Château Laroque’s vineyard is planted in one single block and provides a unique, truly sensational vine-growing environment which participated in Saint-Emilion’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellations have been listed as World Heritage of Humanity as a “cultural landscape”. This was a first in the history of wine.
This culture (or more specifically, viticulture) is the result of outstanding geographical features: the gentle vine-clad slopes of the plateau; the contrasting areas of woodland; the south-facing hillsides that run down to the Dordogne valley; all of which have been shaped and sculpted by man.
“At every step,
our choices and actions are determined
by our search for the right balance.”
Today’s grape composition conforms to the traditional mix of grape varieties planted in Saint-Emilion:
Merlot, which on limestone gives wines flesh, vivacity, chiselled contours and layers of flavour,
and Cabernet Franc which brings length on the palate and a fresh, lean finish.
In order to achieve optimal grape quality, natural or seeded cereal cover-crops are grown in the rows, while ploughing is occasionally done, together with spiking and superficial ploughing under the vine rows, according to the time of year.
This soil management together with the care exercised in maintaining adjacent woodland and hedgerows, plays an important part in the balance of the estate, while the choice of grape composition in the vineyard shapes the identity of the wine.
Observation, patience and attention to detail are at the core of all the manual tasks performed in the vineyard. The essential vine-growing skills of pruning, tying shoots to the wires, de-budding, removing suckers and raising the shoots vertically so that they grow upright, are repeated on each vine as often as is necessary.
With the estate’s geological diversity, from the fine Merlot plots surrounding the windmill to those planted on the slopes and terraces (which depending on their exposure can ripen two weeks later), the wine of Château Laroque is a blend of terroirs.
The style of the wine is determined by the harvest weather, the terroirs and grapes selected to go into the First Wine, as well as the natural impact of the vintage. The grapes are carefully vinified to bring out the influence of the limestone soils and to optimise expression, freshness and vivacity in the wines.
Precision work is also the order of the day during the barrel ageing process, when the wine matures in barriques and large casks over two winters. This long 15 to 18-month period (the exact time depends on the vintage and the development of the wine in oak) is also the moment when the blending process is begun and is carried out progressively during successive rackings of the barrels.
“The meticulous care and attention lavished on the wine mirrors the estate’s constant search to produce wines of the highest quality that express the elegance and nobility of the estate and the caring nature of the people that maintain it.”
In the limestone character of the terroir, which the wine expresses in delicate, very chalky nuances, and in the influence of the Merlot with its density and crisp fruit character, Château Laroque shines through as a great, classic Saint-Emilion.
The estate also produces a Second Wine, Les Tours de Laroque -an easy-drinking, gentle, fruity wine that faithfully reflects the identity of the First Wine.