Chateau Lestevenie – a personal visit.

Posted on: August 8th, 2013 by Andrew No Comments

On our family perambulations around South Western France I realized that we would be passing near Bergerac and thought it would be a good idea to have a look at Humphrey Temperley’s operation in person,  especially as we are his chosen representative in the UK

The vineyard area of Bergerac is very beautiful with undulating wooded hills, pretty unspoilt villages and vineyards alternating with fields of maize and sunflowers. You can easily see why so many English have made a home there – it’s like an idealized vision of the Cotswolds .

Château Léstevenie is just outside Gageac et Rouillac, a small hamlet a little southwest of Saussignac, itself hardly large. The main town is St Foix La Grande, a frontier post marking the edge of Bordeaux and the start of Bergerac.

Arriving at the Château we were made welcome with a glass or two of the delicious house Rosé and taken on a small tour of the vineyard and chais. The valley in which they are situated is perfect wine growing country, with a chalk and flint topsoil over chalk, not unlike Chablis – or indeed Pomerol.  Relatively sheltered with good conditions for noble rot on the lower slopes.  Humphrey also owns areas of woodland and some meadows as well as 15 hectares of vines.

We had a wander through the reds on the plateau,  Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I must say, after such a poor start this year, everything looked on course.  Merlot had a bit of millerandage, but the grapes looked healthy enough with little potential rot. Humphrey practices lutte raisonnée, a form of restricted herbicide and pesticide application that results in much less poisonous substances being thrown on the vines than in a conventional system.. This year they have had to harrow the weeds more often as a result of the rapid growth put on in June, but otherwise all looked normal.

The white vines are on chalk on the slopes below a small oak wood, with Sauvignon in one parcel and Semillon and Muscadelle co-planted in another. Apparently this was how it was done after the war,  The amount of Muscadelle was low, with the right proportion for the moelleux wines.

We repaired to the chais for a little tasting and Humphrey produced a tank sample of the 2012 Sauvignon. This was fresh and aromatic, if a little light. We then tasted the 2012 Semillon. This was broad and full flavoured with hints of stone fruit and honey. Blended in a jug, the final “assemblage” was delicious, with good acidity and lovely fruit flavours. At the serving temperature (probably about 16º ) this was perfect, bolstering my view that chilling all whites to 8º is too prescriptive. Some require a higher temperature to give of their best.

We had a look at his 2011 red blend in tank. This was Cabernet and Merlot, already assembled. Closed up, but showing great core structure and weight, this should be delicious once bottled. Finally a glass of the dessert wine (2010 I think) from the barrel which was intended for supper and thus tasted later.

We repaired to the house for a delicious meal with which to drink the various wines in bottle, culminating with the aforementioned sweetie, which was of course delicious and will be a worthy successor to the 05 which we still have in stock.

Many thanks to Humphrey and Sue for an informative and enjoyable visit. We will be back!

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