It’s not every day that prized six-hectare estates come up for sale in Bordeaux’s famed Pomerol appellation, but after two years of searching for the perfect terroir following a honeymoon across France, young couple Melody and Andrew Kuk knew they had found a ‘diamond in the rough’ with Château La Commanderie.
The pair boarded a New Year’s Eve flight to attend a private visit in early January 2013 and placed an offer straight away, kick-starting a new era of regeneration at the historic property.
Splitting their time between the estate and their work across Asia, the couple set about a complete renovation and upgrade of the château and cellar facilities, implementing state-of-the-art technology as well as precision viticulture practises.
They enlisted the help of renowned winemaker, Pascal Chatonnet and technical director Julien Bordas, to unlock the potential of the acclaimed terroir as well as overseeing the improvements of both the vinification and barrel cellars.
The team harvested and vinified inherited grapes from the 2013 vintage so it was with the 2014s, using the new winemaking conditions, that the essence and style of the new Château La Commanderie wines started to take place along with newly designed labels. Each vintage tells a different story of the year and features Knights Templar-style characters in a nod to the estate’s history. For example, 2015 has three musketeers in tribute to the partnership and teamwork between the owners and winemakers, and the 2016 shows a lady warrior honouring the year Melody gave birth to her daughter and signifying female empowerment.
The 5.8ha under vine, split 80/20 Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are cared for meticulously with yields specifically reduced to maximise quality. The eight separate plots are hand-harvested, vinified and aged separately in French oak for between 12-15 months before the final blend goes into concrete tanks for four months.
Using a winemaking philosophy based around minimal intervention and letting the terroir shine through in the glass the wines reflect both the vintage conditions as well as the purity of place.
The team favour wines with balance and look to produce those that can be enjoyed for their elegance and finesse. The grand vin represents the ultimate expression from the finest sandy-clay plots and is for longer ageing, while the second wine Esprit de La Commanderie is fruity, smooth and more approachable.
‘We were looking for somewhere we could pour our hearts into, somewhere with potential and somewhere our children would one day come and be proud of the wine we produced,’ says Melody.
Appointments at the panoramic boutique tasting room can be made on request.
Esprit de La Commanderie, Pomerol, 2015
An inviting nose of dark chocolate and cherries. The palate is juicy with firm red berries and grippy tannins giving way to liquorice, menthol and herbal elements that coat the mouth. For immediate drinking. 88 points. Alc 14%. Drink: 2021-2024.
La Commanderie, Pomerol 2015
This has powdery tannins and a silky texture, clearly powerful with dense, opulent flavours of dark fruits and bramble on the nose but bright red fruits on the palate – strawberries, cherries and a touch of liquorice spice. It feels in a good phase to drink – round, plump and full of life but will continue to age. 90 points. Alc 14%. Drink: 2023-2029.
Esprit de La Commanderie, Pomerol, 2016
A welcoming nose of milk chocolate, blackcurrants and cherries. This has a lovely smooth texture with a succulent and vibrant mid-palate. Raspberry and strawberries combine with a good attack and a round finish. 89 points. Alc 14%. Drink: 2022-2025.
La Commanderie, Pomerol 2016
Intense and radiant, this has a seductive nose with soft florality. The palate is fresh and zingy, juicy and alive with an enjoyable creamy touch. It’s mouthwatering with a great balance between freshness and ripeness. Can drink now but it would be better to wait a few years. 92 points. Alc 14.5%. Drink: 2025-2032.