Château du Cèdre is a family estate, run by Pascal and Jean-Marc Verhaeghe and comprises of 27 hectares of vineyards. Of the red grapes, 90% is planted with Malbec, 5% with Merlot and 5% with Tannat. Of the white grapes, 1ha is planted with Viognier and 0.7ha with Sémillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc. The vines are 20 to 55 years old, with a planting density of 4,000-5,500 vines per hectare and yields are limited to 30 hectolitres per hectare. The vineyard team is made up of 12 people, which means an average of one person for every 2.25 hectares of vines. The brand logo comes from the centenary cedar tree planted at the entry of the estate and symbolises ‘entirety’.
Winemaker Léon Verhaeghe, from Morsleede in Flanders (Belgium), left his native country in the early 20th century to settle in south western France. His son Charles, together with his wife Marie-Thérèse, started a farm with mixed cultures in 1958, planting some vines on the property and adding one hectare of vineyards in three different plots every year. Pascal ‘rediscovered’ the vineyard while visiting a friend in Burgundy, Jean-Marie Guffens, who makes the Verget range stocked by Oddbins, in 1980. ‘During the Route du Bol d’Or – a motorcycle race – I just stopped to salute Jean-Marie… I stayed several days and did my first real harvest.’ Eight years later, after having studied oenology in Macon Davayé and experienced wine making in Burgundy and at Saintsbury in the Napa Valley, he decides to take over the estate, together with his brother Jean-Marc, a qualified oenologist who obtained his first wine making experience at La Tour Blanche in Sauternes. While Jean-Marc is responsible for the vineyards, Pascal takes care of the wines and their distribution. In 1995, 80% of the vineyards were damaged by hailstorms and Jean-Marc and Pascal took the opportunity to rethink their way of farming, believing they had to reveal the true potential of the terroir and lower the yields.
The vineyards are located on the second and third terraces of the Cahors appellation.
After the harvest, the grapes were fully de-stemmed, crushed and fermented at 28C, undergoing twice daily pigeage. The wine was macerated for 20 days and aged on the fine lees for 20 months. 30% was barrel aged and 70% was tank aged. It underwent a light filtration before bottling.
A deep purple in colour, the Chatons du Cèdrehas a complex nose that exudes hints of liquorice and wild berries. Everything is embellished with notes of candied cherry and leather. On the palate, it is affirmed by flavours of spices and blackberry and is round, with a lingering finish.