Annual Production (Grand Vin)
Connétable de Talbot
Legend has it that the estate’s founder, Sir John Talbot, hid treasure on the property before going off to battle in the 15th century. Its current owners say this is merely a myth, but Chinese visitors are particularly interested in the story as the estate’s Chinese name, ‘TA Bao’, can be translated as ‘great treasure’.
Chateau Talbot has a reputation for making good but not outstanding wines, and has been accused of inconsistency throughout the 1990s. However, change is most certainly in the air, as recent vintages have shown a new level of elegance. The family has invested in the vineyards, winemaking facilities and barrel cellars, and has enlisted the help of numerous experts, including oenologist Jean-Max Drouilhet. The estate also employs sound frequency stimulation in its vineyards – a sci-fi sounding invention that claims to stimulate or inhibit the production of protein in plants.
The label already has a firm fanbase in the US, comprised mainly of slightly older drinkers, well-versed in the wines of the Medoc. However, its market is expanding, particularly as quality increases. Open-minded younger customers keen to learn about classic wines without the high price tags are also favouring Chateau Talbot. And rightly so. Prices have risen accordingly, but perhaps not entirely in line with increases in quality, making this Chateau Talbot a popular choice for those seeking good wine at an accessible price.
Parker scores for the Grand Vin have crept up slowly from mid-80s in the 1990s, to late-80s to mid-90s since the start of the millennium. According to Ralph Sands, senior wine specialist at K&L Wines, "For me, the jump up in quality was in the 2003 wine: a little less rustic with more purity of fruit, and this has continued."
Other critics have remarked with cautious optimism on the chateau’s increasing potential. In his summary of the chateau Neal Martin says: “The 2000 and 2001 vintages both look to be heading in a more positive direction: both very fine wines in their own right, whilst the 2003 can also stand proud in context of the vintage. They had greater depth, a little more elegance and cohesion than the wines of the 1990s.”
He adds: “I sincerely hope that this omen bodes well for the future, because I admire the property for keeping their prices affordable and if the quality can be maintained at this level then it Château Talbot would be a wonderful introduction to Bordeaux wine and Saint Julien.”
Saint Julien-situated Chateau Talbot often piques interest because of its decidedly ‘un-French’ sounding name. Indeed, the estate was owned and named after Sir John Talbot, an important English military commander who was defeated at the battle of Castillon in 1453, thus ending English control of Aquitaine.
The estate was then passed back into French hands, to the Marquis d’Aux-Lally, where it remained under the care of his direct descendants until the start of the 20th century. In 1917, the property was bought by the Cordier family, well known in Bordeaux as negociants and who were for decades responsible for distributing 100% of the chateau’s wine. Today, the wines are sold openly on the place de Bordeaux to a wide variety of negociants.
Whilst known for its red wines, 20th-century owner Georges Cordier took the highly unusual step of planting five hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon in his vineyard, producing the first crop of white wine in 1945. The end result – Le Caillou Blanc – is still in production, as one of the Medoc’s oldest dry white wines.
Today, the estate is overseen by fourth-generation Cordiers, sisters Lorraine and Nancy.