Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chateau Bernateau - Saint Emilion - Saint-Etienne de Lisse

Chateau Bernateau
A beautiful spot tucked in on the side of the Saint Emilion Plateau

I still constantly marvel at the social network that's been created by facebook, Twitter, instagram and others.  I have connected with people that I would have never imagined meeting - what initially starts out as a simple follow of someone's posts or pictures turns into a great opportunity and sometimes even new friendships develop. It really opens up one's mind and new doors.

Having an opportunity to visit Chateau Bernateau was one such connection.  We found each other on Twitter, our love of Saint Emilion being the common factor and soon started up a simple conversation that  turned into myself having an opportunity to visit this lovely vineyard and Chateau.

I arrived on a somewhat deary Tuesday afternoon and was greeted by the friendly Karine Lavau. Karine is the wife of the current manager/owner - Pierrick Lavau.  She's delightful and shared with me so much about this wonderful place and the passion her husband, a qualified oneologist and her have about winemaking and this family owned chateau.

Chateau Bernateau has been owned by the Lavau family for at least 8 generations.  It's located in Saint-Etienne de Lisse part of the AOC - Saint Emilion and covers 8 hectaires.  This is one of 2 chateau (or vineyards) owned by the Lavau family.  The other one is Chateau Tour Peyronneau  with vines located closer to Libourne but also part of the AOC Saint Emilion.  

It's was pure delight to walk around their property and see the vats and the chai (barrel aging cellar). She explained that her husband is very picky about the type of barrels that are used - they want them to enhance and deepen the fruit flavor. She further elaborated that they use a variety of barrels to age the wine - enhancing each grape variety.  I could tell how passionate they are about using the unique terrior and blending the grapes to create some wonderful wines.  I was anxious to try them as just her description gave me a sense of the love that this family has to create something special.  I loved how she explained that for the birth years of their children, her husband wanted to create unique blends to remember and honor the births.
They have also chosen to go organgic with their winemaking - further demonstrating the love and respect of the environment from where their grapes grow. 

The grapes of Chateau Bernateau grow in a clay-limestone soil - on hills and the plateaux.  This terrior creates wines that tend to be more concentrated and mineral tasting - almost earthy.  The aromas of the wines I tasted was of red fruit, flowers and a smoky/toasted scent.  The taste a wonderful blend of  flavors that was smooth yet strong, leaving lasting flavors.

The other property belonging to the Lavau family is Chateau Tour Peyronneau.  This chateau has clay and gravely soil plots and is spread out based in three different villages - Saint Etienne de Lisse, Saint Sulpice de Faleyrens and also plots are located in Libourne.  These types of soils provide a spicier or more peppery taste for the wines under this label.  At the same time, these wines have some nice sweetness, are smooth and silky to the taste.  This blend tends to be around 95% Merlot an 5% Cabernet Franc.  Karine explained to me that her husband, Pierrick likes to have fun each year with this wine and adjust the blend to be a little bit different than other wines.
These wines are beginning to be recognized and win excellent reviews and awards.  This is definitely a chateau to not only visit but to also enjoy it's delicious wines.

I felt very welcomed here and it's Karine who is in charge of the wine tourism sector.  They welcome people throughout the year and are open to the genereal public in addition to groups.  She is developing their presence on the web and within the social networks.  This is helping people to understand who they are and their passion for wine making. If you have some preconceived notion about organic wines, I encourage you to try these - they will surprise you! They have a lovely tasting room & boutique along with a recently renovated room for groups to organize lunches or dinners.
I enjoyed tasting the following wines - all were delicious yet different.  Very interesting to compare the same year - but two different terriors.

Château Tour Peyronneau – Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – 2009
Château Bernateau – Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – 2009
Château Bernateau – Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – 2004

The lovely hostess - Karine Lavau 
Great map of the terrain/terrior of the AOC Saint Emilion - indicating limestone, clay, gravel & sand
Some general facts about the Properties of the family:
Soil of the Chateau Bernateau: clay-limestone hills and limestone plateau (8 hectares)
Soil of the Chateau Tour Peyronneau: sileca gravel, sandy loam and clay loam (12 hectares)
Organic Farming for the whole vineyard

Production: 100,000 bottles - 
Generally: 80% Export Markets-20% France- Chateau Bernateau   
60% Export markets - 40% France - Chateau Tour Peyronneau

3 labels: Château Bernateau (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru), Château Tour Peyronneau (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru), Tertre de Lisse (Saint-Emilion)
Pierrick and Karine Lavau - current managers
Some of their vines are as old as 60-90 years.  

Château Bernateau
33330 Saint-Etienne-de-Lisse
+33 (0)5 57 40 18 19

Anyone, having from basic wine knowledge to more advanced would enjoy visiting this beautiful chateau and would feel welcomed by the Lavau family - in French or in English.

Thank you again to Karine Lavau for this wonderful visit - It was pure delight and I look forward to visiting you again.

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