We recently visited the 17-acre Bordeaux vineyard of Château des Graviers located in the Arsac region of Margaux and has been in the Dufourg-Landry family for generations. Some of the adjacent parcels of land are Grands Crus Classes such as Chateau Issan, Rauzan-Ségla, Prieuré-Lichine and Marojallia.
Christophe Landry is the fifth-generation winemaker and like many winemaker’s sons was sent to college to study wine making. Christophe was frustrated by the techniques and manipulative processes he started to learn in college, so he decided on his own path. Leaving college and approaching wine making from his purest ideals and his precise attention to detail.
Each grape in his wine is produced on the terroir best suited to its qualities and Christophe practices a different method of pruning for each grape.
He uses French oak cut in the afternoon on a particular day in a particular month in the forests of Chateau de Chambord, Christophe explained that at this time of day the sap has moved to the bark so is not prevalent in the oak, therefore no need to wash the oak and when the barrel is toasted he can use a lower temperature for a longer period ensuring that the heat penetrates all the oak in the barrel. Christophe mentioned that there was a 10-minute window every year when wood was cut to make a Stradivarius instrument, “there is a moment in time for every process” remarked Christophe. A true maestro at work.
His merlot is aged in 400ltr barrels resulting in less contact with the air allowing longer fermentation up to 24 months
The Cabernet Franc is picked when cool in the early morning and stored in larger vats which undergoes carbonic maceration, which gives a more floral fruity expression to the wine and minimal tannin. There is less interaction with oak he only uses 10% new oak with the Cabernet Franc, so the grape is not overpowered by oak.
Petit Verdot is very acidic when picked, but if you wait over time for the acidity to lessen it will lose its fruit flavours. Christophe solution is to use clay amphora which allows for 4 times more interaction with oxygen at the end of the process the wine is more oxygenated, light, smooth and fruity as Christophe says, “it’s more polished”.
The Cabernet Sauvignon uses 225ltr barrels that are stood in pits of water to regulate oxidisation and Christophe controls the level of the water depending on how tannic the wine is, all controlled by tasting regularly.
Malbec is picked in the evening when warm to help in fermentation and kept in normal barrels stored on rollers, so the wine can be mixed without ever opening the barrel.
Christophe constructed a purpose-built chai for making and storing his wines and in 10 years only had to heat it once. If you visit in the afternoon Tibetan music plays for 2 hours throughout the Chai.
The blending of his wines creates the different cuvees, all have a pure, fruity, fresh and clean taste, you could say they sing in the glass.
Before we left, we asked Christophe what he was planning to do tomorrow, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “nature dictates what I do on a daily basis”.