Terroir & Know-How

a vine-growing terroir
dating back to ancient times

Located on the right bank of the Gironde estuary, some 50 kilometres from Bordeaux, adjacent to the Pomerol appellation and close to the town of Libourne, the Saint-Émilion appellation stretches over approximately 5,600 hectares and produces an average of 235,000 hectolitres of red wine per year. There is evidence that vine-growing existed in Saint-Émilion as far back as Roman times. The vineyards, which cover eight communes, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity site.

Two wine
appellations (AOCs)
exist within Saint-Émilion

The Saint-Émilion AOC comprises two red wine appellations :
Saint-Émilion and Saint-Émilion Grand Cru.

The distinction between these appellations is defined by specific criteria, such as crop yields and ageing times. To qualify for the Saint-Émilion Grand Cru appellation, crop yields are restricted to 40 hectolitres per hectare, for example, and the wine must age for at least 12 months before being bottled.

The Saint-Émilion classification

In 1954, in order to incentivise wine estates to strive for excellence, a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru appellation classification was established taking into account specific criteria such as soil characteristics, quality of wine produced and assessments after tasting. This classification comes under the authority of the National Institute of Appellations (INAO). The 1st ranking was in 1955.

It distinguishes three levels of quality :
Premier Grand Cru Classé A, Premier Grand Cru Classé (formerly named B) and Grand Cru Classé.

The classification is revised every 10 years. The procedure, entrusted to certifying bodies and with the assistance of the Ministries of Agriculture and Consumer Relations, involves painstaking verifications in the field and devotes a large part of the process to the tasting of the wines.

Following the recent withdrawal of the classification of Château Cheval Blanc, Ausone and Angelus, only one Château is in the race to renew its rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé A: Château Pavie. Other Châteaux may join the A circle after the ranking results in June 2022.

Château TrotteVieille is ranked as a Premier Grand Cru Classé, alongside other great Saint-Émilion names.

Among the Saint-Émilion Grands Crus Classés are Château Grand Corbin, Château Fombrauge and Château La Couspaude.

« Saint-Émilion, nectar of the Gods »
thanks to its amazing terroir

Saint-Émilion enjoys a temperate Aquitanian oceanic climate influenced by the Dordogne and Barbanne rivers. Its terroir is made up of limestone, clay and gravel. The appellation is mainly planted with Merlot, together with Cabernet Franc, and to a much lesser degree Cabernet Sauvignon. Some very handsome properties can be found there.

TrotteVieille, an exceptional
terroir and vineyard

Located on the high part of Saint-Émilion close to Château Troplong-Mondot and Château Le Prieuré, Château TrotteVieille’s 12-hectare vineyard is situated on a south-west facing slope made up of a layer of clay over limestone rock –an outstanding soil feature in Saint-Émilion.

The grape composition is Merlot (49%), Cabernet Franc (46%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). The vines have an average age of 60 years, and the vineyard contains a rare gem: a plot of Cabernet Franc planted in 1868, thus dating back to before the phylloxera crisis.

Château TrotteVieille,
classified Premier Grand Cru
in 1955

From the first classification of the wines of Saint-Émilion, Château TrotteVieille was ranked Premier Grand Cru, thanks most especially to its unique terroir, which in those days was an important factor in the classification process.

The TrotteVieille terroir contains 30 to 40cm of clay over limestone rock, a rare phenomenon in Saint-Émilion, since only Château Ausone shares this type of terroir. Thanks to the consistent quality of its wines over the years, Château TrotteVieille has maintained its rank ever since.

High Environmental
Value certification

The château’s vineyard is cultivated according to the principles of reactive, integrated farming (agriculture raisonnée) and has had High Environmental Value certification since 1st April 2021.

The vines are planted in rows going downwards to the bottom of the slopes, which enables natural drainage of the soils. The soil is worked in the most natural way possible, the use of chemical products being kept down to a minimum, thus favouring a natural eco-system for good vine growth.

« Each stage of the wine-making process at
TrotteVieille is performed with the greatest care. »

Philippe Castéja

Carefully-tended vines

The pruning of the vines is done according to the Poussard technique, which respects the flow of the sap. Protection of vine canopy health is managed according to the vines’ needs throughout the different periods of the vine cycle. De-leafing around the bunches is done to provide optimal ventilation of the fruit, thus maintaining the vines in very good health.

Shortly before the harvest, green harvesting is carried out on certain vines to enhance the ripening of those grapes left on the vines.

At harvest-time, the grapes are picked manually in small crates. Harvesting is only begun when the grapes are optimally ripe, which is generally in mid-September for the Merlot and then at the beginning of October for the Cabernets. The fruit is carefully sorted, and the bunches are de-stemmed by hand at a sorting table, before the berries are crushed.

Precision vinification

Each plot of vines at Château TrotteVieille is fermented in its own separate vat in order to maintain optimal traceability. The vinification process begins with a cold soak (a pre-fermentation maceration of the skins and pips in the juice). This process lasts just a few days and enables good extraction of fruit aromas. The process continues with a low-temperature alcoholic fermentation (22 to 26°C), followed by a warm post-fermentation maceration (30 to 32°C) depending on the tasting of each vat. The running off of the wine and the pressing of the skins enables the liquid (wine) to be separated from the solids (skins and pips) and to extract the remaining wine from the skins. The vinification process is completed by the malo-lactic fermentation in either barrels or vats.

A carefully-managed ageing process

After the vinification, the First Wine is aged for 18 to 24 months exclusively in new French oak barrels, while the Second Wine ages 18 months in 50% new barrels and 50% second-fill barrels.

The wines are fined using egg albumin and racked every 3 to 4 months depending on the tasting of each barrel. The blending process is then carried out, taking into account the quality of each lot, which leads to the selection of the First Wine, Château TrotteVieille, and the Second Wine, Dame de TrotteVieille.

A rare cuvée
produced from 100-year-old vines

Les grappes des vignes centenaires sont traitées à part pour élaborer une cuvée spéciale non commercialisée. Les bouteilles de Château TrotteVieille « Vieilles Vignes » sont gravées à la main et produites à chaque millésime.
The bunches harvested from this plot of 100-year-old vines are vinified separately to produce a special cuvée that is not released on the market. The bottles of Château TrotteVieille « Vieilles Vignes » are engraved by hand, and a vintage is produced every year.

This very special cuvée is said to be the rarest wine produced in Bordeaux today, particularly as only 135 bottles of it are made.