Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tour and Tasting at Château Pontet-Canet, with Owner Alfred Tesseron, Bordeaux

Picture: The Group with Alfred Tesseron at Château Pontet-Canet

The 2013 Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy PR and WineTours included a tour of and tasting at Château Pontet-Canet. For the tasting, we were joined by Owner Alfred Tesseron.

The 2 leading biodynamic producers in Bordeaux are Château Pontet Canet and Château Climens. We visited both of them during the 2013 Bordeaux Tour. 

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy


Château Pontet-Canet has been owned by just three families over the last 3 centuries: originally Jean Francois de Pontet in the 18th Century, then the Cruse family for 110 years during the 19th and 20th centuries and now (since 1975) the Tesseron family.

Pictures: Starting the Tour

Château Pontet-Canet was established by Jean-François de Pontet in the early 18th century and expanded by his descendants to include adjoining vineyards in the lieu-dit Canet. 10 years following the 1855 classification, Château Pontet-Canet was purchased by an important Bordeaux négociant, Herman Cruse, in whose family the estate remained for many years. The Bordeaux wine fraud scandal in 1973 forced the sale in 1975 of Pontet-Canet to Cognac merchant Guy Tesseron, who had bought Château Lafon-Rochet earlier. Chateau Pontet-Canet is currently owned and managed by Guy’s son, Alfred (who we met in Washington DC), assisted by Jean-Michel Comme. Alfred’s daughter Melanie Tesseron also has a hand in the estate.

Pictures: Touring Château Pontet-Canet

Château Pontet-Canet

Located directly across from the Château Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac, Château Pontet-Canet has  the largest production (20,000 cases) of any classified growth. It also produces about 20,000 cases of its second wine, Château Les Hauts de Pontet.

The wines ferment in 6 to 8 days and receive an additional 9 to 15 days of skin contact. The vats are a mixture of stainless steel, cement and oak. They are cooled during fermentation by the circulation of water. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 15 to 20 months. Half of the casks are replaced each year. A traditional egg white fining takes place before bottling.

Pictures: Annette and Christian G.E. Schiller with Alfred Tesseron at Château Pontet-Canet

Winemaking Philosophy

It is in the vineyard, where the Tesserons probably have most made their mark in Bordeaux, through the application of biodynamic principals. Alfred Tesseron has spent the best part of the last 10 years converting to organic and biodynamic viticultural practices. In 2010, Château Pontet-Canet became the first major Bordeaux wine producer to earn the official Agence Bio (AB) organic certification.

While many chateaux welcome new technology, Alfred Tesseron moves in the opposite direction.

Pictures: Owner Alfred Tesseron, Winemaker Jean Michel Comme and Christian G.E. Schiller

The château utilizes no computers to make harvesting or fermentation decisions. According to Alfred Tesseron, Château Pontet-Canet does not perform any computer analysis until the wine is finished. Also, in the vineyards, he uses horses instead of machinery for some of the blocks. For the 2010 vintage, Alfred Tesseron added numerous rows of Nomblot to his wine cellar for fermentation. These concrete eggs were created in a joint venture between concrete vat manufacturer Nomblot and Michel Chapoutier. Remarkably, in the vineyard Alfred Tesseron is now moving away from green harvesting, a method for controlling yields and quality in the vineyard. Alfred Tesseron also has put an end to leaf-thinning.

For more information, Jeff Leve has an excellent write-up about Château Pontet-Canet on his website The Wine Cellar Insider.

Pictures: In the Stables of Château Pontet-Canet


We tasted the Pontet Canet 2012.

See also:
Tasting with Alfred Tesseron the last 10 Vintages of Château Pontet-Canet in Washington DC, USA/France

Pictures: Tasting and Chatting with Alfred Tesseron

Robert Parker: A softer, less powerful and less prodigiously endowed Pontet Canet, the 2012 exhibits notes of creme de cassis and new barrique vanillin followed by a medium-bodied, elegant wine with sweeter tannin (and less of it) than is found in the great vintages that immediately precede it. The 2012 is certainly outstanding and, in fact, many readers may prefer it to the blockbuster, out-of-this-world, over-sized 2010, 2009 and 2008. Medium-bodied, pure and expressive, this classic Pauillac should only require 5-6 years of cellaring. It should drink well for two decades thereafter. No one will confuse the 2012 Pontet Canet with the 2008, 2009 or 2010, but proprietor Alfred Tesseron has turned in another high level performance in this more challenging vintage (especially true in the Medoc). Robert Parker - Wine Advocate #206 - Apr 2013

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