In the middle of the harvest, wine makers have no time to sit still! Armelle Cruse, co-owner and director of Château du Taillan, still managed to find a few minutes to speak to us about what means the most to her: this exceptional, family inheritance that she looks after with her four sisters, and wine, all of which she has invested so much in!
The 2018 vintage has been bottles at Château du Taillan. This is the latest one, and you might notice something different about it aside from the swanky new label…Well, Château du Taillan is now officially classed as a Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, an announcement that was made in February after the blind tasting took place. For a little reminder, ‘Exceptionnel’ is the highest distinction this classification offers after ‘Cru Bourgeois’ and ‘Bourgeois Supérieur’, labels the Château held between 2003 and 2020 before finally climbing the podium.
This year the harvests have been particularly early, so the property is lively at the moment! It was lucky we got to chat with Armelle. “It’s all systems go here. This is the most important moment of the year, so it’s exciting and decisive for every wine maker running between all their tasks.”
The women of Château du Taillan run the place with mastery. Armelle and her four sisters inherited this magnificent, 18th century property when their father passed away. Henri Cruse settled there in 1896, and the four generations that followed have been eager to carry on tradition. Henri was the first to plant vines on the land. Also known for its underground cellars classed an Historic Monuments, the château and its 30 hectares are part of the AOC Haut-Médoc. Two of the sisters are especially impassioned by the wine world, with Armelle being an oenologist by training and Marie-Caroline managing the logistics.
The domain has been listed as a cru bourgeois since 1932, the year the classification was created. The wines have always been of the highest standard with a perpetual search for quality and balance. “From the shaping of the vine to the bottling stage, all of our focus is on the quality of the outcome”, an outcome that tuns out to be “just reward for our investment!”. The domain has an HVE level 3 certificate since 2018, a recognition that takes into account not only how the vineyard is managed but also things like water consumption, electricity use and social responsibility. Once picked, the grapes arrive at the winery for a gentle vinification in thermoregulated steel vats. The idea, for the reds and whites alike, is to emphasise the purity of the fruit, creating structured wines apt for ageing. The wine is matured in the traditional Médoc fashion, in oak casks for an average of 12 months.
The outstanding feature of these wines is how charming they are! The red, a real landmark of the château, is made up of 80% Merlot – quite atypical for the region! – completed by Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This blend of varietals allows the wine to acquire all its flavour as well as conferring a really strong ageing potential. An dhow can we talk about Château du Taillan without mentioning La Dame Blanche…no, this isn’t a spooky story, but the château’s white cuvée, made from two hectares of Sauvignon Blanc. This is a cuvée that has built its reputation with aromas that stand out compared to Bordeaux’s more classic whites. Flavourful and fruity, it has a certain fleshy profile that balances it against the tartness we might expect. The women who craft it recommend opening this cuvée with a gastronomic dish…after a few years in the cellar, if you can wait that long!