Chateau Dalem

Château Dalem is one of the leading estates in Fronsac, an old appellation near the city of Libourne that is often overlooked by connoisseurs. The vineyard was planted in 1610 and stayed in the same family for over three centuries. The handsome, compact château is about a century younger, but still predates most of the châteaux of the Médoc and nearby Saint-Emilion. It is located in the township of Saillans, just on the outskirts of the city of Libourne, and was purchased in 1955 by Michel Rullier. In 2002 his daughter, Brigitte Rullier-Loussert, took over the estate and began to make a series of improvements that have now catapulted Dalem to the forefront of Fronsac estates.

The vineyard lies on the so-called Molasse du Fronsadais, which is a limestone outcropping alternating between beds of clay and limestone. Each grape variety is selected for its suitability to the soil type, and yields are limited to 40 hl/ha. During harvest, grapes pass through a sorting process and are completely destemmed. The cellars have been recently renovated, and Brigitte Rullier prefers cement vats, internally thermo regulated by a coil, to the more traditional stainless steel. Modest by Bordeaux standards, the estate extends over 10 hectares (25 acres) and is planted 90% in Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. On average, the estate produces about 11,000 cases a year, still in the traditional wood boxes that help identify fine Bordeaux.

In great vintages like 2009, Dalem is a rich, sumptuous red wine that has scored very highly with critics around the world. Since 2008 the château has produced a second wine, called Tentation de Dalem, which is still very much like Dalem but in a more accessible style. Nearby, the Rulliers manage a separate property known as Château de la Huste, which is a typical Fronsac in a slightly lighter style than Dalem. Finally there is a second wine, made up of a selection from both Dalem and de la Huste, which is called La Longua. Its base wines are from the lighter cuvées of each estate, and it is designed for early consumption.