88% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc. Relatively secluded, surrounded by its vines, in a place far from the worries of the outside world, Château Belles-Graves is a small glimpse of what one person’s paradise might be like. Idyllic pastures, vineyards, and gardens decorate the landscape, and the focal point is a beautifully-tended labyrinth made of vines in the gardens of the château. Though the ownership has changed several times it finally settled in the hands of Jean and Hermine Theallet in 1938. It is the Theallets’ grandson, Xavier Piton, who runs the seventeen-hectare estate today. Situated in Lalande de Pomerol, just across a small river from the famed estates in Pomerol, Belles-Graves produces Merlot-dominated wines with a lush, velvety texture and very fine tannins. The vineyards average forty years of age and their greatness comes from their terroir of varied clay and gravel where distinct mineral components offer their own characteristics to each parcel. Yields are kept low, the maceration is long, and the wines are never filtered just like at the famed châteaux. The finesse and subtlety that characterize this wine are matched by its complexity and depth. In Bordeaux’s sea of oft-criticized and overly-expensive it is refreshing to find a château, whose wine is far from banal and whose price point feels comfortable.