Let’s make our leisurely way to Moulis-en-Médoc, a viticultural spot between the prestigious Médoc and Saint-Julien. The 60 hectares of vines owned by family Château Poujeaux are cultivated on a gravelly knoll. At the helm is Christophe Labenne who shone some light for us on what can safely be called the jewel of the appellation.
Speaking to Christophe Labenne gave us a really good idea of the identity running through Château Poujeaux, an estate which, along with its neighbours Chasse-Spleen and Maucaillou, covers half of this discreet appellation’s vine surface. Grandson of the former owners, Christophe has worked here since November 1999, and has therefore observed first-hand the running of the domain before and following its purchase by the Cuvelier family. Originally from northern France, this family began to invest in Bordeaux’s viticultural heritage in 2001, when they purchased Clos Fourtet, a first growth in Saint-Emilion.
There was nothing cold or impersonal about the process that saw Château Poujeaux come into the hands of the Cuvelier family. With great respect for its story and its past, they have sought to preserve the soul of the place and to take it over carefully. The idea was not to barge in and change everything, but rather to lead the estate to its best performance, helping to affirm its identity. The Cuveliers, along with oenologist Stéphane Derenoncourt, saw well-deserved improvements to be made in the wine; excesses to tame, tannins to refine. As for the vines, they have been managed with an eco-friendly approach, bringing a respect for plant life and masterful yields to the forefront of the estate’s agricultural practices. If the richness of the Médoc lies in its ability to produce a profusion of well-made crus, the strength of Château Poujeaux is its aim of 50 hectolitres per hectare (the appellation allows up to 57). And we mustn’t forget the technical investments that have been made. The harvest and its reception are now more modern, and the grapes are sorted just as well by hand as they are by machine.
Yet the estate is not resting on its laurels. There are ambitions shooting from its soil. The first is to demonstrate that it can keep up its image and position. This might sound simple, but it is actually quite the challenge; there are just so many properties in this part of the wine world, and Bordeaux Bashing continues to impact a region reputed for its safe, cellaring bets. In this context, Château Poujeaux has to fight to remain itself and to prove its worth, something that it owners are determined to continue. Vintage after vintage, this estate gets the best of what nature has to offer, crafting pleasant, generous, elegant, and well-structured wines that we appreciate all the more for their approachable prices.
The keys to this success? The Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot grapes, two varietals we usually find on the right bank. The former confers tension and energy, and the second brings roundness and a certain charm to the table (and the glass!). This subtle and careful balance is complemented by the savvy addition of some Petit Verdot, a grape that structures the ensemble.