In 1992, Jean-Claude Rouzaud, oenologist and Board Chairman of Champagne Louis Roederer, acquired and combined two Cru Bourgeois vineyards in the heart of the Medoc’s prestigious Saint-Estèphe appellation: Château Picard and Château Beauséjour. Together, these properties make up what is now called Château Haut-Beauséjour.
The 20 hectare Saint-Estèphe vineyard of Château Haut-Beauséjour is dominated by Merlot. The vineyard is planted to 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. The terroir is gravel and clay with some limestone.
The wine of Château Haut-Beauséjour is vinified in traditional, large wood vats and aged in about 35% new, French oak barrels for about 12 months. On average, close to 8,500 cases of Château Haut-Beauséjour are produced every year. Vatting: 22-30 days.
After a dry winter with a cold spell at the end of February (snow and sub-zero temperatures), growth started relatively early for the
region, towards the end of March. Spring 2012 was characterized by alternating periods of cold and mild weather, and was generally very wet (with substantial rainfall of nearly 300 mm). These conditions continued into mid-July. Flowering was difficult, with the rain and cool temperatures causing flower abortion and uneven grape size, especially in the Merlot. The high rainfall from the spring until the beginning of the summer period resulted in the start of ripening being delayed by nearly three weeks in comparison to 2011. This was followed by a severe dry spell from mid-July to the end of September, with heat waves in August causing significant sun-scalding on some bunches. The high temperatures also resulted in very uneven start to the ripening stage. Fortunately, the last week of September was rainy, enabling the grapes to finish ripening in satisfactory conditions. The variable weather made for a complicated harvest, and a great deal of calm was required to bring in the grapes when they were fully ripe. So overall, this was a particularly difficult vintage for which the quality of the work in the vineyard and the quality of the terroir were essential factors in obtaining a good level of ripeness.
Leaf removal was more severe than usual this year because the vines grew a lot during July, due to all the rain at the start of the growth cycle.
Two rounds of crop-thinning were also necessary. One in July to remove overcrowded and unevenly sized bunches; and another after the grapes had started to ripen to remove excessively late-ripening bunches.
The wines are voluptuous and full-bodied with beautiful colour and silky tannins. The Cabernet Sauvignon presents a tight yet very elegant tannic structure.
The Cabernet Franc is complex, bringing fine spicy notes (black pepper) to the blend, while the Petit Verdot, planted on moist, hot terroir, brings a very flowery expression to the wine. Yields were kept low in order to extract the best from the vintage and achieve a balanced, dense, voluptuous wine, offering elegance and superb aromatic complexity.
Lamb, red meats, cheese, truffle, chocolate
Serve at room temperature
Wine Cellar insider – Jeff Leve – April 2013 – 85-88
Wine Spectator – James Molesworth – April 2013 – 86 -89
Jean Marc Quarin – April 2013 – 14, 75
AOC Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux
48% Cabernet Sauvignon
3% Cabernet franc
2% Petit Verdot