Meet the Winemaker: Château Le Rey

Date: 22-05-2024

Jean-Christophe Meyrou is the head winemaker and owner of Château Le Rey in Sainte Colombe, which he bought in association with Peter Kwok and Philippe Lambrecht in 2014. The estate forms part of the Vignobles K group, with several other Chateaux under Jean-Christophe’s control. We spoke with Jean-Christophe about his vision for Château Le Rey and what sets the estate apart from others in the Bordeaux region.

Chateau Le ReyJean-Christophe-Meyrou

MV: The turnaround in quality at all the Chateaux since Peter Kwok purchased them has been sensational. What has been the single biggest difference that has brought this about?

JCM: Peter Kwok (Vignobles K), Philippe Lambrecht (Wijnhandel Debrabandere) and I bought the vineyard in 2016. It was owned by the same family for more than 150 years!  Just after buying we decided to focus on the notion of terroir. As you know, Bordeaux is the kingdom of blending. We blend varietals, like Merlot and Cabernet, but also terroirs. At Le Rey we decided to focus on the terroir and make two main cuvées only based on the nature of their terroir: Blue clay and limestone. The result is very obvious, with two wines that have a very different personality – even when the distance between plots is no more than 100m!

MV: How did you come to be in charge, and what is your ultimate goal for the group?

JCM: I have been good friends with Peter Kwok for many years. We decided to work together in 2014. And our ultimate goal was to have the best terroir possible in each appellation, and of course, the best team. I strongly believe in the human factor in our wine industry.

Chateau Le ReyChateau Le Rey

MV: Of all the Chateau under your control, do you have a personal favourite and why?

JCM: I have three kids - three boys - would you ask me who is my favourite?! [laughs] Honestly, in all our estates we try to give the best translation possible of the terroir in the bottle. Depending on the vintage, some terroirs might perform better than others. For example, for our latest vintage (2023), our limestone areas did the best.

MV: We understand that the two cuvées produced at Château Le Rey - Les Argileuses and Les Rocheuses – don’t follow the typical Bordeaux first and second labelling practice. Can you tell us more about that?

JCM: As I said before, Bordeuax is the kingdom of blending. Here I was influenced by Burgundy, and really wanted to focus on terroir (this is why I used this shape of bottle). On blue clay, you know that that tannins are going to be very friendly, very smooth. So, no need for oak, winemaking in amphora and stainless-steel tanks. Quick bottling in springtime will help to catch a crazy fruit. On the other hand, limestone will give you tannins that are going to be sharper at the beginning. From there we need some oak ageing to “civilize” the tannins. This wine will get a longer middle palate and a very interesting saltiness. For both cuvées the blend is the same: 80% Merlot 20% Cabernet Franc. It is very interesting to see the impact of the terroir in the bottle, especially on plots which are so close to each other.

Chateau Le ReyChateau Le Rey

MV: Bordeaux is a leading destination for wine lovers, as well as the bedrock of the fine wine market and a benchmark for winemakers around the world. What do you think contributes mostly to Bordeaux’s prestigious reputation, and what do you think are the common misconceptions about wines from Bordeaux?

JCM: One small part of Bordeaux, less than 10%, is the world of Grand Cru Classé. Prestigious wines, with incredible ageing potential, with some very expensive brands. There are not so many regions in the world where you can taste 40-60 wines and take great pleasure in all of them. This part of Bordeaux contributes heavily to the strength of the region. On the other hand, the remaining 90% of the Bordeaux region produces wines at very good, affordable prices - and yes, you still find incredible wines! The appellation Castillon is a good example. This is the main limestone plateau of all Bordeaux, where you can get fantastic wines below 25€. Some people have a wrong image of Bordeaux and think the wine have all the same taste, or it is a little bit the wine of their grandparents, which is simply not true. Fortunately, this is changing now  - I encourage everyone to experience a wine like Château Le Rey and challenge these misconceptions!

MV: For anyone visiting the region for the first time, what are your top recommendations for things to see, do, drink, and eat?

JCM: Well, I am from the right bank, and I have to say Saint Emilion is a must do. The village is just incredible. The right bank has great appellations like St Emilion, Castillon, Fronsac and more. The landscape is incredible. You can visit many vineyards, and of course, the road at the top château in the médoc is an experience not to be missed. Bordeaux is now a beautiful city, with plenty of choice for food, from gastronomic, bistronomic and a simple brasserie. For me, it is undoubtedly one of the nicest French cities. Lastly, the ocean is not too far – Arcachon and Le Pilat and just one hour driving distance. What’s not to love!

Discover wines from Château Le Rey.