Ep 354: A new look at the Médoc de Bordeaux - with Magali Guyon from Château La Cardonne
Magali Guyon was the technical director / winegrower of Chateau La Cardonne in the Médoc de Bordeaux for over 20 years. Having worked in Bordeaux for some of the biggest names - she is the former winemaker of Chateau Lynch-Bages - she represents the best of the best in Bordeaux. Chateau La Cardonne recently received the prestigious title of Cru Bourgeois Supérieur.
In this living room, we take a different look at the Medoc (the prestigious left bank of Bordeaux) and approach it as a proposition of culture and terroir - not pretty châteaux and expensive wines. Magali helps us reframe the discussion on Bordeaux to show us that the real essence of Bordeaux is the vineyard and the land.
Here are the show's notes / talking points:
Card of Medoc wines
- The soils and the differences between the different types of gravel, the clay-limestone soil and the limestone bedrock that might be particularly suitable for white wine in the future (yes, we are discussing the possibility of a white appellation for Medoc)
- The flat aspect of Bordeaux and how the diurnal must compensate for what it lacks in altitude or on a slope
- Grapes from the Médoc - mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. We talk about what type of land is suitable for each grape variety and what matters for good viticulture.
- The many distinct zones / AOCs –Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauiilac, Listrac, Moulis, Saint-Estèphe and the wider zones of Haut-Médoc and Médoc. We talk about the similarities (ocean climate) and differences (nuances of climate and soil)
- I ask Magali why there are no wines that boast “old vines” or Vieilles Vignes on their labels in Bordeaux. She explains why this might be.
- Climate change and the challenges of strictly organic or biodynamic viticulture are a big topic. We also talk about the new grape varieties - Touriga Nacional, Marselan, Arinarnoa and Castets - and the potential of a few of them. We address the importance of tradition and how keeping wines stylistically true to the region is a priority
After an in-depth discussion on the Médoc, we discuss Château la Cardonne.
- Magali explains why she vinifies each batch separately, plot by plot. We discuss the importance for a winemaker to be in charge of both the vineyard and the winemaking. We are talking about the use of oak and how it is viewed in Bordeaux (as a way to provide controlled oxidation and tannin stabilization, NOT as a "spice rack" as is the case in New World) and why many winegrowers exchange barrels for amphorae
- Chateau La Cardonne the wines age before they leave their famous “cathedral”. It's 2020 at the time of the show and they are just releasing their 2010 wine
Photo credit: Medoc wines
- We discuss Bordeaux's “caste system” and the frustration that rating systems take away reputation and excellent wines from places not included in these old ratings. On the positive side, we discuss how this translates into value for us as wine lovers (Cardonne is barely US $ 25)
We end with a brief discussion on women in Bordeaux, the benefit of foreign investment in Bordeaux (Chateau La Cardonne owned by a Hong Kong-based company), and how the future of Bordeaux is exciting and full of possibilities.
The show is a new way of seeing Bordeaux. Forget the castles: look at the earth!
*Unless otherwise indicated, all photos of the Chateau La Cardonne Instagram feed
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We would recommend either Wineworks Premium or Wineworks Superior as your first 30 Bottle Kit Wine. Both of these ranges are designed to produce a good quality wine that is ready to drink within 2-4 weeks but will benefit if left up to 6-8 weeks. Furthermore, they also have a great selection of wines to choose from.
If you’ve never made wine before or you simply don’t have any of the equipment or ingredients any longer then you could purchase one of our bundles. These bundles combine all the required equipment along with your prefered wine pack so that you can have everything delivered to your door and just get started. The Wineworks Superior Starter Bundles are a great choice if you want to keep the equipment budget down but still choose the quality of wine you’d like to go for. Whereas, the Wineworks Luxury Starter Bundles offer a better quality equipment pack and still let you choose from a great choice of wine packs.
The two most important aspects of making wine are Cleanliness and Temperature. Firstly remember everything that comes into contact with the wine should be cleaned and sterilised ( see below ). Secondly maintain a constant temperature between 21-26°C ( 69-79°F ). It is much better to be on the cool side and constant than hot one minute and cold the next. Airing cupboards are definitely no, no’s. ( See below )
Clean and sterilise all equipment. Here’s a selection of Sterilisers you can use and if you not quite sure which steriliser to go for then you can take a look at our Beginners Wine Making Part 1 - Cleaning, Sterlising
Wineworks Superior wines : These usually take 10-15 days to ferment, and a further week to clear. Again the wine can be drunk immediately but we recommend ageing it 4 weeks but you can leave it up to 12 months. The time you will leave it will depend very much on your stocks. So get plenty built up. The reds benefit more than the whites with ageing. Certain packs ( see the list below ) are suited more to the experienced wine maker and take around 4 weeks to ferment and then left for a further 2 weeks. These products does really benefit from ageing. All the packs we list in this section require little ageing.
As it’s new to you it will probably take in all 2 hours for your first batch. However, once you are used to it 1 hour is about the maximum amount of time needed. We would also point out bar the bottling side; it takes just as long to make 6 bottles as it does to make 30 bottles, so we strongly recommend you make the larger quantity. After all 6 bottles doesn’t go very far as we said before !
From our experience it is much better to maintain a constant temperature than a fluctuating one. We suggest 21-26°C ( 69-79°F ), although if it is cooler than this, it is not a problem, it just takes slightly longer to ferment. If you can’t maintain this then we supply three different forms of heating equipment : Brew Belt / Heat BeltThis is a simple insulated electric cable that wraps round your conteneur and provides a gentle heat. It is very souple and extremely easy to use. Heat Tray ( 4 demi/5 Gallon Fermenter ) This is like a flat tray that provides a gentle continuous heat that goes under the fermenter. Immersion HeaterThis drops into the conteneur, through the bung and can be thermostatically controlled to maintain the juste temperature. Similar to a fish tank heater. All these can be added to our starter coffret packages. See our scène showing the types of heating equipment available for your fermentation.
It is important to clean
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully understanding a bit of what we’ve said, then you’ll want to know how much it will cost to get started ! As you may have noticed, we’ve put together a couple of equipment kits which include everything you need, and take the confusion out of buying. You can make your first 30 bottles of Wine for approximately £65. 00. That’s all in ( Equipment