A red wine from around the village of Pomerol in Bordeaux, France.
The Pomerol region is tiny, with less than 2000 acres of vineyards, and few
individual vineyards are larger than 25 acres; none the less, Pomerol is home to
some of the most impressive and famous old world wines.
Pomerol wines will carry the mark Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (or
Appellation Pomerol Contrôlée) on the label. This will be shortened to AOC
on most wine lists. A wine which does not carry this mark is of poor quality and
should be eschewed. Pomerol wines may also be designated Grand Vin de Bordeaux
or Grand Vin de Bordeaux Supérieur, the latter indicating a slightly higher
alcohol level — this usually appears at the top of the label, and its
absence on bottles bearing an AOC mark is not significant.
Unlike other Bordeaux regions, Pomerol does not have further classifications to aid in identifying the best producers. Nor do price
tags help — whilst the best Pomerol wines do carry obscenely high prices,
so to do some low output cult wines that will not necessarily be enjoyable to
drink. Particularly excellent producers include Château Pétrus and Le Pin, but
the reputation and fame of these wines is such that they often sell for upwards
of a thousand Euro per bottle. Belle-Brise, Nenin (1993 or later) and La
Fleur-Petrus are perhaps wiser choices.
It is best to seek the advice of the sommelier or wine merchant when
selecting a Pomerol. Asking for assistance here is not an admission of ignorance — not even the most die-hard wine fanatics can keep track of every single producer. If in doubt, the neighbouring St-Emilion produces a very
similar wine with a far more reasonable price range.
Merlot is the most prevalent grape in a Pomerol, with cabernet franc
making up most of the remainder. An Appellation Pomerol may also
contain cabernet sauvignon and malbec, but the climate is not well suited
for these grapes and they rarely appear in significant quantities.
A Pomerol requires less aging than, say, a Médoc or Haut-Médoc, with most
growths being drinkable after as little as five years. The best Pomerols tend to
peak at around fifteen years of age, although some remain drinkable for up to
thirty years. Again, it is easiest to ask before purchasing, as different
vintages and vineyards can vary considerably.
Pomerol has a fruitier, lusher flavour than other Bordeaux reds
(St-Emilion excluded); however, this is still very much a heavy, full bodied
wine with a lot of punch. Some critics who prefer the Haut-Médoc style have
been known to compare Pomerol to Ribena, but in truth this is a complex wine
with far more depth than mass-marketed Australian shiraz /
merlot or Californian syrah / cabernet mixes. Pomerol goes excellently
with steak, roast beef and venison, but is liable to drown out lighter
foods. This wine will make up a large part of the flavour of a meal, so it
should not be chosen on a whim. If used correctly, the end result can be stunning; if misused, it will ruin a meal.