We at 3D Wines like to find discoveries. Uncovering a really exciting wine made by charming winemakers in desirable locations is not always easy. In the developed wine region that is Bordeaux it is very difficult indeed. However, after much research, we feel we are very privileged indeed to have found Château Cardinal Villemaurine to work with.
Based in the ancient town of Saint-Émilion itself, Château Cardinal Villemaurine is a small family owned property now run by the tremendously affable Paul Carrille, fourth generation winemaker. Villemaurine refers to the ‘town of the Moors’ – who once occupied Saint-Émilion.
Paul, who took over from his father Jean-François a few years back is a very busy man indeed! He looks after seven hectares of vines in St-Émilion itself as well as seven hectares in nearby Lussac-St-Émilion, 12 hectares of Bordeaux superior and a third of a hectare in Canon-Fonsac to the North West of the town.
When you speak to Paul (he speaks perfect English – his wife is an English teacher at a nearby school), you can see just how passionate he is about his terroir and making wine in this, one of the most famous and desirable appellations of anywhere in the wine world.
We are fortunate in that our St-Émilion Grand Cru will be an exclusive blend from a tiny two hectare walled plot, or Clos, in front of the château. Here, the surface is lightly sandy, with limestone and clay underneath. Paul adopts organic practices, though he stops short of becoming ‘officially’ organic due to the levels of bureaucracy involved. Instead of using a tractor and plough, he tends to the Clos with a horse- drawn plough seven to eight times a year. The horse does not compact the soils as a tractor does and it is far more environmentally friendly! Aerating the soils frequently allows the soils to thrive with microbial activity, which helps promote healthy vines and hence good grapes.
St-Émilion is Merlot and Cabernet Franc territory due to the limestone and clay soils and slightly warmer climate compared to the left bank region. Paul’s seven hectares of Grand Cru St-Émilion are planted with 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
He vinifies in a classic way, using gravity rather than mechanical pumps which can be harmful to the wine. Our first blend, the 2010 is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been aged in a mix of 400 litre and 225 litre barrels in the deep, cool limestone cellars underneath his house. A third of the barrels are new.
His wines are classic St-Émilions offering delicious, juicy flavours of blackberry, blackcurrant and plum fruit as well as coffee, liquorice and minerals. They are sweet and supple and very smooth and will age very well. Indeed, at the château, one can buy magnums dating back to 1960!
The town of St-Émilion itself is a world UNESCO heritage site. It is in a delightfully picturesque setting, with many lovely shops, wine merchants, restaurants and wine bars set amongst steep cobbled streets and Romanesque ruins. The beautiful limestone houses seem to glow in the ample warmth and sunlight this area benefits from. We hope you will have an opportunity to visit this marvellous little wine town.