Lalande-de-Pomerol lies just to the north of its famous ‘big brother’ appellation, the legendary red wine territory of Pomerol. Capable of producing excellent wines in its own right, such proximity to one of the world’s most important fine wine villages is a doubled-edged sword. Inevitably the appellation benefits from comparisons, while at the same time, is frequently thought of as an inferior neighbour. Regardless of our perspectives, the 2018 has delivered some fantastic blends worthy of our consideration.
Separated from Pomerol by the Barbanne stream, a natural frontier that also marks the boundary between Saint-Émilion and its satellites, the appellation comprises two communes: Néac and Lalande-de-Pomerol. The wines from the former are generally considered to offer higher quality due to better terroir - gentle slopes and gravely soils with some intrusions of the sticky clay (“argiles gonflantes”) which Pomerol is famous for.
Although Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC is one of the earliest French appellations, created in 1936, its syndicate, the producers’ association, is proven to be the oldest in France. Founded in 1886 under the name “Association syndicate de lutte contre le phylloxera” (Association-Syndicate of the Fight Against Phylloxera), it united growers heavily hit by the plague. They shared experiences and best practices on how to adapt to the new realities facing the industry.
In the 1930s, on the dawn of the French appellation system, many producers from Néac assumed that they, based on the soil’s similarities, should be a part of Pomerol rather than Lalande. Today, some tiny parts of Lalande are included in Pomerol AOC but the area is only 3.5ha, an area belonging to Château De Sales, Pomerol’s biggest property. Some producers from Néac are still fighting to be a part of the more prestigious appellation - without success.
Merlot vineyards cover around 80% of Lalande-de-Pomerol with Cabernet Franc being the second most planted grape, giving extra freshness and elegance to local wines. Generally, wines coming from the sandier soils of Lalande-de-Pomerol are lighter, somewhat simpler and designed to be consumed younger, while those from the gravel and clays of Néac show greater complexity and provide greater persistence and age-worthiness.
Whether or not we should view Lalande-de-Pomerol as playing a supporting role, they are often great value wines. Producers still benefit from showcasing the word “Pomerol” on the label, but keep their prices reasonable. In trying to change the image of “Poor man’s Pomerol”, the appellation pursues some of the most rigorous production rules and strategies in France - aiming above all to control quality, promote environmental initiatives, and communicate to professionals and wine lovers around the world.
Cabernet Franc (55%)Merlot (35%)Cabernet Sauvignon (10%)
“A very deep ruby colour. Intense aromas of blackberry and black current underlined by notes of baking spices, tobacco, and cigar box. Extremely succulent on the palate with bold but soft and silky tannins. To pair with hearty beef stews and a juicy Wagyu rib-eye steak.”
Merlot (88%)Cabernet Franc (12%)
“Deep ruby colour with some purple nuances, bright and vivid. An elegant nose with a lot of crunchy red and black current, plum and violet. On the palate excitingly fresh and sapid, with prominent acidity and velvety tannins. This wine will match a large number of dishes, including traditional South-Western gigot d’agneau (lamb shank).”
“Deep ruby colour. Exuberant aromas of black cherry, blueberry pie, prunes, and cloves. Juicy and opulent on the palate, showing a perfect balance between freshness and intensity. Try it with some dark chocolate fondant.”
Merlot (78%)Cabernet Franc (22%)
“Deep purple-ruby colour. Attractive nose of blueberry jam, black plum, and black cherries supported by some chocolate and cacao nuances. A rich and luscious style of Lalande with muscular but sleek tannins and full but not heavy structure. A perfect wine to pair with a juicy entrecôte served with forest mushroom sauce.”
Merlot (90%)Cabernet Franc (10%)
“Deep ruby colour. A fascinating nose is full of ripe black fruits, smokiness, and savoury notes. Bold and powerful tannins underpinned by a potent body. The juiciness of the wine will match perfectly with game dishes, charcuterie, and duck confit.”
“Deep purple colour. An amazingly fresh nose with hints of tobacco and cedarwood, some nuances of jalapeño peppers, and black currant leaf. Ripe and balanced on the palate, this is a vivid and complex wine to enjoy with beef or lamb stewed in red wine. It also might make a mind-blowing match for a tarte aux fruits rouges.”
Merlot (72%)Cabernet Franc (25%)Malbec (3%)
“Dense purple colour. An enchanting nose of black and red fruit potpourri: some black cherries, blackberries, and stewed raspberries. Voluptuous and baroque, it nevertheless shows great freshness and drinkability. The new oak is well-integrated and supports the wine’s sumptuousness. This is a wine to age and enjoy on its own or accompanied by roasted red meats, grilled mushrooms, and braised root vegetables.”
Merlot (80%)Cabernet Sauvignon (20%)
“Deep ruby colour. An elegant nose with plenty of red and black fruits, tobacco, cedarwood, and smoky nuances. Dense and profound, it demonstrates an incredible finesse. To pair with tournedos Rossini and juicy Kobe beef steaks served with red wine sauces.”
Merlot (58%)Cabernet Franc (42%)
“Deep purple-ruby colour. Intense nose of black cherries, black currant, and tobacco leaf. Opulent and rich, it is still very fresh and elegant with smooth tannins and lively acidity. To serve with lamb chops accompanied with a potato gratin.”
“Deep ruby colour. An interesting nose is full of blackberries, black current, and nuances of smoke and incense. Fleshy and rich but fresh, with suave tannins, this wine has a great value and will pair well with smoked meats, hard cheeses, and dark chocolate desserts.”