Chateau Petrus, from a prime vineyard on well-drained clay soil atop the Pomerol plateau, has for decades stood as the world’s greatest example of Merlot. Petrus’s rise to the top, however, was rather meteoric, happening all at once in the second half of the 20th century.
Chateau Petrus, which is really not a chateau at all, just a two-story farmhouse 40km from Bordeaux, dates to the mid 18th century. The golden age of Petrus, however, didn’t begin until after World War II, when Madame Edmond Loubat became sole proprietor of the estate. Under her direction, Petrus became one of the first estates in Bordeaux to implement green harvesting–a technique used to lower crop yields and increase concentration in mature berries. The terroir, unique to the 28 acre site at Petrus, produces a wine that is extraordinarily creamy and thick but with the substantial tannic underpinning to ensure decades of development in bottle.
The panoply of exotic aromas and flavors typically encompasses black raspberry, mulberry, iron, cocoa powder, truffle and expensive new oak. Petrus bottlings are generally 100% Merlot, although some vintages will contain 2-3% of Cabernet Franc. The vineyard itself is planted to 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. An average vintage produces only 2500 cases of the Grand Vin and no second wine. This limited supply accounts for much of the astronomical price of a Petrus bottle.