AOC Pomerol (Bordeaux)
Wine from winery Pétrus
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More about Petrus
History of Pétrus
Pétrus, the wine “without a Château”.
Unlike the great Bordeaux wines, there is no Château type building on the Pétrus estate, as is usually the case for wineries in this area. So the wine label never refers to it as Château Pétrus.
But what we do find on the estate is a stone statue of St. Peter (Pétrus) with the key to the kingdom of heaven, an ideal welcome the winery.
The property belonged to the Arnaud family from the end of the 18th century, with some vintages being released as Pétrus-Arnaud. The 1868 edition of Cooks & Feret, the old Bordeaux wine directory, already mentioned Pétrus as one of the best Pomerol wines and ten years later, in 1878, during the Universal Exhibition in Paris, Pétrus won a gold medal, which put the name and the region in the spotlight: Pomerol.
In 1925, the Arnaud family gradually began to sell the property to Edmond Loubat, a hotelier from Libourne, the region where Pomerol is located, and finally his widow, Marie-Louise Loubat, acquired the whole thing in 1945. That is when the golden age of Pétrus began.
Mrs. Loubat had innate business sense and worked hard to make the most of what her terroir offered because she believed her wine was worth the same as the great Bordeaux wines. At that time, the Pétrus estate stretched over seven hectares.
Madame Loubat went on a world tour to promote her wine and in 1947 it was served at the wedding breakfast of Queen Elizabeth II, which widow Loubat and her niece Lily Lacoste attended. In 1962, Lily inherited the Pétrus estate when Marie-Louise Loubat died.
In 1964 Jean-Pierre Moueix bought shares in the estate, becoming co-owner and consolidating the legendary status that Pétrus has today.
In that same year, Jean-Claude Berrouet, who was 22 years old, came to Pétrus without any experience to make his first vintage as a winemaker in the winery, he stayed there playing his part discretely and elegantly for 40 years, becoming another key influence on the winery’s reputation. Some think he is the secret behind the legend, but Berrouet considers himself to be just an orchestra conductor who worked with enough sensitivity to understand that this land was destined to produce high quality wine.
In 1970 Pétrus bought 4.5 hectares of vineyards from its neighbour, Château Gazin, increasing their property from 7 to 11.5 hectares. Today Olivier Berrouet, son of Jean-Claude Berrouet, is the winemaker for this astonishing winery.
In 2003, following the death of his father Jean-Pierre Moueix, Jean-François Moueix became the owner of Pétrus, but in September 2018 Colombian-American businessman Alejandro Santo Domingo bought a 20% share in Pétrus.
Pétrus work philosophy
Pétrus makes its great wine using only merlot grapes. The winery was one of the pioneers in using green pruning to reduce production in order to obtain fewer clusters but of a great quality and concentration.
According to their legendary winemaker, Jean-Claude Berrouet, Pétrus works with minimal intervention to allow climatic variations to be expressed through the wine, which is what defines the character of each vintage. Berrouet also states that “Wines are better when they tell a story”.
Obviously extreme care is taken with the vines, as well as in selecting the clusters to go through short macerations and ferment in open concrete tanks at a controlled temperature. These containers are thermally neutral, they minimise oxygen supply and help the aromas to develop, avoiding excessive extraction.
At Pétrus, they carefully pre-select each vat before the final assembly, plots can even be rejected and not vinified to make the Grand Vin. 50% of the young wines age in new French oak barrels for between 12 and 24 months depending on the vintages.
It is worth telling the story of how, on one occasion when it rained during the harvest, they used a helicopter that dried the vines with the air it created. That is not part of the Pétrus philosophy, but it certainly worked at the time.
The lucky ones who have tried the wine agree that Pétrus is concentrated, powerful, deep and, most of all, delicious. It is a balanced, elegant wine with a penetrating aroma and character. Its best vintages can even come close to the strength of a good port wine. Merlot from Pomerol creates sensual, sweet and modern wines, according to the winemaker. Some say it is so complex and interesting that it is impossible to describe it fully because the nuances and aromas are endless. A wine that captivates those who know how to appreciate it.
The plots used to make Pétrus are located on a high terrace in Pomerol that has an unusual soil composed of crasse de fer, iron-rich clay, and a small amount of gravel soil in the land purchased from Château Gazin, an environment that seems to really suit the merlot. To begin with, Pétrus had about 20% Cabernet Franc vineyards and 80% merlot. Later, 95% of the plots were dedicated to the Merlot variety and only 5% were left as Cabernet Franc vineyards, used to make coupages in only the very mature years. Since 2010, all vineyards have been filled with the merlot variety.
The vines are between 40 and 45 years old. In 1956 Pétrus suffered an extreme frost and there was no production, but thankfully that has never happened again. The strains were not replanted, but existing roots were successfully grafted. This practice is carried out every so often to keep the vines at an average age of around 45 years old.
Best Pétrus vintages
The universally recognised great vintages are those from the years 1929, 1945, 1947, 1961, 1964, 1982, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010.
The vintages from 1921, 1929, 1947, 1961, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2009 and 2010 were awarded a score of 100/100 by well-known critic Robert Parker.
In 1965 and 1991 the crops were not suitable for making quality wine, so these vintages do not exist. Neither does the 1956 vintage because, as we mentioned, there was no production due to an extreme frost.
There are very limited quantities of the 1963, 1968 1977 and 1984 vintages due to the fact that the harvest did not produce wine of sufficient quality for a higher production.