Ondulations: a new take on Bordeaux wines.

Published 12.01.2022
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The Castel family has been innovating at Château Hourtou in the Côtes de Bourg appellation since the 2019 vintage, offering a new generation Bordeaux wine with a bold, fruity profile.

“Ondulations.” A name that tells a story, a perfect fit for a smooth, unoaked wine. Made at a vineyard blessed with beautiful clay-gravel slopes, soft and irregular contours, and in accordance with the principles of responsible winegrowing (HVE and Terra Vitis), this is a profoundly contemporary wine. Bursting with fresh fruit, Ondulations nevertheless maintains a certain aging potential. This wine is crafted for immediate satisfaction, for consumers in search of wines that can be enjoyed young. From blending to aging, every step in the winemaking process is carefully honed to bring out the very best of the wine’s natural boldness and drinkability. 

Ondulations is the fruit of a coming together of several different teams, from R&D to marketing, to the Castel Frères on-trade sales team, with its finger firmly on the pulse of their clients and the market. In the vines and in the winery, the wine owes its existence to two men who share the same disruptive spirit and taste for renewal: Antoine de Oliveira, property manager at Château Hourtou, and Julien Belle, associate member of the famous Oenoteam winemaking consultancy. Antoine took the reins at the 12 hectare vineyard in 2010, making the most of its south-facing slope, which offers excellent exposure. He makes certain to “bring the best out of every plot, like a palette of aromas and flavours”. 

Preserving the purity of the fruit

Merlot, a variety recognised for its boldness and accessibility, makes up 90% of the blend, which is completed by a touch of Malbec. While fullness is the key to making an accessible wine, this is perfectly counterbalanced by the tension provided by the coolness of the Hourtou terroir. To preserve the fruit’s freshness, the wine remains unoaked. Instead, half of it spends 8 months in thermoregulated stainless steel vats, and the other half in stoneware jars and terracotta amphora. The contours of these traditional vessels generate natural convection, a perpetual motion, protecting the wine’s freshness. Kept to a strict minimum during the winemaking process, SO2 is abandoned during bottling, again with a view to protecting the wine’s natural boldness. Ondulations is “a return to the taste of the terroir” that means so much to the Castel family, whose aim remains to make wines “stripped of artifice”. 

A modern bottle

The bottle is very much in tune with the wine’s originality, with a modern style that marks a break from the graphic codes typically associated with Bordeaux. The bottle, with its Burgundy form, is itself an ode to undulations with a smoothly curved shoulder. A far cry from the traditional château engraving, the label is sleek and modern. The name “Ondulations” is inscribed in sober, black lettering against a white and gold backdrop that represents a stylised aerial view of the vineyard. The label’s raised print takes the wine’s textured aspect even further, creating a real experience for the consumer.

Endlessly smooth

In the bottle, Ondulations offers a glistening, ruby colour, unveiling exceptionally fresh aromas. Fruity and limitlessly expressive, the first nose reveals delicate notes of redcurrant, blackcurrant and blueberry jellies. Once swirled in the glass, a floral dimension surges forth, evoking rose and peony petals, interspersed with liquorice. On the palette, the attack is balanced, with an endlessly smooth, creamy mouthfeel and notes of Itxassou black cherries and wild raspberries. Full-bodied and drinkable, the wine is nonetheless complex, with mild tannins providing structure.   

Ondulations is perfect on its own or with charcuterie. Its versatility allows it to accompany an entire meal from starter to dessert. It pairs wonderfully with grilled duck breast and fleur de sel, seared tuna steak and stewed bell peppers, chicken basquaise, or oven-roasted aubergine with tomato and strawberry chutney.

Lovers of fruit-forward wines can enjoy Ondulations 2019 already. For those more patient, the wine will stand up to five years of bottle aging. Ondulations is best enjoyed at room temperature, decanted for half an hour or uncorked for an hour.