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Château Plain Point: a ‘sleeping beauty’ awakens with medal wins

A centuries-old Fronsac property, Château Plain Point, has recently invested in a sustainability drive and state-of-the-art equipment.

With a commanding hillside location, Château Plain Point has long been prime real estate. The property is recorded as far back as 1480, with references to winemaking in the 16th Century. If, in arguably the world’s most famous wine region, heritage is a key selling point, Château Plain Point is ideally placed to take advantage.

Yet the estate is taking nothing for granted. Having spent many years under the radar, it is now taking a resolutely modern approach to its winemaking. Such is the change, in fact, that the owners playfully refer to it as a ‘sleeping beauty’ now awakening. A series of changes and investments over the last decade is continually improving the estate’s wines, and better placing Château Plain Point to convey its Fronsac terroirs. From a renewed focus on sustainability to state-of-the art facilities, it is making a name for itself with critics and judges.

Respect for terroir

The roots, of course, of the château’s success are in its geography. Although Bordeaux is not known for its summits, the winery sits on one of the area’s highest points, looking over rolling hills and vineyards towards the Dordogne. This slope offers excellent drainage and sunlight interception, aiding in growing ripe and healthy grapes.

Throughout the vineyards, there is also rich geology. The grounds have, as you might expect from Right Bank Bordeaux, significant clay deposits. The characteristic blue clay acts as a sponge, ensuring sufficient water in drier years, as well as keeping the microclimate fresher. However, there are also pockets of asteriated limestone and Fronsac molasse. The limestone encourages deep roots that take in a complex blend of nutrients, enhancing the aromatic profile and acidity. The molasse, meanwhile, combines aspects of limestone and clay for refined yet round, fruity reds.

Protecting those soils, and the landscape more generally, has been a central project for the last decade. Chemical pesticides and herbicides have been abandoned, with preventative measures such as targeted leaf thinning and mating disruption used instead.

Biodiversity has become a central focus for the Bordeaux winery.

In keeping with its history, Château Plain Point has also adopted old-fashioned, environmentally friendly techniques to protect its land. Alongside its neighbours, the estate practises mixed farming, with 250 ewes free to roam the estate from October to April. They keep the grass under control and enrich the soil. Château Plain Point also uses plough horses, a precise ploughing option that minimises damage and soil compaction, and has installed beehives to promote biodiversity.

Investing in new facilities

The respect for terroir likewise extends to the winemaking. A new, state-of-the-art winery opened in 2023, designed to use the local geography to maximise terroir expression. Indeed, the hilltop location was a key determiner in the eventual design.

The building is directly on the hillside, meaning that three of the four floors are partly underground. This creates cool, consistent temperatures of around 15°C all year round. Accessed by a spectacular staircase which also promotes airflow, the conditions are ideal for ageing wine.

As well as making a dramatic statement, the spiral staircase promotes airflow.

Such subterranean conditions also allow the winemakers to use a gravity flow design. The grapes flow down to a new floor for each stage in the process, a gentle process that preserves the wine’s character by minimising agitation and oxygen exposure.

Château Plain Point’s new facilities also have the luxury of space. The cellars have room for 87 vats (60 concrete, 13 wooden and 14 stainless steel). With so many options, plots can be vinified separately before blending, preserving their unique character. The experienced team (helped since 2016 by consultant winemaker Hubert de Boüard of Château Angélus) now has the freedom to blend and isolate components as they choose.

The new facilities promise to further enhance Château Plain Point’s expressions of Fronsac terroir. However, the estate has already proven its expertise, even as those facilities were under construction. A pair of recent vintages, one red and one white, recently impressed expert judges at The Bordeaux Masters 2024, with each winning a Gold medal.

Chair of Judges Patrick Schmitt MW shares his tasting notes below. The wines will also be available to taste for free on the Global Wine Masters stand at the London Wine Fair.

Château Plain Point Rouge

  • Producer: Château Plain Point
  • Region: Fronsac, Bordeaux
  • Country: France
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Grape varieties: 81% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec
  • ABV: 15%
  • Approx. retail price: £40
  • Medal: Gold

A brilliant example of the quality potential of Cabernet blends from Fronsac, this youthful expression is bursting with blackberry and cherry characters, complemented by notes of raspberry and blackcurrant too. Complementing the ripe fruit flavours is a touch of creaminess, along with cedar wood, toast and some cigar box, before the wine finishes with a hint of tobacco leaf. There are also plenty of firm tannins to dry the mouth after the sweet flesh of the mid-palate.

Château Plain Point Blanc

  • Producer: Château Plain Point
  • Region: Fronsac, Bordeaux
  • Country: France
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Grape varieties: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
  • ABV: 12.5%
  • Approx. retail price: £40
  • Medal: Gold

A fine, fresh and slightly creamy white wine which successfully mixes characters of zesty citrus with tropical notes of pineapple and passion fruit. Persistent, the wine also features lingering flavours of pea shoots and blackcurrant leaf, along with vanilla and a touch of toast too. A refreshing, layered and satisfying white wine in its youth, with the potential to age and develop more toasty and honeyed characters with time.


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