When an old wine region is rebranded, it announces that something significant is happening. The Côtes de Bordeaux Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) was created in 2009 to encompass four subregions: Francs, Blaye, Castillon and Cadillac. Now in its seventh year, the appellation is getting more attention from consumers interested in quality wines without excessive prices and aging requirements. These three producers are helping to remake a storied region.
What is a trend you would like to see in the Côtes de Bordeaux?
Youmna Asseily, Château Biac, Cadillac: People like to rediscover areas that may have been forgotton, and I think this trend of embracing visitors to the area is very important. There are a lot of vineyards in our area opening up guesthouses or bed and breakfasts, so people can experience the vineyard life. It’s a beautiful region, it’s hilly and also very human, very approachable, and I think the attitudes of winemakers in the area can be old fashioned in the sense that we are welcoming. These aren’t corporate-owned vineyards. They are family owned and charming.
“You don’t need high technology to produce great wine.”
—Jan Thienpont, Château Clos Fontaine, Francs
Guillaume Martin, Château Roland la Garde, Blaye: We see development of a smarter and environmentally safer way of doing wines. Working in biodynamics and having organic and Demeter labels is risky in the Bordeaux area, because of the humid climate. But for us, this is the [best] way possible to cultivate our vines and produce our wines. There is nothing better [than] one vintage on one terroir, Without manipulations by dangerous chemicals. We are experimenting with amphorae and mono-variety cuveés.
What do you see as the potential future of Côtes de Bordeaux?
Jan Thienpont, Château Clos Fontaine, Francs: There’s a green revolution in Bordeaux … every time a younger person takes over an estate, they bring this change. For example, herbicides used to be the norm. Now, I don’t even know someone around here using them. We also have estates that are still affordable for people who want to invest. If you’re a young winemaker, you can’t just buy something in Pomerol unless you’re a millionaire. But [here], you can.
At your property, how are you making that future come to bear?
Thienpont: We are focusing on the vineyards, to have perfect yields, with the idea to do less in the cellar. You don’t need high technology to produce great wine. Really, what is important is what you do in the vineyards.
What’s the appellation’s unique positioning?
Martin: The appellation has been made to regroup smaller appellations that in the past didn’t have the same power to show [the world about] the quality wines we can produce on our terroirs.