Citadel of Blaye

First Unesco listed growth for the producers’ organisation

Thursday August 10 2017 by Vitisphere

The vineyard, set on a bastion of Vauban’s famous monument, has become a promotional tool and tourist attraction in its own right.

With sales of just 737 bottles for its first vintage, the Clos de l’Echauguette is true to the tradition of boutique labels. Its image is similarly exceptional. Listed as Unesco World Heritage in 2008 at the same time as the Citadel of Blaye where it is located, the 0.15-hectare vineyard boasts breathtaking views over the neighbouring vineyards of the Médoc.  “A combination of heritage and estuary, the vineyard belongs to all of our wine growers”, said Mickaël Rouyer, managing director of the AOC Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux producers’ organisation, who presented the 2015 vintage to the public on August 2.

Donated to the organisation by the Blaye town council in 1968, the minute vineyard was not planted until 1974. But 1994, when it was uprooted and replanted*, marked a turning point in its history – before then it was politely considered to be of inconsistent quality and not really marketed. In 2013, after the Citadel had been listed by Unesco in 2008, the producers’ organisation decided to take full advantage of its viticultural heritage. The vines were converted to organic shortly after, a partner wine grower was brought in (Cyril Marcé), as well as advisory bodies (chamber of agriculture and Vitivista) and a co-operative winery for winemaking and bottling (community chateaux). The first certified vintage was in 2016.

 

A setting for wine tourism

The producers’ organisation invested 50,000 euros in restoring the vineyard and then waited patiently until the wine was ready for release. It will retail at its visitors’ centre for 29 euros a bottle in a wooden box (see label below). The investment is part of a long-term image-building strategy revolving around wine tourism. Until now there has been little access to the vineyard, except for during the Printemps des vins de Blaye in April and harvesting in October – now the Clos de l’Echauguette will be open to the public. The visit is part of a package developed in conjunction with the Côtes de Bourg producers’ organisation and the pleasure craft operator Bordeaux River Cruise. “In wine tourism terms, this is the jewel in our appellation’s crown”, said Mickaël Rouyer.

*The vineyard was replanted from East to West, entirely to Merlot as Cabernet did not previously ripen here.

 

To underscore the limited edition aspect, each bottle is numbered. Approximately fifty magnums have also been bottled to supply future PR events.

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