Small but mighty, the sub-region of Pomerol, located on the Right Bank of the Gironde River, is nothing if not original. The home to some of the world’s most desired, romantic and high-priced wines, the district marches to its own drummer in many ways, leaving conformity and tradition to its less adventurous neighbors.
First cultivated by the Romans, the smallest of Bordeaux’s winemaking sub-regions is unique in that, although its appellation is nearly unparalleled, Pomerol has no formal classification system. One can find some of the truly finest of Bordeaux in this tiny spot, but don’t look for Grand or Premier Cru designations, as they simply don’t exist. This always comes as a surprise to wine aficionados given the quality and prestige of Pomerol’s offerings, but it is just one more example of the sub-region’s rebellious streak. It may also be reflective of the area’s adjustment to its recent fame. Still considered a bit of the “new kid on the block,”
Another reason for Pomerol’s lack of classification could also be location. For a very long time, Right Bank châteaux were considered too remote and removed to be tapped for trade, so wine merchants who were active when the 1855 Classification was established weren’t taking the time or energy to include them. Pomerol responded with simply continuing to make great wines, and never seeking what it viewed as arbitrary validation from the outside. So far, the philosophy has worked quite well, at least for Pomerol.
As for the land itself, Pomerol enjoys a predominantly clay soil that is as close to perfect as one can get for growing its beloved Merlot. To the south and west of this 2,000-acre expanse, the soil is a bit sandier than the clay-laden eastern sections where the esteemed Petrus and Le Pin are made. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are grown in the region, but more for blending purposes. It is unquestionable that Merlot that rules in Pomerol. As such, the wines from the region are rich yet gentle to the palate, lush, smooth and sumptuous, and generally void of the more tannic and acidic temperaments of Bordeaux’s Cabernet-driven Left Bank wines. These features allow them to be consumed earlier than some of their Bordeaux counterparts. At times, depending on the blend, a touch a spice may present itself, mostly originating from the addition of Cabernet Franc.
Given the prestige of Pomerol’s reds, it’s interesting that many years ago, the region was known for its white wine production. Lucky for wine lovers, times have changed. This little Libournais section of France is now one of the most globally revered, if not currently the most revered, among celebrated red wine producers.