Friday, December 9, 2011

The Story Behind the Story

2009 Chateau Petrus-Gaïa—L’Élue

Last year during Primeurs (2010) Fonda (Founder of Montesquieu Wines), Helene, and Stéphane had dinner with Roland Guerin, the owner of Chateau Petrus-Gaïa, at La Plaisance in St. Emilion. He was a fascinating man—passionate, full of life, and much more energetic than most men his age with a real zest for life and a twinkle in his eye. He took particular pleasure in how unsettled the Bordeaux old-guard establishment felt that his property held the name Petrus-Gaïa. He was constantly battling the Moueix family and others in the French courts over his possession of the name Petrus as part of his estate, but he never tired of the battle—it only energized him.

Turns out that that earliest maps made for king Louis XIV (1638-1715), mention “Petrus” in connection with Roland’s property in Ruch (in Entre-Deux Mers), NOT in connection with the famous Petrus of Pomerol, which is how the courts decided to let Petrus-Gaïa keep its name of “Petrus”. The twists and turns of the four-year David-versus-Goliath legal struggle resulted in Chateau Petrus-Gaïa (David) and Petrus of Pomerol (Goliath) both retaining the use of Petrus.

Roland’s renegade style was a perfect match for Stéphane, deemed “Bordeaux’s Favorite Rebel” by the Wine Spectator. Stéphane was introduced to Roland through a mutual friend, Ambroise Chambertin, and when they met, the synergy was perfect in both—the personalities involved and the singular terroir of stunning inherent quality and character (which Stéphane immediately recognized). What ensued was a very deep connection and beautiful, expressive wines.

Sadly and unexpectedly, Roland Guerin passed away late last year of a suspected heart attack. As friends and colleagues are saying goodbye, there is much speculation about the future of the estate, with reported interested buyers including the Moueix family of Chateau Petrus in Pomerol. It would be a very common turn of events for Roland’s widow to accept an offer that would incorporate these unique, premium vines into another winery forever.

“It is a privilege to have known Roland, a kindred spirit who wasn’t afraid to buck the system” said Ambroise Chambertin in his farewell, “I was lucky to know Roland, to see him navigate the intricacies of Bordeaux and to see him fight like Don Quixote against the windmills. I can assure you he was a fabulous man, happy, honest, and humanistic.”

This 2009 Chateau Petrus-Gaïa L’Élue is the last vintage ever made under the ownership of the highly esteemed Roland Guerin, perhaps the last ever to be produced. 

No comments:

Post a Comment