By Lisa Rowlands

In the right bank, east of the city of Bordeaux, Pomerol - the small commune from which the appellation takes its name, is little more than a collection of houses and a church enveloped by vineyards. Tiny in comparison with adjacent Saint-Émilion, Pomerol has around eight-hundred hectares under vine, shared by approximately one hundred and forty producers; the Merlot variety accounts for four fifths of all plantings here. Other permitted grapes are - in order of prominence - Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, although the latterly stated varieties rarely feature in the ‘Grand Vin’. To ensure high quality, AOC regulations limit yield to forty-two hectolitres per hectare.

Whilst nowadays it is exclusively a red wine appellation, Pomerol was - until midway through the nineteenth-century - dominated by white varieties. However, when the AOC was established in 1936, the planting of white grapes was prohibited. At this time, Pomerol producers and their products fell some way short of the quality achieved by the more established Bordeaux appellations of the Médoc, and it wasn’t until the emergence of Château Pétrus and a number of other prestigious estates, that Pomerol began to gain credence as a fine wine producing area.

Pomerol’s terroir is diverse and lends itself in particular to the cultivation of the Merlot grape. Soils range from clay in the north and east of the region, to light and gravelly in the south and west. A small area - much of it within the confines of the Pétrus estate - sits on blue clay with an iron-rich sand layer known as Crasse de Fer. The climate is warm and temperate with a mix of continental and maritime influences, hence the cultivation of grapes for vinification finds near perfect conditions on this French Plateau.