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During our search for organic and natural Bordeaux back in 2013, we were ecstatic to find Didier Michaud's "Chateau Planquette!" Not exactly a "chateau," M. Michaud farms 1.7 hectares in Saint Yzans and Couquèques in the northern Medoc on high ground of gravel and clay over the limestone plateau, equal parts Cab and Merlot with a small percentage of an old strain of Petit Verdot. Arriving in the Medoc in 1976, Didier located small parcels while working for other growers and started his own domaine in 1981, organic from the start, selling grapes to the local co-op until 1997. The first vintage of "Planquette" was in 1998 - it's a tiny artisanal production, a unique and delicious wine of terroir with zero additives, in the midst of a sea of over-oaked, over-extracted, badly farmed Bordeaux...
The blend is 48% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with 4% of Petit Verdot (massale selection from very old vines in Macao). The terroir is mostly stony clay and silica over the "Dome de Couquèques," a bed of limestone near the surface whch is quite unusual for the Medoc. The grapes are hand-harvested in small baskets (mostly by Didier and his wife) and undergo a long fermentation with wild yeasts, with no attempt to extract - "more of an infusion" says M. Michaud, followed by two years in old barriques. There are no additives or corrections - the finished wine is analyzed at approximately 2 mg/liter total SO2. Certified organic by Ecocert and labeled simply "Planquette" Vin de France as Didier stopped seeking the AOC Medoc in 2007. In his quest to produce true wines of terroir, Didier says that his fermentations proceed almost entirely with the yeasts present in the vineyard, as he strives to keep his cellar and barrels free of other yeast strains.
The 2018 Planquette is the last vintage as Didier has decided to retire. It's a vintage of high alcohol, but high acidity as well, beneath the lush fruit, riper and more forward than usual, but retaining it's normal pure and natural character - it will be delicious as a young wine, although it will certainly cellar nicely as well for ten to fifteen+ years. This superb and soulful wine is highly recommended and a great value. We thank Didier Michaud for twenty+ years of inspiring work at Planquette and wish him well in his retirement.
Didier Michaud works 1.7 hectares in the Medoc with 30 to 100 year-old vines on limestone with thin soils of clay with sand and stones. He has old vines of Merlot Queue Rouge and massale selection Cabernet Sauvignon, farmed organically with just a little compost and shallow plowing. Vinification with wild yeasts, no extraction and no added sulfur (total SO2 less than 2 mg/L). This is one of the most "natural" and deliciously old-fashioned wines of Bordeaux. The 2018 Planquette is considerably riper and more forward than usual, weighing in at 15% alcohol, but retaining it's normal vibrant character - it will be delicious as a young wine, although it will certainly cellar nicely as well. The 2018 shows very ripe cassis and blackberry aromas with licorice, violet, bitter chocolate and earth. The palate is dense, deep and velvety, with black fruit liqueur, earth and mineral flavors. The mid-palate is elegant with a core of chalky black fruit and minerals that continues in the long finish. This is a beautiful Bordeaux of terroir, unfettered by additives, over-extraction or new oak, showing lovely flavors of fruit and earth and perfect balance despite the weight and ripeness of the vintage. Delicious now, but perhaps best 2025 to 2035+. Thank you, Didier Michaud! This superb and soulful wine is highly recommended and a great value. David Lillie