Musings on wine making and our vist to Château Chadenne in Bordeaux


Many years ago, we lived in a house nestled amongst the grapevines on the aptly named Chemin des Vignerons (Winemaker's Road) in Switzerland. After driving our children to school in the pre-dawn light, I would stand at the living room window watching the winemaker tend his vines as I drank my coffee. It was my daily ritual. Even though we never spoke, I felt a certain quiet complicity with him. We were both nurturers. While I ensured that our children ate a healthy breakfast in the morning and did their homework in the evening, my stoic companion inspected the grape leaves for pests and carefully pruned his vines. Whether the sun was warming his back or the rain was falling on his head, he was a constant presence in the vineyards. His job, like mine, seemed to be endless, particularly right before the annual harvest when migrant workers would arrive to help pick the grapes. Suddenly, the fields were filled with joyous noise as the workers made their way up and down the steep slope of the hill toting baskets filled to the brim with plump grapes. And then, all too suddenly it seemed, his work for that year's harvest was finished. The fruits of his labor was bottled and stored in a cellar to be savored at a later date. Whenever I open a bottle of wine, I pause for a moment to think of my winemaker and pay homage to his hard work.

Living on the 5th floor of an apartment block in Paris, I occasionally miss the feeling of being connected to the earth and the changing of the seasons, which is why I proposed that we go to the winemaking region of Bordeaux, France when Stéphane asked where I wanted to spend the 4-day Toussaint weekend. Thanks to a chance meeting with winemakers Philippe and Véronique Jean  while dining at Chez L'Ami Jean last Thanksgiving, we even knew exactly which domaine we wanted to visit first.

Located on a plateau that dominates the Dordogne Valley, Chateau Châdenne is one of the oldest vineyards in Fronsac. It belonged to the family of French pioneer cinematographer Max Linder until the middle of last century. Philippe and Véronique acquired the estate in 1999 when they decided to realize their dream of owning a vineyard. A native of the Champagne region of France and passionate about wine, Véronique told us about the longstanding law that prohibits winemakers from watering their vineyards in Bordeaux so that the roots of the vines penetrate depth into the earth. The composition of the soil, the microclimate of Fronsac and the Jean's move to organic production results in an exceptionally fine mid-priced Bordeaux wine.


Rather than being "out and about" this morning, I'm at home waiting for our delivery of Château Chadenne wine. From the first vintage in 2000, it has received many awards and distinctions. U.S. leading wine critic Robert Parker described the Millesime 2009 as "dense, full-bodied, and at the same time, elegant, pure, and very impressive", while Le Figaro said that it was "superbe". When Stéphane and I open our first bottle, I'm sure that we'll savor the taste and remember the time that we spent visiting Chateau Châdenne with Véronique and learning more about the fine art of making wine.

Please click here to visit Château Chadenne's website. SmartBox also offers special wine experiences at Château Chadenne that include accommodation and wine tasting. Please click here for more information.
The description of Chateau Chadenne in Smartbox.

Comments

  1. I was trying to hold off on having a glass of wine until at least 5pm but this just killed that plan on this gloomy day in Paris!

    Being a Bordeaux girl, all I needed to see was that deep red deliciousness in those lovely glasses (the glass is just as important as the wine, IMO) and now I'm letting a bottle breathe. Why not? It's Friday!

    Bon week-end, MK!

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    1. Happy to hear that you're a Bordeaux girl, Mlle Ella. You'll have to come over for a wine tasting because we ordered bottles from a couple of different years, including some 2009 which was supposed to be an excellent year for Bordeaux wine.

      I hope that you're having a wonderful weekend in Honfleur!

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  2. I don't drink reds often, but I think Bordeaux tend to be a bit full-bodied and oaky for my tastes. But I hope you enjoy!

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    1. Thanks, Gwan! One thing we learned while visiting different wineries is that some of the lower priced Bordeaux (below 10 euros a bottle) isn't aged in oak barrels so it isn't as full-bodied and oaky as the more expensive stuff.

      I thought of you while we were in Bordeaux because the owner of our B&B was a sommelier by profession who came from Tourraine. Needless to say, she thinks that your region produces some very good wine!

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    2. @Gwan, I forgot to say that next time we're in Bordeaux or some wine making region I really want to visit a cooper. Evidently coopers have their own unique way of burning the inside of wine barrels and thats what also gives the wine different flavors. Do you know if there are any coopers near you?

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    3. Not that I've ever heard of. There was a bit about barrel-making at the kitschy Chinon wine museum though.

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  3. Ah what a lovely story about the wine maker and you and parallel lives.

    Sometimes I miss wine! Sigh!

    Love Denise

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    1. Have you ever tried non-alcoholic wine? I remember that I had some at a Middle-Eastern restaurant when I was in Edinburgh that was surprisingly good.

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  4. MK; I love you for the first part of your story - I can so very much feel what goes through your heart....
    I too am v thankful to everyone who does something, even the smallest bit, for my daily happiness, for my good food, the marvellous wines, the market seller who gets up at 4 to Rungis to get the flowers and plants I then buy after 9 - and the older I get the more I appreciate every single kindness I'm offered.
    Thank You - and to your good health - santé
    Kiki

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    1. Kiki, The market vendors have my admiration, too! They have such long days in all kinds of weather and are almost always in a good mood. Maybe that's why I feel inexplicably happy when I carry my fresh fruit and veggies home. I also like how they usually add a little bonus to your purchases, like a bunch of basil or a loaf of bread. The human interaction is on a completely different level than when I buy food in a grocery store.

      I hope that all is well with you!

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  5. Beautifully written post!

    Oh, and I had a wonderful meal at L'Ami Jean last year. It was my favorite meal on the whole trip.

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    1. I remember that you went to L'Ami Jean and even posted the link for the recipe for their delicious rice pudding. Has your husband made it again? I think that we'll have to make some now that the weather has turned cool. EIther that or we'll have to go back to L'Ami Jean and eat some of theirs. It's amazing!

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    2. Yes, he has, and he's gotten really good at it! I'm a lucky girl. :)

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  6. That reminds me of our first wine tasting holiday in 1999, which was in the bordeaux region. But how lovely to have been able to watch the wine growing process every day. It seems that our house in Blois once had a small vineyard though there's obviously nothing left today.

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    1. Are there any vineyards left around your house or have they all disappeared? I would think that you'll be able to watch the grape growing process as you bike or drive around the countryside near Blois. It was always such a pleasure to see the vines come to life after being dormant during the winter. I also loved seeing the brilliant yellow leaves glowing in the sun in the autumn.

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  7. Can you call a vineyard in Bordeaux a "domaine", I thought that was reserved for Burgundy.

    Which vintage did you get? Or were you able to get a flight of vintages?

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    1. I thought you could call a vineyard in Bordeaux a domaine but will have to do some research because there are so many restrictions for the French wine industry that I wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong. It was also interesting to learn about which wines can be called a "grand cru" Bordeaux as opposed to just a regular Bordeaux.

      We sampled different vintages and ordered the 2007 and 2009 from Chateau Chadenne. We also ordered some 2001, 2004 and 2007 from some other vineyards.

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    2. Nice spread of vintages--calls for some serious dinner planning.

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  8. You didn't see a bumpkin wandering around Bordeaux when you were there, did you?!

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    1. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the city of Bordeaux during this trip. Otherwise, I would have been on the lookout for Caiti!

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  9. I am reading your blog from the latest post backwards. Apologies if I make a comment that is moot.

    Being in Paris makes a visit to the Champagne region a (possible) day trip. I very much enjoyed my trip there and specifically was quite delighted to have "discovered" Roger Coulon. Alas, they are difficult to find in San Francisco!

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