What makes Bordeaux wines different from those produced in other regions around the world?
The age of Bordeaux's vineyards is a big one, according to Prince Robert of Luxembourg, CEO of Domaine Clarence Dillon.
"The soils around Haut-Brion have been in the monoculture, or in St. Emilion, for close to 2,000 years, so that has impacted and been part of the micro-climate and what has formed the vineyards, but also the taste of the wines that we produce," he said.
In the early 1500s, Jean de Pontac established the wine estate known as Chateau Haut-Brion. Prince Robert's family came to the Bordeaux region when his great-grandfather acquired Chateau Haut-Brion in 1935.
Clarence Dillon, an American financier from the investment banking firm Dillon, Read & Company was searching for a vineyard to buy in Bordeaux when he acquired Chateau Haut-Brion. Today, Domaine Clarence Dillon owns three wine estates in the Bordeaux region, including Chateau Haut-Brion, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion and Chateau Quintas.
What makes the three vineyards different? Prince Robert explains, "Le Mission tends to be denser. It has more fruit. It has more a velvety style. It tends to be a little easier to understand when it's young, more voluptuous. Haut-Brion tends to be a bit more elegant, a bit more complex, more intellectual if you will. We've only come to discover Quintas over five vintages so we're still learning to understand the vineyard, and 2015 is certainly our greatest vintage that we've produced at Quintas."
The wines from the three vineyards range in price from a little less than $100 to more than $1,000 for the rare vintages.
For Americans who may not be familiar with Bordeaux wines, Wine Spectator's June cover story describes "Bordeaux Reborn."
Prince Robert, who has been very involved with Bordeaux's new wine museum, La Cite du Vin, says Bordeaux is being remade.
"We really have seen a rejuvenation, a rebirth of the city. We've had a total cleanup of the city to be able to re-reveal the architecture of the 17th, 18th and 19th century in downtown Bordeaux, and now we have these new neighborhoods that are being graced with such structures like the Cite du Vin, which is hoping to receive 450,000 people a year."