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Château Penin

by Nannette Eaton on February 20, 2012

“The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one’s obsessions, is what makes some artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.” – John Updike

Château Penin has been in the Carteyron family since the vineyard was planted in 1854, with five generations tending the vines and creating the wines. Château Penin is nestled in the left bank of the Dordogne River, across from Saint-Emilion. The soil is a terrace of gravel, located between a limestone plateau and marshland – stony soil and red sand eroded from the Massif Central and transported by the Dordogne River in the ice age’s quaternary period. Terroir is destiny in Bordeaux.

Over lunch at Château Penin, we sampled their wines; a rose, a clairet, a no sulfur added wine named Natur, and the lovely merlots: Les Cailloux, Grande Sélection and Tradition. But what caught the Wine Harlots fancy was the entry-level wines called Excess.

To combat the crisis of excess wine production in Europe (known as the wine lake), there have been measures imposed to limit the amount of wine on the market, including uprooting vines, converting wine to vodka and ethanol and imposing strict limits on production. Low production quotas were imposed on Bordeaux Supérieur (limits lower than the Margaux and Saint Emilion appellations) in an effort to stanch the flood of unsold wines. Château Penin plants their vines in high density, which penalties them for their planting method. Under Plan Bordeaux, it mandated that Château Penin destroy 20% of their harvest. Faced with the wine version of Sophie’s Choice, Patrick Carteyron was unable to sacrifice his life-work and destroy his wine. As a compromise, Château Penin created Excess de Penin, an affordable table wine, (surrendering the appellation Bordeaux Supérieur for this label) and allowing the wine to flow. Château Penin is being distributed in the USA by several importers, including Bayfield Importing and Tru Wines.

Wine Harlots motto is “excess is best” so you know we’re all over Excess de Penin. If you don’t want to have a Sophie’s Choice moment agonizing over drinking wine or having money to pay the rent, excess is best. Excess de Penin, that is. Wine Harlots are doing our best to drain the wine lake. Are you doing your part?

photo credit: EatonAlive ©2011
The Wine Harlots attempts to drain the Wine Lake was part of a press tour sponsored by Planet Bordeaux.