chai at ch. martet

Ch. Martet is a wine estate in the small 250 hectare appellation of Sainte-Foy Bordeaux sandwiched between Bergerac a few miles to the east and Entre-Deux-Mers to the west and about 18 miles to the south of St. Emilion. The appellation produces both dry red and white wines the quality for which has improved considerably in the last two decades and consequently the wines represent good value for money. The original Château Martet itself has a long history having originally been built in the 13th. century by the Knights Templar as a monastery and having been used as a place of rest by pilgrims on their journey to and from Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. The surrounding land has a history of viticulture dating back to Roman times. The chateau and vineyards are in the commune of Eynesse close to the small medieval town of Sainte-Foy-la-Grande at an altitude of 100 meters above sea level on a well-drained slope overlooking the Dordogne. The current owner is Patrick de Coninck who bought the property in 1991 and within two years had begun a large-scale restructuring of the winery and vineyards.


Château Martet - The Vineyard

rows of vines chateau martet Large scale re-planting of the vineyard at Château Martet took place over a thirteen year period between 1993 and 2006 with the Cabernet Sauvignon and most of the Cabernet Franc vines being pulled due to their unsuitability to the soils and micro-climate, which meant that they rarely achieved full ripeness and therefore imparted a green, capsicum-like, character to the wine and also to remedy the low density of planting which produced grapes with diluted flavours. Merlot was planted extensively with some parcels of old Merlot vines from the early 1960s being retained. The total area under vine is a little over 25 hectares, 17 of which consist of calcareous clays with 7 hectares of gravelly clays on the higher slopes. The new vine plantings were made at a density of 5,500 vines per hectare which has the effect of forcing them to compete and making the roots dig deeper for nutrients and moisture thereby increasing the concentration of flavour compounds and minerality. There are now 20 hectares of Merlot vines in total. Merlot grapes ripen a week or so earlier than the two cabernet varieties producing a juicy, smooth wine. One hectare of Cabernet Franc vines remains.

Several varieties of white grapes are also grown with one and a half hectares of Sémillon vines dating back to the mid 1960s with smaller areas devoted to Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. Since 2011 2 more hectares have been planted with white varieties with an eye to the future. In 2006 Ch. Martet received certification for organic status which means that only organic fertilisers are used, absolutely no chemical fertilisers or pesticides are allowed, and treatments to counter pests and diseases are only carried out under the permission and control of the Chamber of Agriculture of the Gironde region. Work in the vineyard is both manual and fastidious with gradual stripping of leaves during July to allow for a gradual ripening of the grapes and a green harvest in August to remove bunches that will not ripen sufficiently, to concentrate flavours, which would otherwise degrade the quality of the finished wine. Harvesting is by hand and the grapes are transported to the winery in small crates to maintain them in the best possible condition and to prevent crushing en route.

Winemaking at Ch. Martet

vines and tower chateau martet

The winery was completely rebuilt in 1992 a year after its purchase by Patrick de Coninck. New stainless steel tanks were installed for the white wines and epoxy resin-lined concrete tanks for reds. Both allow for temperature controlled fermentation to be carried out. A brand new pneumatic press and a pre-fermentation maceration tank was also installed. For the red wines the bunches are de-stemmed before a gentle maceration on the skins folowed by pressing. The alcoholic fermentation lasts between three and four weeks. The malolactic fermentation takes place in new oak barrels for the reserve wines which then mature for eighteen months and in tanks for "Les Hauts de Martet" which is made from younger vines which have an average age of ten years. The whites receive a pre-fermentaion maceration before pressing, fermentation and racking. A new chai was built in 2003 with room for 600 barrels on two levels. This facility is humidity controlled and ventilated with an air circulation system.

The Wines of Ch. Martet

ripe merlot grapes at ch. martet

Ch. Martet produces a total of three wines, two red wines and one white wine all of which are among the best wines of the appellation thanks to the investment in equipment in the winery and the attention devoted in the vineyard:

  • Château Martet Réserve de la Famille AOC Sainte-Foy Bordeaux - Red Bordeaux made from 100% Merlot grapes from the higher, south-west oriented gravelly slopes. Fermentation lasts 3 - 4 weeks with a gentle "pigeage" (punching down of the cap of grape-skins which forms) four times a day. Matured in new oak barrels for eighteen months then racked and fined with egg whites and a light filtering before being bottled. Typical Merlot nose of blackberry, plums and truffle with a well-balanced, full-bodied palate of black fruits. Aerate or decant before serving, at 17 - 18 degrees Celsius, especially when young. A good match for red meats, particularly lamb, and with duck.
  • Ch. Martet "Les Hauts de Martet" AOC Sainte-Foy Bordeaux - Bordeaux red wine from 100% Merlot vines with an average age of ten years. Like the Family Reserve it is fermented for 3 - 4 weeks with 4 pump-overs per day before being aged in used oak. Also fined with egg white and lightly filtered before being bottled. Nose of red fruits with vanilla notes the wine is smooth and juicy on the palate. Serve at 17 - 18 degrees Celsius, decant an hour before serving.
  • Château Martet AOC Bordeaux Blanc - Dry white wine made from 40% old Sémillon vines and 20% younger, 20% Sauvignon Blanc with 10% each of Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. Thapes undergo a pre-fermentaion soak overnight before a gentle pneumatic pressing, the must left to settle for twenty four hours and a fermentation at a constant 18 degrees Celsius before being aged on its lees for two to three months. Visually a pale green with yellow tints this wine has intensely floral aromas and a palate of tropical fruits. To be drunk young with fish dishes and served at 10 - 12 degrees Celsius.


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