It's hard to think of a more paradoxical wine region than Bordeaux. For decades the wines have been revered, yet mocked—symbols of glamour, but also of decadence.
They were often overwrought, with too much new oak, regular over-extraction, and excessive chapitalisation ruining what used to be an area rift with elegant wines. And then the crazy prices—even the few honest, good Bordeaux estates were priced insanely with the blockbuster 2009, 2010 vintages.
So Bordeaux needed a great fall before it could be reborn, much like that fabled phoenix. After 2011, the big estates started rapidly losing popularity, and smaller producers doing the right thing began to get noticed.
That's how we got alerted to Arnaud Daudier de Cassini and his eponymous estate, Chateau Cassini. His wines are all over the hipster bistros of Paris, but also the Michelin-starred restaurants of France.
He works with absolutely no oak because he believes it covers up the purity of the terroir character, and only ages and ferments in concrete tanks. He bottles by gravity, and his wines are unfiltered and unfined. At harvest he adds 5g of SO2 per hectoliter, and a minuscule amount more during bottling.
He learned how to work in the fields by fabled Loire vigneron Didier Dagueaneau, and hence uses no herbicides, insecticides, or anti-mildew chemicals on his vines. His estate is tiny—it started at 1.93 hectares, although he's now expanded to around 5 hectares. All the work is biodynamic and certified organic, which even Palmer and Latour are championing.
Cassini has some big boy chops as well, as he started his career at Figeac, and also worked as maître de chai at Château Le Tertre Roteboeuf. The man knows how to make wine damn well, and his standards are high. We've worked with his 2012 and 2014 vintages, but he was so unhappy with 2013 that he simply sold all his grapes in bulk and didn't make any wine that year. 2012 was supposed to be a weak vintage, but his wines were so elegant and filled with character.
These are wines that channel the same purity as those of Château le Puy—a great estate and one of the very few biodynamic ones in Bordeaux—although Cassini's come in at a fraction of the cost.
No matter what everyone says, price matters a lot in wine. And one of the things that our team at Cork Culture is most proud of is how we always aim to get growers who just aren't quite that well known yet, allowing us to sell great wine at good prices.
Arnaud's wines are a bargain, and even his basic Bordeaux deserves to be cellared for up to five years in order to develop further. His St. Emilion can easily go for 20+ years.
Explore our selection here.