Bordeaux: Legacy Refreshed

If there is one wine-growing estate that is emblematic of what is happening in Bordeaux today, it is Château Pédesclaux in Pauillac. Pédesclaux was given cru status in the famous 1855 classification and it has great terroir — it's located next door to Lafite Rothschild — yet it had been allowed to drift along for decades, producing only OK wines and not living up to its potential.

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Enter Jacky Lorenzetti and Emmanuel Cruse. Lorenzetti, a billionaire real estate magnate and owner of the Racing Métro rugby club, bought Pédesclaux in 2009 and teamed up with Cruse, whose family roots are deeper into Bordeaux winemaking terroir than vines planted on gravelly soil, to raise Pédesclaux to a status it had never realized. Cruse, best known as the co-owner of Château d'Issan and as a chief executive of Bordeaux winegrowers associations, came on as the estate's managing director. Some vineyard plots were traded with neighbors, an ultra-modern winery was built, and grape-growing practices were changed.

But it is the architecture of Jean-Michel Wilmotte that captures the spirit of Pédesclaux and that of Bordeaux itself — rich in legacy, but very open to new ideas and directions. His redo of the château building combines the classic façade with two transparent, glassed wings — unlike any other Bordeaux estate.

Each time I come to Bordeaux — as I did recently for Vinexpo — I fall in love again. An industry dinner at Château Margaux, which itself has redone its cellars, reflects the grandeur and tradition. Then, visits with a cross-section of wine producers in the Médoc, Barsac, Saint-Émilion, and Entre-Deux-Mers showed me yet again the vigor and freshness that provides the needed acidity to balance Bordeaux' fruity legacy.

View from the Top

Allan Sichel heads his family wine production and marketing business, Maison Sichel, and is vice chairman of CIVB — the Bordeaux association of wine producers. In an interview at Vinexpo, Sichel noted, "Today, younger consumers are more open to trying different wines, but they still want the security of a good wine" — such as Bordeaux.

Château Makeover

At a tour of its new winery followed by lunch, Château Pédesclaux managing director Emmanuel Cruse claimed, "The cellars are the most technically advanced you can find in Bordeaux — perhaps in the world." A gravity flow winery is not new, but having a special elevator to move vats from one level to the next is out of the ordinary.


Click here for the Bordeaux slideshow.