Château La Conseillante, the jewel of Pomerol

Just as La Conseillante is celebrating 150 years of family history, its director Marielle Cazaux sat down to chat with Anthony Moses, director of Twins. This was an opportunity to discuss the Nicolas family’s decisions designed to accelerate increases in wine precision, as well as to talk about the history of the Pomerol estate and its fantastic terroir.

La Conseillante, a family affair

The elegant label decorating La Conseillante wines features a distinctive stylised N. This nod to the surname Nicolas showcases the chateau’s deeply-rooted family dimension. Louis Nicolas acquired this estate in the Pomerol appellation in 1871. Louis Nicolas, a father of five, managed to establish a lineage in which every generation takes care of its legacy to ensure that it stands the test of time. Today, the fifth generation of the Nicolas family is at the helm, with the sixth generation ready and waiting to take up the baton. This stability is hailed by Anthony Moses, director of Twins: ‘few estates can draw on such a wealth of experience gained and passed down over generations, it is truly remarkable.’
Whilst men have marked the history of La Conseillante, women also embody its vineyards. In fact, the name ‘La Conseillante’ comes from Catherine Conseillan, who acquired this Pomerol land in 1754. Nicknamed ‘the iron lady’, she began restoring her estate and setting it on a path to modernity. Other notable women that director Marielle Cazaux likes to mention include former manager Marie-France Nicolas: ‘she was always on hand to offer advice, a bit like a fairy godmother. That gave things a very family-focused touch.’

The rise of a jewel

Although La Conseillante gained global fame during the 1970s, the estate has long been a family affair. Everyone worked on the estate in the time they had available around their professional lives. In 2001, the era of Grand Crus and global competition, Nicolas decided to recruit a director and a dedicated team. Since then, La Conseillante has continued to confirm its position as a jewel of Pomerol. Marielle Cazaux, who has held the role for eight years, is still as enthusiastic about the quality of the terroir as she was on her first day.

‘Just the words “Pomerol plateau” set me dreaming. When I was abroad and describing our mosaic of terroirs to others, between the vein of clay on the plateau and the gravel running as far as Saint-Emilion, it felt like no-one really believed how magical it is!’

Murielle Cazaux, director and winemaker at Château La Conseillante

On this terroir, the aim of the teams is to ‘continue making iconic wines’. Outstanding wines such as the 1947, 1985 or 1990 vintages enabled La Conseillante to establish a reputation for excellence. Marielle Cazaux has a strong trio to draw on in achieving this: a wonderful terroir, an exacting team, and a committed family. ‘Everything I suggest to improve quality is systematically welcomed. The family wants to make the best possible wine, and does whatever is necessary’, the director explains. The construction of a new winery building in 2012 allowed them to take things to the next level, conducting intra-plot vinification and performing hugely precise maturation. The primary aim of all this is to allow the terroir to express itself to the fullest. This upswing has been hailed by Anthony Moses: ‘La Conseillante most definitely offers a level of precision, finesse, and tannin grain rarely achieved’.

Discovering the 2017 vintage

Whenever Marielle Cazaux talks about the vintages she has overseen, she always makes sure to mention 2017. This was a memorable year that called on the skills of the entire team. In the Bordeaux wine region, 2017 was marked by a late frost, the likes of which had not been seen since 1991. La Conseillante had to work one vine at a time to save the spring shoots from the cold.

‘On a Bordeaux level, the press gave this vintage a modest welcome, as many estates suffered (in some cases significant) harvest losses. Links were then drawn between the frosts and a drop in quality, although they had nothing to do with each other. Only yields were affected.’

Murielle Cazaux, director and winemaker at Château La Conseillante

The director feels that it is time to rediscover the 2017 wine, which has a ‘crazy charm’. This is a wine that can be enjoyed from now onwards, thanks to its elegance and its silky framework of tannins. Like all La Conseillante wines, the 2017 can be enjoyed while young but also offers ‘huge ageing potential’. Furthermore, Anthony Moses has no doubt that this 2017 will quickly establish its place within the hierarchy of La Conseillante wines.

‘It has earned it, it is truly a real classic. It is a very spirited wine that deserves to stand alongside the blockbusters of 2015, 2018 or 2019.’

Anthony Moses, owner of Twins

Recommended food and wine pairing with Château La Conseillante 2017, by chef Arthur Leprevost: 

Cherrywood-smoked veal fillet, wild green asparagus, cherry and morel 

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