The story, of how Chateau Petrus went from one hand to the other in the past two centuries, is very intriguing. Take a sip of their spectacular vintage wines and you'll know what we are talking about
By: LF Team
Posted on: July 10, 2010
It has been famously said that while Chateau Petrus is small-scale, its wine and its reputation are huge.
The story, of how Chateau Petrus went from one hand to the other in the past two centuries, is very intriguing. In the 18th century, Jacques Meyraud bought some land in Gazin, commonly known as Petrus, from the Voisin family. His son Pierre, however, sold Petrus to MM. Brilhouet and Courolle, butchers at Libourne. It was acquired by M. Antoine Arnaud in 1770. The Arnaud family owned it for over a century. In 1917, M. Sabin-Douarre, former manager of Petrus, became the owner. How he acquired it, however, is still a mystery.
Sabin-Douarre often ate at l’Hotel Loubat which was the best restaurant in Libourne. In 1923, Madame Loubat bought the majority shares from Sabin-Douarre and by 1945 became the sole owner of Chateau Petrus. She asked Jean-Pierre Moueix to handle the distribution of the wine. Madame Loubat steadily built up the quality of the wine with meticulous husbandry and impeccable vinification. After her death in 1961, her nephew M. Lignac and niece Mme Lacoste, inherited half of the property each. However, M. Lignac sold his half to Moueix in 1964. In 1969, Jean-François Moueix, elder son of Jean-Pierre, also bought Mme Lacoste’s half. Today, he and his children are the owners of Petrus.
The 11.5 hectares of Petrus are located on a hill at an altitude of 40 meters in Pomerol. This hill has a totally different soil type than the plateau surrounding it. The clay of the hill dates back 40 million years, whereas the thick gravel on the surrounding plateau is only 1 million year old. Eleven hectares are planted with merlot, and half a hectare with cabernet franc.
The grapes are picked by hand, de-stemmed and sorted optically. They are gently crushed before vinification in concrete vats (large tubs or containers). Maceration, (the process of leaving the crushed grape skins in the juice until they have imparted the desired colour and aroma), usually lasts 15 to 21 days, as they extract only the softest and most mature tannins from the skins and the pits. After maceration, the juice goes into another vat for fermentation. Each vat is tasted after fermentation. Those which are good enough are blended together before the wine is aged in barrels. There is no second wine at Pétrus. Those lots, which are rejected, are sold off as generic Pomerol.
The ageing varies in length from one vintage to another depending on the quality of the grapes. If necessary, the wines are fined and filtered prior to bottling. The average production is 30, 000 bottles per year.
Some of their finest vintages are Petrus (Pomerol) 2009 and 2005. Petrus (Pomerol) 2009 is made of 100 per cent merlot and 14 per cent alcohol. It has a well defined and elegant fruit profile with a haunting Pomerol spice. The wine brings a palate of red plums and cherry, also with slightly floral notes of violets, vibrant and lightly crystalline fruit, and light nuances of damson too. Underneath, however, there is a layer of tannins which is well-controlled, giving backbone and enveloping the wine, but never dominating it. There is fine acidity at the core.
The Petrus (Pomerol) 2005 has a solid style on the nose. Although dark and concentrated, it has purity to it, with a subtly volatile element. It has a palate of intense cherry fruit, cranberry and roasted herbs. This belies a rich, substantial, defined and powerfully tannic palate. The 2005 is broad, quite fleshy and nicely styled. The prodigious layer of velvety tannin swims beneath a primary fruit character.
The 1982 Petrus is another spectacular wine from the Petrus. The colour reveals some amber at the edge. It has a sweet nose of caramel, roasted herbs, cherry jam, cedar, and smoke, followed by a thick, full-bodied, unctuously-textured, low-acid Petrus that is approaching full maturity. The wine is sweet, smoky, and ideal for drinking now and over the next 20-25 years. Petrus 1982 is available at the Imperial Hotel for INR 2,99,000 per bottle.
The wines of Chateau Petrus are distinctive. They are rich and powerful with an exceptional depth of colour and clear definition of flavour and bouquet.