Mähler-Besse: Château Picard, Saint-Estèphe, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Philip Day discusses Mähler-Besse, a specialist merchant of fine wine and spirits. In this feature, Philip looks closely at Château Picard. This article encompasses the brand’s history, viticulture and media coverage.
“Make it so!” -a phrase synonymous with Jean-Luc Picard, the thoughtful, cultured, bald starship captain role immortalised by English actor Sir Patrick Stewart for seven series on Paramount Television’s ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ and in a string of four feature films that ended in 2002.
Of his tenure in ‘The Next Generation’ Stewart has often described himself as being ‘extremely proud’ of his work and like many others of the cast regrets that Paramount ended the TV series when it did, in a drive to focus on big screen iterations for the Enterprise crew, which only achieved muted success.
Returning to his first love of taking on challenging dramatic roles on the live theatrical stage, where he achieved critical acclaim, it wasn’t too long before Stewart gained a lead role in another film franchise playing Professor Charles Xavier in ‘X-Men’.
Away from his demanding movie and theatre schedules, Sir Patrick Stewart served as Chancellor of Huddersfield University in West Yorkshire in the UK for 11 years. He was first appointed in 2004 and over his period of tenure was a regular visitor to the campus leading workshops with drama students, as well as being an overseas ambassador for the University. In 2016, the building used by the University’s Drama department, previously known as the ‘Milton Building’, was renamed the ‘Sir Patrick Stewart Building’.
Jumping forward to the present day, Stewart reprises the role when the ‘Star Trek: Picard’ series premiered on 23 January, initially on the US subscription streaming video on demand service CBS All Access.
Whereas ‘The Next Generation’ presented a humanist future in which issues like poverty, race and class have long been sorted out, and conflicts are more often resolved through negotiation and problem-solving than at the point of a phaser pistol, the new show is very different from its predecessor in virtually every respect — texture, tone, format and production values. Stewart is also genuinely uninterested in repeating himself in terms of characterisation.
Speaking about the new series he stated: “I think what we’re trying to say is important. The world of ‘Next Generation’ doesn’t exist anymore. It’s different. Nothing is really safe. Nothing is really secure.”
Real-world parallels are not hard to identify. In ‘Picard’, the Federation — a union of planets held together by shared democratic values — has taken an isolationist turn.
The new show, Stewart says, “was me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, ‘Why hasn’t the Federation changed? Why hasn’t Starfleet changed?’ Maybe they’re not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought.”
‘Star Trek’ in all of its iterations has some of the most diehard fans on the planet meaning they’re bombarded with plenty of branded products. In the past we have seen various varieties of Star Trek beers but this time a new line of Star Trek wines features something special — a red made at the actual Château Picard.
Anyone who has seen the trailers for the upcoming ‘Star Trek: Picard’ series knows that Château Picard is the fictional name of Jean-Luc Picard’s family vineyard in France’s La Barre region (Haute-Saône) and a fictional, futuristic version of Château Picard was shown to be greatly enjoyed by him in the series.
What they may not be aware of is the fact that by a happy coincidence Château Picard is also the name of an award-winning, multi-generational vineyard from Saint-Estèphe in the Bordeaux region of France.
U.S. firm ‘Wines that Rock’ best known for their music-themed wines released in July 2019 ‘The Inaugural Collection’ from Star Trek Wines (produced under license from CBS Consumer Products) that included two “limited edition” releases: a 2016 Château Picard Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux for $60 and a 2017 Special Reserve United Federation of Planets Old Vine Zinfandel for $50.
To present the collection, ‘Wines that Rock’ partnered with Mähler-Besse, the négociant that owns the cru bourgeois estate Château Picard, in Bordeaux’s St.-Estèphe region, whereas the Zinfandel, was created from wines produced in California’s Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys in Sonoma County.
The Château Picard bottles have specially adapted Captain Picard labels that state ‘lot number 2386’.
Not surprisingly these special commemorative editions sold out pretty quickly.
Château Picard St.-Estèphe Cru Bourgeois however is still available at a more down to earth price. So, Trekkies there’s still time to stock up on a case or two to toast the new series…
Mähler-Besse is a prestigious négociant (wholesale merchant) of fine wine and spirits located in Bordeaux.
Image – Frédérik Mähler
It is a family-run company that has been operating since 1892 (when Frédérik Mähler and his family settled in Bordeaux from the Netherlands). Originally founded as a wine trading company, it has since passed through three generations, and began expanding its portfolio in the 1930s and now owns Château Picard along with several other Bordeaux properties. In 1938, the family became the co-owner of Château Palmer in Margaux.
The company has an impressive portfolio of fine wines for distribution from its own châteaux in France, other classified growths in Bordeaux and estates in Spain, Italy, Chile and the United States. Mähler-Besse also has a spirits division, focusing on whisky, cognac, rum and vodka.
Mähler-Besse owns four châteaux in Bordeaux: Cheval Noir in Saint-Émilion; Château Picard in Saint-Estèphe; Château La Couronne in Saint-Émilion and Château Alfa La Bernarde in Premières Côtes de Blaye.
In 2014, the Castéja family acquired a majority stake in Mähler-Besse, albeit this family continues to co-own Château Palmer with the Sichel family.
(Cru Bourgeois du Médoc)
|Planted Acreage||Total: 8 hectares (19.77 acres)|
|Grape varieties||Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot|
|Wines produced||Château Picard Cru Bourgeois
(For others see website)
|Sandy and clay rich soils with limestone gravels|
|Production||Around 45 000 bottles annually.|
|Top Vintages Produced||
1998, 2003, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016.
The Château Picard cru bourgeois estate in the heart of Saint-Estèphe was purchased in 1997.
The estate is relatively small, being only eight hectares under vine that share an average age of 30 years. The cru bourgeois blend is made up of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, which is more than usual in wines produced in Saint-Estèphe, with the remaining 15% Merlot.
The vines are grown in sandy gravel soil and are cultivated following traditional methods. The main stems are cut back to leave three strong buds (double Guyot).
The grapes are manually harvested, sorted and pressed. After fermentation, the wine is left to macerate for around 15-20 days to allow the depth of colour to develop and for the aromas and tannins to be fully extracted,
The wine is then aged spending 14-18 months in oak barriques, 30% of which are new prior to bottling.
Mähler-Besse like their Château Picard to contrast with their Merlot-based wines, resulting in a claret for those who like a bright, fresh, clean-tasting style and are prepared to wait typically between four and fifteen years, for it to mature to perfection.
In the news
- Star Trek: Picard will stream exclusively on CBS All Access in the United States, on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories and in Canada on Bell Media’s Space and OTT service Crave.
- The inaugural collection from Star Trek Wines includes two “limited edition” releases: a 2016 Chateau Picard Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux for $60 and a 2017 Special Reserve United Federation of Planets Old Vine Zinfandel for $50. The former is “from an estate in the heart of the world-renowned Saint-Estèphe region in France,” featuring “an 85-percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15-percent Merlot blend” that “spends 14 months in oak, 70% seasoned and 30% new.” The latter is a massive 14.6-percent ABV blend of 87-percent Zinfandel, 12-percent Petit Sirah, and one-percent Syrah produced in California’s Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys in Sonoma County. Both wines are produced under license from CBS Consumer Products by the company Wines That Rock, which, as the name implies, is best known for their music-themed wines from the likes of The Rolling Stones and KISS, but has also been behind branded wines for Downton Abbey and even NPR (National Public Radio) wine club.
- According to Star Trek lore, Château Picard is the estate where the Picard family produces red wine, located in La Barre (sometimes written Labarrère). Jean-Luc Picard was born and raised in this village situated in the French region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The magnificent Sunstone Winery in the charming Santa Ynez Valley (just 35-minutes north of Santa Barbara, California), doubles as the Picard family’s vineyard, on screen in the Star Trek: Picard series.
Address: Mähler-Besse, 49 Rue Camille Godard, Bordeaux 33300, France
Telephone: +33 (0)5 5656 0454
- Johnson, Hugh (2018) Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2019, Octopus Publishing Group, London.
- Robinson, Jancis & Harding, Julia (2015) The Oxford Companion to Wine (Fourth Ed.) Oxford University Press, UK.
- MacNeill, Karen (2015) The Wine Bible (Second Ed.) Workman Publishing Co., Inc, New York USA.
- Johnson, Hugh & Robinson, Jancis (2013) The World Atlas of Wine (seventh ed.) Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. London UK.
- Kindly provided by Mähler-Besse