Philippe Durand of Château Rocher Corbin is making some of the most exciting wines in the satellite appellation of Montagne-Saint-Emilion. His 10.5 hectares are in one block, perfectly situated on the western slope of Mount Calon, the highest point in the area. This vineyard site provides maximum exposure to the sun and a perfect natural irrigation with a sandy soil mixed with clay. The vines average 45 years-old and more than 15% of the vines are more than 80 years-old. There is a very special patch of pre-phyloxera Merlot that is 150 years old!
Philippe pours his efforts into getting the very best fruit. He was among the very first in the area to apply sustainable agriculture, including ground covers, de-budding, short pruning and leaf removal. Today, he has begun the certification process for organic agriculture, although he has been farming organically for years. His vineyards are full of life, with long grass and wild clover. The grapes are hand-harvested in 10-kilo baskets to avoid damage, then sorted manually before de-stemming to eliminate any small withered berries. Finally, an additional manual sorting of each berry is done after de-stemming to ensure that no stems remain. He’s mostly using cement for fermentation, but he’s doing a small amount of fermentation in barrel too. Fermentations are spontaneous. Over the years, he’s worked with using as little sulfur as possible and in 2017, no sulfur was used at all during vinification and he does not plan to use sulfur at bottling. Wines are aged for 12 to 14 months in oak, with an average of 50% new oak.
Durand described the 2014 vintage as very classic with a late harvest. The wines are characterized by bright fruit, fine tannins and floral aromatics that give this wine elegance.