It would suffice to say that it can be pretty hard to find honestly made Bordeaux. We’re not looking for over-extracted, high alcohol wines made with expensive technology. We’re fans of old school Bordeaux. You know, the kind of stuff vigernons made back when people rode horses and plows through the vineyard because they had to – not because of marketing ploys. The wines of Maison Blanche take us back to that time.
The Despagnes have family roots in Saint-Émilion that go back for three centuries. The estate dates back to 1875, and the initial vines were planted by the Constant-Pineau family. Eventually, Gerard Despagnes planted the estate to its current size of 32 hectares of vines. Under Nicolas Despagnes, the property was converted over to biodynamic and organics, and Maison Blanche achieved the monumental task of obtaining its Demeter certification in 2013.
As is typical of the Right Bank, the soils are clay-based and planted with Merlot and Cabernet Franc rather than the more Cab Sauv-focused style of wines that come out of the Médoc. The vines on the estate are around 45 years old, and sit on the slopes of Montagne, Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, and Libourne. All harvesting is done by hand at the property.
The process in the vat room is simple, and no chemicals are added of any kind. The wines aren’t made with any crazy technology or fancy doodads either; just a simple vinification process with native yeasts, and aging in a combination of new and neutral oak barrels for up to a year and a half, depending on the blend. The Despagnes use as little sulfur as possible, resulting in a lively, age-worthy wine that can hang out in your cellar for years (/decades) to come.