Chateau Louis – the property formerly known as Rol de Fombrauge


I’m a sucker for Merlot. Always have been. In many of my greatest wine experiences in life, Merlot have played an essential part. 1961 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion; my most awesome wine experience ever. 1982 Chateau Petrus. Yes, it is ok for grown-ups to cry. 1990 Chateu La Conseillante; Ought to be picturized under elegance in the encyclopedia.

No matter how much I taste my way around the world I always returns to Bordeaux. No reason not admitting it. Bordeaux is my ultimate reference point. I would lie if I said otherwise.

Based on what I’ve tasted from the 2009 vintage I guess I have a potential favorite year coming up. Some will claim it is not a Bordeaux vintage, being too warm and with a ripeness almost leaning towards California. I don’t get this. The wines are three years old and have just started a long life. Yes, there is oak, yes there is phenolic ripeness. But also; there is acidity, fruit and an impressive tannin structure in many wines.

Read the words of Michael Broadbent in his Vintage Wine. He considers the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc as one of the greatest wines of all time. Yet he describes it with phrases like high alcohol, mammoth concentration and port-like. Wonder how many that would talk badly about the 1947 at three years of age when it probably were closing in at 15 per cent, showing lots of oak and with a concentration only experienced in few vintages. 2009, I am sure could be the greatest ever in Bordeaux because today we – besides having the tradition – also have the technology and know-how in general.

I just came back from the winery and it smells so good. It will be an exceptional vintage but a wine to lay down…

(Delphine Rigall at Chateau Pavie, telling me about the 2009, in October the same year.)

When tasting 2009 I come to think about the words of Delphine, who I met at Pavie the year before, and how right she was. The vintage is something truly special. But also her last words is worth keeping in mind, because Bordeaux rewards patience. Have that in mind when popping a 2009 Bordeaux. Are you going to drink the wine today – as it is- or are you tasting to evaluate its potential? Drinking today? Yes, there is a likeliness you will be disappointed if oak isn’t a preference of yours, although there is an impeccable balance in the wines. Trying to establish the potential? Then you will realize all is there, for aging and developing.

I like 2004 in Bordeaux. I like 2008. I like 1999. I like 1988. But I adore 1982, 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2009. I wouldn’t want to be without the lighter and more classicly styled years but if my finances would allow, I would keep a majority of the latter in the collection. It’s as simple as that.

Saint Emilion. Merlot. 2009. What a trilogy! Continuing tasting the vintage, i’ve now reached a newcomer – Chateau Louis and their La Réserve de Louis, a 100 per cent Merlot wine. Previously known as Rol de Fombrauge, the property changed it’s name in connection with new ownership in 2006. Some hate it, some love it but Stéphane Derenoncourt and his team were hired right away as consultants. The result?

2009 La Réserve de Louis

A seductive nose from the start. Such purity with plums, dark cherries, humus and really well handled toasted new oak. Gentle spiciness, sweet licorice, a slight floral feel and with air, some fresh-mown lawn. The palate pretty much sums up why Merlot is a weak spot of mine. Fresh plums and cherries but never jammy. There’s layers of it and behind all the fruit a tannin structure and acidity backbone unfolds. Toasted oak, grass, wet rocks and again this gentle but gorgeous floral feel. Long,
lingering finale. 14,5 per cent the label says but honestly, who cares. The balance is impeccable. Just remember; this is Bordeaux. Time in the cellar will reward you.

The Virtuoso Says:



Search the wine’s availability by using the Wine-searcher box on the top right corner of the site. But be quick; not more than 100 cases made of the Réserve.

Photograph taken at Troplong-Mondot with Pavie in the horizon.