WOMEN IN WINE #1

SANDRINE TILLET

CHATEAU DE SAINT-PEY, ST. EMILLION, BORDEAUX, FRANCE

 Photo credit: Sumi_Sumilier

Photo credit: Sumi_Sumilier

During the French Wine Discoveries Session I attended at Tobacco Dock, I had the chance to taste some very interesting wines from "Chateau De Saint- Pey". Situated on the Right Bank of River Dordogne, it is ideally placed in the commune of Saint-Pey-D'armens in the Gironde Department in region of Bordeaux. I am pleased to introduce you to Ms Sandrine TILLET who is the Administrative Head of the Chateau, whose St Emillion Vintage 2011 and 2012, I tasted has won the  BRONZE MEDAL and SILVER MEDAL respectively at Vin De Bordeaux competitions held recently. The Blend of Grapes in the Wines are 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Following are excerpts from my Interview with Ms Tillet.  


Q)    What has been your first vintage since acquiring the Chateau?

The Chateau was bought in May 2011. That year we only performed the vinification, aging and the bottling of 2011. But our first real vintage was Château de Saint-Pey 2012

Q)  What major changes have been launched (both at vineyard and at winery level) and how have they affected the quality and/or quantity of production. 

Following the decision of the Musset family to sell the domain after 6 generations, Clarence Grosdidier and Frédéric Stevenin acquired it in 2011. Since then we have launched several projects to optimize the wine quality and develop the image of the property.

A comprehensive study of land and ownership of basements have been undertaken, along with a detailed audit of the property, under the direction of Cabinet Ertus Consulting, based on which we have established a long term vineyard restructuring plan, over the next 10-15 years, with the intention to improving the quality of grapes gradually. This audit also included a soil survey and technical analysis of the plot.

It was also decided to call on the experience of Bruno Lacoste, an experienced International Consultant and Michel Rolland, a reputed Bordeaux expert and Laboratory Oenologist. A new barrel cellar was put in place that allows us to optimize our barrels park with air conditioning capacity.

The vineyard consists of 30 plots, with mature wines on some very rich and established soils, average age of vines is 35-40 years. The vineyards are worked upon, depending on their characteristics and harvested successively as grapes mature. Respect for the environment is an integral part of our philosophy. We strive to work the soil by ploughing, favouring deeper roots of the vine, to allow fuller expression of our Terroir. Treatments are highly restricted and the vineyard is allowed to take a natural course of growth, based on observation of the vegetative cycle of the vine. Understanding and respecting the Terroir has been the foremost challenge that we have worked to preserve. The property has grown since December 17, 2014 on 7 additional hectares on neighbouring municipalities.

3) What are your strengths in terms of your location in Bordeaux? 

The ancient sands with a well drained surface generate a warm microclimate that promote good maturation of the berries. With deep clays, the vines draw all the nutrients needed for the development of concentrated fruit flavours, to express full body and complex aromas. The Wines produced are deep in colour, ruby to garnet tones. The bouquet is expressive and powerful. This Terroir  (limestone and clay-limestone along with a sandy top soil) is most ideally suited for growing Merlot, Cabernet Franc and small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 4)   Roughly what is your production size for the latest vintage and where do you export to? 

We produce roughly 100,000 bottles. Much of our wines are being exported to Japan, China, Great Britain, Belgium at the moment.

I also came to know that the owner Mr Clarence Grosdidier is the owner of the very famous JEAN D ALOS cheeses, a highly rated fromagerie in Bordeaux. 

 Clarence Grosdidier, owner (Photo credit :Chateau De Saint-Pey)

Clarence Grosdidier, owner (Photo credit :Chateau De Saint-Pey)

 Sandrine Tillet: Ops Head of the Chateau (Photo credit: Chateau De Saint-Pey)

Sandrine Tillet: Ops Head of the Chateau (Photo credit: Chateau De Saint-Pey)