Chateau de l’Espinglet is an old property that has belonged to the same family since the 1750s. The Reynaud family produce their Clarets from 33 hectares of vines which include Malbec. The Cotes de Cadillac is one of the regions in Bordeaux that has both Malbec and Carmenere grapes – a tradition wine makers have kept up when other regions planted the Cabernets and Merlot instead. Interestingly, Malbec is making a comeback in Bordeaux, vindicating Cadillac’s insistence in preserving the grape!
The present chateau, built in the 1600s by the architect Cormaneuil, was one of the country seats of the Archbishops of Bordeaux – hence the name of the chateau’s special cuvee; Le Prieure (the Prioiry). It passed into the hands of a rich Libourne family in 1720 who were magistrates during the 17th and 18th centuries. The chateau has been making wine for centuries – it was considered to be one of the best vintages of the town in the first edition of Ferret (Bordeaux’s wine directory) in 1850.
The chateau sits on the slopes of medieval Rions, one of the oldest towns in Aquitaine, situated about 15 miles from Bordeaux city. Built on a crag, Rions takes its name from the Roman villa Ryuncium (meaning built on rock) and behind its old fortified walls lies a citadel complete with crumbling castle and defensive tower. Nicknamed ‘the god daughter of Bordeaux’ Rions was once an important and powerful town which shipped its wines along the River Garonne far and wide.
The Cotes de Cadillac stretch 30 miles along the right bank of the Garonne opposite to where the larger river is joined by its tributary, the Ciron. Cadilliac lies south east of Bordeaux and across the river from Cerons and Barsac. Winding with the river, this strip of land, never wider than 3 miles, is composed of hills separated by valleys. Cadillac is better known for its sweet white wines, similar to Sauternes, and you can find some lovely wines there for a fraction that Sauternes can command. (Chateau de l’Espinglet used to produce sweet whites in 1947!). However it’s a little known fact that Cadillac is also a source of good Clarets – if you know where to look.
Chateau de l’Espinglet’s Cuvee Le Prieure is a super example of a good, traditional Bordeaux Claret and hails from the excellent 2010 vintage. The addition of Malbec adds spice and silky suppleness to the wine. Locals say that the best food pairing for Cadillac Clarets is Lamprey a la Bordelaise – Cuvee Le Prieure is a sure match for beef casseroles and red meats in richly flavoured sauces. It’s also good with truffles, steak, venison, duck and pigeon. Try it with beef carpaccio, it’s delicious!