Chateau MeaumeChâteau Méaume is a wine estate situated in the Bordeaux wine region just south of the village of Maransin and 15 km. to the north of Libourne, the centre of the wine trade in Pomerol, and a similar distance to the north east of St. Emilion. The château has a history dating back several hundred years with the vineyards having formerly grown white grapes for distillation into cognac. When its current English owners Alan and Sue Johnson-Hill bought the property in 1980 the vineyards were growing mostly red grapes to be sold in bulk to make generic Bordeaux wines. The new owners, however, were on the cusp of realising bigger plans for their new acquisition. Three pieces of good fortune helped enormously. The first was to have bought a property that had recently undergone a degree of renovation including the winery itself. The second was the discovery that their new vineyards had happily been planted with a similar density of vines to that of the great Bordeaux estates, viz. 5000 vines per hectare, the result of which was low yielding vines with good concentration of flavour in the grapes. The third factor was the enlistment of a then young and comparitively unknown oenologist named Michel Rolland who has subsequently become a famous and much in-demand name in Bordeaux as well as further afield and who to this day continues a relationship with Château Méaume.


The Château Méaume Vineyard

The 38 hectare vineyard belonging to Château Méaume has the clay-rich soil that the area north of the Gironde is well-known for and which is so well suited to the culitivation of the Merlot grape which accounts for about 80% of the plantings of the estate the rest comprising Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Chemical fertilisation of the vineyard is avoided and, to this end, a herd of cattle is kept with the sole purpose to provide the manure that feeds the soil. Natural viticulture is very much at the centre of the Johnson-Hill's winemaking philosophy.


Winemaking at Château Méaume

Winemaking at Château MéaumeIn order to produce the best wine possible the whole winemaking process was modernised which involved a completely new set of 16 stainless steel fermentation tanks featuring all of the latest temperature control technology to maintain the optimum conditions. This was then followed by the construction of a specially insulated chai building for maturing the wines in 11 brand new stainless steel tanks provided with an inert gas injection system to prevent over-oxidation and to control the ageing of the wines. This also allows for a reduction in the amount of sulphur necessary to preserve the wine. Further, the old chai building which had housed concrete tanks was restored and insulated for use as a barriques ageing chai. The result of this upgrading of the winemaking facilities produced a Bordeaux Superieur that was truly worthy of the name and which found a ready market in the UK, important to the Bordeaux wine trade for several centuries.


Château Méaume Bordeaux Supérieur AOC

Château Méaume Bordeaux Supérieur AOCThe red wine produced by Château Méaume is classed as a Bordeaux Supérieur, that is to say that it is generically superior to Bordeaux AOC in terms of its alcohol content by volume. It is a red wine made from a blend of typically 80% merlot grapes with 10% each of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc and is described as having a very good concentration, dark red / purple when young with a pronounced berry palate and a nose of cedar wood. It provides excellent drinking with pizza and barbecued food when young but is also a good match for roast meats - a thoroughly enjoyable wine to accompany Sunday lunch which belies its appellation. A small proportion of the wine is given some ageing in barriques (225 liter barrels) which are bought in second-hand from the legendary Château le Pin in Pomerol. The merlot grape produces wines that tend to be softer and fruitier and which are ready for drinking sooner than cabernet dominated wines and Alan Johnson-Hill is on record as having stated that the early approachability of his wine is something of a double-edged sword in that few bottles are enjoyed at their peak of maturity which can be at 20 years old in the best vintages. Because of this he has taken to holding some wine back in the better vintages "en barriques" for later bottling to produce a reserve wine, labelled "Château Matured", which is released for the Christmas market in the UK as a vinous treat for those fortunate enough to get some. Château Méaume also produces a small amount of a very good quality rosé wine.


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