It would be no exaggeration to say that the Petrus winery in Bordeaux – on the banks of the Garonne River is possibly the most famous vineyard and winery in the world. It is here that some of the most exquisite vintages that have ever graced a table have through the ages been produced. One of the reasons for the exceptional quality of the red wines that are bottled at Château Petrus is the nature of the soil and subsoil in which the vines are planted. The 11.5 hectares under vine has a soil that is made up of topsoil that is underpinned by a blue clay that is impervious to the questing roots of the vines. This means that this gently sloping land, with its unique and complex soil drains incredibly efficiently even in the face of the most ferocious of downpours. But, at the same time that clay also retains moisture so that the vines are not overly stressed – even on the most blistering of summer’s days.
The result is the production of superlative wines. Wines that boast prices reflecting their incredible quality. Even a bottle of vintage Petrus red that might not be the best that the estate has ever produced will sell for a price in the region of just over $2,600. Making the Petrus Winery products easily one of the most consistently expensive wines in the world. The small size of the winery has also contributed to the mythos of Petrus. The output of the estate is limited due to the tiny amount of land under vine – and market forces therefore come into play. Scarcity plays its role in ensuring that the prices of individual bottles of Petrus reds remain sky high.
The 100% Merlot Petrus wine (the addition of a small percentage of Cabernet Franc was abandoned in 2010) is almost unbelievably rich and full. Its velvety texture and a nose that hints of cassis, violet and truffle is a joy to the senses even before the first sip passes the lips. The incredible harmony of taste and nose means that the drinker is not overwhelmed by the opulence of berries. Experts maintain that it should be laid down for 15 years at least – but will reward a rest of up fifty years.
The wines have benefited from some very astute marketing and shrewd business practice. The combination of the business acumen and deep understanding of the luxury wine business of co-owner Jean-Pierre Mouei and the social standing of Mme. Edmond Loubat (once owned of the Hôtel Loubat and Château Latour à Pomerol) all but guaranteed the success of the wines in international markets such as the United States (it certainly did not hurt that the Kennedy’s were big fans).
Today the marketing and distribution of Petrus have been left in the able hands of Jean-Pierre’s son -Jean-François (who now owns Château Petrus). He and Jean-Pierre’s grandchildren are shepherding Petrus wines into the third decade of the 21st century – while still maintaining an iron grip on the quality of the products which leave the winery.
If you are lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to experience a glass of wine from this magnificent winery grasp it with both hands – it is the expere3ince of a lifetime for those who love the richness of good red wine.