(2014 Vintage) Chateau de Sales is both the largest and oldest estate in the Bordeaux appellation of Pomerol. It has been owned by the same family for over 500 years and covers 90 hectares of land, 47.5 of which are under vine. With a replanting in the mid-1980s, most of the vines yielding fruit are at least 30 years old and are composed of 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. While the estate is obviously steeped in tradition, they do not believe in extended oak aging like the majority of Bordeaux Chateaux and prefer instead to age their wines in concrete tanks for 12-18 months and only an additional six months in French oak barrels, with just 5% being new. They do this to "preserve the qualities of freshness, fruitiness and terroir expression" and also to "avoid any "stave wood" flavors and ensure the wines retain their individual personalities." And that's pretty remarkable given that the wine really does have a suppleness and roundness even without extended oak treatments. The wines show off that lovely texture well and deliver vibrant, forward (in the Bordeaux sense, not the California sense) fruit with flavors of dried plums, leather and some nice earthy notes. Even with all that structure, they reveal silky, well integrated tannins on a medium to long finish.
06.10.12: Laithwaites Sales’ second wine – Chantalouette, from the 2000 vintage is delicious, but this Grand Vin is on a different level. Everything about it is correct. The nose offering plenty of primary blackberry fruit, yet complimented by some lovely herbaceous character. The texture and the instant appeal of the palate is what is convincing, rounded, moderately viscous rather than too old fashioned, but with a really satisfying structure and cocoa-like tannins rounded off one of the most impressive mature Bordeaux I have had this year, along with the Les Hauts de Pontet 2005. This purchase is all the more intriguing with a couple of reviews in the early 2000s which were less than complimentary about this wine, suggesting to drink a couple of years ago. James Suckling who has tried it more recently seems to have spotted something nearer to our own view. “I like the blackberry and chocolate character and the underlying fresh basil character. Medium-bodied, with a solid core of silky tannins and a long finish. Very refined. Delicious now. Best after 2006….
Wine AdvocateRating: (87-88) - As reviewed in Wine Advocate # 140 on Apr-02