The 1999 vintage will be Neipperg's first at Chateau d'Aiguilhe (pronounced "ai-ghee"), which he purchased at the end of December 1998 for an undisclosed price. The estate had been owned by Raventos Blanc, a Spanish wine company founded by a former director of the Codorniu sparkling wine house.
"In well-known appellations, there are more and more vineyard sites with average terroir that are just too expensive for their location," explained Neipperg. "This appellation has great potential, with a great terroir similar in quality to the plateau above St.-Emilion."
Chateau d'Aiguilhe encompasses 261 acres, including 92 acres of vineyards, planted to 80 percent Merlot and 20 percent Cabernet Franc -- the typical grape varieties for the Right Bank appellations of Bordeaux. "Over the next few years, we hope to plant more vineyards; we have between 55 to 60 hectares [135 to 148 acres] of land that can be converted," said Neipperg, who also owns Chateau La Mondotte and Clos del'Oratoire, both small-production estates in the St.-Emilion appellation.
In 1998, Chateau d'Aiguilhe produced about 8,330 cases under its own name as well as 10,400 cases of a second label, which Neipperg may rename. Neipperg will work with Stefan Derenoncourt, his cellar master at the other estates, on the wines. Commented Neipperg, "We want to produce a high-quality wine, but not in tiny quantities."
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