Pontet Canet: Black as a Moonless Night

Before Josh and I visited Pontet Canet, we read through some of the reviews together.  Pontet Canet has been raking in the 100 point reviews from powerful tasting and judging mouths, even from the most powerful mouth, that of Robert Parker.  I listened as Josh read through the first review.  When he got to the end, he looked up, and I said, “Again.  Read it one more time.”  After the second time, I said, “Graphite? The stuff in pencils?  It has a taste?”

The wine library at Pontet Canet.

Poetry is alive and well here.  Robert Parker enriches the wines he likes with the flourish of his language, and he loves the 2009 Pontet Canet.  All he needs is to break his words up into lines, and he could be our next poet laureate. Allow me, Mr. Parker.


Pontet Canet, 2009

by Robert Parker, Stephen Tanzer, Wine Spectator, and Annie Newton



As a moonless night.

Incense, graphite, smoke

Licorice, creme de cassis



Purity precision

Penetrating minerality.

Irrefutable, quintessential, colossal

Like liquid velvet

Layer after layer

Of weight and richness.

A tour de force

Of integrated components:

the tannin

the acidity

the wood

the alcohol.


At the winery, we tasted the 2009 Pontet Canet.  The wine was truly darker than any Bordeaux that Josh and I had yet seen.  That’s because Pontet Canet doesn’t do the powdered egg white floater technique, God bless them.  They have a more liberal and modern stance on sediment.  I also found the graphite in the wine, probably because I was looking for it.  Pontet Canet doesn’t just age their wine in wood, they also make casks from the same earth that each separate varietal was grown in.  Penetrating minerality, indeed.  

The wine vats made from the same earth the grapes were grown in. Modeled after an ancient Roman technique, if I remember correctly.

Wine tasting has a way of revealing all of the vulnerabilities and insecurities of the taster.  This originated from a yuppy-sort who was also on our tour:

Do you taste cherry in this?  I think I might taste cherry, but I’m not really sure if that’s what I’m tasting.  On the nose maybe it’s cherry, maybe it changes to figs once you put it in your mouth?  Oh, ok.  You get the cherry, too?  I mean, I just wasn’t sure, I just wanted to make sure that the thing I thought I was tasting, I was actually tasting.  Thanks, man.
As I was marveling at this guy’s ability to revise his entire experience based on a possible withheld validation of that experience, Josh swirled his glass with panache.  “This wine is as black as moonless night,” he said.

Translation: “You would not have limited the number of my days down here- these days so troubled and so short, a witness to your power and your kindness. I await the days of endless immortality.”