Importer Duclot la Vinicole recently hosted a vertical tasting of ten vintages of biodynamic Bordeaux prodcuer ChÃ¢teau Pontet-Canet. The estate has been family-owned since 1959 with second-generation winemaker Alfred Tesseron at the helm. The property has 200 acres of vines and uses approximately a 50/50 split between new French oak and cement vats for aging.
The winery is also known for replacing mechanical engines with horses â€” about half the estate is farmed using horsepower, with a goal of 100% in the near future. "A horse never puts his foot in the same place,â€ says Tesseron. The family trains their vines into arches so the horses can pass through without harming them. The winery had their first green harvest in 1990, a fully biodynamic vineyard in 2005 and the entire winery was certified in 2010.
The vertical tasting included wines before and after the organic practices began. While subtle, the wines after the change have bright and fresh qualities that werenâ€™t present prior.
The following three stood out in terms of balance and complexity of flavor:
ChÃ¢teau Pontet-Canet Paulliac 2007
A very limited production wine, due to summer rot and humidity â€” it isnâ€™t available outside of Pontet-Canetâ€™s cellar. On the nose, there are notes of shaved dark chocolate and red currants. On the palate, the wine is lush with red currants and a lengthy finish.
ChÃ¢teau Pontet-Canet Paulliac 2009
The deepest of the wines I tried, the nose is delicate and pretty with blackberries and prunes. On the palate the wine tastes spearmint, milk chocolate and more blackberries.
ChÃ¢teau Pontet-Canet Paulliac 2010
My personal favorite of the group, 2010 is gorgeous, velvety, deep and bright. On the nose I found shortbread cookies, violets and strawberries. On the palate there are more strawberries, strawberry leaf, cassis and spices.