Emmanuel Cruse became director of the estate in 1993 at the age of 25, and with him came a new team: technical director Eric Pellon, also aged 25, who had been trained at Château Ducru-Beaucaillou and Château Lagrange, and oenologist Jacques Boissenot, a well-known consultant in the Medoc, who started with the 1994 vintage. The goal was to help the estate attain its full potential, producing classic, elegant wines true to their Margaux terroir, but with more concentration, grip and intensity of fruit.
The new team began a complete renovation of vineyards, winery and cellars. An extensive vineyard replanting program was begun in 1994. Dead vines were replaced and the planting density was maintained at 8 500 plants per hectare. The varietal mix was adjusted to 70 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 % Merlot. Today, the average of the vines is 35 years old. Importantly, to get the best quality of juice from the vines, a complete new drainage system was installed over 6 years, beginning in 1993.Vineyard practices were also improved to reduce yields and increase quality. Vines are pruned severely, allowing only 5 or 6 buds per vine, with further thinning of the bunches carried out in July. Green Harvest was systematically introduced in 1995.
Harvest is all done by hand with individual bunch selection to ensure optimum ripeness. Once at the winery, grapes from different vineyard parcels are fermented in separate stainless steel vats to allow for the utmost flexibility in assembling the blend for le grand vin.
All in all, the Cruse family has invested over $ 3,5 million US in improvements at Château d’Issan since 1995. Has it brought the desired results ?
The consensus is a resounding “yes”. Wine Spectator rated both 2000 and 2001 vintages 89-91 points, calling Château d’Issan “an outstanding Margaux” and naming the 2000 “one of the great values of the red-hot vintage”. Robert Parker agrees, predicting that the 2000 Château d’Issan will “prove to be the finest d’Issan produced in over 4 decades … The young Emmanuel Cruse has done a superb job in re-establishing this estate as one of the stars of Margaux (91-93 points)”.
Another major advance in the improvement of Château d’Issan was the introduction of a second label, Blason d’Issan, with the 1995 vintage. Blason d’Issan is produced from the younger vines of the property (average age of 20 years), allowing only older vines with more concentrated juice to be used for the first label, Château d’Issan, thereby increasing quality. Since 1998, Blason d’Issan has been aged for 18 months in 35 % new oak, of which 5 % is American.
Approximately 40 % of the production of the estate goes into Blason d’Issan, and 60 % into Château d’Issan. Average production of Blason d’Issan is 2 750 to 6 250 cases, and approximately 8 000 to 10 000 cases for Château d’Issan.
Other important improvements in the winery and cellars include :
- A new pneumatic press installed in 1996
- Only French oak, of which 50 % is new, used in the grand vin since 1998 (48 % new French oak in 1995, 1996, 1997)
- A concentration machine introduced in 1998
- A new cellar built in 1999
- A new vat house completed in 1992
Moulin d'Issan Le Haut Médoc d'Issan
Emmanuel Cruse - winery owner
Eric Pellon - Directeur Technique
Hervé Bunel - Maître de chai
Marie-Hélène Dussech - Responsable commerciale et marketing
Clarisse Branche - Responsable des visites et assistante commerciale
La propriété s'étend sur 120 hectares dont 53 hectares de croupes graveleuses et argilo-graveleuses consacrées à la culture de la vigne. Le vignoble âgé d'une trentaine d'années est divisé en plusieurs parcelles selon la nature des sols et l'encépagement.
L'encépagement très classique est de 65 % de Cabernet Sauvignon et de 35 % de Merlot.
Chaque parcelle est l'objet de soins constants, afin de conduire le raisin à parfaite maturité dans des conditions sanitaires optimales.
A Issan, les travaux de vinification et d'élevage allient, comme dans la conduite du vignoble, tradition et techniques de pointe, grâce notamment aux importants investissements menés depuis une quinzaine d'années.
La Maison des Vins de Margaux
Les golfs : Margaux, Le Pian.
Le village de Bages
Le relais de Margaux (spa, hôtel et brasserie).
Restaurants : le Lion d'Or à Arcins, Le Savoie à Margaux, La Winery à Arsac, la Gare Gourmande à Labarde.
This post is also available in: French