A VISIT WITH
The Despagne name is a good one to look for if you're interested in Bordeaux
The family has its roots deep into the "terroir" of Bordeaux, the
history going back some 250 years!
The patriarch of the family is Jean-Louis Despagne and his son Thibaut is an
energetic and dynamic young fellow.
Thibaut showing off their vineyards.
Jean Louis worked in the Algerian wine industry as well as that of
Argentina. On a stop in California, he met Mr. Mondavi and got to kiss the
ring of the California Wine Pope.
Returning to France, Jean Louis started to work the 20 hectares of Thibaut's
grandfather. Today the Despagne "empire" comprises some 300
hectares and it's growing!
Most of the cellars are fairly "normal" in appearance. Growing
good grapes is the "secret."
Wooden cases don't make the wines taste better. It's how the fruit is
cultivated and vinified.
We're big fans of their Chteau Tour de Mirambeau white wines. A
non-oaked Sauvignon Blanc bottling has been exceptional the past few
years. And the do a barrel-aged Entre-Deux-Mers which is superb!
One of their barrel cellars.
Thibaut says "We try to make wines that are fresh and flavorful. The
climate in Bordeaux is sometimes difficult, so we work hard in the vineyards so
we can control and improve the quality."
Despagne believes "Quality comes from the vineyards. So we think we
can change the viticulture to denser plantings, more vines per hectare, for
example, in an effort to obtain greater quality. We're looking for
maturity and finesse."
In training their new vineyards, Thibaut says "We leave four branches on
the vine, but only one of them bears fruit. This should help us obtain
riper or more mature grapes. We call these vines little 'bonsai's'.
It's still new to us and we are learning how better to improve our growing
conditions. This is our 'Formula One' vineyard."
We then drove to another facility called "Girolate."
A brand new cellar which will make some mighty fancy wine!
This is NOT one of the cellar workers.
The barrels are set in these new-fangled racks which have 'wheels' that allow
for the barrel to be "rolled" in place.
We then returned to the main Despagne home for lunch and some good bottles of
As with previous vintages, the current bottling of Sauvignon Blanc, a different cuve
than their "Entre Deux Mers", is superb.
Nice of them to remember to set a special place at the table for our pal Charles
We also tasted their barrel-aged white Bordeaux called "Cuve
Passion." This is about 70% Sauvignon and 30% Smillon, this latter
variety being from 60 year old vines. The better part of the Sauvignon
component sees time in wood, while the Smillon is done in stainless steel.
Some red meat for the Vin Rouge, their reds being routinely terrific wines.
Here's "Grandma" with the next generation of Despagne winemaker!
I don't think the French ever dine without wine and cheese as part of a meal.
An older bottle of one of their red wines demonstrated to me that they're making
their best wines today.
One of the highlights of this lovely day was meeting our dear friend Valerie
BACK TO THE BORDEAUX PAGE