The sun shines on Petrus
Let’s get the easy part out of the way.
If you have bottles of Petrus 1965 and 1991, you are in trouble.
None was made in those years.
Jean-Claude Berrouet was 21 years young when in 1964, he was hired to be winemaker of the Pomerol.
‘It’s a very funny story. I had a classmate from Peru, a good friend of mine, who was living in the same pension with Jean-Francois Moueix (eldest son of the late Jean-Pierre Moueix, proprietor of Petrus). My friend talked about me to him and because I had a good result in the examination, he presented me to Jean-Francois who then introduced me to his father. In 1963 I was studying at, and working for, ITV (Institut Technique de la Vigne et du Vin). For the next eight months, once every month, I had a meeting with Monsieur Jean-Pierre Moueix. During those meetings, he spoke of many things, including the arts, the economy, and asked what I thought about wine.’
‘My philosophy has always been to produce wines that are delicate, elegant and harmonious,’ Jean-Claude Berrouet, in his house in Montagne-Saint-Emilion with the 11th century Church of St-Georges behind
Jean-Claude remained at Petrus for 44 years until he retired in 2008, handing over responsibility to elder son Olivier.
In the 44 years he was in charge, Berrouet did not make two vintages (if you have bottles of Cheval Blanc 1991, you are in trouble too).
I have known Jean-Claude for more than 20 years. And later met his wife Nelly and two children Olivier and Jean-Francois (aka Jeff). The younger son works with Jean-Claude in his consultancies and their family estate.
Olivier Berrouet took over from his father Jean-Claude as Winemaker of Petrus in 2008
Courtyard of Chateau Petrus
Petrus 2018 is one of the best Pomerol of the vintage
Chateau Samion is a 2-hectare vineyard in Lalande-de-Pomerol. Planted entirely to Merlot, the vines are about 50 years old. The soil is of gravel and fine clay. Samion – which ages magnificently – is made with the same sensitivity, sensibility and expertise as at Chateau Petrus.
Although Petrus may be 100% Merlot, there is usually a pinch of Cabernet Franc. The amount of new oak used to age the Pomerol red is never more than 50%. Depending on the vintage, it can be lower but not higher.
When I go out to Bordeaux to taste the young en primeurs or futures, almost always, Petrus, Trotanoy and Vieux Chateau Certan are the top wines of Pomerol.
Last Wednesday 3 February, we concluded our final, third dinner which served Petrus 1996. Sixteen of you took part in the three dinners and we are very grateful for your precious support. Before our first dinner on 28 January, I had written to Jean-Claude Berrouet to ask how long Petrus 1996 should be decanted. The advice is one hour. As an overview, 1996 was more successful for Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot and therefore, better on the Left than Right Bank. Petrus 1996 remains one of the best Pomerol of the vintage. Gentle perfume of sandalwood and camphor. Evolved, elegant blue and capsicum peppery fruit with a bit of greenness. Very fine tannins. Seamless harmony of fruit and freshness.