Up before dawn, I drove down the hill in hopes of getting a shot of Chateau de Monbadon in the golden light of early morning. I had guessed that the sun would be at the right angle from a vantage spot on the road that goes around behind the Chateau. Not everything goes as planned. The building side that faced me was angled too far away from the sun to catch the golden light. Ah well, you can’t win them all.
Back to the gîte for breakfast then off to today’s winery tour. Today we would be visiting Chateau Daugay www.chateau-daugay.com , another Opimian supplier.
After GPS took us on another series of twists and turns we arrived at a house that looked like the one pictured on the website. It turned out to be the right location and we met up with M. Jean-Bernard Grenie, my contact and an instantly likeable gentleman. When we advised we were from Alberta he exclaimed that he had been in Alberta in June, at a wine summit at Lake Louise!
M. Grenie started off giving us a bit of the history of Ch. Daugay. The beautiful home on the property dates back 200 years to the time of Napolean. His wife (Mme. Helene de Bouard-Grenie) is the current owner who took over the winery from her parents.
Descending the steps in front of the house took us into the vineyard. On vines averaging 40 years old, the vineyard is comprised of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. M. Grenie picked several of the Merlot grapes for us to taste. They were extremely sweet. They were not quite ready to pick though, we were told. They aren’t ready until the seeds just crack when you bite down on them. While they do get the grapes tested regularly to determine when they are best harvested, M. Grenie also relies on his own experience, instinct and “seed cracking” test to confirm the optimum time to harvest. The grapes are then hand-picked.
When the grapes are hauled to the winery they are destemmed, sorted, then go through a Mistral sorting machine, which blows away remaining bits of stems and leaves, before the final sorting table. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats and aged in oak barrels.
We had the unique opportunity to taste, along with M. Grenie, 5 day-old Merlot juice. It was very sweet as it really hadn’t yet started turning into wine. M. Grenie described it as having great potential!
The next stop was the tasting room where we sampled the 2015 vintage. At first taste the wine from the freshly opened bottle was quite fruity with a definite taste of blackberry or cherry. It was quite amazing over the next 10 or 15 minutes to experience how the taste of the wine changed. As it had a chance to breathe the flavours opened up and the wine became a little more mellow. One can easily see how after a few more years aging in the bottle this wine will be outstanding.
I look forward to ordering some Chateau Daugay wine when next they are offered by Opimian. M. Grenie is obviously a master at his craft and takes great pride in producing very fine wine.
As we were walking back to the car we mentioned that we were heading into St. Emilion for lunch. We have a restaurant in town, M. Grenie told us. The chef is a one-star Michelin chef and you can buy Ch. Daugay by the glass. It sounded like a perfect choice to us, so with the directions to Logis de la Cadène we set off for St. Emilion.
The town was very full of tourists but we managed to find a parking stall which, as it turned out, wasn’t too far a walk from the restaurant. Logis de la Cadene is located partway down a very steep cobblestone walkway. While not inexpensive, lunch was extremely good and the presentation first rate! And of course we each enjoyed a glass of the 2011 Chateau Daugay.
After lunch it was back to Clos Vieux Rochers to relax for the remainder of the afternoon. I did have to make a few stops on the way back to take some photos.
Back “home” had a delightful time sitting in the sun chatting with Rob and Steve over a bottle of wine.
Around 6:30 I set off for a location that offered yet a different view of Chateau de Monbadon, to capture it in the late afternoon sun. This time it turned out to be a good location with some nice late-day sunlight.