Lalande-de-Pomerol: stronghold of the Merlot
Just 50 years ago, the Lalande-de-Pomerol wine growing region was scarcely known. Only a few wine travellers found their way to this quiet, distinctly rural view of Bordeaux. That changed with the fabulous rise of the neighbouring Pomerol appellation, in whose wake the wines of Lalande-de-Pomerol are also finding greater interest. And rightly so: the assemblages based on the Merlot variety combine vigour with fruit in an exemplary manner.
While viticulture in Lalande-de-Pomerol goes back to Gallo-Roman times, it was only in the 12th century that it gained greater significance, when the area came under the English crown through the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry Plantagenet. The Barbanne River, which today divides the Lalande-de-Pomerol and Pomerol appellations, formed the border between English-ruled Aquitaine and the French Empire. It was, consequently, the Knights of St. John who most contributed to developing the region, constructing a mighty fortress in Lalande-de-Pomerol. The village church, from the 12th century, was also built by the Knights of St. John. Their efforts were aimed at making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela safer and more attractive. The wine was grown for private consumption and suppling pilgrims.
Merlot sets the tone
Today, nearly 200 chateaux cultivate an area of 1,200 hectares. Soil conditions are similar to those in neighbouring Pomerol. Loam dominates, with varying proportions of siliceous rock and sand. The best sites are located in the wine-producing village of Néac, which is located near the border with Pomerol. Set on a slightly elevated plateau, the gravel proportion is higher, promoting drainage.
In the assemblages of Lalande-de-Pomerol, Merlot clearly sets the tone. They are supplemented with Cabernet Franc, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A maximum of 42 hectolitres of wine may be produced per hectare.
Lalande-de-Pomerol was seen for decades as a sleepy town in the back country of Bordeaux. Since then, the region has become an international sensation through the hype surrounding estates like Pétrus, La Conseillante or Lafleur in neighboring Pomerol, and the wines from Lalande-de-Pomerol have also attracted greater international interest. Rightly so, for the relation between price and quality in its crus is superb.