Deep ruby color; cherry, leather, herbs on the nose; plum, cherry, blackberry, chocolate on the palate.
Dry; dusty tannins with some balancing acidity. Bold flavors, but soft and affable in the mouth—blend of 85% merlot, 15% malbec, probably. The blend changes year-to-year, sometimes using cabernet sauvignon instead of malbec, sometimes all three. I’ve used the best research on the 2016 vintage. In any event, vivid ripe, red and dark fruits present some sweetness on the initial attack. Darker flavors easily take over in mid-palate and moderate finish; 14.5% ABV.
Château Carbonneau is a charming 19th century, 124-acre estate owned by a Franco-Dutch family since 1937. Wilfrid and Jacquie de Ferrier have been in charge since 1992. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the château produced both red and sweet wines. Economic disruption in the 1930s ceased wine production—but not grape growing. Wilfrid and Jacquie revived wine production in 1996. Wilfrid was a qualified agricultural engineer. New Zealand school teacher Jacquie had other skills; Wilfrid’s kin also had NZ connections by the way. Visit the website to enjoy the whole entertaining story.
Times were not easy in the beginning as the couple struggled to revive the château. The website notes: “With no income from the farm, the priority was to turn Carbonneau back into a working unit. Wilfrid, already a qualified Agricultural Engineer was eligible for government help as a ‘Young Farmer’ and in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture worked out a plan that would set the property back on its feet again. However, this took several attempts and it wasn’t until part of the project involved welcoming tourists that the figures looked promising. We were in reality the first ‘agro-tourism’ project to be validated by the Department in Gironde. Meanwhile, to keep the wolf from the door Jacquie sold children’s smocked clothing and gave piano lessons—skills of self-respecting New Zealander!”
Cattle raising is another part of the way to make the château work. Twenty Aquitaine Blond cattle share the most fertile parts of the estate with wines. The cattle provide full natural manure-based fertilizer for the farm.
Château Carbonneau Cuvée Classique, Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux 2016 is superb QPR (quality-price ratio) Côtes de Bordeaux effort. Vivid, tasty fruits with easy going tannins and acidity. Bold flavors without pucker power assault. Pair with red meats; rotisserie chicken; lamb; pork shoulder. $12-15