Maison Wessman Wines: an ambitious producer in southwest France


Maison Wessman is an ambitious producer based in Bergerac in southwest France. It was founded by Robert Wessman and his wife Ksenia. In the early noughties they bought a 12th century castle called Château de Saint-Cernin, based in Saint-Cernin-de-Labardein the Périgord region, and then in 2021 they purchased the Vignoble des Verdots winery and vineyards. The Château has well situated vineyards on the high plateau of Issigeac, with limestone soils. And Vignoble des Verdots has 45 hectares 0f vines, 19 white (Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle), and 26 red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec). These are my notes on the current releases.

Saint-Cernin Héritage Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon 2021 Bergerac Sec, France
12.5% alcohol. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Semillon and 5% Muscadelle from limestone soils. Nice fresh, concentrated fruit here: some pear and a lively citrus brightness, with a touch of spiciness in the background. Good concentration and refinement – everything in its place with a slight tingle on the finish, giving it vitality. The limestone influence makes itself felt in the keen acid line, and this is a lovely, expressive wine. 91/100

Château Les Tours des Verdots Blanc 2021 Bergerac Sec, France
13.5% alcohol. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Muscadelle. Lovely vivid aromatics here: fine spices, grapefruit, a twist of lime and some sweet pear. The palate shows concentration of fruit, with well integrated oak notes providing a supporting role, and a combination of rich exotic melon, grapefruit and mandarin fruit together with some lively citrus. There’s good supporting acidity, and the overall feel is one of depth, harmony and sophistication. 94/100

Château Les Tours des Verdots Grand Vin Blanc 2020 Bergerac Sec, France
14.5% alcohol. 75% Sauvignon Blanc, 17% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Muscadelle, 3% Semillon. This is from the oldest vines from the limestone plateau, and is fermented and aged in new French oak. Powerful pear, melon and spice with some peachy notes, as well as citrus freshness. There’s a grainy acid line that offsets the bold rich fruit, and the oak is well integrated. Sophisticated and quite powerful, this is a rich dry white showing off the more exotic side of Sauvignon. 93/100

Petit Cernin Blanc 2019 Limoux, France
13.5% alcohol. Chardonnay vinified in French oak. Ripe and aromatic with a nose of peach, melon and some nutty savouriness. In the mouth, this has concentration, depth and rich nut, honey, peach and pineapple notes, as well as a citrus core that keeps it all fresh. The oak is present but well integrated, and the wine shows brightness as well as a touch of honeycomb development. Stylish stuff. 92/100

Saint-Cernin No 1 2018 Limoux, France
13.5% alcohol. Chardonnay vinified in French oak. This is concentrated and refined, with a lovely citrus core supported by some richer peach and pear notes, as well as fine spicy notes. Oak is perfectly integrated, and there’s a lovely crystalline, mineral edge to this wine. It has a lot of freshness for a four year old wine, and there’s a lovely harmony. Very serious. 94/100

Saint-Cernin Héritage Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2019 Bergerac, France
14.5% alcohol. Highly aromatic with red cherry and strawberry, as well as subtle green hints and some spice. In the mouth there’s some freshness with sweet berry fruits, some nice rich texture, and then a bit of spicy structure. Friendly and approachable, but also with some seriousness and a nice savoury twist, this is very stylish. 90/100

Petit Cernin Rouge 2019 Bergerac, France
14.5% alcohol. 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from limestone soils. So refined and aromatic with a chalky, gravelly edge to the blackcurrant and cherry fruit. In the mouth this is fresh and layered, with good texture and notes of gravel, spice and sweet berry fruits. There’s freshness and polish here, but there’s also a nice stony, savoury twist adding interest and freshness. 93/100

Saint-Cernin No 1 Rouge 2019 Bergerac, France
14.5% alcohol. 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s a real concentration to this wine which has ripe, sleek blackcurrant fruit with some cherry notes, as well as hints of nice green and some chalk and gravel savouriness. Polished and refined with a hint of liqourice and salinity under the lush fruit. Lovely purity. 94/100

Château Les Tours des Verdots Rouge 2020 Côtes de Bergerac, France
15% alcohol. 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. This is fresh and concentrated with a core of sweet blackberry and blackcurrant, and some fine spiciness under the fruit. Fresh, despite the ripeness, with a lovely juicy quality and some grainy structure, along with bold, sweet fruit. Such precision winemaking, with everything in its place. 94/100

Château Les Tours des Verdots Grand Vin Rouge 2020 Côtes de Bergerac, France
15% alcohol. 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is rich, seductive but also in balance, with concentrated, sweet blackcurrant fruit, as well as notes of sweet plum and cherry. Powerful with some oak in the mix, adding a spicy veneer to the lush fruit. This has a taste of luxury to it, and it’s drinking really well now. 94/100