Château Caronne Ste Gemme
In the middle-ages, the locality was a parish on the grounds of a subsidiary to the Templar Headquaters at nearby Benon a few kilometers inland. Pilgrims on their way to Saint Jacques de Compostelle, having crossed the estuary from Blaye, would rest here before continuing their way across the Landes to the Spanish Border.
The Parish was abolished during the French Revolution and it is at about this time that the first records of wine production at Caronne appear. In 1900, ownership of Caronne passed to Emile and Eugène Borie. The sons of Eugène would later cede their shares to their uncle and purchase Ch. Batailley and later Ducru-Beaucaillou, while Emile's descendants would remain the sole owners of Caronne until this day.
The property is now managed by Jean, grandson of Emile and François, his nephew.
The vineyard covers a single 45 hectare plot. The estate takes pride in its deep gravel mounds of the günzien period, which lie on a subsoil of iron rich sandstone to the east and clay to the west. Plantings are divided into 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 37 percent Merlot and 3 percent Petit Verdot, with the average age of these vines totalling 25 years old. These proportions are mirrored in the makeup of the grand vin.
The winemaking team is composed of the owner, François Nony representing the fourth generation, a cellar master, Bruno Guyomar and an oenologist, Olivier Dauga. They follow the pattern of the "Grand Cru" chateaux closely. The grapes are carefully hand sorted out and destemmed, then slightly crushed and sent into fermentation vats that are either stainless steel or cement with an epoxy coating and always thermo-regulated. Fermentation is lead at the temperature of 28/30° celsius with light "over the top" pumping for a soft extraction of the skins and preservation of the fruit.
Alternatively, they also restructure the agglomeration of skins in the vats with a special pump in order to softly re-mix the skins with the juice. The maceration can last three weeks and will stop as soon as analysis shows that quality tannins have been extracted.
After maceration the skins will be pressed twice and only the result of the first press will be added into the "grand vin" at due proportion. The 12 months ageing occurs exclusively in 225 litre French barrels, of which 20% are renewed each year.
The racking of the barrels is conducted regularly but not systematically as they also stir the lees in some of the barrels where extra fat and richness can result. The wine is fined with egg-whites and finally bottled at the vineyard 20 months after the harvest.