or not at all. The Duffau couple was in the first group and did not make it for the tasting at Paul's. But they were ably replaced by a very charming woman, Delphine Galamez, and her husband, who asked me to call them "les replacants".

Picture: Les Remplacants

Elite Wines


Chateau La Mothe Du Barry and Chateau les Arromans

Les Remplacants

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

The Wines of Domaine de la Solitude, Chateauneuf du Pape, France

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: 1970 Chateau de La Riviere, Fronsac, France

Wine Bar: Paris - Le Petite Monceau, Willi's Wine Bar and Lavinia

Sylvain Bzikot's Puligny Montrachet, Bourgogne, France

Henri Lurton and his Chateau Brane Cantenac Wines


  1. Entre-deux-Mers was one of the first wine regions I visited after arriving in Bordeaux. What impressed me most were the chateaux themselves. Many people think of Médoc when they hear the "great Bordeaux chateaux". However, the Médoc chateaux were largely constructed in the 1800s; whereas, those in Entre-deux-Mers are actual medieval castles dating back to the 14th century!

  2. Lindsay. Interesting. I have been several times to the Bordeaux area, but never in Entre Deux Mers. Incidentially, I have visited the Irouleguy area in France, about which you have also written. I am in Frankfurt am Main currently. And you? Cheers. Christian

  3. Sorry I missed this event of Laurent Givry's. I went to another instead to see my great friend Alessandro Furlan at the Michael Downey annual portfolio wine-tasting. Oh well, Joel and Sandrine Duffau came that week to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits to do a wine-tasting with three other growers/wine-makers from France and we had a blast. Can't do everything no matter how hard I try.
    Like seeing your work here though : it's impressive. You really do add something that's valuable to the wine world. Cheers to you and all your hard efforts.
    You can catch my blogs at :,, as I am an artist and always look to bring the artistice approach to what is already out there and available to all of us. Cheers, Anthony ( TONY ) Quinn

  4. Tony, thanks for your nice comment. I regularly follow you chatwine blog and also show up from time to time at you wine store. Next time I come, I will introduce myself. Cheers. Christian