Chateau Teyssier: Visit and tasting
On the 10th of March, I was able to visit Chateau Teyssier, a high quality operation owned by Jonathan Maltus and family. Entering the region from the direction of the Pyrenees, I found the landscape changed into one of mouthwatering rows of vines on the Saint Emilion outskirts. Having read and studied this region so much in the last year, I was stunned at the beauty of it. The rows of vines are so meticulously tended, as in all other winemaking areas of France, and there is a romance to the endless rows of vines.
Going from directions emailed to me by Export Markets Manager Marie-Julie (Julie) Lotte, we eventually (with a few stops to ask directions - nobody's fault!) found our way to Chateau Teyssier, settled behind a cluster of sheds, houses and smaller buildings, but surrounded by lovely walls and hedges. It was almost as though the staff were making improvements for our arrival - two staff were repairing the sign out front when we arrived, one of whom turned out to be owner Jonathan Maltus' son, Jamie. It was pleasant to hear his friendly greeting and have a brief chat about himself and his ambitions to manage the vineyard, before heading inside the modern cellar building. There we were greeted by Julie and informed further about the basic aspects of the chateau.
The chateau holds 50Ha of vineyard in the Saint Emilion Grand Cru appellation, including four single vineyard wines and two chateau wines, as well as the 'Pezat' label (Bordeaux Superieur) described by Julie as an aperitif or wine to be had by the glass. After a quick run through the barrel room, we visited the tank room and vinification rooms, where we witnessed the sorting areas, and conveyor assembly that gently rolls the grapes into fermentation barrels. The staff at the chateau are at pains to highlight that they neither pump nor agitate the grapes during sorting, which helps to preserve the pristine condition of the hand-picked grapes (no machine harvesting involved). I was also informed that the chateau have hired professional pickers to pay he utmost attention to the harvesting process. All of Teyssier's red wines are cold macerated, and all except Pezat Rouge undergo 'double triage', or double sorting, beginning with bunch sorting followed by individual grape sorting. They are then conveyed into fermentation barrels.
Of the single vineyard wines, Le Dôme is the most hailed of the Chateau's portfolio of wines, with the 2010 receiving 100 points from Robert Parker. This information is proudly displayed by the Staff at the entrance to the winemaking building, with a '100 Points' sign adorning the reception desk. Certainly the score is not easy to come by and for such a young - and ambitious operation - and to receive this score is clearly the result of a highly coordinated team operation, a fact Julie is keen to highlight. Jonathan Maltus and his family clearly have a vision for the chateau, including the garagistes inspired 'Le Dôme'. Whilst we did not taste this wine, the litany of rave reviews and scores available on the internet and on the chateau's website attests to its greatness. Le Dôme is bordered on three sides by Chateau Angelus, and Julie tells me that the terroir is almost identical in every way. This wine is also unique in its high usage of Cabernet Franc, more than that of highly rated neighbours Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Angelus.
Fellow single vineyard wines have also recently won much acclaim; Vieux Chateau Mazerat, Les Asteries, and Le Carre (the latter two only 100 metres apart). Further wines in the portfolio express the professionalism and dedication of the staff, and which make up most of the volume of wines in the portfolio. These are Chateau Laforge, Chateau Teyssier, Pezat (red and white) and Clos Nardian (Bordeaux Blanc Sec). It was Laforge, Teyssier and Pezat that we tasted on our visit. Read on to part 2 for the reviews of these wines here!