October is a tricky month in Bordeaux. It can maintain the warmth of summer, while entertaining cool evenings, or be dead cold. Each of these brings opportunities to the wine makers. Slightly overcast days are not unusual.
It was just such an overcast, slightly cool day last October when we pulled into the gravelly drive of Chateau Lascombes. It was my second visit to the chateau and my first opportunity to spend the night in one of the beautifully appointed guest rooms.
The team was in the final stages of harvest and the grape leaves were turning their fall reds and yellows. We walked through the vineyards and vat room and the smell of freshly pressed grape juice permeated the air, the air itself intoxicating. We tasted some of the grapes from that had been destined to become Lascombes, robbing ourselves of the wine to come.
Situated in Bordeaux’s storied Margaux appellation and owned by Colony Capital since 2001, Chateau Lascombes is named for Chevalier de Lascombes, its first owner who was born in 1625. The existing chateau was built in 1867, turreted and the brick now ivy-covered. It is very easy to imagine hoop-skirted, corseted women in vibrant silks strolling the grounds with waist-coated men who carring ornate walking sticks. Today, it is more likely that you will see comfortably worn jeans with corduroy and cashmere, although silk scarves are always in vogue.
Despite the hours demanded by the harvest, which is done by hand, Chateau Lascombes’ General Manager Dominique Befve, regaled the group with stories of the chateau, the challenges of harvests, and of course, the wines, over a delicious dinner hosted in the dining room of Chateau Lascombes.
After starting with foie gras, the main course was scallops served in a leek sauce, followed by a selection of cheeses which included comte, brie, and blue, and finally a chocolate lava cake and coffee. The wines accompanying the meal were a 2008 Chevalier de Lascombes, the second label of Chateau Lascombes, and a 2006 Chateau Lascombes Grand Cru Classe – Margaux (50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot). Those adhering to the “white wine with fish” rule would be surprised at how magically the Margaux reds suited the scallops and their rich, creamy sauce. As delicious as the powerfully tannic ’06 Lascombes was after only 4 years of aging, I can only imagine what it will taste like after 10 or 15 years. The ’08 Chevalier held its own, and will stand up to aging 7 years or so.
Thanks for letting me share this evening at Lascombes with you. I would love to hear about your experiences at chateaux and wineries.