Why try Bordeaux white merlot

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Château Picoron, located in the Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux appellation in southwestern France, was established in the 16th century. In 2015, it was bought by Sydney-based Australian couple Glenda and Frank Kalyk, who try to spend six months a year in France. They produce five wines, each 100% Merlot, on 11 acres (4.5 hectares) in Sainte-Colombe, just minutes from the wine regions of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol.

Their signature wine is a white Merlot.

Correct. White Merlot.

Picoron wines are now in conversion to organic production. The hilly and tranquil terrain surrounding Chateau Picoron sits on limestone and dotted with small patches of forest. These nearby trees promote biodiversity among the vines, which helps reduce the susceptibility of vegetation to disease. Grasses planted between the rows impact the vigor of the vines, and also moderate rainfall runoff, thus reducing soil erosion.

I last tasted white Merlot ten years ago with winemaker Guido Brivio in Mendrisio, in southern Switzerland. Brivio’s story sheds light on the suspicions that once surrounded this wine: after bottling his Merlot for the first time, a restaurateur from the nearby town of Lugano wrote to him, begging him to stop his work immediately, lest it ruin the reputation of the entire Ticino wine region. In a few years, this same restaurateur has become a devoted customer, buying 60 bottles of Brivio each year.

White Merlot is made from red grapes. During winemaking, the contact of the grape skins with the juice is minimized, in the same way that rosé wines are made. Managing Director Camille Lanyou of Château Picoron underlined the impact of the chimerical weather of 2021 on their production, including an unforeseen inclination towards increasing the volume of this wine.

“For the white Merlot, we harvest early to reduce the color and have freshness and crunch. This year has been very difficult, with so much rain during the summer. But this gives good potential to rosé and white wines, so we are going to reduce the production of classic reds because the grapes have struggled to mature this year. ‘

The current harvest season includes an oscillation between sunny and rainy days. Bordeaux winegrower Joséphine Ong, who has worked with vintages in Australia and California, also described the challenges 2021 presents to Château Picoron, as well as to the entire region.

“It’s an intense vintage, very different from previous years. We had frost at the start of the season and then a lot of rain so late blight was a big problem in the area.

While the owners are forced to stay in Australia due to Covid-19 restrictions, their son William, who lives in Amsterdam, frequently visits the estate. In his absence, three local women manage the daily activities of Château Picoron: Camille, Joséphine and Cindy Manne (who manages social networks). This sometimes supervisory trio adds another unique layer to Picoron, an estate frequently run by women that produces white Merlot and uses non-traditional labels. The overall impact of this combination on this magnificent region of the Right Bank?

Refreshing.

The tasting notes below include wines from three different vintages.

Chateau Picoron. No lemon. White Merlot. 2020. 90-91 points.

This Merlot is vinified like a white wine and spends three months in a combination of barrels and French oak barrels of different sizes, new and aged. Grapefruit aromas, close to Sauvignon Blanc, with a slightly honeyed taste and a nice oily sensation in the mouth. The wine has crunch, tension, minerality and lingering acidity on the finish. Only 3,200 bottles produced. Picoron wine label names are palindromes (a word that stays the same whether spelled backwards or backwards); this is a slight exception – it refers to lemons or melons, depending on how it is read.

Chateau Picoron. Madam, I am Adam. Rosé Merlot. 2020. 92 points.

This Merlot ros̩ includes aromas of mandarin, melon and grapefruit, as well as mild spices of cinnamon and vanilla, slightly candied and lightly salted. On the palate, the flavors include strawberry, cinnamon and even a hint of blueberry. The objective Рto produce a fresh and elegant wine in the Provencal style, light but with body Рhas been achieved quite well.

Chateau Picoron. Tattarattat. 2020. 92 points.

This 13.5% alcohol Merlot is produced by carbonic maceration without added sulphites and includes aromas of chestnuts, strawberries and plum jam. On the palate it is well structured, with juicy fruit flavors that include raspberries. The finish is full. Delicious with beef, or a chocolate fondant dessert.

Chateau Picoron. Mon Name. 2019. 93 points.

This early, cold-fermented Merlot ages for six months in oak barrels and includes aromas of licorice, raisins, brownies and anise. Cherry and chocolate on the palate, with a convincing slight acidity that balances well with discreet tannins. Consider serving it with a grilled duck breast or an orange sorbet dessert.

Chateau Picoron. Born of Eden. Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. 2017. 95 points.

This 14.5% alcohol merlot in individually numbered bottles features understated, semi-complex aromas of toffee, licorice, black pepper, cumin, cranberries, smoke and oak. A layer cake in the mouth; full-bodied with flavors of black cherries and crisp, creamy acidity. Well-structured tannins and a beautifully smooth finish. Serve with a T-bone or New York strip loin, or any well-done food of your choice.


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