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Overview of Etalon Rouge Wines

Etalon Rouge is French for Red Stallion.

Last year I became a shareholder in this unique, off-grid, Bordeaux wine.

Here is the overview:

Etalon Rouge red wine is made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and is aged 12 to 18 months in French oak. We also produce a very limited amount of white wine—called Etalon Rouge Le Blanc—made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. This is aged in French oak for 8 to 10 months.

Both wines will improve within a few years of bottling. However, although young, the 2015 red and 2016 white wines still drink rather well now. You may want to decant the red for half an hour, or drink it slowly to let the aromas and tastes develop in the glass.

Our vineyard plot is located in the small, sleepy commune of Fours (population 319) on the right bank of Bordeaux’s Gironde estuary. It is only one hectare (2.5 acres) in size. The terroir is excellent.

Before our group of 10 shareholders purchased this property, it was owned by renowned French artist Thierry Bisch, who is a neighbor in the nearby town of Blaye (pronounced bl-EYE). Thierry painted the logo images on the bottles, and is currently working with Prince Albert II of Monaco on a series of paintings of endangered wildlife species (several of us attended his art exhibit in Monte Carlo last year). The image of the Red Stallion on the label now belongs to Etalon Rouge wine. Apparently the prince may order gift boxes of our wine to send to his friends for the annual holidays.

Before Thierry owned the vineyard it belonged to the well-known French comedian Gerard Depardieu, who then produced a wine called Confiance.

Until last year our consulting enologist was Denis Dubourdieu, one of the top winemakers in the entire Bordeaux region, as well as a professor at the University of Bordeaux. Unfortunately he passed away at a relatively young age. However, Dubourdieu had convinced his friend Bisch that the vineyard parcel had such unique characteristics within the region that he should produce wines only from single grape varieties for both red and whites. Because appellation regulations insist that Bordeaux wines be made from a blend of at least two grapes, these single-variety wines are unique, and therefore classified not as Blaye-Côtes de Bordeaux, but as Appellation Bordeaux Contrôlée.

We had the serendipitous fortune this year to be introduced to a replacement enologist, Christian Prudhomme. This energetic and vivacious 76 year old man has consulted for some of the best wineries in the world, including Bordeaux’s Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Y’Quem, as well as for Opus One in Napa Valley, a collaboration between American Robert Mondavi and Philippe de Rotchschild from Bordeaux. Prudhomme still consults for top domaines in Burgundy.

About a year ago, billionaire Jack Ma of the Chinese company Ali Baba bought a rather stately château across the valley from our vines. Whether or not he retains ownership is uncertain, but his move here will undoubtedly change the perceived value dynamics of local wines within the coming years.

Next year, rather than leasing a physical location to ferment and age wine, Etalon Rouge will construct its own winery on Rue Saint Simon in Blaye. This will be the first—and only—winery and tasting room within the town.

Hope you decide to try Etalon Rouge! Contact me if you are interested.

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