When Word Gets Around Quicker Than I Can Blog
This week, we’re hosting Hélène Garcin-Lévêque in Hollywood for a special in-store tasting and then three-course pairing dinner at Michelin-starred Kali. But word got around! I’d planned to let readers know about the event in this post, so you could run out and buy tickets, but they’ve already sold out! So, instead, I’ll introduce you a bit to her and to her wines, and encourage you to bring home a few bottles for yourself so you can get to know her style. If you would still like the chance to meet her, you can get on the waiting list.
There’s the old trope that wine is made in the vineyard, and, absolutely, you can’t have good wine without a good site and good vineyard practices. But wine is made. It’s a process that’s guided by a personality. And understanding the personality behind the wine reveals a lot about why a wine is the way it is.
The way Hélène Garcin-Lévêque’s wines are has made them big favorites among our staff. They are complex and intriguing, while being thoroughly pleasurable. Bright acid. Silky texture. There’s a very lifted, alive feeling to her wines, accompanied by layers of aromas. There’s an appeal to both the head and the heart. And, though I haven’t met her, I get the feeling that she fits this bill herself. She’s a beloved friend to K&L, and she’s known for her charm around these parts.
Hélène, who works alongside her husband Patrice Lévêque, comes from a deeply entrenched Bordelais winemaking family—based in Pessac-Leognan, they own Château Haut-Bergey and Château Branon, and her aunt and uncle own Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte. Patrice also comes from a winemaking family in Graves. Despite being born-and-bred Left Bankers, they moved to St-Emilion and now operate several estates on the Right Bank. Plus one in Argentina!
We’re looking forward to welcoming her this week to our Hollywood tasting bar, where she’ll be previewing the Right Bank’s 2018 vintage with bottles directly from her cellar. She’ll also be pouring two bottles from 2006 so that customers can begin to understand how her wines evolve.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, tickets are sold out. But Bordeaux fans, pick up some of her wines! Here’s a quick primer to her Bordeaux properties:
Château Clos L’Eglise is located in Pomerol, and the estate dates back to the 18th century. Perched on the upper plateau on a southwest slope of clay and gravel and iron deposits, its terroir is very well regarded—and so are its neighbors! Châteaux Clinet, L’Eglise-Clinet, Trotanoy, and Pétrus are among them.
Château Barde-Haut, recently promoted to Grand Cru classé (in 2012), is where Hélène and Patrice live with their son, Louis. They’re located next to Troplong Mondot and La Mondotte on an elevated limestone plateau, clay over chalk soils, with vines averaging 35 years old. The family is committed to eco-friendly practices, and they’ve built a dramatically modern, state-of-the-art winery on this site. Solar panels, rainwater recycling, and a wind turbine contribute to their goals of self-sustaining energy production. This is the first estate in deeply traditional St-Emilion to have developed a winery fully committed to such practices.
Château Poesia This was a neglected 32-acre estate that Hélène and Patrice renamed Château Poesia. It’s located on a limestone plateau that is largely in the St-Emilion appellation with a bit in the Côtes de Castillon. It’s planted to 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines range from 30 to 70 years of age.
Château d’Arce This property is the newest for Hélène and Patrice, and they produce some stunning values from it. Located on the limestone plateau of the Côtes du Castillon, all is farmed organically and picked by hand.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but at least I can be the advocate for amazing wines. And, on the bright side, I’m sure she’ll be back!
- Kate Soto