Sometimes wine is about more than what is in the glass. It can evoke feelings or remind you of people. For me, a glass of wine from Troplong Mondot will always be about the vineyard’s owner, Christine Valette-Paliente.
I met her on a wine-tasting holiday to Bordeaux in 2007. We spent a morning at her château in Saint Émilion, visiting the fields and tasting the various vintages. (I am pictured with her, above.)
The estate produces wines using the classic local grapes: merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.
Christine was a terrific ambassador for the château. Her passion for the wine produced there shone through.
Her great-grandfather bought the estate a century ago and Christine inherited it from her father in 1981. She is credited with turning around its fortunes. She oversaw a later harvest of the grapes, greater use of new oak barrels and smaller – but better – yields.
When I met her, she had recently had her wine reclassified as a premier grand cru, and its reputation – and price – rose accordingly. I recently saw a bottle on sale at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport wine hall for €160.
Sadly, when I was researching this post, I discovered that Christine died of cancer earlier this year.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the room in my luggage for any of her wine back in 2007. Nevertheless, last night I raised a toast to her memory.