Friday, November 23, 2012

Tasting Château du Cros and other Petites Bordeaux Wines with Winemaker Julien Noel at Calvert and Woodley in Washington DC, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Winemaker Julien Noel, Château du Cros, Loupiac, France

Julien Noel is the winemaker at Château du Cros, Loupiac, France. Ever heard of Château du Cros? Probably not. Château du Cros is not one of the 300 or so winemakers in Bordeaux that produce a premium Bordeaux which sells en primeur for several hundreds of Euros per bottle. No, Château du Cros is one of the other 18.000 producers or so that are not in the limelight and that make so called Petites Bordeaux wines. These producers have to struggle against the competition of wines from all over the world, including the New World. In my view, many of these petites Bordeaux producers offer very good value for the price. I had the chance to meet Julien Noel at Calvert and Woodley in Washington DC and taste and learn about his wines.

Picture: Calvert and Woodley

The Wines of Michel Boyer and Catherine Thibault d'Halluin

Following Michel Boyer's retirement, his daughter Catherine d'Halluin has now taken charge of winemaking at the family properties Chateau du Cros, Château Mayne du Cros and Clos Bourbon, along with her brother Henri and her husband Thibault d'Halluin. These properties are all south of the City of Bordeaux.

Pictures: Impressions -Source: Chateau du Cros Website

A range of different petites chateaux wines covering 6 appellations is produced. The wine is sold in France and exported. Exports account for 40% of total sales. The principal markets are the EU, USA, Switzerland and Japan.

Julien Noël

Julien graduated in winemaking/winegrowing from the School of “Château La tour Blanche” in Sauternes. He also has a Bachelor Degree in Wine Business and Marketing from the “Bordeaux International Wine Institut INSEEC” in Bordeaux. Before joining Château du Cros, he worked for 2 years as winemaker assistant in Bordeaux and 1 year as a wine retail store manager in New Zealand.

Picture: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy Wine Tours, with Winemaker Julien Noel, Château du Cros, Loupiac, France


The Bordeaux region is the second largest winegrowing area in the world, with 120.000 hectares under vine. The Gironde estuary dominates the region along with its tributaries, the Garonne and the Dordogne Rivers. These rivers define the main geographical subdivisions of Bordeaux:

Picture: Map of Bordeaux

The Left Bank is situated on the left bank of the Gironde and the Garonne, subdivided into: Graves, the area upstream of the city Bordeaux and Médoc, the area downstream of the city Bordeaux.
The Right Bank is situated on the right bank of the Gironde and the Dordogne, with St. Emilion and Pomerol the star wine regions.

Entre Deux Mers is the inland region sculpted into the 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.

Chateau du Cros

“Château du Cros is a beautiful 60-hectare property in the town of Loupiac” explained Julien. “We have got an unique walk from our estate up to the old castle (12-13 century). From there, you have an amazing view. You see the Landes forest on your left and Bordeaux City on your right.  Down the hill is the Garonne River with many famous estates: Barsac, Cerons, Preignac, Cadillac and Yquem, to name a few.

The history of Château du Cros is linked to the English domination in South-West France. In 1196, Richard the Lionheart granted a domain to Sir Boson de Casau - the Domaine du CROS.”

Château du Cros produces a noble sweet white wine under the Loupiac appellation and a red as well as a dry white wine under the Bordeaux appellation: 1300 hl AOC. Loupiac, 500 hl AOC Bordeaux Blanc and 400 hl AOC Bordeaux Rouge.

2009 Château du Cros – Loupiac

Guide Gilbert et Gaillard 2012 - 87/100 :  “Light gold. Pleasant, fruit-forward nose with accents of citrus fruit, mango and a touch of oak reminiscent of almond. On the palate, freshness counterbalances concentration and aromatic expression is crisp and lingering. An appealing effort.”

Regular price $25.99

Château du Cros Bordeaux Blanc 2011:

DECANTER, June 2012 - 4 stars : “Rich yellow, with pale rim and a classic Sauvignon Blanc cut grass nose, and clear varietal characteristics on the palate. Evident freshness, with a lovely kick of citrus. A good example of a white Bordeaux. 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Semillon. Unoaked, aged in stainless steel vats.”

Chateau Mayne du Cros

Château Mayne du Cros is a 10 hectare estate in the commune of Cérons, in the heart of the Graves appellation.

Chateau Mayne du Cros produces a white and a red wine under the Graves appellation - 500 hl AOC Graves Blanc and 400 hl AOC Graves Rouge.

2009 Château Haut Mayne - Cuvée Mayne du Cros Graves, Rouge

Supple and smooth, this wine offers ripe Cabernet and Merlot fruit gracefully layered over light tannins.

Regular price $19.99

2009 Château Haut Mayne - Cuvée Mayne du Cros Graves, Blanc

13/20 by Jacques Dupont in Le Point on May 6th, 2010 : " Lively, airy, a little fruit, pleasant, average length but a wine of immediate pleasure.”

Clos Bourbon

The 18th century Clos Bourbon estate is located on the slopes over-looking the Garonne River, 30 km south of the City of Bordeaux. It totals 15 hectares in the Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux (ex 1ères Côtes de Bordeaux) AOC.

Since 2009, the Côtes de Bordeaux A.O.C. is composed of  4 different soils: Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux (formerly 1ères Côtes de Blaye), Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux (formerly Côtes de Castillon), Francs Côtes de Bordeaux (ex Côtes de Francs),Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux (ex 1ères Côtes de Bordeaux)

Production: 450 hl AOC Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux Rouge and 300 hl AOC Bordeaux Rosé
2011 Château Clos Bourbon - Rosé de Bourbon, AOC Bordeaux

Made primarily from Cabernet Franc with a small amount of Merlot, this crisp, fruity rosé features bright flavors of cherry, berry, and melon, energized by mineral and cedar character from the Cabernet Franc. Medium-bodied and well-balanced, this finishes dry and fresh.

Regular price $11.99

2009 Château Clos Bourbon, Rouge, AOC Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux

80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; aged in 25% new oak barrels.

Regular price $14.99

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