Here at Xtrawine we try to show appreciation for wines of all different countries, origins, and producers. While we enjoy promoting the best and brightest of the Italian wine industry whenever we have the opportunity, we also believe in shining a spotlight on any producers that we feel have brought something truly special to the wine industry.
To further that goal, this week our weekly review focuses on a wine that comes from France, which is perhaps Italy’s main rival for the title of best wine producer in the world. Frankly, with wines the quality of the bottle that we will be examining today, it should come as no surprise that France stands toe to toe with Italy in that particular battle.
Of course, before we take a look at the wine itself, we should examine the producer and everything that it brings to the industry. So without any further ado, here is a brief history of Chateau De Myrat and the winemaking philosophy that has helped the company create such a formidable reputation for its quality.
The history of Chateau De Myrat and the family behind the company stretches many centuries back. In fact, the Pontac family, which has been indelibly linked to wine for over 400 years, first found fame and fortune during the early 16th century. It was through Jean de Pontac that the family first gained acclaim for producing wine. He oversaw the chateau Haut-Brion estate that, while different to the chateau that would later bring the family even more adulation, still maintained a strong reputation for quality.
Jean de Pontac went on to live for over a century, experiencing life in France under the reigns of Louis XII, Francois I, Henri II, Charles IX, and Henri III. Few winemakers in the history of the industry have the distinction of living through the reigns of so many different monarchs.
A century after Jean de Pontac achieved infamy, his descendent, Arnaud de Pontac, established himself as an innovator in the French wine industry. One of the first to notice the links between growth and a delimited terroir, Arnaud was also a famed politician who became the Chairman of the Bordeaux Parliament. For many, he is considered an intellectual who stands on par with famed French philosophers Montesquieu and Montaigne.
His hard work not only expanded the reputation of the de Pontac family, but also led to the introduction of a completely new type of wine, which in and of itself would go on to achieve fame. That wine was named French Claret and there are many enthusiasts who still consider it to be one of the best red wines in the entire world.
Arnaud was also active in the continued promotion and growth of the French wine industry as a whole. In 1666, he journeyed to London, England, where he opened a tavern known as Pontac’s Head. It was another innovative move in the life of a man who had dedicated himself to continued reinvention and knowledge gathering. Put simply, few, if any, wine producers were making the decisions to travel to England at that time, not least because wines weren’t anywhere near as popular in that country as they were in other areas of Europe. Even so, the opening of the Pontac’s Head proved to be a resounding success and in no time at all it had become one of the most fashionable locations in the city, thanks we are sure to the French flair that it brought to London.
While other individuals in the family have not gone on to achieve the same levels of infamy, their work has been crucial in the continued recognition of the Pontac family name. Since the days of Arnaud, the family has gone on to manage a wide range of vineyards, stretching from Graves and Sauternes, through to the Bordeaux region where they truly made their name.
That, finally, is where the Chateau De Myrat comes in. Despite the deep history of the Pontac family, the Chateau De Myrat’s place in wine history, or at least the Pontac version of wine history, only stretches back to 1937. For many companies, this company age would bring a certain level of prestige. However, given the deep history of the Pontac family, something a little more special was needed to set the Chateau De Myrat apart.
The Chateau De Myrat was purchased by the Earl Max de Pontac, who wanted to maintain the family’s deep affiliations with the Bordeaux region that had served them so well over the centuries. Located on a gorgeous limestone plateau, the land at Chateau De Myrat is capable of imbuing wines with a certain quality that can’t be found anywhere else. That is why the chateau quickly went on to develop a strong reputation for the quality of wines produced under its auspices, backed, of course, by centuries of Pontac family tradition.
So now we know a little bit of the story behind the Pontac family and the Chateau De Myrat, let’s take a look at one of the company’s best wines.
Names after both the grape used in its production and the limestone plateau on which it is grown, the Chateau Myrat Barsac Sauternes 2001 is a true representation of everything that the region brings to the wines produced by the Pontac family.
Bring together modern techniques and the centuries old knowledge that has been passed from generation to generation of the family, the wine features the typical citrus notes that are often found in wines made using the Sauternes.
A gorgeous white wine that is best defined by its sweetness, the Chateau Myrat Barsac Sauternes 2001 still manages to maintain an elegant balance that truly highlights it as a wonderful example of what the talents of the Pontac family can develop.
Each of the grapes used in production are handpicked, lending the wine a traditional edge that makes it popular with those who look for real care to be taken in the production of the wines they consume.