Monday, March 24, 2008

The House of Pontet-Canet

Talk about time in a bottle – Chateau Pontet-Canet has been producing wines for almost 300 years now. In all those years, only three families have owned the vineyards: Pontet, Cruse and today, Tesseron. And it hasn't all been wine and roses.

The Cruse family lost Chateau Pontet-Canet in the 1970s, when a freewheeling wine broker named Pierre Bert used a little creative recordkeeping to stamp cheap red wines with the AC Bordeaux appellation. He sold the pumped up wines to several large négociant houses, including Cruse. The Cruse family was not central to the fraudulent activities. But one unfortunate day Lionel Cruse refused entry to inspectors from the Ministry of Finance, and it was all downhill from there. By the time the case went to trial, a disgraced Herman Cruse had already committed suicide. Pierre Bert was jailed for a year. The Cruse family appealed, all charges were dropped in '75, and their attentions turned to their vineyards at Chateau Issan, which they still own. But the scandal helped to end the power of the big negociant firms over the Bordeaux wine trade.

The Pontet-Canet of today has certainly reclaimed its status as a worthy Medoc classed growth, producing beautiful Bordeaux. kybecca has both the first and second growth wines.

The Steal: Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet 2003, Pauillac

Intense black cherry, raspberry and currants, lightly toasted oak with classic pencil lead notes toward the finish. Big, structured, quintessential Pauillac. Impressive and elegant. 90 Points, Wine Spectator

The Splurge: Chateau Pontet-Canet 2005, Grand Cru Classe En 1855, Pauillac

“Full-bodied with superb concentration, fabulous opulence, huge tannins and muscle, this is an uncompromisingly made Pauillac boasting sensational concentration and power and requires at least ten years of cellaring.” 93-95 Points, Robert Parker.

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