wines of Château Kirwan, Margaux
Visiting this Margau Third Growth, Bordeaux, France
Schyler in front of the Château
I have just spent a couple of days at Château
Kirwan, a third-growth Margaux estate owned by Bordeaux negociants
Schröder & Schÿler (www.schroder-schyler.com).
While I was here, I was shown around by
Nathalie Schÿler who runs the property, and whose father Jean-Henri
lives in the Château. Nathalie’s brother Yann runs the negociant
business, and Yann’s wife Marie-Louise is director of
communications for AXA’s wine division, which includes Château
Pichon Longeuville in Pauillac.
In the 19th Century Kirwan was owned by
Camille Godard, a rich philanthropist, keen botanist and mayor of
Bordeaux. He died childless in 1881 and left Kirwan to the city of
Bordeaux, who weren’t really sure what to do with it. So in 1902
Oscar Schÿler, head of Schröder and Schÿler, negociated a
contract with the city for exclusive distribution rights. But five
years later the city sold the Château to Georges Guestier for use
as a summer house. However, in 1925 Schÿler purchased Kirwan and it
has been in the family hands ever since.
In the late 1950s Jean-Henri invested
lots of money in the property, but this left him and the negociant
business short of cash. They were forced to sell 65% of shares to a
merchant bank. Since then, the family have bought back many of the
shares, leaving just 20% in other hands.
I spent some time wandering through the
vineyards. They vary, with quite a bit of sand and gravel evident,
and the better plots tend to be more gravelly and less vigorous.
This is one of the highest points in the Margaux appellation.
The best plot at Kirwan is a 4 hectare
Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard on a very gravelly spot that was planted
by Jean-Henri in the 1960s. He experimented with a 1.5 metre row
spacing, as opposed to the typical 1 metre spacing seen across most
of the region. This plot works brilliantly, but subsequent plantings
on the property have reverted to the 1 metre spacing.
Around half the vineyard area is used to
make the Grand Vin each year, although that proportion rises in
great vintages. Altogether there are 37 hectares of vines, with an
average age of 30 years.
In the barrel cellar, the 2012 is
sleeping. Nathalie admits that this was a hard sell, although the
quality is good. The cellar is decorated with modern art, something
that she is very much into. In the picture there’s an installation
based on vine trunks that have been painted red, and which look a
bit like wiry people.
Consultant winemaker is the widely
respected Eric Boissenot. Previously, Kirwan was advised by Michel
Rolland, from 1991 to 2005. The blend is typically 45% Cabernet
Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot (an
unusually high proportion). One-third new oak is employed each
Charmes de Kirwan 2009 Margaux,
Ripe, supple black fruits. Quite smooth but with some grainy tannins
in the background adding structure, and notes of cherry and plum.
Nice weight here: very drinkable and classic. Ripe but balanced.
Château Kirwan 2010 Margaux,
Wonderfully ripe and quite concentrated, with fine blackcurrant
and black cherry fruit. Lovely texture and weight here, with real
purity. Very ripe but full with nice balance. An expressive wine,
showing some spicy warmth and made in a seductive style, but it will
wines of Pontet Canet, Bordeaux, with Alfred Tesseron
wines of Chateau Montrose, Saint Estephe
Batailley Vertical Tasting
Bailly Vertical Tasting
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com