Welcome to Spec’s Wine Wednesday, a thread where we will feature various producers from around the world – a mixture of mainstays and hidden gems – that we feel are worth taking home for self-study. For this week’s inaugural installment, we’ll briefly examine a lesser-known producer from Bordeaux called Haut-Vigneau.
Chateau Haut-Vigneau is in Martillac, near the southern border of Pessac-Leognan in Graves. The 20-hectare property is planted predominantly to Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot vines also deeply rooted in classic Garronaise (also called “gunzienne”) gravel soils. A simple mnemonic device to help navigate this region is to remember that Graves = gravel, and gravel soils are best suited to Cabernet Sauvignon. Haut-Vigneau is owned by the Perrin family, with Eric Perrin serving as technical director of the property. Winemaker Denis Dubourdieu functioned as consultant to the property up until his death in 2016; his philosophy is carried on today through his partner, Christophe Olivier.
The Perrin family also owns Chateau Carbonnieux – one of only 6 chateaux to be classified under the Crus Classes de Graves for both its red and white wines. Thomas Jefferson famously visited this property in 1787 when he was the American ambassador to France, and there is a pecan tree just outside the chateau said to have been planted in conjunction with his visit some 232 years ago (don’t forget to order your holiday pecan pies while we still have them!).
60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, environmentally respectful vineyard management and viticulture, 20-day fermentation in stainless steel, aged in barrel for 15-18 months. The wine has a medium+ intensity aromatic, with both ripe red cherry and tart black plums enveloped by a slight floral component. Those fruits pick up a bit of earth and carry through to the palate (very concentrated), which is balanced between medium silky tannins and medium+ acid structure. The stainless fermentation keeps the wine vibrant, while the barrel ageing rounds out the body. This wine has always been a personal favorite for the quality it delivers at the price – it’s still outstanding.