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Château La Tour Carnet

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(33) Gironde

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On the road to Saint-Julien and Beychevelle, a crossbow jet from its church, the imposing quadrangular tower of Château La Tour Carnet rises in the axis of a monumental gate.If the thick walls could speak, they would tell us all the stories of this authentic feudal castle's past, from the 12th century to the present day, from the 100-year war to the great phylloxera epidemic, La Tour Carnet has passed through the adventures of man and time with nobility. Since the 16th century, particular care has been taken to cultivate the vines and the quality of the wine, an exceptional work that was recognised as early as 1855 at the Paris World Fair, when Château La Tour Carnet was included in the very closed list of Grand Crus Classés.It is with the passion and the requirement that we know him that Bernard Magrez undertook to raise even higher his Grand Cru Classé Haut-Médoc... A PEU D'HISTOIRESon the road to Saint-Julien and Beychevelle, a stone's throw from his church, the imposing quadrangular tower of the Château La Tour Carnet rises in the axis of a monumental gate. If the thick walls could speak, they would tell us all the stories of the past of this authentic feudal castle. In the 12th century, they would awaken the knight's gallop on the levy bridge, in the 17th century the "drum with chopsticks, which was used in the past to keep wolves and wild boars away from the harvest", while in the 19th century the glory hours of the "1855 classification" and the dark hours of the Phylloxera, before the beautiful wine-growing boom of the 20th century, would take place.MEDIEDEVAL RACINESits origins are lost in the mists of time. First called Château de Saint-Laurent, this former medieval fortress perched on the most beautiful slopes of the Médoc was used by the English against French chivalry, and inhabited since the 12th century. The castle's architecture (the famous round tower was built in the 11th century), which is defensive in style, evokes the troubled period of the Hundred Years' War. Nevertheless, the trade in Médoc wines was flourishing and the wines of Château Saint-Laurent were particularly appreciated: in 1407, a "hogsead" of Château Saint-Laurent wine, about 240 litres, sold for 36 écus, against about 6 écus for a Graves wine. At that time, "all châtelain wines being considered as quality wines, it was necessary to place a château in the centre of the vineyard". In the 13th century, the Maison de Foix, subservient to the King of England, owned the seigneury of Saint-Laurent. And when Bordeaux, in 1451, surrendered to the King of France, Count Jean de Foix and his faithful squire Carnet refused to submit. In 1486, Carnet became the executor of his master Jean de Foix's will, who had died a year earlier, and still refused to join the King of France. Fighting alongside the English who were harvesting in Aquitaine at the time, he supported a long siege in his castle. He was defeated by the "Beau Dunois", Joan of Arc's companion. The castle was then partially destroyed by order of the King of France. Over the centuries, the estate has known a succession of owners, including in the 16th century, Montaigne's brother-in-law, Thibault de Carmaing. in the heart of the revolution in medocan wine from 1500 to the Revolution, the Tour Carnet evolved in an era of profound change in the vineyard. Under the impetus of the growing importance of the members of the Parliament instituted by Louis XI, an aristocracy of dress was created, more interested in the land than in trade. This activity is gradually passing into the hands of brokers from Northern Europe, particularly the Netherlands. They built their cellars and warehouses in the marshy district of the left bank of the Gironde, in a suburb called "Les Chartrons", named after a former convent of the Carthusian monks, at the same time, learned cellar masters managed to preserve the wines in certain estates, but also to improve them by letting them age. If there is no mention of "crus" yet, buyers begin to "taster" before concluding. At La Tour Carnet, the property is always well cared for. As early as 1725, favouring quality (light manuring and short pruning) rather than quantity, a wine of "new merit" was already produced there. The 1789 revolution spared the estate, which was then in the hands of a Swedish gentleman, Charles de Luetkens, a Chartrons merchant. A chance for the property. In the hands of a personality of foreign nationality, it can thus escape revolutionary laws. On the other hand, in the hands of the Luetkens, La Tour Carnet acquired its long-lasting reputation as a wine producer. His descendants, who became French, will be keen to highlight the immense potential of La Tour Carnet, and it was under the leadership of Angélique Raymond, wife of Jean-Jacques Luetkens, that Château La Tour Carnet was rewarded for the quality of its wine in 1855, by appearing on the list of "Grands Crus Classés" at the Paris Universal Exhibition. While this title offers a guarantee of quality but also tremendous publicity, it now forces owners to comply with a performance obligation to maintain their ranking. At that time, the vineyard of La Tour Carnet covered 52 hectares. In 1861, Angélique's son, Charles-Oscar de Luetkens, took possession of the castle. A personality in local political life (he was mayor of Saint-Laurent-de-Médoc during the Second Empire and under the provisional government of the nascent Third Republic), he was also a very influential man in the vineyard, recognized by his peers as a "distinguished winegrower". Property values are declining. The RENEWAL OF THE 1960s It was not until 1962 that the property, which was almost abandoned, was gradually reborn from its ashes. A new owner, Louis Lipschitz, shipowner in Bordeaux, undertook to renovate, rebuild and restore this grand cru classé, on the one hand by replanting abandoned plots of land, and on the other hand by restoring the château and renovating the farm buildings. In 1978, his daughter Marie-Claire Pelegrin continued her work with the same diligence. "My father," she said nicely, "had left me a diamond that he had not finished cutting": the vineyard is restored with an area increased to 45 hectares, the buildings rehabilitated, enlarged and modernized. Her inventive husband, Guy François, imagined a rotary sorting table and a tracked enjambeur whose prototypes were kept in the castle. In this way, the property regains the splendour of the years of its 1855 classification, a QUALITY IN NEW CONSACREDITION in this qualitative wake, Bernard Magrez has already undertaken a restoration and renovation programme. The aim is to raise La Tour Carnet, not only to the level of excellence recognised at the height of its eight centuries of existence, but also to exalt one of the most original terroirs of the Médoc by all the knowledge and techniques of today. In order to continue, according to the terms of the previous owner of the premises, Marie-Claire Pèlegrin, to cut this diamond...

Other little stories

To understand what makes the richness and unique personality of La Tour Carnet wines, it is necessary to understand both what makes the originality of its terroir and what makes excellence in its viticulture and winemaking techniques.The use of the most modern techniques such as the drone acquired by Bernard Magrez to analyse the plots has made it possible to optimise the virtues of these soils by affecting them with the most suitable grape varieties: the Butte is a soil favourable to Merlot, the slopes, rather to Cabernets.But obtaining exceptional grapes would be nothing without meticulous winemaking techniques to make the most of them, which is why, for several years now, Château La Tour Carnet has been using traditional methods that rely heavily on manual labour AT THE VINE: AN ORIGINAL TERROIR IN THE MEDOC.To understand what makes the richness and unique personality of La Tour Carnet wines, it is necessary to understand both what makes the originality of its terroir and what makes excellence in its viticulture and winemaking techniques. It is the diversity of the terroir of Saint-Laurent in the Médoc that makes its originality. It is a mosaic composed in the extreme west of sandy-gravelly soils, becoming in the west and centre sandy-gravelly, sandy-clayey and clay-limestone. To the east, on the gravelly slopes on which the best vineyards are located, including that of La Tour Carnet, the soil structure, composed mainly of Gunzian gravel, is very similar to that of the neighbouring appellations of Pauillac and Saint-Julien, with a south-south-west exposure, most of the slopes in the subsoil of limestone clay are covered by a thick layer of Garonne and Pyrenean gravel. It is on this wide border of gravelly hills that the best vineyards are located. The 1855 classification confirmed this reality by particularly distinguishing Château La Tour Carnet as a Grand Cru Classé. The western part of the estate is occupied by a croup of asteriated limestone whose slopes are covered with Sannoisian clays. It is the "Butte de La Tour Carnet" geological curiosity on which specialists are still wondering today, while the eastern part of the terroir extends over hillsides, facing south/southwest, from a gravelly hillside, a hill typical of the great Médoc wines. The limestone clay subsoil is covered by a thick layer of Garonne and Pyrenean gravel, the last entity, located to the north of the castle, consists of a large plateau of fine gravel.The numerous experiments carried out over the years, the most recent being the acquisition of a drone to analyse the plots, have made it possible to optimise the virtues of these plots by affecting the most suitable grape varieties: the Butte is a suitable terroir for Merlot, the hillsides, rather Cabernets. From planting to harvesting. The quality of the wine begins with the production of a good grape. Rigour must be applied from the planting on the choice of grape variety, rootstock but also on the maintenance: A young plantation must be maintained like a garden. Then, throughout its life, the vine stock requires constant attention: pruning, ploughing, operations on vegetation (in particular leaf removal and thinning) are carried out with the same concern for perfection. The pruning, very strict, practiced by experienced winegrowers, is of the double Guyot type (two shoots, called "astes", are kept). Only 3 buds per aste remain in order to reduce yields in favour of quality. At Château La Tour Carnet, this control of yields is essential. Adequate pruning, rigorous maintenance and careful thinning allow us to obtain a small quantity of grapes but exceptionally concentrated. Moreover, thinning, which consists in removing excess bunches, is carried out in two stages in order to increase the precision of the operation. The thinning out of the leaves, also carried out in two stages, as well as the increase in the height of the trellising, contribute to the guarantee of a quality grape. The average production, thus obtained, is around 40 to 45 hectolitres per hectare. Sometimes, only part of a row can be harvested while the remaining part will be picked a few days later, when the grapes have reached a perfect stage of maturity. This parcel management of the harvest, specific to Château La Tour Carnet, requires a great knowledge of the vineyard and an infallible organisation. The great speed of intervention of many grape pickers allows this optimization of the perfect ripening of the grapes. The grapes, sorted by the pickers, are placed in crates to limit the crushing of the berries. WINEMAKING under the impetus of Bernard Magrez, Château La Tour Carnet has for several years returned to traditional methods that rely heavily on manual labour. At the end of the harvest, the contents of the crates are delicately poured onto a sorting table. Unwanted elements (petioles, leaf pieces, etc....) and green or altered bunches are then eliminated. The grapes are then destemmed to separate the berries from the stalks. The bays are selected again on a new sorting table. Most of the plant matter likely to bring "herbaceous" flavours will then be removed in favour of the roundness sought in Château La Tour Carnet, the grapes will be placed in a tank which will be transported and emptied above the fermentation tanks, this gravitational filling avoids pumping the harvest. Most of the great wine is vinified in wooden vats, regularly renewed and in new generation cement vats that promote the aromatic expression of the wines. For several years now, there has been a return to traditional methods used in the Médoc in the past, such as gravity harvesting, the use of wooden vats and trapping. A return to traditional methods used in the past in the Médoc. The aim of these techniques is to obtain a complex, silky wine, with powerful but harmonious tannins and great aromatic persistence. fermentation temperatures never exceed 30 to 32° in order to promote the formation of delicate aromas. Alcoholic fermentation takes place over 8 to 9 days. Maceration lasts three weeks. The drop wines are separated from the press wines. Malolactic fermentations are carried out in new barrels. 1500 new barrels are purchased each year. They will welcome the new vintage and are grouped in the impressive cellars of Château La Tour Carnet. The duration of the stay in barrels is 18 months for the Grand Vin, 50% of whose barrels are new. Vinified like the first wine, Douves de Carnet, Château La Tour Carnet's second wine, has a round, pleasant and fruity structure but less intense than its older brother, which can also be tasted more quickly." Les Douves de Carnet" will be matured for about 15 months in barrels. The racking is carried out gently, "to the end" and without pumping. The fining is done with egg white as in the past. One month before bottling, the wine is put back into vats to proceed with the blending and thus perfect its homogeneity, the ultimate step that will reveal the vintage of Château La Tour Carnet and continue to raise it to the rank of Grand Cru Classé Haut Médoc.

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