When the Vinfolio team visited Pomerol during en primeur week this past spring, we stopped at Château Lafleur to taste some of their incredible wines. During our tasting of the 2018 vintage, we had an enlightening discussion with a representative from the estate about what makes Pomerol special. Here, terroir is king. Château Lafleur and other Pomerol wine producers know just how unique the soil and climate are in this region, so they take a hands-off approach. The quality of the area’s terroir and the grapes it produces really do speak for themselves and this is a large part of what makes Pomerol so distinctive. In most other regions of Bordeaux, the winemaker’s signature style is very apparent in the wine; in Pomerol, most producers prefer not to interfere with the terroir’s natural characteristics at all.
Great wines from the Pomerol region owe their success to a combination of terroir and the expertise of producers that know how much–and how little–to do with what they are given. In this guide, we’ll rate the region’s top producers according to wine quality and secondary market value to help you find the next legendary bottle for your collection.
What Makes Pomerol So High in Quality?
Pomerol wine producers make some of the finest and most valuable Merlot-based blends in the world, largely due to the region’s distinctive terroir. The best estates are located on the Pomerol plateau–an elevated area in the northeast part of the region with rich blue clay soils. Nearly all of the most sought-after producers in Pomerol are located here because the soil and climate are ideal for growing Merlot. Not only does the clay provide the vines with nutrients like calcium and other minerals, but it also retains more water than other types of clay soil because blue clay is especially dense and absorbent. This is a benefit because Pomerol can be quite hot and dry in the summer, particularly in recent years. Having access to underground water allows the grapes to ripen perfectly.
Wines from the Pomerol plateau are especially rich and deep in flavor.
A distinctive characteristic of Pomerol wines is their prominent tannins, which are also soft and round, making it possible to drink these wines young or old. In their youth, Pomerol wines are surprisingly approachable and charming, and with age, they become even more complex. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson describes them this way: “Pomerols are velvety, rich, Merlot-based wines which can smell almost meaty and can give an enormous amount of pleasure.” Wines from the Pomerol plateau are especially rich and deep in flavor, with notes of chocolate, cherry, dark fruits, spices, and earthy truffle.
Collectors are also attracted to Pomerol wines because they are valuable. Production is low and rarity drives up secondary market prices. The best Pomerol wine producers make some of the most expensive wine in all of Bordeaux. Investing in some of these top producers means your wine could potentially be worth a great deal on the secondary market in the future.
The Best Pomerol Wine Producers
Unlike other top Bordeaux wine regions like Margaux and Pauillac, producers in Pomerol aren’t officially classified. However, wine critics and enthusiasts unofficially rank these producers according to quality. For example, while Château Pétrus and Château Le Pin aren’t classified, critics and enthusiasts consider these estates among the best in Bordeaux. If you want to start a Pomerol collection or add to an existing Bordeaux collection, then it’s a good idea to become familiar with the producers that offer the finest and most collectible wines. We’ve put together a list of the Pomerol wine producers that are making some of the very best wine in Bordeaux:
- Château Pétrus: Many experts believe that these wines are as high in quality as the first-growth wines on the Left Bank. Wines made by Chateau Pétrus are aromatic, powerful, and rich, with notes of black fruit, mulberry, spice, and vanilla. The best vintages can age for many decades.
- Château Lafleur: One of the few producers that is on par with Château Pétrus in terms of quality, this château’s wines have a unique flavor of ripe black cherry and strong minerality. You won’t find any other Pomerol wines that taste quite like this. It is also one of the longest-lived wines in the region, capable of aging for multiple decades.
- Le Pin: With a very low production of just 500 cases per year on average, this producer’s wines are among the rarest in Pomerol. They taste fruit-forward and ripe and usually reach peak maturity within 15 to 20 years.
- Château Trotanoy: With silky tannins, pure fruit, and intensely concentrated flavors and aromatics, this producer’s wines are among the greatest and most decadent-tasting in Pomerol. But what really sets these wines apart is their aging potential; many vintages can age for as long as 50 years, making them some of the longest-lived Pomerol wines on the market today.
- Vieux Château Certan: This producer makes some of the most elegant wines in Pomerol. Intense in flavor and aroma, with notes of dark berries, spice, chocolate, and flowers, these wines are also silky and approachable in their youth. They’re lush and ripe-tasting wines that develop great complexity after about ten years of age.
- Château L’Évangile: The quality of this producer has increased noticeably since the early 2000s, when the estate completed numerous renovations. Around this time the producer began using a new vat room and cellar and the health of the vines also improved. As a result, newer vintages are opulent and powerful, with notes of chocolate, flowers, and plum. Older vintages are more inconsistent in quality but the best ones are rich and delicious. They can age for decades.
- Château La Conseillante: These elegant and velvety wines are not as intense or fruit-forward in flavor as some other Pomerol wines, but contain complex floral aromatics with prominent violet notes. These wines typically need ten to 15 years in storage before they reach maturity.
- Château Clinet: This producer is located in one of the best terroirs in the region–the Gunz gravel terrace on the Pomerol plateau–and produces wines that are exceptionally rich and aromatic, with complex flavors and aromas of spice, flowers, and chocolate. They typically reach peak maturity within ten to 15 years, but the best vintages can age for much longer.
- Château L’Église-Clinet: These wines are some of the most delicious in Pomerol. They are full-bodied, concentrated, and well-structured with fresh, pure, and fruit-forward flavors. While you can drink them in their youth, they’re often better after ten to 15 years of aging.
- Château Le Gay: In the 1940s and 1950s, this producer made some of the best wines in Pomerol, but the quality decreased slightly in the 1970s as the wines became a bit too tannic and lean. In the mid-2000s, the producer made a number of changes to the estate and the quality of the wines improved significantly. Today, they are concentrated and complex in flavor. These flavors develop greater complexity after about ten years of age, and the best vintages can age for 15 years or more.
Pomerol producers only make a limited amount of wine every year, which has to be as high in quality as possible in order to attract the attention of selective collectors.
Of course, these aren’t the only Pomerol wine producers worth collecting. In fact, it’s difficult to find a truly bad wine from this region. James Suckling, formerly of Wine Spectator, says, “The best of Pomerol continue to be the benchmarks in the fine wine world at large.” Since the appellation is so small, Pomerol producers only make a limited amount of wine every year, which has to be as high in quality as possible in order to attract the attention of selective collectors. There’s a strong focus on quality over quantity.
Still, the producers in the list above are a cut above the rest in terms of quality and value. You can certainly find many other delicious wines made by producers that aren’t featured on this list, but if you want to build the most valuable and age-worthy collection, the producers we’ve mentioned will help you achieve this goal.
Ranking Pomerol Wine Producers by Secondary Market Value
Pomerol is enjoyable to drink, but it’s also a great investment. If you think of the Bordeaux bottles in your collection solely as assets, then you’ll find a lot of value in the top Pomerol wine producers. However, you can also expect to pay more up front for these wines than for other top-quality Bordeaux. Although this region doesn’t technically have any first-growth producers, it commands prices similar to those of first growths in the Left Bank. In some cases, Pomerol may cost more due to its rarity. The good news is that you will find it easy to make a profit from the best bottles. Pomerol has slowly been increasing in value on the secondary market over the past few years, and while prices are more inflated than they were a decade ago, they’re still in line with the wine’s quality.
Keeping an open mind when you shop for Pomerol wines can help you stay ahead of new market trends.
Liv-ex’s 2018 Power 100 list is a good resource for determining which Pomerol wine producers offer the best returns on investment. This Liv-Ex list ranks the top-performing wines on the secondary market using a number of metrics such as average trade price, price performance over time, value traded, volume traded, and the number of unique wines traded.
Based on these criteria, here are the best-performing Pomerol wine producers of 2018:
- Château Pétrus: Increased 15 percent in value in 2018. It was ranked the eighth best-performing wine in the world.
- Château Lafleur: Increased 13 percent in value in 2018. It was ranked 17th on the list overall.
- Le Pin: Increased ten percent in value in 2018. It was ranked 37th on the list overall.
- Château La Conseillante: Increased eight percent in value in 2018. It was ranked 81st on the list overall.
- Vieux Château Certan: Increased seven percent in value in 2018. It was ranked 83rd on the list overall.
- Château L’Église-Clinet: Increased two percent in value in 2018. It was ranked 91st on the list overall.
- Château Clinet: Increased ten percent in value in 2018. It was ranked 94th on the list overall.
If you want to make a profit from resale, it’s a good idea to focus on investing in wines from these six producers, particularly the top three estates on this list. Château Pétrus has consistently ranked among the top ten wines on the Power 100 list for the past few years, so it’s safe to say that this producer will continue to lead the Pomerol pack in the near future.
However, this list isn’t set in stone; these are simply the best-performing producers of 2018. Some of the producers above could drop in rank on the secondary market later this year, or some other top-quality Pomerol producers could make the Power 100 list next year. This list makes a good basic guide, but keeping an open mind when you shop for Pomerol wines can help you stay ahead of new market trends.
Where Are the Best Pomerol Wine Producers Located?
The location of a producer’s vineyard can tell you a great deal about the wine’s quality. Pomerol consists of three main terroirs: the plateau, the slopes around the plateau, and the flat terrain beneath these slopes. There’s a clear hierarchy in this region. The producers at the very top of the plateau usually receive the highest praise from critics and collectors, while the producers on the slopes and flat terrain are often considered lower in quality. This is because the soil composition at higher elevations is unique and better suited for growing Merlot. As a result, plateau wines often taste more complex.
As you can see on the map below, most of the best Pomerol wine producers are located very close to one another:
Château Pétrus has the greatest amount of blue clay soil, which may explain why these wines are some of the most valuable in all of Pomerol. The vineyards located closest to Château Pétrus, like Château L’Évangile and Vieux Château Certan, also contain a great deal of blue clay. If you’re looking to invest in the most valuable Pomerol wine producers, then it’s a good idea to seek out estates that have this unique soil quality.
Tips on Collecting Pomerol Wine
I’ve personally never had a bottle of Pomerol wine that I didn’t enjoy. Even the region’s less famous producers make fascinating wines. However, my favorite Pomerol wines are ones that have very distinctive characteristics and flavors. Château Pétrus, Château La Conseillante, Château L’Église-Clinet, and Château Lafleur are so distinctive that I’ve been able to pick them out in a blind tasting.
For many collectors, it’s also worth trying a few wines made in areas off the Pomerol plateau as well.
If you enjoy drinking wines with lots of personality and a strong sense of terroir, then I recommend investing primarily in wines from the Pomerol plateau. These wines are all very different in style and are also the most collectible, age-worthy, and valuable. For many collectors, it’s also worth trying a few wines made in areas off the plateau as well. While these producers aren’t as collectible or high in quality, they make wonderful, easy-drinking Merlot blends which pair well with a variety of foods.
Pomerol wine producers will no doubt continue to dazzle fine Bordeaux collectors for many years to come. The quality of these wines is undeniably high and although prices have been creeping up in recent years, they’re still a great value. The very best producers from this region make clear why Pomerol is such a treasure.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.