Club Pontet Labrie update on the 2017 vintage: Jan '20

Winter in Bordeaux can be somewhat bleakThe vines sit squat and black against the soil, with skies alternating from bright but watery light to grey clouds and rain. When I visited Jonathan Maltus last week, we were lucky enough to see the Château itself and our hectare of ‘Grand Pontet’ (the vineyard from which Pontet Labrie is produced) bathed in sunlight before the twilight settled. 

The New Winery and Guest Accommodation 

A drive from the estate through Maltus’ vineyards amply demonstrates the august terroir which he farms. We weave past Bauséjour, Canon and Gaffelière to the site of the winery, which nestles in the old Mazerat vines just across the pathway from Angelus.  Our Grand Pontet vineyard is less than a mile roughly to the West as the crow flies.  It’s a Sir Norman Foster designed building site at present, a mini Millennium Dome on prime Saint-Émilion land with its concrete base recently poured and a lonesome crane. Some wines will be vinified there this year, even before the winery is completed in the Spring of 2021. Since last year the estate is substantially repositioning the price of Le Dôme to about double its previous level and the first step was well received in the 2918 vintage. This is clearly good news for Club Pontet Labrie members, as we have the ‘Merlot equivalent of Le Dôme’. 
 
Back at the Château, the redesign is substantial, but sympathetic to the fabric of the building and grounds.  All of the spaces have been opened up to give a feeling of airy substantiality.  I stayed in one of the nine new guest rooms, which may be booked by Club Pontet Labrie members from May 2020.  The room was modern, comfortable and well insulated with all the elements I look for nowadays – a comfortable bed, a great shower, a coffee machine and a peaceful atmosphere. 
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Tasting Pontet Labrie 2018 & 2019 

We held a comparative tasting of all of Maltus’ 2018s including Pontet Labrie and Le Dôme, plus the Merlot component of Pontet Labrie 2019.  Here are my notes: 
Pontet Labrie 2018 (barrel sample) 
Approx. 85% Merlot 15% Cabernet Franc 14.5%+ ABV 
"A multi-layered wine of substance and character, offering deep and complex notes of morello cherry and evolving savoury spiciness. On the palate, those copious fine to medium tannins are now ripening, but this and the freshness of the dark and burnished fruits presage a long life.  A full-bodied and perfectly poised wine which has great energy, especially towards the finish with complex flavours of bark and sweet spice, black pepper, nutmeg and cardamom.  The evolution of the wine in the glass was most pleasurable, making it dangerously moreish."Nathan Hill, Chairman of Honest Grapes
 
Pontet Labrie 2019 (Merlot component from barrel) 
14% ABV 
"I tasted the Merlot component of Pontet Labrie on its own - always a rewarding experience at such an early stage in a wine's life. This is oh-so different from the 2018, showing the pleasures of a single vineyard wine in a different vintage.  The wine shows a massive burst of plush macerated black and red fruit, fleshy tannins and a core spearmint-like freshness and vivacity.  At this stage, the impact of the oak is pretty substantial, but this should settle down with time and the deepening effect of the addition of the Cabernet Franc when blended." 
"The word on the street is that 2019 will be another good year for Maltus and Bordeaux in general. Our single vineyard approach accentuates the effect of the vintage on the wine, and I’m fascinated to see 5 such different wines produced from the same vines on such a small patch of land." Nathan Hill, Chairman of Honest Grapes

Delivery of Pontet Labrie 2017 

We’re pleased to confirm that the estate has (finally!) released Pontet Labrie 2017 to us, and it has now reached our storage in the UK.  We will be sending out Club Members’ allocations over the coming weeks.  If you still have your 2015 or 2016 with us, please could you arrange for delivery of all three vintages now. We have hardly any 2015 left and just a few cases of 2016. 

Special Update for Kosher Pontet Labrie Members 

We’re delighted that the first vintage of Kosher Pontet Labrie has now been delivered. It took two years after the maiden vintage of Pontet Labrie to get our syndicate together, and every drop of wine has been sold.  The 2019 wines (kosher and unsupervised) are now in their maturation barrels and the 2018s are approaching bottling this June. 

Special Update for US Club Members 

You will be aware that the US Government has imposed a 25% tariff on French wine (currently set at below 14% ABV and 2l bottles) and this is a real nuisance. Club Members expecting delivery of Pontet Labrie 2017 have two choices (i) to set up a UK storage account for the time being (we can arrange this for you) or (ii) to take delivery and pay the tariff.  Although this is outside our control, we are offering all US members 3 months’ free UK storage to give you time to decide.  Please note the regulations are complex, and may not apply to the 2018 wine which is at above 14% ABV. 

Availability of Back Vintages and new memberships 

We have a limited number of cases of 2016 and 2017 available, and several memberships of 2018/19/20.  The 2015 is sold out, as are the kosher vintages 2017/18/19. 
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More Club Events Planned 

Now that the guest rooms are being completed, we are planning our first trip to the chateauour base for an amazing Bordeaux tour, plus events at Holland & Holland Grounds in North West London and Autovivendi – SuperCar Club.  Please get in touch with us for further information, and more announcements will follow as we finalise plans.