The past month has been crazy. I’ve officially finished all of my classes to complete my degree. Now all that’s left is exams and to write my thesis. But after a year and a half living in this city I have learned nothing more than great wine can be found anywhere. Bordeaux is the traditional worldwide home of fine wine and none are more celebrated than the Classified Growths. But these estates are only a tiny drop in the bucket.
The 1855 Bordeaux Classification was ordered by Napoleon to help promote Bordeaux wine during the World Exposition held in Paris. But the classification only included a small portion of the Bordeaux estates. Among those Medoc estates not included in the Classification you can still find amazing wine. Today many of these estates have their own assurance of quality with the label of ‘Cru Bourgeois.’ I have personally found many of these wines to be of high quality and are a great value.
So despite my crazy schedule, I managed to find a little time to take advantage of an invitation to visit Chateau Rollan de By. Perched in the far north of the Medoc, the estate feels a bit like it is in the middle of nowhere. It is for this reason that the estate wasn’t included in the Classification. Today it only takes about an hour and twenty minutes of driving from the Bordeaux city center, but in 1855 it would have taken a lot longer to reach the estate by horse. But with a small 6-room boutique hotel in the charming village of By, it could be a great escape to the country for those looking for a different pace.
Started in 1989 with only 2 hectares (about 5 acres), today the estate has expanded to over 25 hectares (or about 6 acres). The production of 1 million bottles spans 8 labels, 4 of which are included in the Cru Bourgeois designation. After attending the Jewish wedding of a friend’s daughter and listening to the complaints about the quality of Kosher wine, the owner has also invested in the production of a quality Kosher wine.
Despite its size, the estate still has a small family feel. In fact, the CEO lives in the 19th Century manor house on the property. And yet simultaneously the estate is very modern. The modern production facility is decorated with a stunning mural. The roof is composed of solar panels that help to offset the production requirements. However, in typical French fashion the estate is not allowed to use the energy they produce. Rather they sell the energy back to the state owned agency and then buy it back.
After a slightly formal and slightly awkward (I was a little uncomfortable touring someone’s home), we eventually moved on to the tasting. There was a slight delay due as the bottles had not been prepared in advance, but we did taste two of the Cru Bourgeois labels.
Dense with lingering tannins, this wine delivered notes of slightly chalky cherry and black currant. Smooth and fuller bodied than I expected this wine had a clear touch of oak. Ready to drink now, this wine is a great value. 89 Points, Wine Spectator.
2012 Chateau Rollan de By
This bottle had a slight fault when we tasted it, but despite the fault it was my favorite of the two wines we tasted. Not as complex, but with better balance it had a slightly lingering bitter note. The palate was less chewy and delivered notes of cherry and rich wet wood. There was more fruit character underlined with some soft notes of toasted vanilla. I’m eager to taste this wine again and see it’s full potential without the fault. 87 Points, Wine Spectator.