Jean Claude Berrouet – best known for his 44 years as director of Petrus in Pomerol – has been consulting at Chateau Lafon Rochet since the 2012 vintage, but the chateau made no announcement until now.
For Berrouet, who is so closely associated with the Right Bank, to work at a Left Bank classified growth may seem surprising, Basil Tesseron, co-owner of Chateau Lafon Rochet, told Decanter.com.
‘But 50% of our soils are made up of clays similar to those in Pomerol,’ he said.
Tesseron praised Berrouet – who started work at Lafon Rochet with the 2012 vintage – as a ‘living encyclopedia’ and for his understanding of precise blending.
‘We tasted the wines from vat and from barrel far more often [with Berrouet], before deciding on the final blend, and blending as a result is more precise; we no longer calculate in terms of 2% to 5% of one cuvee or one grape, but more in terms of 0.1% or 0.3%.’
The chateau, a Saint Estephe fourth growth, has increased percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon in recent years; Berrouet said that is largely due to climatic changes over the last 20 years
‘Cabernet Sauvignon handles dry and hot weather conditions better than Merlot,’ he said. ‘The trend has been towards warmer and dryer weather, even though there are exceptions – like 2013 so far.’
Berrouet told Decanter.com that he is ‘very motivated’ to work for a Left Bank château and explained that ‘working parcel by parcel, understanding the microclimates within the vineyard as well as the percentage of grapes used’ will be factors for him.
Berrouet, along with his son Jean-Francois, also has consultancies in Israel, Argentina, China and California, where he consults on Merlot production at Twomey Cellars.
Written by Panos Kakaviatos