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A Guide To Pomerol and Château La Conseillante

 

Château La Conseillante

Lunch had been the usual hurried affair, a few tasty morsels gulped down while standing at the table, a glass of refreshing sparkling water in hand. This is so often the case during the primeur tastings, despite the ‘party’ image that this annual Bordeaux taste-fest of the latest vintage tends to conjure up. At lunch, a little revitalisation and rehydration is all that I look for; the dash from one dégustation to the next, from one château to another, leaves no time for leisurely repasts. Not if I am to have enough time to taste and mentally digest a representative selection of the latest vintage’s samples, at any rate.

This hasty but much-appreciated lunch was at Château La Conseillante, which was hosting the Pomerol tasting for the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (hence the provision of a little lunchtime fare) during the 2010 primeurs week, in April 2011. The Pomerol tasting is usually a quick one, as there are not many Union members in this appellation (and, it has to be said, even fewer since the Nicolas family decided, a few years later, that they too would distance themselves from UGC activities). Back in 2011 though they were happy hosting not only their Pomerol colleagues, including Château Clinet, Château Beauregard and others, but they were also celebrating 140 years of family ownership with a tasting of older vintages, back to 1945, this second tasting running alongside the primeurs. Eager to fit this unanticipated event into my schedule (it was an opportunity not to be missed – such old vintages are especially rare in Pomerol, where few châteaux have libraries of ancient vintages) there was now a second reason to gulp down my lunch.

The Nicolas family were quite right to celebrate. Ownership by family is, among the leading estates of Bordeaux, increasingly rare. This is certainly so on the left bank, where the grandeur and the scale of many of the estates has attracted outside investment. Many of them are now owned by insurance companies and other financial institutions; most required significant investment in the post-war years, and only big business can bank-roll projects of such scale based on distant, long-term returns. On the right bank though, especially in Pomerol, the average size of an estate is much smaller, and happily many of them remain in the hands of winemaking families. In the case of Château La Conseillante the Nicolas family have evidently enjoyed a long and ultimately prosperous tenure; this profile explores the story of their estate, including its origins with Catherine Conseillan, and of course the Nicolas era in full.

Origins

As is also the case with Château L’Évangile, the origin of Château La Conseillante lies with a long-lost estate known as Domaine de Mautretat. We know this thanks to the work of Neal Martin, who in Pomerol describes the research of Daniel Frugier, a historian with an obvious interest in this forgotten domaine. During the course of several centuries the proprietors of this estate were the Fazilleauand Pipaud families, but in the early years of the 18th century the estate was broken up and sold off. One very significant portion of the estate was acquired by a priest named Léglise, and this was the origin of the aforementioned Château L’Évangile. The other was acquired by a merchant named Catherine Conseillan, and it is clearly this portion that interests us here.

 

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Little seems to be known of Catherine’s origins. The name Conseillan was not uncommon around the Gironde and the Sarthe regions (the latter is north of the Loire, around Le Mans) at the time, and with just a few minutes of genealogical research I pulled up details on a number of families with this name. There was a branch in Montignac in the 17th century, some way east of Bordeaux beyond Bergerac, whose descendents moved to Targon in the Entre-Deux Mers, and there was another very close by in Rions, not far from Cadillac, at the same time. Although several families bring forth daughters by the name of Catherine, unfortunately none seem to match the Catherine that we are interested in.

The Conseillan Estate

What we do know of Catherine Conseillan was that she was a metal dealer based in Libourne, and she was widely referred to as La Dame de Fer. This nom de plume must surely have reflected her chosen line of work, although it is difficult to believe that it did not also say something of her character; you aren’t, in my opinion, christened The Iron Lady for nothing. If the metal merchants of the time were as wealthy as they are today then it should probably not surprise us to learn that Catherine was a woman of some means, and she was able to take advantage of the difficult end of the Mautretat domaine in 1735.

 

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Rather than buy the domaine outright, Catherine secured the rights to the land by paying the owners, two sisters, a life annuity. Such a system is not that uncommon when dealing with vineyard transactions, and it was only upon the death of the annuitants that Catherine would finally take possession. In the meantime, however, she could farm the land as she wished, the revenue so gained being the most obvious way of paying the annuity. What she had acquired was a tract of land committed to mixed subsistence farming, together with some rather run-down old buildings. What small plots of vines existed were expanded, creating one of the earliest vineyards in Pomerol, and a more comfortable residence was built. Certainly by 1754 the vineyard was in production, and the wine was selling and generating revenue. It was at this moment – I imagine upon the death of the previous proprietors – that the estate was renamed La Conseillante.

Pascal Fourcaud

Although we know little about Catherine Conseillan, it does seem certain that she had no children, and thus upon her death in 1776 the estate was bequeathed to Marie Despujol, consistently described by numerous authors as her “favourite niece”. At this time, however, Marie and her husband Jean, a local merchant, were already getting on in years. Jean Foucaud (born 1706) was 70 years old, and Marie was presumably of a similar age, and they died not long after inheriting, in 1782 and 1784 respectively. The couple seem to have had a large number of children though, four sons and five daughters. The four sons were Nicolas, François, Louis and Pascal, and it wasPascal Fourcaud that inherited the estate. Records indicate that on July 19th 1816 Mathieu Beylot, the son of négociant Pierre Beylot, purchased from Pascal Fourcaudfour tonneaux of La Conseillante, at a price of 362 francs per tonneaux.

Château La Conseillante: Louis Nicolas

At some point during the ensuing years the property came into the hands of Jean Louis Joachim Paul Princeteau (born 1811). He was the son of Pierre Princeteau, a négociant based in Libourne, and the grandson of Charles Princeteau, mayor of St Vincent de Paul, which sits on the left bank of the Dordogne a few kilometres downstream of Libourne. Princeteau married Aminthe Leperche (hence he is also referred to in some texts as Princeteau-Leperche) in 1837 and they had two children, a daughter named Thérèse (born 1839) and a son named Charles Pierre (born 1843). Charles Pierre, better known as René Princeteau, was an accomplished painter and one of the first to teach Toulouse-Lautrec (whose family were local, and had owned Château Siran, of course).

Princeteau-Leperche’s tenure of La Conseillante lasted several decades at least, although little is known of his time here. His time came to an end in 1871, when the estate was sold to Louis Nicolas. It is from this point that we may trace a direct line through to the owners of today.

The Nicolas Era

With the acquisition by Louis Nicolas there began a remarkable era at Château La Conseillante, one that has seen the same family hold sway here for five generations, and for more than 140 years. Visiting the château during the primeurs in 2011 this was, as I mentioned in my introduction to this profile, being celebrated in great style. The older vintages on show – of which the 1945 (pictured on the final page of this profile) was the real treat – were resting on crisp white table cloths, and carefully poured by the white-gloved hands of the sommeliers in assistance. The glistening stainless steel fermentation tanks were draped in sashes of a deep violet hue, a colour now firmly associated with the domaine.

Throughout the history of Château La Conseillante the vineyard has always (until very recently, at least) been 11.3 hectares, presumably the extent of Catherine Conseillan’s plantings, and that is what Louis Nicolas seems to have acquired. Under his direction the vineyard’s reputation was consolidated and the wine began to sell for a higher price, matching some illustrious properties from the left bank. This enviable position was maintained despite the arrival of phylloxera in 1880; the domaine’s continued prosperity was achieved by treatment with carbonic sulphur, one of many treatments which appeared to offer hope but which were all ultimately replaced by the grafting of French vines onto American rootstocks.

Five Generations

It was about this time that Louis Nicolas died, and so the reins were passed to his son, also named Louis. Not only was Louis Junior left with the responsibility of treating the infected vineyards, and presumably he also eventually oversaw the replanting with grafted vines, this next generation was also responsible for the creation of the Syndicat Viticole de Pomerol in 1900. Thereafter he held the office of president of this organisation for several years.

The vineyard reconstituted, the domaine presumably remained in good form. Little is known about the workings of the estate, but the Nicolas family remained in charge, first in the shape of the third generation, Henri Nicolas, and then in 1953 the fourth generation, yet another Louis and his brother another Henri, and then the fifth generation, Bernard Nicolas (Louis’s son) and Francis Nicolas (Henri’s son). In 1960 the family formed the Société Civile des Héritiers Nicolas in order to manage the estate (avoiding succession difficulties and inheritance taxes in doing so) and this evolved in 2003 into a family council. Thus today the estate is run by a council of three family members, Bertrand Nicolas (who also works as a doctor in Libourne) and Jean-Valmy Nicolas, who both operate as co-Managing Directors, and Henri Nicolas.

Jean-Michel Laporte & Marielle Cazaux

“Jean-Michel was appointed in 2003, and since then he has poured his energy into improving quality at La Conseillante”

 

Although the Nicolas family have undoubtedly driven Château La Conseillante to where is it today, the journey would surely not have gone so well in the last few years if Jean-Michel Laporte had not been appointed manager here. Jean-Michel was appointed in 2003, and since then he has poured his energy into improving quality at La Conseillante. There have been a number of notable achievements, of which the most obvious is perhaps the introduction of the second wine, Duo de Conseillante, in the 2007 vintage. His contribution to the current standing of La Conseillante should not be underestimated.

Sadly, in 2015 the news broke that Jean-Michel was set to leave Château La Conseillante, he and the Nicolas family having decided to go their separate ways, after the realisation that they had different visions for the estate and its wine, and having disagreed on a number of important issues, including pricing. Jean-Michel departed in June 2015, and his post was taken by Marielle Cazaux who came here from Château Petit Village.

 

Château La Conseillante: Vineyards

Château La Conseillante has, on closer inspection, a quite remarkable position on the edge of the Pomerol appellation, looking across past Château L’Évangile to Château Cheval-Blanc beyond. On the Pomerol side the vineyards are therefore surrounded by those of Château L’Évangile to the east, Petrus to the north and Vieux Château Certanto the north-west. The Conseillante vines extend across the road and run very close to the aforementioned Château Cheval-Blanc, which is the fourth notable neighbour. Some of these vines are within the St Emilion commune, but are permitted for inclusion in thePomerol appellation.

The terroir of the Conseillante vineyard has been extensively studied. Simplifying, the sections around and to the east of the château are a sandy-clay, while those between the château and the road are more gravelly, although still with a significant proportion of clay, and some elements of sand. This soil type extends across the road a little but thereafter, as the vines run down to Château Cheval-Blanc, the soils change. Here there is much more sand and gravel, and less clay. The style of wine from the two sections are, Jean-Michel Laporte once told me, are entirely different.

 

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There are now 11.7 hectares of vines all told, this total reached in March 2014 with the acquisition of a small plot of vines situated near Vieux Château Certan and Le Pin. The plot, a narrow strip of vines with an area of just over 30 ares (0.3 hectares), was acquired from the Janoueix family for an undisclosed sum, and is the most significant changed in the vineyard  of Château La Conseillante not just in years but in centuries, the vineyard having otherwise essentially been unchanged since the time of Catherine Conseillan.

The vines are 80% Merlot and 20%e Cabernet Franc, although in the past there wasCabernet Sauvignon and even Malbec, but both these varieties have disappeared, many decades ago. The vines, planted at a standard density of 6,000 vines per hectare (7,500 per hectare for newer plots), have an average age of 32 years maintained by a programme of grubbing up and replanting. The vines see controlled yields, as evinced by a figure of 38 hl/ha for the 2005 vintage (38-40 hl/ha is typical), achieved through a rolling process of pruning and bud-thinning, with leaf-thinning to improve quality of ripening.

There is no particular philosophy in the vineyard, other than agriculture raisonnée. Chemical treatments are kept to a minimum, but this domaine is not organic or biodynamic. A small part of the vineyard is grassed over between the rows.

Château La Conseillante: Wines

The harvest is manual, the fruit brought in by a team of around 35 harvesters. The vines are closely located around the château, and so can be delivered to the chai within minutes of picking. The fruit is sorted by hand over a sequence of four sorting tables, and then machine-destemmed prior to a light pressing and a cold maceration lasting between three to five days. There then follows the fermentation in stainless steel tanks, naturally with temperature-control, the harvest divided between the vessels according to the plot of origin. The facilities are in superb condition, having seen refurbishment beginning during 2011.

 

The malolactic fermentation, which may be induced with the addition of bacteria, begins in vat prior to running off and then a gentle pressing, before the wine is finished off in barrels, between 80% and 100% new each vintage, where it will rest for up to eighteen months, with a racking every third month. There is an egg-white fining prior to bottling, but filtration is avoided. Selection and blending occurs when the wine is still in barrel, with the best lots destined for the grand vin, Château La Conseillante, typically a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Lesser aliquots go into a second wine, newly created with the 2007 vintage, named Duo de Conseillante, which typically comes from a patch of vines on more sandy soils near Château Cheval Blanc. This wine will see only 12 months ageing in wood, using older barrels. Total production at the estate amounts to about 54,000 bottles, with the second wine accounting for a small proportion of this figure.

There is winemaking advice for Marielle Cazaux from Michel Rolland, who was appointed as consultant to the estate in 2013. Previously the Nicolas family consulted with Gilles Pauquet, who has a history of advising some top names in the region including Château Cheval Blanc, and prior to him the estate has taken advice from a string of high profile Bordeaux names, including both Émile Peynaud and Pascal Ribéreau-Gayon.

Château La Conseillante: Tasting & Drinking

The grand vin of Château La Conseillante, when tasted, has done little other than impress this particular palate. One of my earliest experiences was with the 1982 vintage, which is rarely a bad place to start. It was a delicious wine, and yet a number of more recent vintages match it for style and impact. My earliest tasting of the 2005 vintage, which was at two years of age, showed it had all the substance and balance required to make it a truly great wine, although curiously a couple of years later it showed less well, although I have come to realise that at an assessment at four years of age always throws up a few wines where the structure seems to have been lost, only for the wine to come good with time.

The 2003 is also showing nicely with age, no mean feat in a vintage where the right bank did not fair so well, and other vintages such as the 2004 are not to be sneezed at, along with 2006 and the La Conseillante of 2007 has also shown well. Even the 2013has potential, a harder-won victory than even the 2007, I am sure. As always, the ability to turn out such an admirable wine in such a weak and wet vintage is the hallmark of a great estate. If there are any recent vintages that really show La Conseillante’s hat being thrown into the ring, however, it was the 2008; it was a superb performance for the vintage, and one of the best wines from the commune I think.

 

The main barrier to adding this wine to the cellar, however, is price; as we are approaching the top tier of the Pomerol appellation it is only to be expected, I suppose, that it should be high. But for those who have bitten the bullet, and who have had the wisdom and financial wherewithal to squirrel away recent vintages of this particular right banker, especially the fabulous 2009 and 2010 vintages (although I would urge you not to overlook the aforementioned 2008, and 2012 as well), I should imagine there will be little sign of disappointment in the future.

Château La Conseillante: Vintages

2015

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2015: Marianne Cazaux, not long arrived from Château Petit Village, has settled on an assemblage of 81% Merlot, picked between September 21st and October 2nd, and 19% Cabernet Franc, picked from October 1st to the 7th. The yield was 39 hl/ha, and of this 75% has been channelled into the grand vin. This will go into 70% new oak. The alcohol is 14.5%. This is really very classically styled on the nose, a very pure style of Pomerol, with tense, fine and tightly defined dark fruits, overlaid with a minerally, potter’s clay character. It is dark, fresh and very pure, poised, quite bright and correct. There is a very tense, medium-bodied character to it on the palate, with a very supple and succulent midpalate presence, with great freshness and poise. There is firm, ripe, very taut and sinewy tannins underneath it all, with great substance and depth laid over the top. On repeat tastes there are more oaky lactones apparent, but the raw material beneath is tip-top. Impressive.

Duo de Conseillante (Pomerol) 2015: The second wine of Château La Conseillante. This is an assemblage of 88% Merlot, picked between September 21st and October 2nd, and 12% Cabernet Franc, picked from October 1st to the 7th. The yield was 39 hl/ha, and of this 25% has been channelled into this, the second wine; this is a greater percentage than in previous years, reflecting a stricter selection, part of an attempt to push quality even higher. The fruit for this wine largely came from more sandy soils in parcels near Château Beauregard. This will go into 60% new oak. The alcohol is 14.5%. This has a dark, spicy, dried-cherry skin nose. There is a very poised, correct, precise style on the palate, with a charming fruit substance, and a fairly firm grip underneath. A very straight and defined character on the palate, fresh and pure, with a fine-grained tannic backbone. Very good, very savoury, with a spicy-peppery style. Good succulence and balance in the finish.

2014

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2014: The blend here is Merlot 78%, Cabernet Franc 22%. This is the highest Cabernet Franc percentage for 20-30 years says Jean-Michel Laporte, reflecting the quality of the Cabernet Franc this year. Yield 35 hl/ha. Alcohol 13.5%, acidity 3.8 g/l. Merlot harvested September 23rd to October 3rd, Cabernet Franc September 29th to October 6th. This takes 88% of the harvest. A fine, concentrated perfume on the nose, very Cabernet Franc in style, dark with violets and pencil straight aromatics. The palate is fairly restrained, showing nicer integration of substance, texture and grip, with firm and ripe tannins, lots of depth and substance, with a fine backbone from the acidity as well. A long, savoury, grippy finish. A very structured, reserved, linear style of Pomerol, with a middling midpalate weight.

Duo de Conseillante (Pomerol) 2014: The second wine of La Conseillante. Merlot 90%, Cabernet Franc 10%. Alcohol 13%, acidity 3.8 g/l. This takes 12% of the harvest. A very pretty, savoury and aromatic fruit nose. Dried dark fruits with a little minerally edge to it which feels very Pomerol-like. Lightly chalky, rather a firm character on the palate, cool with quite a broad stricture. Less generosity than I expected here, grippy, showing the lean linearity of the vintage, with plenty of acidity. Rather an austere style.

2013

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2013: The nose here is full of grainy fruit with a slightly sweet, herbal, cola-edge to it. Indeed, this heralds an increasingly apparent herbaceous note coming in at the sides, adding a firmer note of green. The palate is loose in terms of composition, fresh, quite steely and stern though, lacking a real cushion of fruit, and I feel it is lacking in substance a little too. The structure feels very dry, rather reserved, dusty even, with a slightly bitter twist in the finish. From myBordeaux 2013 assessment at two years.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2013: Merlot 82%, Cabernet Franc 18%. Harvested from September 25th to October 7th. Yields 30 hl/ha. A confident nose here, showing good fruit but also sweetness, with a little streak of creamed black plum to it. Dark, spicy, with a rather wild-fruit, sauvage complexity to it that I like. The palate starts off quite coolly, with moderate texture, rather more restrained than the nose suggested, with a really quite ripe frame of tannins around the dark, wild fruit middle. Very fresh acidity in keeping with the vintage. Perhaps a slightly juicy edge to it all, but overall an appealing composition just the same. Attractive. It ends in a confident, tannin-infused finish. From my Bordeaux 2013 primeurs assessment.

2012

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2012: Really vibrant, open and polished nose here, the fruit showing a brighter and fresher character than is found in one or two other wines. There is a faint carapace of oak lactones on the palate, but the fruit still shines through with a plum-skin, cherry-skin character. Restrained, supple, very elegant, with lots of tannic backbone to keep it upright.

2012

Very precise and interesting. And a long, grippy finish too. From my Bordeaux 2012 primeurs assessment.

2011

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2011: A dark and very perfumed wine, showing a little spirit-macerated fruit, with the essence of black cherry and peony. The palate is pure, bold, filled with dark and glossy fruits, backed up by deeply buried but very ripe tannins. Overall it feels fresh, pure, rich and polished, with plenty of substance and confidence, and a nice integration. All in all rather bold and self-confident, but impressive too. Another wine with a long finish filled with very ripe tannins. From a 2011 Bordeaux report at four years of age.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2011: A rather delicate style on the nose here, not showing a very expressive character today, something of a contrast to the primeurs sample which was memorable for its intense perfume. The palate feels elegant, with more perfumed character here, and is quite light-footed but there is also a building seam of ripe tannins coming in beneath. The midpalate feels correct, lightly polished, with appealing harmony of grip and acid, leading into a finessed finish. Not quite as inspiring as it was during the primeurs, but a very good effort. From my Bordeaux 2011 assessment at two years.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2011: Really intense and perfumed fruit here, very concentrated and precise. It has a ripe, dark fruit character but with a brightness and composition to it as well. The palate has a very strong suggestion of yeasty whisky mash left over from fermentation, but underneath that the structure of the wine is really very harmonious and supple. The fruit is dark and pure, the structure very firm but the texture of the wine, although somewhat silky and pure, does cope with the structure fairly well. This is a very good wine although the aromas and flavours are difficult to pick through at present. From my Bordeaux 2011 primeurs assessment.

2010

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2010: Dark and concentrated fruit here, the key element being that this is fruit with a sooty and dark intensity, but still with a freshness to it. The palate has a slightly sweet and creamy start, maintaining that savoury darkness without going into sur-maturité, and the substance of the wine hides the tannins rather well. In the finish it is grippy, structured and appealing. This is a very impressive wine, dry and savoury as befitting the appellation, but with a confident build that moves it up a notch or two. A long and tannic finish. One for the cellar. From my Bordeaux 2010assessment at two years.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2010: Surely now one of the most reliable addresses in the Pomerol appellation for those seeking quality. The yield here was 39 hl/ha. A good intense hue here, although it is not overly dense in terms of pigment. It is a glossy, vibrant, cherry red. Aromatically it shows some very fine, creamed-plum fruit, with great finesse. The palate also has a lovely creamy feel to it, but one that is polished and seductive rather than fat. A beautifully styled wine, with a spicy character to it. A gently balanced grip, overall giving it an alluring yet elegant and reposed feel. I think this is just delicious. From my Bordeaux 2010 primeurs assessment.

Duo de Conseillante (Pomerol) 2010: The second wine of Conseillante, introduced only in recent vintages. Not the most dense or concentrated of wines in the glass, rather transparent, although with a vibrant cherry-red hue. Creamy raspberry tinged with chalk comes to mind aromatically, with a rather crunchy and fresh edge to the fruit. The palate has a polished style, straightforward, no real density to it but certainly some firm tannic grip underneath. A rather bold style in fact. Good acid backbone. It does develop more of a creamy presence in the mouth if you give it a chance, but overall a massive step down from the grand vin. Simple and firm, with a little grip to it. From my Bordeaux 2010 primeurs assessment.

2009

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2009: This has a very dark and concentrated character on the nose, not overdone, the dark streaks of fruit nuanced with a little floral delicacy, although it is currently quite subtle. Lots of primary suggestion here, but it feels very indrawn and ungiving at the moment. The palate is textured, elegantly poised, deep and concentrated but also streamlined and defined. There is such purity on the nose, such fine balance on the palate, and not a hair out of place. Just lovely.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2009: Rather perfumed and elegant on the nose, showing all the gentle and harmonious expression that we should expect from La Conseillante. Nevertheless the palate has a dense composition, although it doesn’t feel as slow-baked as the Clinet tasted alongside. There are velvety and yet muscular tannins, which coat the mouth but do leave little gaps here and there for the other elements to show through, with notes of biscuit from the barrels, perfumed red fruits and of course fresh acidity. This has great potential, but is another wine demanding a long cellaring, easily a decade. Alcohol 14%. From a tasting of 2009 Bordeaux at two years of age.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2009: Harvested at 39.5 hl/ha. A freshly drawn sample. Having just tasted the 2010 barrel sample, it is clear that 2009 has a much darker fruit style than that more recent vintage. There are notes of black plum here, at first with a confit twist although on returning to the wine I don’t see that again. It has a very polished, creamy and welcoming style, very broad and seductive in terms of its composition. And yet, despite this near-voluptuous character, it remains so complete and elegant. There is lovely substance to it, the fruits backed up by appropriate weight, and there is some grip underneath, but it is well hidden in this vintage. And there is good acidity too. A harmonious but certainly very rich wine, in keeping with the character of the vintage.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2009: Tasted twice. This is 81% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14.2%. Lovely fruit quality on the nose, pure damson character, very sweet and evocative, seems a touch jammy at first although a second taste later in the day did not suggest this so much. Certainly a very plush style though. The palate confirms this, sweet fruits, damson and plums, violets, fresh and bright with a good layer of grippy tannin underneath. Quite a polished style, balanced, the tannins deliciously ripe and velvety. Just a hint of warmth belying that firm alcoholic seam. But otherwise extremely good, with delicious and complex potential. From my 2009 Bordeaux primeur assessment.

Duo de Conseillante (Pomerol) 2009: The second wine of Conseillante, this is 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Just 300 cases, amounting to 6% of total production. Slightly gamey fruit on the nose. Soft texture on the palate, with a well-rounded feel, but the texture seems a touch diffuse. Slightly detached substance and structure. Really appealing and slightly savoury finish though. Soft, and there is such a polish to the tannins that it is quite easy to taste now, although it will really benefit from a few years in the cellar. Very gentle and appealing.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2008: Dense, with dark fruit and smoky oak on the nose, very different within the confines of the commune in this tasting. Some reduction on this sample which makes it hard to assess. A supple palate, polished, nicely composed, quite elegant in fact. The style is elegantly polished and yet the fruit is upright and slightly spicy. The tannins themselves are very finely done. There is certainly some good potential here. From a 2008 Bordeaux tasting at four years of age.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2008: Pure and creamy fruit with a dark structural element behind it. The palate has a dry but supple substance from the outset. There is a firm core of tannins here along with the fruit, reserved and dry in character, although the fruit does match up to it very well. Substantial, robustly composed, not soft or supple at all. Firm and appealing to lovers of classically styled wines. A strong finish with a tannic, lingering quality. This is very good and will be a classic in 10-15 years time. From a tasting of 2008 Bordeaux at two years of age.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2008: Hugely aromatic sweet fruit on the nose here, sweet and elegant, with evident purity and enticing red fruit character. The palate is lovely, creamy but with style and finesse. A fine density, ripe and silky tannins, but that purity is maintained. Great potential here, one of the best wines of the commune for sure. From my 2008 Bordeaux primeur assessment.

2007

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2007: One of the first wines to be tasted at the 2007 UGC event, this has a bright and fresh hue, with notes of toasty barrel on the nose, alongside liquorice and crunchy dark fruits. Quite supple on the palate, attractive, with a gentle feel. Lots of oak apparent at the moment, but there is balance otherwise, with some more grip towards the end. Not overdone. Good.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2007: This wine has a really punchy nose, bursting with the aromas of deep and plush fruit, framed by appealingly spicy oak. Rich, creamy and textured on the palate, but not flashy; although a very seductive style, there is also an elegant style here. This is quite impressive to my palate. A potentially delicious wine. From my 2007 Bordeaux en primeur assessment.

2006

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2006: This is perfumed, with a savoury, defined, dried-fruit concentration, showing a lightly curranty edge. Quite exotic on the palate, with black beans, toast and a grilled-almond richness, with good substance and structure underneath this complex evolution. A really attractive wine, quite seductive in style, composed, showing some real harmony despite the grip underneath it all. Good ripe structure in the finish still. This has more to give yet. From a Bordeaux 2006 tasting.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2006: Glossy, vibrant, bright hue. A very open and expressive nose here, aromatically appealing with nuances of slightly wild fruit, nuanced with the dense, cold clay and iron, but offset by a perfumed core too, fresh, pansy-like, with a touch of fraises des bois. A supple start, quickly showing a very well-judged structure, everything coming into balance, then relaxing into a supple, seductive character, not fleshy but very relaxed and lithe. This has a beguiling character, showing every nuance of its being in this tasting. Lovely. From a 2006 Bordeaux tasting at four years of age.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2006: In this vintage La Conseillante has a just beautiful nose, with vibrant red plum fruit, a savoury character, and well judged, integrated oak. The palate is lovely, supple, composed and elegant, with very stylish ripe tannins, covered by raspberry, plum and vanilla flavours. Delicious, with a fine, savoury grip at the finish. This is a very complete and enticing wine, and was certainly top wine of the day. From a tasting of 2006 St Emilion & Pomerol.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2006: A deep, plush, concentrated style, with lots of fruit which has a rather complex, exotic edge to it, a little savage or feral. The same on the palate, although there is a sweetness too, with firm tannins beneath. Very firm in fact, solid confiture fruit, attractively composed, fresh acidity. Complex and interesting. Lovely grip and acidity. Very good indeed, with excellent potential.

“super poise, with excellent evolution beginning to show”

2005

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2005: This has a beautiful nose, perfumed and expressive, yet also dark and characterful. The fruit has a certain deep, smoky and concentrated style, with hints of griddled dark berry skins. The palate has a beautiful texture from the start, the substance of the wine carrying through the middle, along with some very fine signs of early complexity. This has super poise, with excellent evolution beginning to show, but without having lost an ounce of confidence. A superb wine.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2005: This bottle certainly generated some discussion. In terms of appearance it still looks youthful, as it should, but alongside the vibrant red pigment it also has a lightly dusty edge in keeping with its time in bottle. And yet there is considerable evolution on the nose here, which shows unusual nuances of leather and orange peel. It doesn’t seem quite right, with nuances of high-toned volatility too. Underneath these notes there are some attractive fruit elements, especially roasted plum, but also a surprisingly gamey edge. A second bottle was requested and opened. Thus this tasting note is disadvantaged as these wines really need more air to show their best. The second bottle does display more of that gamey character, although it is certainly toned down in comparison. And the palate has a more supple and polished feel to it. This is definitely more composed than the first also. Indeed, returning to it, it is starting to show some a more complex seam as it opens up, in quite an exciting fashion. It is aggressively awkward right now, but I think there is great potential here (although I am persisting with a hedged score). But do not be tempted to open any bottles you may have to see for yourself at the moment.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2005: Rather a perfumed and even slightly confected character on the nose here, with a tinge of cola alongside the restrained dark fruit aromatics. Not domineering though, and there is an attractive smoky substance to it as well. The palate also shows a little strangely today, a little unfocused and loose knit, although there is plenty of substance here. A little fat, certainly creamy, with some central grip. I know I have rated this highly in the past, and so this seems very strange. Nevertheless, I can only mark this wine as I see it today, although I must stress that it can not be a conclusive judgement based on this rather unusual showing.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2005: This has obvious finesse on the nose, with a pure, plummy fruit presented in a crisp, very well defined fashion. The palate shows all the necessary components, worked in together in a very harmonious style. There is a firm core of tannins, wrapped in a layer of bitter-edged redcurrant and plum fruit. A great composition, with fresh well-balanced acidity and overall superb style. Really super potential here.

2004

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2004: Dark plums, cream and black pepper on the nose here, with a fine lacing of spice and soot. The palate has an attractive confidence, the texture polished, quite seamless, with black plums and violets providing some fruit and floral complexity. The tannins are present, fresh and ripe, the acidity correct, the overall texture elegant, confident but not overdone. Still very primary, with plenty of fruit lingering in the finish. On the way up, and excellent potential with it.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2004: This has lovely fruit on the nose, just a gentle application of oak, sweet and dense, not overdone, with some very typical Pomerol spice. Fresh, stylish, rich but balanced on the palate, with a good freshness to it. Dense tannins, lots of character, with good acidity underneath it all. Very primary still, but with really fine potential. Excellent wine.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2004: Wow! This has a huge depth of sweet, black fruits that is really impressive. Ripe, velutinous style, structured, nicely extracted, very balanced, complete and gloriously rounded style. It is very primary in character at present, with just a little complex meaty-beefy note to the finish, but there is great potential here. Excellent.

2003

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2003: Really classic and exciting aromatics here, some purely defined dark fruit character, spicy and suggestive, but with that dry suggestion of potter’s clay coming through that for me just screams Pomerol. Unmistakeable, and very confident in its expression. Smoky too. The palate shows good definition in the start, polished and finely defined fruit texture, good evolution, and plenty of energy and also acid definition. a charming style, with a meaty note in the finish, but also some appealing floral tones. There is a little bite to it, so the structure still showing through in this respect, but the tannins are certainly ripe if substantial, but a really good wine within the context of the vintage.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2003: Black fruits and nuts, with some dried-spiced fruit on the nose. Full, weighty and rich on the palate, but not lush, opulent or overdone. There is plenty of firm structure beneath it all, but it sits well with the rest of the wine. Good acidity. Lovely style and great potential here.

2001

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2001: Another very dark wine, with slightly earthy, organic fruit, overlaid with beautifully pure brambly tones. Slightly buttery notes too, from the oak which has not yet quite integrated. Seductive, textured and elegant, yet broad and complete in its composition. Softly balanced acids with a nice tannic structure. Gentle and poised, and overall very admirable.

“This is still in need of cellar time I think”

2000

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 2000: An attractive fading hue here, showing the additional maturity within. It has a layer of supple and maturing fruit on the nose, sweet and perfumed, with little nuances of leather and a touch of black bean. It feels just a little warm as well. Rather broad on the palate, with a supple character as suggested aromatically, with a polished and firm substance and admittedly there is a lightly gamey feel here as well. Evolving complexities reminiscent of black bean and black tea bring some genuine pleasure here, but in terms of its presence in the mouth it still feels rather disparate and unready, despite having eleven years under its belt already. This is still in need of cellar time I think.

1999

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 1999: A meaty nose on this wine, tasted alongside the 2006 vintage. There is a deep and slightly unusual character, perhaps a touch of funk, certainly it seems quite feral. On the palate it is firm, full and rounded, and shows a meaty character like that found on the nose. Fleshy in texture, with decent acidity alongside. Not a great vintage for La Conseillante, nor for the region as a whole, but a good drinking vintage likely to be approachable very soon.

1998

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 1998: A small pour, a consequence of three out of four bottles having been corked. In the glass though, a good youthful colour, as might be expected in a great vintage such as this, and with a great estate. The nose has a dark and spicy character, iron and clay here, with reserved fruit but it is definitely there, warm but dense and concentrated. A very solid entry on the palate, before softening up in terms of fruit through the middle, although it retains a very solid, tannic, structured core. Reserved and really far too young for my palate right now. But it suggests a very fine potential.

1990

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 1990: Harvested at 53 hl/ha, and 21 years later it is poured from magnum. We have moved on ten years here, and there is a much more mature appearance, the wine showing a fading brick-red hue with a wide and soft rim. There is a beautiful nose to it, all very evolved and open, rather relaxed, with nuances of black olives, gravel and rust. Continuing on, the palate is very resolved, gently composed, soft and receptive to examination. There is no tannin here but there is some grip running through the wine, and appealingly fresh acidity too. This is elegant, and although there is a little medicinal twist to it in the palate which doesn’t wholly appeal, I keep coming back to it for that ethereal aromatic profile. And on the palate, the sweet substance, so toothsome and polished, also draws me back. Lovely wine.

“Packed with sweet, pastille-like blackcurrant and cherry fruit”

1982

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 1982: Wow! This has a lovely nose, Packed with sweet, pastille-like blackcurrant and cherry fruit, with some soft, slightly buttery oak. The palate is fine, and displays a good balance. Delightful sweet fruit, fully integrated, spicy tannins which provide the backbone, and correct acidity. A good weight and a sweet, rounded edge to the texture. Delicious.

1945

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) 1945: A négociant bottling. It is an honour to taste this as I know stocks of old vintages at the château are slim. It has a remarkable colour, a polished brick-red hue, and yet there is a fine creamy density to it, fading out to a more golden hue at the rim, and yet the whole wine seems quite opaque. It has an amazing nose, full of toast, liquorice, Marmite of all things, and more commonplace nuances including black tea. It is intense, sweet, and not at all delicate or ethereal as we might expect such an aged wine to be, in that it has real aromatic impact. And, in keeping with this, there is also incredible substance on the palate. It has a beautiful composition for any wine, never mind one long past its sixtieth birthday. This continues on along the palate which maintains its broad, gentle sweetness, and its fine balance, with a freshness to it that is beguiling. In the finish it seems long and even a touch honeyed here. Scoring such wines seems a bit silly, but this was a source of great pleasure, so I will! It would be fascinating to taste a château-bottled example as well.

 

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Source: Anonymous (waiting for claim)

 

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