Pétrus Wine: Facts About This Expensive French Merlot

Published January 19, 2022
Pétrus wine with grapes

While you may have heard about Pétrus wine, it isn't a bottle you'll be coming across when browsing the shelves at your local shop. This limited Merlot is a collector's item for those who want to throw down a minimum of $2,300 for a bottle. So why is this one of the most expensive wines in the world? A few factors come into play here, including a history of outstanding reviews and the rarity of bottles.

Merlot grapes on a bright sunny day

Château Pétrus

The Château is located in Bordeaux, France within the Pomérol appellation, on the right bank of the Gironde river. Owned by the Moueix family for the last 50 years, it is a small vineyard of 28 acres. The estate exclusively produces this wine made from 100% merlot grapes. The vines at the Château are over 40 years old, and pruning and vineyard care is done with meticulous precision. They harvest unripe, green berries early in the season to ensure higher quality, lower yields by fall. Only the best berries are harvested by hand for Pétrus. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed, and fermentation kicks off. The wine then elaborates in new oak barrels for over a year prior to bottling. Only 30,000 bottles are produced a year on average.

Terroir

The micro-climate of Pomérol can see significant rainfall in spring and fall. Viticulturists must keep a close eye on the grape bunches to avoid rot developing in the wet conditions. Château Pétrus takes extreme (and expensive) precautions to avoid negative implications from the weather; they lay down plastic sheets in the vineyard to avoid waterlogged roots and employ helicopters to fly over the vineyard to blow out some of the moisture that settles after a rain. The Château is located in the highest part of the appellation, about 130 feet above sea level. Iron-rich clay soils are unique to this site and have a large impact on the characteristics of the wine.

Flavor Characteristics

Pétrus is a rich and powerful red wine full of highly concentrated aromas and flavors. Black fruit notes of mulberry, plum, and black currant are balanced with floral profiles of violet, truffle, dark cocoa, and spiced vanilla. Known to be everlasting on the palate, Pétrus develops much of its complexity with age. Cellaring a bottle for a minimum of 15 years, and up to 45 years, is crucial for developing tertiary characteristics. A bottle of well-aged Pétrus should be decanted for 2-4 hours prior to drinking.

Why Is Pétrus so Expensive?

Pétrus has received incredibly high rankings for numerous vintages from the famous wine critic, Robert Parker. These high scores paired with the rarity of the wine has driven it into an exclusive market with prices ranging from $2,300-$5,500. The most renowned vintages are 1992, 1945, 1947, 1961, 1964, 1982,1989, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2010. Needless to stay, if you are in the market for a bottle of Pétrus, be sure to do your research and find a reputable source to purchase from.

Petrus pomerol bottles

A Rare Find

If you manage to find yourself at an exclusive dinner party where waiters are passing around endless caviar and glasses of Pétrus, enjoy, because it will likely be your only opportunity to try this famed wine.

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Pétrus Wine: Facts About This Expensive French Merlot