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N°166

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Château Vieux Rivallon

14/02/2020
Generation change

Since 2015, it's Alexandre Plocq who writes the history of Château Vieux Rivallon, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, resolutely determined to continue his grandfather's work, in his own way ...
 

Alexandre Plocq

In cases of transmissions, some mark their passage by completely revolutionizing the methods, others pay tribute to their ancestors by deepening the work done. That is what Alexandre does since his return to his dear holiday memories, refining the winemaking and elevage but not only. “I inherited a domain in perfect working order, healthy, without chemical weeding and a functional winery.” He was not yet 30 years old, not yet used to a certain comfort and decided to quit everything in order to return to true nature, in the perfumes of his childhood, in the heart of these vines which saw him learn to walk one stock after another. Alexandre, who had started his career in a completely different direction, a Parisian business school focused on financial auditing, returned to school.

He thus studied viticulture and enology in apprenticeship at Cheval Blanc, something inspiring to give another scope to his estate. “My grandfather planted vines, extended the vineyard from 4 to 20 hectares, built a winery: there was a moral obligation to continue this rather confidential family adventure. I needed a return to more tangible things, and to give sense to what I was doing. My idea is to build up a brand, an identity by being more precise, especially on the control of maturities, working on plot selection, while remaining true to the spirit of the estate. My grandfather was a staunch defender of traditional wines with a visceral attachment to the roots, and has always consciously shunned the fashion of over-oaky, over-extracted wines. He has never turned his back on the immutable quality of his production: wines evolving over time, respecting the seasons, the vintages. Today, I work on the woody side but gently, only with already used barrels from prestigious Grand Crus. I'm thinking of using jars for the prestige cuvee ... and I've settled the brand at export in the United States. I have rather sandy soils that give fruity wines, made tense by the freshness and the acidity. I'm looking for the right balance and I'm assisted by Stéphane Toutoundji, our oenologist,” Alexandre explains.

Until now Château Vieux Rivallon, contraction of “Riant Vallon” [pleasant glen], used to produce 120,000 bottles of a single wine. Alexandre has extended the range to 4 cuvees for different budgets and pleasures (from 7 to 30 euros): a Bordeaux, a Saint-Emilion, a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, and a premium cuvée “Cuvée Charles” (10,000 bottles) in tribute to his grandfather and coming up soon a fifth, amazing, now under consideration.

A cherished clos

Château Vieux Rivallon has one of the most unique plots of Saint-Emilion, nestled in the heart of the village. A piece of land tucked between the cobbled streets and guarded by the King Tower, the famous 13th-century dungeon overlooking the village, where the Jurades are celebrated. A surviving vineyard, which some would consider too small, too steep, too old, expected to be pulled up ... Alexandre quickly assessed the qualitaty potential of this limestone mound and the notoriety that he will be able to draw from this tiny piece of land and these vines. 5 small ares only, a historic island but at the same time a place of stillness and meditation for a future vintage that will undoubtedly reflect the interpretation by the new generation ...

Bénédicte Chapard

 

www.chateau-vieux-rivallon.com