Tasting the Chateau Teyssier wines at the vineyard was a special experience. In the tasting room, a Jeroboam of 2002 Le Dôme sits empty on the neighbouring counter, as do other bottles in the Teyssier portfolio.
Information packs are neatly provided and Julie takes us through the range to be tasted; a 2011 Pezat Rouge, a 2012 Pezat White, a 2011 Chateau Teyssier and a 2007 Chateau Laforge. Neatly arranged glasses waiting, we began with the Pezat Rouge. Head winemaker is Neil Whyte, with a raft of winemakers and consultants providing valuable knowledge and teamwork which we are reminded is the key to the success of the operation.
Pezat Rouge is a rather peculiar, interesting creation. Planted in the Bordeaux Superieur appellation, the main vineyard of 'La Plagnolle' is literally steps from the Saint Emilion appellation. Thus Maltus and staff began to treat the vineyard as if it were a Chateau Teyssier, Saint Emilion Grand Cru wine. With vine densities doubled and heights halved, they began to change the yielding capacity and properties of the vines. The wine has a very deep purple colour, and is very enticing in the glass. The word I suppose would be rather dense colouring and is a bit deceptive from appearance to nose. It had a clear bouquet of black fruits, with some hints of blue ripe fruit like blueberries, and anise/liquorice. Tasting the wine, it really fills the mouth with a strong density, and was somewhat bushy, with more liquorice. The wine is lightly oaked but I found little of this in the taste. I found the finish a little short, but what stuck with me was the big, juicy mouthfeel of the wine.
Next was the 2011 Chateau Teyssier. This wine is the mainstay of the Chateau, producing around 15,000 cases. Based on an accumulation of plots in the Saint Emilion Grand Cru appellation, the bulk of the grapes are yielded from vineyards near Chateau Monbousquet, a chateau that is said to punch well above its perceived quality level. The 2011 Teyssier was beautifully coloured, with subtle dark fruits, spice and smatterings of liquorice on the nose. To the taste, the wine was very smoothly textured, with an enticing, deliciously-coated mouthfeel. The wine is fermented in one third new French oak, and it had the lovely soft spiciness of old oak combined with the toasted hints of new oak. This really helped smooth out the balance. I found the astringency to have an encouraging level, not too subtle and not too overtly sticky. Certain areas of the Teyssier vineyards have substantial iron deposits, which I found helped the wine's appeal. I am told by Julie that the 2009 and 2010 are in short supply, and it is easy to see why when the 2011 (a lesser hailed vintage) provides such beautiful drinkability and constant Merlot richness. This wine, for me, is one that provides a wonderfully accessible cellaring option whilst maintaining a drinkability very rare in age-worthy Bordeaux wines.
Following the 2011 Chateau Teyssier was the 2007 Chateau Laforge, which the staff label as their 'senior' chateau wine. Laforge is a wine whose Merlot component has a very enticing appeal, at 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. The label itself harks back to the former owner, whose grandfather was a blacksmith. The grapes themselves undergo the aforementioned care and sorting, a good sign of the maintenance of quality from vineyard operations to vinification and beyond. The vines stand on the usual Saint Emilion soil and terroir makeup of sand, gravel and clay over limestone. The importance of this is that the different soil and terroir components change the harvest dates of the grapes in the vineyard, making a rigorous picking and sorting regimen very important to the quality standards. In addition to the soil and terroir, the vines themselves are carefully tended and green harvested (shedding lesser quality) two to three times to limit the growth to optimum quality grapes. The wine itself hits the nose with a soft and appetising 'soily-ness', with blueberries and ripe fruits. The soil notes also hinted at rocks and stones. On the palette, the wine tasted very full-fruited, with blueberries dominating over blackberry and subtle cassis. The balance was extremely harmonious and coated the mouth with a delicious, soft fruit feel. The finish was wonderful and long, and beckoned for a second helping.
We were provided with a surprise finale to the tasting with a bottle of 2012 Pezat Bordeaux Blanc Sec, made of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. This again is a restaurant wine or wine to be had by the glass, and provided a crisp, tropically-fruited finish to our red tasting. The wine was such a surprise, and at such a low price, was well worth grabbing a couple of bottles to share with friends at a warm, summer lunch.