The much-vaunted appellation of Pomerol is both the proverbial black sheep and flashy new kid on Bordeaux’s block. It’s more expensive, doesn’t hold any type of classification ranking system, and covers a truly tiny area. Despite all this, many châteaux have released some of the world’s finest wines here (Pétrus being the most famous example), and almost all of them share a sense of prestige and mysticism.
And yet, one of the major advantages of Pomerol is that you can, with a lot of hunting, find affordable gems that are within striking distance of the world’s finest Merlot-growing sites. Even better, Pomerol as a whole is much more enjoyable in its youth than its Cabernet-heavy neighbors on the Left Bank, but can still age with the best classed growths! Badine de la Patache illustrates that to the highest degree. This Merlot-dominant blend—a formula the best Pomerol growths follow—is a lavish beauty with brilliant finesse and delectable fruit that puts many $50+ neighbors to shame. This is a bottle for champions of Bordeaux, lovers of cellar-worthy values, and, simply, red enthusiasts who fully appreciate the perfect marriage of richness and elegance. Only six per person today, and when they’re gone, that’s it—no secret reserves! If you want another, you’ll have to book a ticket to Bordeaux!
As you come into Libourne from the northeast, you’ll likely take road D1089, an idyllic state road that cuts through Pomerol with châteaux and vineyard vistas on both sides. These vines you see all carry the majestic ‘Pomerol’ designation—this is the only classification here, which is why any land ownership within these confines is not only rare, but exorbitantly expensive. Consequently, in this three-square-mile commune, there are many châteaux that are priced higher than most, sometimes all, First Growths just across the estuary. Most of these (Le Pin perhaps being the most fabled of all) are known as garagistes, paradoxically translating into “garage wines.” In reality, they are anything but. This cadre of producers typically own just a few hectares and hand craft some of the world’s most premium wines from humble, often modern homes that protrude from the vines. And while Château Patache isn’t considered a garagiste, they, too, own just a few hectares of land and keep production ultra-low—at a seriously low price.
Seven years ago, Peter Kwok and his son acquired Château La Patache under the umbrella company Vignobles K. The estate, though relatively unknown outside of Pomerol, is focused on crafting truly classic expressions of the region with their small handful of vines—barely three hectares that are planted along the aforementioned D1089. Their vines are divided into nine separate parcels, some of which hold proximity to high end vine real estate like Château Clinet and Latour á Pomerol. Château La Patache’s holdings are predominately Merlot and today’s 2014—their ‘second wine,’ which is essentially their Grand Vin with slightly less oak influence and aging—is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The soils are plowed, vines are maintained by hand, grapes are rigorously sorted. Following a multi-week fermentation in the winery, the wine is transferred into 20% new French oak for 15 months. The cellars in which they age were previously the stables for Libourne’s old stone-built post office. Only 540 cases were produced.
Badine de la Patache displays a dark crimson core with slight garnet hues moving out to the rim. Thanks to the predominance of Merlot—most top growths (Pétrus is 100%) depend on this supple grape—this is Pomerol elegantly personified. Within minutes of decanting, it releases seductive aromas of black and redcurrants, red plums, boysenberry, black raspberry, leather, graphite, soft spices and crushed rock. The velvety, medium-plus-bodied palate is smooth and silky with bright waves of red fruit, dusty earth and baking spices alongside ultra-smooth tannins and a burst of freshness. This is a pitch-perfect Pomerol and though Bordeaux can be tough to differentiate these days, this classic rendition makes it entirely possible to nail in a blind tasting. It’s incredibly pure and rich with a brilliance balance of elegant red fruits and earth which is very unique to Pomerol. It’s a wonderful wine as is—a one hour decant is recommended—but you should absolutely hold a couple bottles back for the next 10+ years. Badine de la Patache may technically be a second wine, but it doesn’t perform like one, and it will certainly shed that notion whether you pop it today or years from now. Whenever you choose to enjoy some, serve in large Bordeaux stems around 60-65 degrees and keep it simple and delectable when pairing with food—tender lamb chops in a mushroom sauce. Cheers!
Bordeaux — Pomerol
Merlot 90%, Cabernet Franc 10%
20% New French
Crasse de Fer (Iron-Rich Clay)