Château Paloumey and Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois
Left Bank Value and Quality
Pierre Cazeneuve, Director general and owner, Château Paloumey. Tricia Conover, Photographer.
In June, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Bordeaux’s Left Bank region and for a second time at the Château Paloumey winery and vineyards with Pierre Cazeneuve, Director Général and owner, Château Paloumey.
Château Paloumey wines have always enjoyed an excellent reputation and were originally ranked among the best Crus Bourgeois du Médoc, * as can be seen as far back as the second edition of “Bordeaux and its Wines” published by Féret in 1868.
Bordeaux's wine brokers recorded 444 Crus Bourgeois wineries in 1932, but it was not until 2003 that the first official classification was established. Château Paloumey was recognized as one of the best, with the awarding of Cru Bourgeois Supérieur status as it was in 2020. See the entire list of Crus Bourgeois du Médoc .pdf below. Cru Bourgeois wineries represent a great value in Bordeaux wines. Many Cru Bourgeois properties like Château Paloumey are known for welcoming visitors and generally being accessible to wine tourism.
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*What is the Cru Bourgeois Classification in Bordeaux?
The term Cru Bourgeois became established through sheer use, as it dates back to the Middle Ages, when the citizens (bourgeois), residents of the “burgh” (bourg) of Bordeaux, acquired the region’s best lands and were subsequently granted this designation. In 1932, the Crus Bourgeois were grouped in a list established by the Bordeaux wine merchants, under the aegis of the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture. This is an evolving classification. Since 2010, the official selection has been published annually in September. Their selection brings a mark of quality to the wines rather than to just the châteaux themselves.
As criteria, the assessment considers both the production methods and the finished product. Each year, between 240 and 260 properties, often family-owned, form the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois, accounting for more than 40% of the Médoc’s production. And for all of this quality and history, the wines are modestly priced, averaging about $25 a bottle ($19-$35 range,) a fabulous deal for really great wine.
The Grape Varieties
The Château Paloumey vineyards are planted with three classic Médoc grape varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon is a late-ripening variety that forms the backbone of the wine, bringing complexity, structure, and aging potential. Merlot is an early-ripening variety that brings suppleness, roundness, and freshness. It also allows winemakers a “hedge your bets” strategy against the fear of Fall climate issues affecting late-ripening grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon. Finally, Cabernet Franc brings finesse and spicy aromas to a traditional Bordeaux red blend.
Visiting Château Paloumey: Organic and Sustainable
I found Château Paloumey to be among the friendliest wineries for tourists. During my September 2016 visit, we helped with harvest, walked the vineyards, and sampled wine from their three appellations. This June I rode with Pierre Cazeneuve in his four-wheel drive vehicle through some of the surrounding vineyards as he described his concerted efforts to certify as an organic grower (both EU and USDA.) He helps lead the efforts to add more native trees (`60+) to the properties allowing increased biodiversity and cooling to the area. Additionally, Pierre described the efforts to make the winery sustainable with photovoltaic (solar) roofing and other efforts to lower energy costs and the carbon footprint.
During a visit to Château Paloumey you may sample wines from three appellations: Château Paloumey (Cru Bourgeois from the Haut-Médoc appellation), Château La Garricq (Cru Bourgeois from the Moulis-en-Médoc appellation), and Château La Bessane (Margaux appellation). All are part of the Paloumey family of wines.
“Hello Tricia, welcome to Paloumey in the Haut Medoc Region of Bordeaux. I would love to tell you about Paloumey and our current vintages. Paloumey is a family-owned winery in the South of the Medoc, North of the city of Bordeaux. The name Paloumey originates from the Palombe, a beautiful, migratory white-stripe bird in the region that flies over and rests here. It’s a very ancient name in France.”
– Pierre Cazeneuve
Wine Recommendations – Château Paloumey
Decanter, 95 Points, Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points
2016 Château la Bessane, Margaux, $36 (a Paloumey property)
VertdeVin, 91-91 Points
2016 Château Garricq, Moulis-En-Médoc, $23 (a Paloumey property)
Wine Enthusiast, 89 Points
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Housekeeping: I am taking a PTO break from Wine Wanderings on August 27 and Sept 27 to attend family events. On those Tuesdays you will see instead two of the “Greatest Hits” newsletters that garnered some of the most comments and publicity. TC