yves vatelot

Closing It Down At Lascombes (Again!)

Closing It Down At Lascombes (Again!)

Post by John Perry | April 5th, 2011

Every year that I’ve been to Bordeaux, the weather has been completely unpredictable and variable.  Not this year though—seems we brought

Lascombes vintages 1881 & 1892

California with us!  With warm, clear days, and cool,comfortable evenings, I couldn’t have asked for a better scene for our visit to Chateau Lascombes. We started out with a tour of the property, and as dry as technical details can be, it’s essential to understand how the rebirth of Lascombes has taken place over recent vintages.

Under its previous ownership by brewing company Bass Charrington, this 2nd Growth was considered by most to be an unqualified underachiever. Although some improvements were made, particularly towards the end of this era, the wines were pretty forgettable and certainly unheralded. Revitalization came in 2001 when Lascombes was purchased by Capital Colony and Yves Vatelot, who hired the super-talented team of Dr. Alain Reynaud and Michel Rolland to oversee the turnaround. Various improvements were made, including the construction of a gravity-fed winery, use of optical scanners on the sorting table, a new, innovative racking system for wines resting in barrel, and the replanting of (more…)

Did Reignac Reign Superior?

Did Reignac Reign Superior?

Post by Chuck Hayward | November 19th, 2010

With the 2010 harvest just completed in Bordeaux, chateau and estate owners are back on the road introducing themselves to new clients/ markets and revisiting those who have supported their wines in the past. Yet the nature of how Bordeaux is sold means the Bordelais do not visit here as often as winemakers from other countries. Some six to nine months after the harvest, many chateaux sell their wines to negociants, who then sell it to US importers. At that point, the chateau no longer owns the wine, so the responsibilities for promotion and education have been left to the importers or the Bordeaux trade association by default.

Yves Vatelot (c) talks with JJ Buckley employees Jeff Loo (l) & Farley Walker (r)

Today, however, most of the traditional Bordeaux importers are no longer participating in the market.  Now that retailers are going directly to the negociants in France, some chateau owners realize that it will be up to them to reacquaint loyal followers of past vintages while introducing their wines to new customers. Following JJ Buckley’s visit to the en primeur tastings last spring, the staff wanted to ensure our customers had the opportunity to meet important winemakers and owners in Bordeaux. And we could think of no better way to start than with Yves Vatelot of Chateau Reignac, one of the most charismatic owners we encountered during our visit. (more…)

Quel surprise! Dinner at Chateau Reignac

Quel surprise! Dinner at Chateau Reignac

Post by Alex Shaw | Sunday, March 28th

Sometimes wine has a way of really surprising you.

Even tasting dozens and dozens of wines in an average week at JJ Buckley, and easily 50 to 100 a day here in Bordeaux, occasionally we are taken completely unawares by some new discovery.  This happened to five members of the JJ Buckley staff at Chateau Reignac on Sunday night.

Reignac is an unclassified chateau in the parish of Saint Loubes, which makes

Tasting room inside the tower at Reignac

consistent wines many of us have tasted on several occasions back in the states.  At our visit to Reignac, owner Yves Vatelot boasted of the gravelly soil and fantastic terroir which produces the Reignac fruit, stating that if the classifications were done today, Reignac would certainly qualify.  And at dinner, he would prove it.

Following a tour of the spectacular grounds and barrel room, we tasted through the current vintages (2009, 2008 and 2006) of Reignac Blanc, Chateau de Reignac (2nd wine), Reignac and Balthus, their premier cuvee composed of 100% Merlot.  Our staff was impressed by the concentration of fruit, smooth tannins and overall complexity of the wines.  The 2006s and 2008s were developing very nicely, and the 2009 showed the potential to be stunning, high-scoring wines, able to compete with some of its finest classified Bordeaux brethren.

Cory Gowan, me, and Yves Vatelot

After the tasting we dined in the 16th century chateau with Mr. Vatelot and his wife, Stephanie.  Starting with 2001 Reignac Blanc (fantastic), we moved on to red for the main course, and two decanters emerged from the kitchen for a blind tasting.  We all agreed they were likely late 90s Bordeaux, but there was much debate about which wine showed better— one having the more complex and compelling nose, the other having a bit more structure and depth of flavor on the palate.  We got the vintage right— 1998, with the first being Reignac.  And the wine it was tasted against?  1998 Chateau Margaux!  The table had been split over their choice, and we were all shocked at how well the Reignac compared to this first growth.

This enjoyable exercise continued as two more decanters emerged from the kitchen.  We again settled on possibly late 90’s or 2000, and the table was again split over which wine they preferred.  This time it was 1999, and the two wines turned out to be Reignac… and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild!  We now sat with several glasses in front of us, sipping on two fantastic first growths and two stunning vintages of Reignac.  Just amazing.

The charming and gracious M. Vatelot continued the evening by blind tasting us on two more wines, which turned out to be 2001 Lascombes (also under the guidance of M. Vatelot and stunning) and 2005 Pape Clement, a 98-point Parker wine that many have called THE wine of the vintage.  All of the wines that evening were just fantastic, and the Reignac easily stood shoulder to shoulder with its more famous (and significantly more expensive) neighbors.

Sometimes it’s very good to be surprised.