The cellar in which Eric Jeanneteau raises his single wine, a beautiful red Saint-Émilion grand cru, is an unadorned building on the family estate in Saint-Étienne de Lisse. Jeanneteau varies his vinification quite a bit depending on each vintage’s conditions, and the results can be fascinating, even startling, like hearing the same symphony interpreted by different conductors. This wine is supple, vibrant, and alive. The cellar may be plain, but there’s a true chef d’orchestre inside.
Eric Jeanneteau spent his childhood following his grandparents around their vineyard and cellar, just outside St-Émilion on the Right Bank of the Dordogne River in the Bordelais. School was of little interest to him; he says all he wanted to do was run free among the vines alongside his grandfather. His enchantment with the métier began at the age of six. By the time he turned eight, he was already assisting his grandfather in the vines and in the cellar. It was only natural that he completed three degrees in viticulture—he was born to be a vigneron. In 1995, after managing various châteaux throughout the region, Eric returned home to take his place at the helm of the family domaine in St-Émilion, Tertre de la Mouleyre.
Often considered the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux and its wines have captured the minds, hearts, and wallets of wine drinkers for centuries. For many, the wines provide an inalienable benchmark against which all other wines are measured.
Bordeaux is divided into three winegrowing regions with the city that gives the region its name in the near geographical center. The “right bank,” or the area located east of the Dordogne River, produces wines that are predominantly Merlot with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The “left bank” is located to the west of the Garonne River and produces wines dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The third region, Entre-Deux-Mers, lies between both rivers and produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. Though technically in the left bank, it is worth noting the appellation of Sauternes, which produces arguably the world’s most famous sweet wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle as well.
Though many top Bordeaux wines are sold en primeur (in advance of their bottling) and often through a middleman known as a negoçiant, Kermit has always preferred to purchase directly from the winemaker. For more than three decades he has sought out small producers, who make classic Bordeaux wines and are willing to play outside the negoçiant system. This ethic has led to longstanding relationships, excellent prices, and perhaps most important—wines of great value and longevity.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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