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Château Bernadotte

The Bourgeois' revolution

With a wealth of a peculiar history Château Bernadotte and its 40 hectares of vines have taken a new turn since its purchase in 2012 by Antares Cheng, a Hongkongese businessman, owner of a network of duty free shops. With a tremendous gap in quality over the last vintages.

château Bernadotte

The estate taken over by Champagne Louis Roederer in 2007 together with Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande has been purchased in December 2012 by King Power Group (HK). An acquisition carried out within the framework of a global expansion strategy of the group to broaden its range of activities. So why this discreet Haut-Médoc, well-known for its consistency but that remained so much time in the shadow of the prestigious Comtesse? “Several reasons: a well-established commercial distribution by the Bordeaux trade, an important quality potential with a performing and adapted winery, and a notion of history”, explains Guillaume Mottes, former general manager of Château Siran chosen by Antares Cheng to run the house only a few days after he purchased the château. “This Cru Bourgeois of Medoc has a peculiar history. Bernadotte is the name of the locality of a plot of land chosen by Eklund, the Swedish industrialist who bought the property in 1973, to rename his château formerly called Fournas. As it also is the name of a sergeant, son of a bourgeois from Pau, become marshal and appointed king of Sweden by Napoleon in 1818, whose crown is printed on the label.” A unique destiny whose 200th anniversary is celebrated this year in Pau …

And now it is the chateau's turn to make its revolution to give back this Cru Bourgeois its former glory. “Long owned by Pichon Comtesse, Bernadotte benefitted from all the attention, of making processes of undeniable quality, planted with 10,000 stocks per hectare like the greatests, but it had to remain in the shadow of Pichon Comtesse. Today the difference is that Bernadotte has a 100% dedicated team which enables to be more acute. The direction taken is to give a bit more flesh without compromising the elegance. And trying to have some commercial boldness with especially the implementation of a trade office in China in 2015”, Guillaume Mottes explains.

A quest of precision, purety and sensuality

The deep work done for 5 years by the technical teams in partnership with consultant enologist Hubert de Boüard especially focused on a new environmental concern rewarded by the AREA2 and HEV3 certifications, and a conquest on the grape maturity through a better physiological balance of the vine. “We take more risks in the vineyard and we invested in sorting material”, Guillaume Mottes underlines. An obvious thing for someone who wishes to get more balance. “There have been three philosophies at Bernadotte. Mrs De Lencquesaing used to favour important extractions in the vinifications. Roederer wished more finesse and opened the way to what we do nowadays”. Indeed until 2012 Bernadotte did not open up immediately, it was a more intellectual than sensual wine, that expressed over time. The new time seeks a more generous personality, welcoming from the beginning, favouring elegance and immediate charm.
Accordingly the vinification process has been revised with softer extractions that do not overwhelm the velvety texture and develops the flattering side based on more fruitiness and roundness. Finally the evolution is obvious at tasting. Over the years and the details, the cumulated improvements, Bernadotte has gained precision. From 2013 the wine shows another truth, offering a more delicate pleasure. The marketing policy has also been reviewed: no en primeur release for the 200,000 bottles of the estate.

But it is the 2014 that will serve as a reference. A vintage that will break with the past. A break in time and in wine making. Simply because it embodies the first effects of the new policy. Fruitiness, elegance, more tension, silkiness, four cardinal points that seduced the critics: a mark of 90 by James Suckling or 91 by Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast. The following vintages associated a restrained powerfulness and royal taffeta touch, without arrogance, provoking a natural emotion. The crown shines again, and Bernadotte intends to continue of its revolution, of velvet this time, that gets breadth with ageing, with a racy and complex increase in powerfulness.

Bénédicte Chapard


Gérard Basset’s reviews

Château Bernadotte, Haut-Médoc, 2014

Ruby-red colour with a crimson fringe. Black fruits (blackcurrant) in the nose, backed by scents of cocoa. On the palate, the wine presents very ripe tannins. Spices and blackberry aromas in the mouth. To serve over kidneys in mustard.