by Sarah Harrison
As September celebrates all things Bordeaux, we want to take you on a journey of the wonderful world of Rothschild, starting with left bank wines.
The Left Bank of Bordeaux is renowned for remarkable wine, and within its distinguished estates, the Rothschild family has made an enduring impact with their iconic châteaux.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Lord of the Left Bank
Cabernet Sauvignon is the ideal grape for the Left Bank's terroir in Bordeaux due to the gravelly soils that provide optimum growing conditions for this variety. The well-draining soil ensures optimal water management, preventing overhydration in the rainy seasons and encouraging concentrated flavours. This, coupled with gravel's heat retention properties, prolongs the growing season, resulting in fully ripe grapes that may otherwise struggle in this cooler climate. Let’s explore some of the Château renowned for creating wines hero-ing this well-loved grape.
This First Growth Chateau is nestled in the heart of Pauillac. The wines of Château Lafite Rothschild, which generally consist of 80-95% Cabernet Sauvignon, embody elegance itself. Its terroir boasts those gravelly soils providing excellent drainage and encouraging the vines to dig deep for nutrients. This struggle imparts a distinct mineral character to the grapes, resulting in wines with refined tannins and a harmonious balance of fruit and structure.
Château Lafite Rothschild is crafted by expert winemakers, yet it remains a genuine celebration of nature, respect for the gifts that the natural world has provided.
Neighbouring Lafite, Château Mouton Rothschild stands out for its artistry in more ways than one. Promoted from second to first growth in 1973, the vineyards benefit from that deep gravel, over a layer of clay soils. This diverse terroir translates into wines that are rich, bold and opulent, often showcasing a rich tapestry of flavours thanks to the expertise the winemakers have in blending. Once again Cabernet Sauvignon in king accounting for at least 70% of the final blend. Mouton's embrace of innovation and artistic collaborations further demonstrates the family's commitment to pushing the boundaries of winemaking.
Venturing beyond Pauillac, Château Clarke in Listrac-Médoc is the exception that proves the rule when talking about Cabernet Sauvignon lead wines on the left bank. Thanks to a clay strip running right through the vineyards at Chateau Clarke, it is Merlot that dominates the blend of Edmond de Rothschilds flagship Bordeaux wine. Keep your eyes peeled for our right bank blog later this month explaining why merlot and clay are a perfect match!
Château Duhart-Milon: Château Duhart-Milon’s vineyard consists of a single block of vines adjacent to Château Lafite Rothschild, on the hillside to the west of the Carruades plateau. Gravelly soils promote drainage, while clay subsoil retains water, balancing vine hydration. This synergy enriches Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, crafting wines of depth and refinement.
Château Odilon: The clay-limestone soil enables a remarkable resistance to periods of dry weather. The proximity of the Atlantic ocean brings an element of freshness, that is reflected in the bright, fresh aromatic style of the wines. Similarly to Chateau Clarke, the terroir has proven to be particularly well-suited to Merlot, in a region where Cabernet Sauvignon traditionally predominates.
Château Malmaison: Found in Moulis-en-Médoc, clay and limestone influence its terroir. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot both thrive in this environment, producing wines that seamlessly marry power and finesse, reflective of their unique vineyard conditions.
Keep your eyes peeled for our right bank round up!