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Petrus’ famous ‘buttonhole of clay’, is a blue-hued patch of smectite, a quirk of the Pomerol landscape, which lies beneath around 90% of the 11.5 hectares of the estate’s vines.

It is thought to date back to the Oligocene era, nearly 40 million years ago. The buttonhole is aptly named, being an aperture in the surrounding gravel plateau, exposing the vine roots directly to the fertile and moisture-retentive clay below.

There is nonetheless also gravel at Petrus, starting some 60cm beneath the surface, which moderates this ready access to highly concentrated nutrients. Drainage is further aided by the gentle slopes.

The vineyard itself has twelve sub-plots. As Neal Martin says in his book Pomerol, it is so unusual to see it broken down into these individual parcels that several of the commune’s winemakers failed to recognise it as Petrus in this ‘insider’ format.

The two largest plots, Mario and Guy, are named after former vineyard workers, with neighbouring châteaux acknowledged in the names Certan and L’Évangile.


The Petrus cellars, which were totally renovated in 2012, are havens of calm.


In these tranquil surroundings, wines have the breathing space they need for unhurried élevage. After being destemmed, grapes are sorted twice. A short pre-fermentation maceration of one or two days is followed by fermentation in concrete vats, with each vat handled according to its own development. Tannins are extracted as gently as possible, with pumping-over at the start of vinification.

Malolactic fermentation also takes place in vat, to prioritise fruit purity over oak character. The wine is typically transferred to barrel at the end of November. As usual, Petrus 2021 is maturing in 50% new oak, 50% one year old.

The Wines

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