An illicit 19th century practice reborn at Le Vieux Pin
In 2004 Chateau Palmer, in Margaux, revived the practice of “Hermitaging” wines of Bordeaux and released a very limited special release they called “Palmer Historic XIX Century Blend”. This wine revived an old (and notably illegal) practice of adding a small amount of Syrah to the Cabernet Sauvignon wines of Bordeaux. In the 19th century when this practice was common the Syrah used was that of Hermitage, arguably the best Syrah in the world.
In 2009 we decided to try our hand as well! The result is Le Vieux Pin Retouche. We named it Retouche (touch up) to express the concept of completing or altering the wine without extinguishing its core character. Le Vieux Pin has never released a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon since Cabernet Sauvignon rarely ripens to our exacting standards in the Okanagan Valley. In special vintages, like 2009, however we are fortunate to have a small amount of very special Cabernet Sauvignon Fruit to work with. Almost universally Cabernet Sauvignon is blended (whether the bottle indicates this or not); In Napa valley and in Bordeaux the convention is to use Merlot as the blending partner. For our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon however we decided to take a page out of the 19th century playbook and added some of our luscious Syrah.
Le Vieux Pin Retouche is not a Cabernet/Syrah blend, rather it is Cabernet Sauvignon with just enough Syrah added to increase the mid palate weight and overall depth of flavour. We spent days of trial and error ensuring that the Syrah we blended in acted like marionette strings invisibly bringing out the best in the Cabernet Sauvignon. A mere 62 cases of 2009 Retouche were made and will be released on a limited basis to our Wine Society members, our mailing list and few select restaurants.