Christian Seely, managing director of AXA Millésimes – owners of Château Pichon Baron and Domaine de l’Arlot – has revealed he is on the hunt for a second Burgundy property. “I’m acutely looking to add a second Burgundy estate to our portfolio, but it’s very difficult,” he told the drinks business at the Pichon Baron 2011 primeurs tasting last week. Seely also admitted that he is looking to buy in the New World, but wouldn’t elaborate on where.
With regards to the 2011 vintage, he said the majority of people who tasted at Pichon Baron were “pleasantly surprised” by the quality of the vintage. “There hasn’t been the euphoria of 2009 and 2010, but people seem pleasantly surprised by the quality of Pichon 2011, perhaps because expectations weren’t very high. Not all 2011s are good, but those who picked well made lovely wines,” he said.
Seely also revealed that he is using increasing amounts of Semillon in his dry white, S de Suduiraut, from Sauternes estate Château Suduiraut. “My big aim is to make a dry white from the Sauternes region that tastes like Sauternes. We predominantly use Semillon in our sweet Sauternes, so it makes sense to use it in “S” too. We’ve made a few experimental bottles of 100% Semillon and it’s utterly delicious, so I know I’m on the right track,” he said.
“The fear is that with a majority of Semillon in the blend it won’t age well, but I know that it will. Unfortunately, it will be hard to increase production to supply demand as the only way to make it well is to use grapes destined for Suduiraut,” he added. Comparing the 2011 Sauternes vintage to the acclaimed 2001, Seely described the wines as “very rich, with high levels of residual sugar and botrytis, but super fresh, with lovely complexity and depth.”
Over at Château Pontet-Canet, owner Alfred Tesseron said that being biodynamic didn’t necessarily make it harder for him during the capricious 2011 growing season. “It’s all about your approach – being biodynamic, you have to always be one step ahead and work on a prevention rather than cure basis. 2011 was a difficult vintage, but every year presents different challenges. The weather was very up and down, so we had no room for manoeuvre,” he admitted.
Tesseron revealed his main reason for going biodynamic was for the positive affect it has on the taste of Pontet-Canet. He is currently exploring the effect of egg-shaped fermenters on the maturation process. “A lot of Bordeaux wines are over-oaked and I’m looking to find the right balance. I chose the fermenters for their breathability rather than their egg shape, but it’s too early to say whether I’m pleased with the results,” he said.