Château Chêne Liège
This is a rare find indeed and it is hard to believe that, at a time when Pomerol has become one of the most sought-after appellations in the world, there could possibly be anything left to discover. Incredible therefore that this property of just under three hectares of prime vineyard located between Châteaux Trotanoy and Clinet and producing good wine for four generations, doesn’t even figure in any of the main text books on Bordeaux.
The Niarfeix family owns vineyards in three appellations, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol and Montagne Saint Emilion, totalling just 14 hectares in all. Like the Moueix family, they arrived from the Corrèze department in central France, and have owned Chêne Liège since 1896, acquiring their other properties in the decades that followed. In 1936 Chêne Liège was classified 1er Grand Cru Classé, an unofficial little known classification system that disappeared in Pomerol around the start of the Second World War.
The current generation is Philippe Niarfeix, a passionate and staunchly independent-minded man who is focused, driven and open-minded. To understand his approach to making great wine in this most French of appellations, you need to understand his background. As a young man he was more interested in horses than in the family’s winemaking activities. The commitment of an elite sportsman is total and he only missed competing in the French national Olympic show jumping team by an untimely injury. Before taking over the estate, and at his father’s suggestion, he travelled to learn how wine was made elsewhere. He bought vineyards in Argentina and applied the same level of commitment to this new project. He spent a number of years producing Malbec, focusing on quality and employing modern methods which he brought home with him. Some of these, for example the use of dry ice sticks to cool grapes arriving in the cement fermentation tanks, contribute to make Chêne Liège a structured yet fruit-fresh Pomerol free of the heavy influence of oak.
The vineyard at Chêne Liège is made up of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc plantings on deep gravels with plenty of clay and traces of ironstone. Yields are no more than 40hl/ha even in abundant vintages, when the château can produce up to 12,000 bottles, so the wine is scarce.
As Philippe Niarfeix has chosen not to sell his wine en primeur, Chêne Liège doesn’t feature in the famous barrel tastings each spring so it doesn’t even hit the radar of many Pomerol buyers who make their selections in those weeks.
Our offering is minimal but the quality of the wine and the rarity of the opportunity convinces us that this will please those looking for something unique in this popular appellation. First come, first served!
|Château Chêne Liège, Pomerol, 2007|
|Château Chêne Liège, Pomerol, 2014|
|Château Chêne Liège, Pomerol, 2015|