Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Château Picque Caillou Pessac-Léognan 2007

Château Picque Caillou Pessac-Léognan 2007

For casual beginning of the week sipping with dinner of left-over meatloaf and grilled vegetables, I pulled from the cellar this modest Grand Vin de Bordeaux

Château Picque Caillou is in the shadows of Bordeaux Merignac Airport, just 10 km on the route to the city of Bordeaux. It lies in the heart of the Pessac-Léognan appellation in central Medoc region of Bordeaux, a semi-urban area within the perimeter circular route that surrounds the city. We passed within just a few km of the site during our visit to the region in 2019.

Pessac-Léognan was created in 1987 from the northern part of the left bank Graves appellation. Before then it was simply part of Graves. Unlike many Bordeaux appellations, Pessac-Léognan is known for both red and dry white wines, although its reds are more predominant and famous. 

The appellation includes ten communes and the area’s most important châteaux, including Château Haut-Brion, the only non-Médoc estate included in the 1855 Bordeaux classification. 

There are 2,964 acres of vineyards in Pessac-Léognan with 16 classified growth estates. The main red grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, along with a small amount of Cabernet Franc. White grapes grown are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, with a little Muscadelle. Pessac-Léognan is considered to have the best terroir of the greater Graves region. 

Château Picque Caillou is not far from the prestigious Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut Brion and Pape Clément châteaux that are also surrounded by the urban sprawl of the city.

Once the heart of the Bordeaux vineyard, the vines of the “Graves de Bordeaux” surrounded the city. Today, Picque Caillou remains one of the last remaining vineyard sites surrounded by the all-consuming urban development that belies the respected soils and history. The 21-hectare (fifty acre) Caillou estate is named for the pebbly soils that originated from sediments deposited by the nearby Garonne River over thousands of years. Similarly, the prestigious second growth Château Ducru Beaucaillou is named for the beautiful tiny pebbles indicative of the gravelly soil further up the Gironde estuary. 

In 2006, Paulin Calvet took over the daily running of the vineyard. Coming from a long line of Bordeaux wine merchants, Paulin Calvet brought skills and experience he acquired in Libourne at the Jean-Pierre Moueix merchant house where he worked in the company of wine-growing experts Christian Moueix and Jean-Claude Berrouet. Paulin Calvet learned the subtleties of the best practices of vine-growing methods and vinification techniques practised by these two great Bordeaux wine professionals.

The wines of Picque Caillou quickly acquired higher levels of quality and consistency, soon attracting the attention of numerous wine professionals. Joining Paulin Calvet in 2007 were consultant œnologists Professor Denis Dubourdieu and Valérie Lavigne who added further technical experience and skills to the winemaking team. This served to improve the quality of the wines further, producing wines that display balance and delicacy, reflecting the style and character of the prestigious Pessac-Léognan appellation.

The estate is planted to 35% Merlot; 60% Cabernet Sauvignon; and 5% Petit Verdot red varietals, and 80% Sauvignon Blanc, and 20% Sémillon white varietals. Château Picque Caillou Red makes up around 60-70% of the total production, i.e. 65,000 to 80,000 bottles delivered in wooden cases of 12 bottles.

At fourteen years, this may be at its apex, not likely to improve further with aging, but showing no signs of diminution either. As shown, the cork was in perfect condition and the fill level was ideal as well.

At the modest entry level price point for a Grand Vin Bordeaux, in good vintage years this can offer great QPR - Quality Price Ratio, as in such years, 'all boats rise with the tide', resulting in high quality wines at good values. 

This was ruby colored, medium bodied with red and black fruits giving way to rustic, dusty herbs and spices, tobacco, floral notes and a bit of green pepper with tangy moderate tannins on the finish.  

RM 87 points.