8 December You will see below that we invited people to submit suggestions for a new name for this wine now that it is being produced by the Thienpont family of Le Pin. Apparently a full 60 of you rose to the challenge but in the end, at a recent family meeting, it was decided to adopt a suggestion from a family member that Ch Goubau should be known as L'Hêtre from the 2016 vintage, the first made by the Thienponts. This means 'beech' as in beech tree, a nice addition to Le Pin (pine) of Pomerol and L'If (yew), the name of their St-Émilion property. Since the 'h' is silent, the new name sounds like lettre, French for letter, and so is relatively easy for Anglo-Saxons and Asians to pronounce. Fiona Thienpont MW tells me that she will be writing to all who sent suggestions inviting them to visit this Castillon property and taste the 2016.
Fiona adds The final cut was between two names: l’Hêtre (a beech tree) and Les Racines (roots). So in the end, we decided that the name of the domaine and the main wine would be L’Hêtre and the second wine would be Les Racines de l’Hêtre (although see this update). We must point out, before one of you does this for us, that l’Hêtre is not actually grammatically correct. Since the H here acts like a consonant, it is le hêtre as in le hérisson (hedgehog) rather than l’hêtre. That being said, we like the elision of l’hêtre that also sounds like lettre (letter – a rather literary connotation) or like l’être (to be – rather existential) and have decided to keep this spelling.
From £14.25, €17.50
When choosing a wine of the week, I am always on the look-out for value, and found it in a rather unlikely place last week: in a wine from the owners of Le Pin that is currently on offer from Berry Bros and Rudd for as little as £12.70 a bottle if you buy a dozen.
Ch Goubau is a certified organic property in the increasingly fashionable Bordeaux Côtes appellation of Castillon. Last winter it was bought, from the Belgian Goubau family, who did all the hard work in getting certification, by Jacques and Fiona Thienpont of Le Pin and his sister and family – also Belgian.
As you can see from the view below, it’s a lovely property, on the outskirts of St-Philippe d’Aiguilhe on the tip of the limestone plateau stretching west from St-Émilion with clay-limestone subsoil. It is planted with 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc and the Thienponts are planning to plant more land next door.
The Thienponts have been ageing the 2015 and started to pick the 2016 on Wednesday, but this 2014 (not the 2009 illustrated above right) is entirely the production of the previous owners. It certainly shows the potential of the site, however.
My tasting note: ‘Masses of ripe fruit on the nose. Good confident scent. Quite a bargain for fairly early drinking. There is still considerable tannin in this seriously ambitious wine for the price. I tasted this and wrote this description before realising that this is the property bought by the Thienponts of Le Pin! This wine was made by the previous Belgian owners but what a steal! Maybe just a tad rustic and tannic but there is lots stuffed in here. Amaze your friends...’
I marked this 13.5% wine VGV, our abbreviation for very good value, and gave it a score of 16 out of 20, for what it’s worth. I think it will be at its best between 2017 and 2021.
According to Wine-searcher.com, this 2014 is also sold by Uncorked and Richard Dawes Fine Wines in the UK, and by the Thienponts’ Belgian wine business of course. There is also a rosé and a second wine called La Source.
As I reported in the AOC Bordeaux and Côtes section of my 11 tasting articles on 2015 Bordeaux en primeur (which includes a round-up of many of the high-profile Castillon proprietors, though not the mail order specialists Laithwaite's who now own a 30-ha parcel in Castillon), the Thienponts want to find a new name for this property and wine. They already own the ultra-famous Pomerol Le Pin, named after the lone pine by the cellar. Then they bought a St-Émilion property close to Troplong Mondot that they have named Ch L'If , if being French for a yew tree.
They have tried but failed to find a tree name for this new Castillon property. Most of the obvious ones have been taken. They would like to enlist the help of visitors to JancisRobinson.com to find a suitable new name – preferably two syllables – that would work well in French, English and what they call ‘Asian languages’ (which may be a bit trickier).
The Thienponts are offering a case of the newly named 2016 – 12 bottles or six magnums – (I’m sure the 2016 will cost quite a bit more than £12.70 a bottle) to anyone who can come up with a suitable name. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will ask Fiona Thienpont (aka Fiona Morrison MW) to keep us abreast of progress.