Ever since our first visit to Bordeaux in 1985 we had been searching for a vineyard like this. We visited dozens of them, from Blaye to Bergerac and from Pauillac to Pomerol, but this region proved the hardest yet to find that elusive combination of quality wine, great value, warm welcome and joie de vivre that are the cornerstones of 3D Wines. However, when we discovered Château Rousselle we realised we had unearthed a star of the future.
Vincent Lemaitre is a charismatic, slightly eccentric figure who exudes passion as he talks fondly of his domaine and its special terroir. He will tell you that he searched far and wide throughout France before deciding to settle at Château Rousselle and make a living as a winemaker. He spent two years pouring energy, enthusiasm (and a great deal of cash) into renovating this château in the Côtes de Bourg. He also ripped out the old chai, installed new winemaking equipment and furnished three lovely chambres d’hôtes bedrooms in an outbuilding next to the chai. The Côtes de Bourg is one of the prettiest parts of the Bordeaux wine region, and Château Rousselle, with its beautiful swimming pool above the vines, is a very popular place to stay – do book early.
However, let us not forget that it was the soils, above all, that brought Vincent here. He will proudly tell you that they are similar to those of St-Émilion, having a predominance of brown clay over limestone, and are particularly suited to the Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet vines planted here.
Wine has been made on the right bank of the Gironde estuary since Roman times – even before vines were planted on the more famous left bank. Today yields are kept low to increase quality, and at around 45 hectolitres per hectare they are often lower than that permitted in the supposedly more prestigious Médoc across the water.
Our exclusive wine from Château Rousselle is made from the classic Bordeaux grape varieties – Merlot (45%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Cabernet Franc (25%). After fermentation half is matured in oak barrels and half in cement tanks to give the optimum balance between structure and fruit. The result is a fresh yet full-flavoured wine that is bright ruby in colour and has a cherry bouquet with ripe blackcurrants and a touch of liquorice and chocolate on the palate. It is well balanced with good length and can be drunk now thanks to its supple tannins – but it will also improve in bottle over the next two to three years. It is ideal with red meat, especially roast lamb and roast beef, game, casseroles, beef stroganoff and hard cheeses.
We were delighted when our very first vintage won a Silver Medal at London’s International Wine Challenge (the largest and most prestigious blind wine tasting in the world), where it has since won more awards. More recently, under the title ‘Hidden Value’ Decanter magazine’s resident Bordeaux expert, Roger Voss, took a look at the up-and-coming Bordeaux appellations where quality is rising fast and where a bottle of serious claret will not break the bank. Unsurprisingly in our opinion, he reserved his highest praise for the Côtes de Bourg, and highlighted two properties as being the best in the area – Château Rousselle was one of them.