Looking into Fête de la Fleur at Chateau Lagrange

I well believe Chateau Lagrange is one great worthy wine that is often being overlooked.  This makes it one of the good reasons why I stepped into Chateau Lagrange again today.

If you never been to Chateau Lagrange, you should.  It is a spacious and  beautiful setting for the Fête de la Fleur with its peaceful parkland, with swans (bought by the estate) chilling at its lake.  Bordeaux’s “Fête de la Fleur” (Flower Festival) which takes place every two years at the end of the week during Bordeaux wine fair Vinexpo will be held coming Thursday on 20th June.

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Lagrange was for many years perceived as a tired, underperforming St Julien chateau that was unworthy of its 3ème Cru Classé status.   Situated adjacent to Second Growth Chateau Gruaud Larose, several large parcels of the vineyard had been sold off one by one, and less than a third of Lagrange’s 388 acres were still under vine, mostly in poor condition and the chateau were in bad shape after years of neglect and a devastating fire in 1970.  In 1970, 32 hectares were acquired by Ducru Beaucaillou. Other parcels were sold to Henri Martin. Those plots became part of Chateau Gloria. By 1983, the remaining holdings of Lagrange were purchased by the large, Japanese company, Suntory.  With Suntory conglomerate financial ability, fortunately, its wine making facilities were renovated and the vineyards were replanted straight away after the purchase.

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The effort of investment allowed Lagrange rose to become a model estate and even today few Bordeaux properties can match Lagrange, with its huge barrique chais and its state of the art cuvier with its 56 temperature-controlled, stainless steel cuvées where wine is vinified.  The wine is aged in 60% new, French oak for 21 months.  The vineyard are rested on gravel based soil (mostly gravel and sand).  The red wine grapes are planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28%Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot.

After tasting a few vintages of Lagrange, I could reassure you it is a wine with consistence and well-balanced with great tannins that will evolve nicely in time, a wine that is great value given it quality for sure. (2009: ~35 Euro; 2010 : ~40 Euro;  2011: ~25 Euro)

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The Fête de la Fleur held by The Commanderie du Bontemps (Médoc, Graves and Sauternes Wine Brotherhood) from its origins was just a simple garden party.  The Fête has somehow evolved into an elaborate affair and 1500 guests are expected to the gala dinner in the evening. It’s an important event with wine professionals, journalists, chefs, celebrities, stars of stage and screen and politicians sharing their passion for wine.

Today I took a sneak peek at the preparation of the up-coming Fête de la Fleur2013.  Their massive cellar is going to be the dinning area for the big crowd and workers are currently trying to build a red carpet platform on top of the barrels rails where barrels were removed into another storage room just for the night.

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2 more days to the Vinexpo week and I guess I should start counting down for the festive gathering with a glass of wine now, tonight I feel like a Chateau Lagrange 2003.

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