About Château Hourtin-Ducasse
Acquired in 1975, Chateau Hortin-Ducasse is owned by wine makers Michel and Marie Noelle Marengo; the married couple (and 5 other staff who work at the vineyard) produce small-production lots each year, offering (in most years, but not all) both a red blend and a rose. The red blend consists primarily of Cabernet-Sauvignon (56-74% depending on the vintage) and merlot (17-40%), with a hint of Cabernet Franc and a peppering of Petit Verdot. The rosé, apparently a hit, was unfortunately sold out.
Selecting a Natural Bordeaux Blend
The two vintners pay close attention and respect to nature. Each year’s wines are selected through a blind taste test of up to 15 variable blends composed of that year’s grape juice; each wine is crafted based on skill and a careful assessment of the composition. Left over juice of course is sold and not wasted.
The Château Hourtin-Ducasse Terroir
Remembering that terroir is about the processes and methods that occur both before and after harvest, we noticed Michel takes great pride in experimenting with his process. His experimentation always relies heavily on nature and the environment. Pesticides are never used on the vines, and only natural oils and predators are used to control pests; in the vineyard, bat houses and bluebird houses are set up to help control infestations (fun fact – bats eat upwards of 3,000 bugs per night, and bluebirds eat around 500/day). Natural plants and flowers are allowed to grow between the vine rows to aid in the nutrient balance within the soil, and at the same time, they also to help pull excess nutrients from the soil, which in turn has a positive effect on the annual grape yield by reducing bulky grapevines. Currently Michel and Marie-Noëlle are experimenting with lunar cycles and vine cropping to see if the vigor of the plants is affected more or less at either new moon, or a waning moon. The barrels are turned with new oak ratios carefully added between 32% and 65% new oak, depending on the desired outcome of flavours for the year’s vintage.
Michel had many personal and kind perspectives on wine production and tasting Bordeaux wines. Here are the highlights:
- Each vintage of wine is like a child – they each offer different skills and talents from the previous, and you have to surrender to natural processes and appreciate the wines as a gift of nature and craft them accordingly.
- Similar to the Coke and Pepsi taste challenge, when drinking wine, you want to find a wine that has an appropriate balance of flavour. Too sweet may win the taste challenge, but to fully appreciate a glass of wine (or three), you want a well-balanced wine that isn’t boisterous or overpowering.
- “Everyone is right when it comes to experiencing a wine”; his goal is for people to enjoy the wine for what it offers and go beyond critically evaluating it. It’s great for a wine to have a high point rating “…but did you enjoy it?”
- Bordeaux wines have a serious tone, but Michel believes wine is made to experience, to drink and to enjoy – he jokes, “some new world wines are not very drinkable” but alas, he also exclaims, “wine is not be something stuffy” and he encourages good discussion and conversation about wine, over a glass or two (or in our case, 7 glasses).
Thanks to Old World Vintners, Michel and Marie-Noëlle Marengo of Château Hourtin-Ducasse
It’s a special treat to meet a vintner from the other side of the world, and the true character of this couple is delightful and refreshing. Both Michel and Marie-Noëlle were very kind and approachable, something that goes a long way in adding to the overall experience.
Whether Old World or New World, we look forward to the next wine tasting a Truvé Wines… if you’re interested in joining the next Truvé event, click here and subscribe to their events mailing list.
Would you like to meet Michel and Marie-Noëlle?