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The Thomassin family is one of the oldest owners in the Pessac-Léognan appellation. The Château de France vineyard was taken over in 1971 by Bernard Thomassin. Michel Rolland has been its advisor ever since, and Arnaud Thomassin is now its director.

This 40-hectare family estate, located 15 kilometers south of Bordeaux in the Graves region of AOC Pessac-Léognan, includes 36 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for red wine production, and 4 hectares of Sauvignon and Semillon for white wine production. Château de France rouge and Château de France blanc share worldwide recognition. The estate boasts an original terroir: the Ferbos soil typical of this Graves region and – more confidential – a parcel of land aptly named “Coquillat”, which is riddled with fossils dating back 19 million years.

Arnaud Thomassin invited us to taste his wines at the home of Lilian Douchet, chef of Dame Augustine (his grandmother’s name), whom we followed in Top Chef 2002. He offers creative, seasonal cuisine on Avenue des Gobelins, between the 5th and 13th arrondissements in Paris.

A CHATEAU DE FRANCE BLANC 2020 – PESSAC LÉOGNAN 2020 accompanied seawater-poached razor clam biseaux with celery tartar and a fluid yuzu mayonnaise. This blend of Sauvignon (80%) and Sémillon (20%) has lovely acidity and floral notes which, combined with the shellfish and celery, reveal all their subtlety. GRAND VIN DE BORDEAUX

The Joue de boeuf confite et carotte des sables glacée that Lilian Douchet served us afterwards deserved a red wine to match.

Arnaud Thomassin’s CHATEAU DE FRANCE ROUGE 2018 PESSAC LÉOGNAN more than satisfied our hopes. Beneath a deep ruby color, an intense nose of red fruits – blackcurrant, blueberry, cherry – and gingerbread, this is a licorice and spice wine with elegant, ripe tannins that are a perfect match for a dish rich in balanced flavors and textures.

For dessert, the warm chocolate mousse, accompanied by Tonka chocolate ice cream, could only pair nicely with LE CHATEAU DE FRANCE ROUGE 2020 PESSAC LÉOGNAN. An intense, complex bouquet (red and black fruits, spices, cookie). On the fruit, the palate is fresh, balanced, well constituted around firm tannins but well coated by round, silky flesh..

It was also an opportunity to taste the 2021 and 2022 cuvées, in particular :

CHATEAU COQUILLAS BLANC 2022 PESSAC LÉOGNAN, 80% Sauvignon and 20% Sémillon, dry and straightforward, slightly fruity, perfect for seafood. Cellar price: 17 euros.

With this Château Coquillas Blanc, let’s listen to an extract from Veronica Swift‘s latest album, and in particular the track “In the Moonlight“. It starts off gently… then builds to a crescendo, where anything can happen…

LE CHATEAU DE FRANCE BLANC 2022 PESSAC LÉOGNAN 80% Sauvignon et 20% Sémillon, 80% Sauvignon et 20% Sémillon, more subtle and nuanced. Cellar price: 27.60 euros

Le CHATEAU COQUILLAS ROUGE 2021 PESSAC LÉOGNAN, 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Merlot, shimmering garnet-red color, aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, morello cherry and menthol; on the palate, a stylish, charming wine, combining mineral notes with fruit and a fine tannic structure. Cellar price: 33.60 euros

LE CHATEAU DE FRANCE ROUGE CUVEE ANNIVERSAIRE 2021 PESSAC LEOGNAN 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cellar price: 35,00 euros

A magnificent historic label, taken from the original 1920 engraving. Deep ruby color; intense nose of red fruits (blackcurrant, blueberry, cherry) and gingerbread; on the palate, a spicy, licorice-flavored wine with elegant, ripe tannins, very fine woody aromas, a smoky note on the finish; very good length. A wine for laying down.

This Pessac Leognan Rouge made me want to listen to Simon Belelty‘s “Pee Wee” album. Take a sip of Pessac Léognan, Château de France Cuvée Anniversaire and listen to the album’s title track.

To take a  virtual tour of Château de France.

For reservations or to visit Dame Augustine, Paris.

©Photos Didier Calon pour Couleurs Jazz.

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