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Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac 2004

An 80Ha Chateau established in 1725, when the estate was purchased by Jean-François Pontet. It's favourable location in Pauillac – across the road from First Growth (as of promotion in 1973) Chateau Mouton Rothschild – brings the promise of quality wines.

It was purchased by the Tesseron family (of Cognac Tesseron fame) in 1975, a point in time when the vineyards and estate were in very poor condition. Operations are currently overseen by Alfred Tesseron. It is classed as a 5th Growth (5ème) estate.

Whilst the structure the Bordeaux Classification of 1855 may be locked down, over the decades various Chateau have waxed and waned in terms of quality. And Pontet Canet is no different, with a drop in quality during the 1960s, followed by a steady improvement since the Tesseron purchase of the 1970s. By the late 1990s wines were in excellent form, with meticulous fruit selection from revived vineyards.

Alfred has continued to make improvements year on year and has embraced more sustainable methods.

They became the first major Bordeaux wine producer to earn the official Agence Bio (AB) organic certification. Further certification was secured with Ecocert, and biodynamic certification from biodyvin. 2007 marks the last vintage where chemicals were used at Pontet Canet. Other techniques include ploughing with horse where possible, a focus upon low yields, destemming by hand, and minimal interference in the cellar. Increasingly separate fermentations are carried out block by block, and there is no use of any electricity in the vinification process.

The composition of grapes grown is 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Vineyards are composed of deep gravel over clay and limestone, with an average vine age of 50 years.

Fermentations take place in concrete and large wood vats. Ageing of the wines takes place in specially made 900 litre amphorae jars along with 50% new French oak barrels.

The reputation of the Chateau is now such that in good vintages in produces wines that can match 2nd Growth estates - even 1st Growth since 2003 - and is firmly on the map for Bordeaux lovers.

The 2004 vintage is highly regarded and showing well, way beyond the 5th Growth status of the Chateau. Classic nose of blackberry, creme de cassis, graphite and cigar box. Opulent black fruits on the palette intertwined with tar, mint, dried herbs now framed by softening dusty tannins. The concentration of fruit linger on a long, persistent finish. Complex and refined Pauillac.