They’re beautiful, aren’t they?’ I was asked while ambling through Château TrotteVieille’s St-Emilion vineyard on a beautifully sunny day in September – grapes still on the vine, full of juice and awaiting the final picking that would come in a few days. ‘Indeed, they are,’ I replied as I bent down for a closer look, wellington boots mulching the recently rain-filled soil. The objects in question were pre-phylloxera vines dating back to the 19th century. Gnarled, thickly set and brimming with green leaves and plentiful berries, a marker of this year’s excellent fruit set and bumper crop to come. I knew TrotteVieille had some impressive vines – said to be the oldest on the Right Bank, and likely in all of Bordeaux – but there’s something uniquely moving about seeing these majestic living creatures that have been firmly rooted for more than 140 years.
Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for 15 Château TrotteVieille wines
About 3,000 of these ancient Cabernet Franc vines are nestled in the middle of two plots, within an eight-hectare (7ha planted) enclosed vineyard, or clos, of which 40 disease-proof vines have been selected and are being used for the estate’s new massal selection plantings (propagation using cuttings taken from the best-quality existing vines on a plot). The vineyard, farmed organically but not certified, is roughly split equally to Merlot and Cabernet Franc with 5% of Cabernet Sauvignon, of which 80% is high-density plantings.