Saturday Tasting – Fleur Ursuline

Every now and again it is good to take a different look at things you’re used to. Chateau Fleur Ursuline 2006 had been with us since we opened the shop on Wilton Way. Of course we know the wine. But in the world of wines there is always some new info to dig up. Ever heard of the first catholic nuns in America?

Ok, so here are the basic facts: Chateau Fleur Ursuline is a St Emilion Grand Cru, that is made by Mr Henry-Matthieu Verhage. As it is from St Emilion, one would expect merlot dominance in the blend. This is a textbook example of the “Right Bank” encepagement.

Just to keep things simple: on the Right bank of the Garrone, where the soils are a bit more rich and dominated by calcerous clay with gravel outbursts here and there, Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominates. On the Left Bank, where you get almost pure gravel soil, that is a lot warmer, later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon is planted.  This of course is a rather generous generalisation, but to simplify this story we can use it as a basic rule…

Without knowing too much about it, I have felt this wine always been a bit more “left bankish” for me.  I found the answer with the map. The plantation is right next to the Figeac hill, a massive gravel outburst with no clay underneath. This is the reason why this wine had tricked me.

The history books tell us this vineyard used to be an Ursuline Convent before the revolution – but who were the Ursulines? A rather young order of nuns, founded in the mid 16th century in Brescia, Italy. The founder St Angela de Merici spent 17 years leading a group of women known as the “Company of St. Ursula,” who regularly met for conferences and devotional practices but did not live together. Later on, especially in France, they became more or less a classic enclosed order. Their main activity was to educate girls, and the usual care of the sick and needy.

They were the first catholic nuns to arrive to the territory of what`s know nowadays as the US and A. In 1727 12 of them landed in New Orleans, then a French colony. They were known as the “casket girls” because of the wooden cases they took their belongings with from Rouen. They created a school and a convent that is still active today. Melinda Gates, Bill Gates` wife graduated from an Ursuline school.

I think this bottle of Saint Emilion took us far enough, and I haven’t even opened it yet…

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