Do you remember the story of the ugly duckling? There once was a little duckling that nobody loved because of his looks. Then one day this little duckling grew up and turned into a beautiful swan. Well the history of Château Pédesclaux is very similar! This Pauillac 5th growth was passed from one owner to another, none of whom truly took care of it… Over time its wine lost its good reputation and its quality diminished, to the point where even the great Robert Parker said “life is too short to drink Pédesclaux”…
In early July, I spent an absolutely exquisite day in the Medoc at Château Pédesclaux. Nestled between Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe, I was delighted to discover the transformation this château and its rebirth (amongst other things).
Long-time unloved and often forgotten, its rebirth is thanks to Françoise and Jacky Lorenzetti (owner and Chairman of Racing 92, part of France’s top 14 rugby clubs, if you please!). The couple acquired the property in 2009 and it’s thanks to their efforts that today this chateau has become “a beautiful Swan”.
The chateau’s architecture is simply stunning. A combination of stone and glass, it is a perfect fusion of modernity and tradition. The tasting room is inside… tucked between the stone and glass… is just remarkable! Congratulations to Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the architect for this spectacular work.
But what is truly memorable, is the new technical infrastructure. Everything has been designed with the “grape” in mind. A lot of work has taken place in vineyard too, which is not a huge surprise seeing as the teams slogan is “the vine determines a good wine”. Pédesclaux’s terroir is magical, 500 m from the banks of the Gironde, it counts as its close neighbours the legendary Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and the prestigious Château Pontet-Canet. The chateau’s team spent a long time analysing soil samples and a lot of work (and time) has gone into reinvigorating the grounds, such as the use of organic fertilizer to stimulate soil life and clearing/replanting. All this to reach their final goal: to finesse the art of viticulture!
Today we can easily say that they have succeeded, the vine is pampered and the grapes harvested are of an extremely high quality.
To continue the meticulous work started in the vineyards, the design of the wine cellar was completely revaluated. Wanting to create zero stress for the grapes, the team decided to incorporate gravity into the design of their wine-making equipment. Thus, the wine cellar is equipped with an elevator to avoid the stress of pumping! AMAZING! And surprising beautiful!
The architect has succeeded in what might have seemed a crazy vision at the outset: creating a wine cellar which was at once the pinnacle of technology, beauty and functionality. Using an array of materials, such as glass, steel and wood, the end result is homage to his talent. The front of the building is cladded in aluminium and bronze, resting on a glass base, the wine vats which can be seen through the windows and give the impression that they support the overall structure. (A beautiful and poetic “wink” to the work going on inside!). The winemaking team now has the best utensils at their fingertips. With daylight streaming in from the large windows, they go about their work inside this beautiful building, combining technology and their own know-how to produce soft and velvety wine (which of course, I couldn’t wait to taste after the visit!)
In regards to wine tourism, the chateau offers a truly qualitative visit (maximum 12 people) € 12 (deductible from the €50 wine purchase)
And so the tasting?
FANTASTIC! It lived up to all promises of the tour. These wines are fine, balanced, sharp with an incredible length in the mouth, which is fruity and slightly spicy… In short an explosion of aromas and a true pleasure to drink!
After the visit, this wonderful day with my fellow bloggers was continued by a luncheon at the chateau of truly exceptional quality:
But the day wasn’t over. No no!
After lunch the day was not over. No, no!
Ms. & M. Lorenzetti are also the proprietors of Chateau Lilian Ladouys in Saint Estephe, which they acquired in2008. Thus the luncheon was followed by a visit to this little gem in the Médoc where like its big brother Chateau Pédesclaux, everything is focused on achieving exceptional wine! This visit was more intimate and was thus complementary to that of Château Pédesclaux.
FYI Chateau Lilian Ladouys 2011 made the list of the Top 100 best wines in the Wine Spectator in 2014 (with Chateau Leoville Las Cases, they were the only 2 red wines from Bordeaux to make the list that year) – and I can confirm, this wine, it’s really something special!
Finally, to end this magical day, we were invited to participate in a spot of fishing at the edge of the Gironde. And though we were not very successful, our hosts had luckily anticipated our lack of fishing prowess! And we finished this fantastic day in the Médoc with a barbecue, which fittingly was lit using old vine branches!
A HUGE thank you to our host Vincent for this wonderful day and his good humour throughout and of course the teams at Château Pédesclaux and Liliian Ladouys!
Château Pédesclaux – Place of the Treout – 33 250 Pauillac – 05 57 73 64 64
Chateau Lilian Ladouys – 33 180 Saint Estèphe – 05 56 59 71 96