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August 31, 2021 38 min

Photo: Château Doyac

In our continued exploration of the Médoc (which will culminate in two free, live, online classes that I hope you'll join or watch on YouTube afterwards), on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, I spoke with Astrid de Pourtalès, co-owner of Château Doyac. This property is a Cru Bourgeois Supérieur located in the northernmost part of the Haut-Médoc appellation that is unlike what you think of when you consider this region. This show presents a high level overview of a different part of the Médoc (versus Château Meyney, where Anne Le Naour gives a very detailed view of St-Estèphe) and a nice view of what a family owned château is like in the region.


Astrid de Pourtalès owns the château with her husband Max and her daughter Clémance. She discusses her experiences in being fairly new to Bordeaux after a career in the New York theater scene (they bought Château Doyac in 1998) and the bold move that Max made to transition Doyac to an ECOCERT certified organic vineyard in 2018 and then a Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard in 2019 (this is no small feat in Bordeaux, which has an erratic climate, we don’t go into extensive detail but it is an interesting contrast to the show with Sofía Araya of Veramonte in Chile who discusses biodynamics in that easier to farm area).

Photo: Château Doyac

Astrid tells us how they came to buy the château, the measures they took to improve it (including hiring famed consultant Eric Boissenot, who consults for the majority of the Grands Crus Classé in the Médoc), and the role her daughter, Clémance, an agronomist, will take in the future to run things for this small, high quality property that makes about 100,000 bottles/8,300 cases.


We discuss a number of high-level topics:

  • What it is like in the very northern part of the Haut-Médoc where the effects of the Atlantic and Gironde are stronger and the soil has a big proportion of limestone (Doyac's Sauvignon Blanc is on my list to try – apparently it is reminiscent of Chablis - not a typo she says it's like a minerally Chardonnay!).
  • Map:

  • We talk about the reasons Max pursued the organic and biodynamic paths for Château Doyac and the results: better, easier to work soils, and much improved vines and wines that demonstrate elegance, acidity, and pure fruit character (right now the mix is Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon but in the future about 20% will be Cabernet Franc, with 70% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is their most recent planting -- it does well on the limestone clay soils here).

  • Astrid discusses their second wine, Espirit de Doyac and their newest wines in Le Pelican line.

  • Astrid tells us why Doyac uses amphora (you can listen to this podcast to really learn about that topic) and what the benefits of that is versus oak.

  • We wrap up with a discussion of the Cru Bourgeois and talk about the bright future for Château Doyac.
  • Photo from Les Grappes: Astrid and Max de Pourtalès _____________________________________________________

    Astrid mentions a few chateaux in the conversation. Here are links that will be helpful if you missed anything in the conversation:

  • Chateau de Malleret, Haut-Medoc, France – the chateau Max’s father in law owned (Holy COW this is a huge château and gorgeous!)

  • Chateau Ferrière in Margaux (very pricey wines, BTW) where a group meets to discuss and mix teas for  biodynamics

  • We also talk about the Saint-Émilion Classification issues (Article) and the Cru Bourgeois.


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