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A vineyard in the heart of the Graves region
A distinctive feature: to bear the name of its terroir
Of the many appellations in French wine making, the Graves region is the only appellation to have the same name as its own “terroir.” Within this ancient viticulture community, Portets is the oldest vineyard.
Its rich soil composition and its geographical location made Portets the birthplace for the Grand Wines of Bordeaux. Portets is the oldest vineyard of the appellation: started close to 2000 years ago. The Romans, after having conquered the area wanted to reap its potential and so decided to plant vines brought directly from Italy. Portets was the first location chosen for the initial trials. The roman author Pline the Elder, in his work Naturalis Historia or Natural history tells us that the Graves wine was well regarded by the Gallo-Romans for its quality.
A turning point in the history of the Portets vineyard occurred in the middle ages after Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henri II, the future King of England. Eleanor of Aquitaine introduced the English to the Bordeaux Claret. It was at this moment that the English became enamored and unable to do without their “French Claret” or the Bordeaux wines.
Portets wines have been praised throughout history, Clément V, a Gascon pope, Arnaud of Pontac, an innovating parliamentarian, and Montesquieu, a well-known philosopher, all understood that from this particular terroir came an exceptional wine.
Today, Portets represents this viticultural community with its 900 hectares (2,224 acres), which constitutes one third of the AOC (appellation d’origine controlée) Graves. The AOC Graves has 35 total viticulturists.
A specific terroir
Made from great geological and climactic changes at the end of the tertiary era and the beginning of the quaternary era (1.8 million years ago), the stones (Graves) were carried all the way from the Pyrenees Mountains by great river torrents as well as glaciers. It has taken millions of years to form these different layers, made from alluvial tables deposited in rows on a limestone platform dating from the tertiary era. The graves stones reflect perfectly the sun’s rays, which redistributes heat softly to the grape clusters, thus contributing to a better more consistent ripening of the harvest. The climate is a good representation of the Gironde County, a temperate area, which is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, well-suited for vines.
Very Elegant Wines
Graves red wines benefit from a well-balanced selection of grape varietals. The Cabernet Sauvignon brings aroma and structure; Merlot brings flavor as well as a suppleness to which we add also the Petit-Verdot, Malbec and Carmenère.
Dry white wine from the graves region are vinified with Sémillon, a varietal that allows floral overtones to develop as well as a natural unctuous taste that doesn’t overpower the freshness. Additional varietals are, first, the Sauvignon blanc bringing a certain vivaciousness and expression to the blend and, second, the Muscadelle with heavier notes, almost musky with richer, fuller fruit nuances. The blend results in a complicated dry white wine with flowery notes, as well as citrus and sometimes exotic and menthol undertones. Barrel aging, which is increasingly common, allows for a great richness and complexity after the wine has aged just a few years.
Marie-Hélène Yung-Théron, passionate viticulturist striving to bring the Château de Portets to the highest level of its appellation
Marie-Hélène Yung-Théron is the 3rd generation of viticulturists.
Her grandfather, Jules Théron after leaving Algeria where he was a viticulteur in Oran bought the château in 1956. The château had been left in ruins. Jules Théron with the help of his son, Jean-Pierre would invest a considerable amount of time and energy to renovate the derelict Château. The Théron family brought back to life the “sleeping beauty” or Château de Portets.
Great aspirations for the Château de Portets
The youngest child of the Théron family, Marie-Hélène is the first woman to produce wine at the château. After the sale of Château Lafon in Listrac, the second family property in 2011, she concentrated her efforts on reviving the Château de Portets. She worked and learned the trade at Château Lafon: Marie-Hélène says “my passion for wine came from Lafon but my heart is in Portets¨. Portets is now her priority; she takes great care to never overlook the smallest details when it comes to the production of an excellent wine. Marie-Hélène intends to elevate Château de Portets in order to rise to the highest level of the Graves appellation.