Château de Chambert lies 30 kilometres west of the town of Cahors, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Owned and run by Philippe Lejeune since 2007, with the additional support of consultant winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt, the estate has already garnered considerable attention in France and is top critic Michel Bettane’s ‘One to Watch’. The elegant, modern wines are made from the deep-coloured Malbec variety, which traditionally produced the ‘black wines’ of Cahors.
Chambert’s vineyards are situated at the highest part of the South Quercy limestone plateau, at an average altitude of 300 metres above sea level. The soil is mainly clay with a red iron oxide component. This is ideally suited to producing a refined style of wine that is fresh in its balance (similar soils can be found in the Chablis Grand Cru vineyards). Due to its location between the Atlantic and Mediterranean the area has a unique meso-climate which takes effect especially towards harvest when hot winds from Africa warm up the grapes, aiding ripening. Leaf-thinning and green harvesting take place where necessary, to ensure lower yields of well exposed fruit. The vines are 25 years old and yields are low at around 28 hectolitres per hectare. All grapes are hand-harvested.
The 2012 season was marked by heterogeneity. A dry winter period led to an unusually warm month of March with temperatures above average. Bud-burst took place at the beginning of April and was immediately disturbed by a month of cool and wet weather. May was warmer and drier than usual, June was rainy but then July was relatively dry. This four-month period of unstable weather took its toll on the vines and delayed veraison to the 20th August. The period of post-veraison was warm and dry and eased the disease pressure, and advanced the maturity of the grapes. Harvest began on 10th October and finished with the top parcels a week later, in perfect harvesting conditions.
Each plot was vinified separately. Gentle extraction occurred through a combination of slow pumping and plunging, before a slow fermentation with indigenous yeast at 25-30°C. The wine underwent post-fermentation maceration for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation took place in French oak barrels where the wine aged for 14 months (50% new French oak barrels, 25% second use barrel, 25% third use barrel).
Complex characteristics of red fruit, violets and silky round tannins. A generous and rich wine with a powerful structure. Ripe tannins and dense fruit is accompanied by elegant acidity, giving the wine tremendous potential for ageing.