Château D’Issan de Bordeaux reclaims its reputation in league with nature

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Château d’Issan has, like most Bordeaux residents, a long history, dating back to the 12th century and was classified third cru in the Bordeaux wine classification of 1855. But two world wars caused the château and the surface area of ​​its vineyards to decline. vineyards; in 1945, only two hectares were in production, when the Cruse family of Dutch merchants bought it, along with the Pontet-Canet, Rauzan-Ségla and Giscours châteaux. But in the 1970s, Cruse was accused of mixing outside wine with their Bordeaux estates, and their fortunes collapsed in Bordeaux.

It took Emmanuel Cruse, born in 1968, accompanied by his father Lionel Cruse, to develop the domain from top to bottom. In 1998, Emmanuel took over the general management of d’Issan and today, with 53 hectares under cultivation, he is committed to bringing the estate in harmony with nature.

What was the impetus behind this concept of working with nature?

Since the 12th century, the Domaine d’Issan has stood the test of time. We believe that the Essenault family, who built the Château in 1626, had a great sensitivity towards nature. Indeed, Château d’Issan has always been respectful of nature and anxious to preserve its balance; best illustrated by comparing the property today with a historical map from 1759, which proves that nature has been well respected over the centuries.

Did the Bordeaux châteaux of yesteryear invest a lot in sustainability and ecology, or did they simply trust nature to take its course?

We believe that nature always takes back its rights, so we have to trust it!

What new improvements have you made to the production facilities and castle caves?

Built in 1873, our “Skawinski” vat room is one of the Bordeaux pioneers, mastering the force of gravity. It was renovated in 2002 to adapt the vinification plot by plot. Our cellar is still operational today and allows us to respect tradition.

How has global warming affected Bordeaux, and Issan in particular? During my last visit to Bordeaux, the temperature in June was close to 100 degrees!

Global warming is a real topical issue in which we must all get involved. At Château d’Issan, our team adapts the work carried out in the vineyard throughout the year to offer the best balance. We are fortunate to have a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a late varietal. Our clay-rich basements retain freshness even in hot vintages, for example: 2003. Our Malbec vines, planted in 2010, will be interesting to follow in the years to come as they adapt to global warming.

Describe what sets Issan apart from other wines in the region.

Château d’Issan offers a typical character representative of the Margaux appellation. From the historic vineyard surrounded by a “Clos” stone wall built in 1644, it remains faithful to the expression of its terroir and reflects the soul of its history. Château d’Issan is the expression of balance and structure.

What are the characteristics of Margaux wines compared to other Bordeaux terrors?

Margaux wines are renowned for their elegance and their aging potential. The vines, deeply rooted in our terroir, create wines with delicate charm and subtle aromas. Their tannins are infinitely supple and velvety. They express an extraordinary variety of bouquets. Margaux wines: “An iron fist in a velvet glove. “

Is the castle open to the public for visits?

We are open to tours all year round by appointment for private and tailor-made tours. We offer different tastings including: The horizontal, the family, the royal … Find more details on our website: www.chateau-issan.com.

Have there been any difficulties recruiting workers and harvesters during the pandemic?

We are a family team at Château d’Issan, which allowed us to take turns throughout the pandemic to ensure the proper functioning of the estate. Especially in the vineyard, our teams were delighted to continue to come and work as if “nothing had happened”.

Is the current generation of French people entering the industry?

Château d’Issan is a family business, under the third generation of the Cruses family. We still maintain a desire to nurture the property for future generations.

By tradition, you only use Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Have you experimented with adding other grape varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot? Would they add complexity?

In 2020, we enlarged our vineyard with new plots located just after our Clos, on the same vein of terroir as our historic vineyard. For the first time, we harvested 3 new grape varieties on these new plots: Cabernet Franc (old vines planted in 1958); Petit Verdot (old vines planted in 1948); and Malbec (old vines planted in 2010). For the first time, they are making their entry into the blend of the 2020 vintage, which brings a real extra soul and a certain complexity to this vintage.

You produce an average of 100,000 bottles. How much can this change depending on the harvest?

Blason d’Issan, our second wine, was introduced in 1995 to allow selection from our vines that grow in the Margaux appellation area. Each year, we establish the proportion of the first and the second wine, which can effectively impact the volume, with a variation of 15% depending on the yields and the quality of the vintage.

What can you tell us about the 2021 harvest?

It is a vintage which required a lot of care and attention. We have a privileged geography and a unique gravel terroir capable of offering optimal maturity to our grapes. The late harvests also offered excellent maturity to our grapes. The first tastings are very promising, suggesting delicate fruit and silky tannins. It may be too early to draw any conclusions before the final blend, but maybe there are some similarities to the 2001 and 2014. We are going to have some very elegant and balanced wines.


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