Slightly inland, bordering the village of Saint-Estèphe to the south, the 22.25 hectares of the Soudars vineyards are blessed with a very beneficial microclimate thanks to the proximity of the estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, just 30 kilometres away.
This maritime influence was also significantly enhanced by the storm in December 1999, which felled the majority of the forest between the estuary and the sea.
The limestone-clay soils where the vineyards grow have remarkable filtration properties. The limestone substrate, covered in a fine layer of clay, reaches through to the surface in places, so much so that sometimes it has to be broken up so that vines can be planted.
The root system thus penetrates deep into fissures in the rock to find water and the various nutrients that the Soudars terroir offers.
The presence of numerous marine fossils, a real curiosity, are doubtless part of what makes Soudar wines so typical and special.
The vineyard mix consists of 50% Merlot, which is found in Soudars’ limestone-clay breeding grounds, 49% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc.
To impose natural limits on production, the vines are grassed with a strip of turf between the rows. This also helps avoid needing to use late-application treatments to combat botrytis. Leaf thinning on the fruit-bearing part of the vine acts as a complement to this by providing light, and makes any green harvesting easier.
In keeping with the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region’s momentum regarding the environment, Château Soudars holds AREA level 2 certification (since the 2017 vintage) and HVE level 3 certification (since the 2018 vintage).
Like her father, Lovely is very aware of this working tool and is driven by the same desire to ensure that winegrowing activities continue and can be passed on to the next generation.
Château Soudars is equipped with a temperature-controlled stainless steel vat that uses electricity to generate cooling and natural gas to generate heat.
The ancestral method of ‘saignée’, which aims to reverse the juice/skins ratio to ensure better concentration in the wine, is sometimes used before alcoholic fermentation. The health and concentration of the grapes means that relatively long periods of maceration (three to four weeks) can be used.
After subsequent malolactic fermentation, the blend is then created for the wine.
This vital stage in the wine cycle is performed with consultant oenologist Eric Boissenot.
Maturation takes place in fine-grained French stave oak barrels, a quarter of which are replaced every year, or even a third if the vintage calls for it.
During the spring of the second year, the final blend is created, ensuring that the wine will be uniform in the bottle.
The wine is bottled to HACCP standards in heavy ‘heritage’ bottles with a natural cork stopper.