AMA Vertical Tasting
Château L’Isle Fort
A Treasure Hides In The Forest
If you lack a pair of sharp eyes for discovery, then you might miss beauties that are within touching distance.
Take today’s protagonist Château d’Isle Fort as an example. I have gone passed it many times yet missed it every time. Had it not been for the kind invitation of a good friend, I would never have known that it hides such a delicate winery in the forest of Entre-Deux-Mers. It is just like a beauty living in dreamland, reclusive and ethereal, waiting for her first date with the person of her dreams in the deep forest…
Château L’Isle Fort was once an important resident (Place forte des chevaliers de l’Ordre de Malte) for the Order of Malta in the 16th Century, even Henry IV spent many vocations here. After suffering from Phylloxera, this estate experienced a period of bleak time, and the manor remained abandoned.
However, the dawn of destiny shined in this forest again in 2001. This year, a passionate couple (Mrs. Sylvie Douce and Mr. François Jeantet) brought it back to the road of the renaissance. This couple had founded Salon du Chocolat, the largest chocolate exhibition in the world. And François, a true architect, presided over the reconstruction and repair of the estate. In the past 20 years, they turned a dilapidated castle into the “garden on the water”, bringing back the glory of the estate and allowing us to see this beautiful water garden that “breathes with the rhythm of nature”.
This estate covers more than 90 hectares, and the castle, which was built entirely in the middle of the water is surrounded by forests, pastures, and rivers. In this natural paradise, horses and sheep live freely, swans dance in the lake, and the vegetation of both the marine and the Mediterranean climate also flourish here. Every corner of this place is full of energy and the surging power of life.
Unlike many wineries that focus on scale and production, Château L’Isle has only developed less than 8 hectares of vineyards so far, all of which are limestone clay like exactly the soil of the plateau of Saint-Emilion. From the perspective of terroir alone, it has all the talent and conditions to make superior wines.
On the day of my visit, I noticed that the majority of the vineyards are located on a slope facing southeast. Although both are limestone clay vineyards, the soils on the slope and foothills are quite different. The clay soil of the foothills of the vineyards is much thicker, but on the slope, there are mainly limestone blocks, there is only 30 cm of clay soil on the surface (it is denser than those on the foothills).
On the top of the slope, there is a vineyard with limestone clay mixed with small gravels, where the temperature is often as high as the Mediterranean climate; thus it has the perfect terroir for making Cabernet Sauvignon.
It is worth mentioning that the winery will receive its biodynamic certification next year, which means that from the 2023 vintage, Château L’Isle Fort will start making biodynamic wines that are rarely in Bordeaux.
To be honest, I didn’t have much expectation before tasting Château L’Isle Fort, but I was quite amazed during the vertical tasting. After the tour, I started to taste in the middle of the water, just in front of the castle. Its palate is as pure as flowing water, and its fruity aromas are as clear as a crystal mirror. Especially its classical wine, with an inborn sense of pureness, greatly surpasses lots of the ordinary Bordeaux Supérieur, emitting a natural scent from the inside out. It perfectly matches the image of “flower blossoming on water”, I believe that everyone who tastes this wine will be touched by its soft and smooth characteristics.
In this vertical tasting, many vintages have met my selection criteria successfully, which is rare for a Bordeaux Supérieur. In addition, from the perspective of terroir, I feel that Château L’Isle Fort still has a lot of untapped potential, and I am looking forward to seeing the quality rise to a higher level in the future!
If you have the chance to go to Entre-Deux-Mers, you must visit the estate in the forest and feel the beauty of the serenity of nature. And if you like to explore as much as I do, I hope you can also feel the “flower blossoming on water” in this wine.
Until next time, cheers!
By Alexandre MA马先辰