Château Bel Air Marquis d’Aligre punches back at convention, quite unlike the overwhelming majority of Bordelais estates. Today, it is run by the 88 year old Jean-Pierre Boyer, with 71 vintages under his belt, all at the family estate. Few have such experience and dedication when it comes to understanding the intricacies of the terroir, of any estate; that is part of what makes Château Bel Air Marquis d’Aligre as unique as it is. Little has changed under Boyer’s tenure: the vines, the winery, the production style remains as it was, harking back almost to the end of World War 2.
His one change—quite the exception at that—was removing oak barrels in the 1950s. To this day, he still prefers both fermentation and aging in concrete. The wines spend three years in cement before being bottled, after fining but without filtration.
Despite owning close to 50 hectares of land, only 13 are planted—of which only 5 hectares are worked by himself, with the help of one single trusted employee. While not certified organic, he uses no modern treatments and only a little organic compost as fertiliser. Furthermore, even the youngest vines are more than 50 years old (with the oldest being over a century old). Don’t be surprised to discover ancient clones and lost varieties amongst the five traditional Bordeaux varieties here! The resulting blend is approximately 35% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc along with Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Jean-Pierre doesn’t care too much for technical details—yields, proportions in the blend, cuvaison, extraction… None of these matter much to him, as long as the wine ultimately speaks honestly of its origins.
Tasting Boyer’s wines, you will be peeking into a bygone era, back when Bordeaux on such incredible terroirs were made to last, released when ready and rarely exceeding 12.5% alcohol.