Chateau Beauséjour looked extremely impressive in 2012, Chateau Canon very full of rich plump fruit, more caressing than usual, and Von Niepperg’s La Mondotte wonderfully rich and opulent. Three very impressive St Emilion Premier Grand Crus Classés in very different styles.
Chateau Beauséjour [as opposed to Chateau Beau-Séjour-Bécot) comes from a very small 6.5 hectare site, of which only 5.7 hectares are in production. Things have been managed here by Nicolas Thienpont and David Suire since 2009. Thienpont’s stable of properties [some owned, some advised] runs the gamut from Chateau Puygueraud, Chateau La Prade, Chateau Alcée and Chateau Les Charmes Godard [white] in the Côtes de Bordeaux, to Chateau Trimolet, Chateau Berliquet, Chateau Larcis-Ducasse, Chateau Pavie Macquin and Chateau Beauséjour in St Emilion.
Overall Thienpont describes the 2012 vintage as ‘disparate and atypical’ with the outcome depending much on how the vigneron approached the year in the vineyard. Owing to the weather, flowering, like bud break, was spread over a long period of time and meant a late harvest, as in 2002 or 2008. Rain in early July also made things pretty humid in the vineyards, and there was very real threat of powdery and downy mildew. The weather from mid July onwards was hot and very dry. For Thienpont this later part of the growing cycle resembled 2005 and 2010 until the October rains.
Work in the vineyards removing late developing bunches or parts of bunches reduced the overall variation in grape maturity. Merlot was harvested in ideal conditions and Thienpont sees the variety as a great success in 2012, particularly where grown on well-drained clay soils. The Cabernet Franc was harvested later and more affected by the weather [rain] and the threat of botrytis.
Chateau Beauséjour has great purity of fruit and is very lush and vibrant, partly a consequence of the high [87%] proportion of Merlot. At the same time there is density here too and a certain minerality. Chateau Pavie-Macquin is very pretty with lots of black fruits on the nose and a ripe and concentrated palate. There’s also plenty of chewy material on the finish. The sample at the UGC seemed a little jammier and more oaky. Chateau Larcis Ducasse is very ripe and thick with lots of spicy plum characters. Likewise Chateau Berliquet has lots of ripe lifted tones to the nose and menthol, plums and ripe fruit, verging a little towards the jammy. These wines are certainly on the ripe, rich side, they didn’t feel tired or fatigued but they definitely feel worked. Not a criticism particularly, more a stylistic thing.
The comparatively humble Chateau Trimoulet, a St Emilion Grand Cru owned by the Jean family [run by Cécile Jean, 31, and her husband David Dumont] was interesting. This property has been advised by Thienpont and Suire since 2011 and delivers a pretty, perfumed glass of nicely balanced St Emilion in 2012. There is a refreshing zappy quality to the finish. Tasted blind I also had reasonably consistent notes.
Chateau Canon has produced a very impressive 2012. It’s surprisingly voluptuous and forward for Canon, which is usually a much more serious and tightly knit St Emilion early on. I usually like this restraint but this 2012 Canon is a seductive beauty. What’s more the price is down this year by a fair degree [though it has risen a lot since 2008] so it is a wine to consider this year.
I had a very enjoyable hour in the company of Count Stephan von Niepperg. I’ve met him a number of times at tastings but this is the first visit I’ve made to Canon-la-Gaffelière and seen him on home turf. I’ve always been struck by the ability of his wines to walk the tightrope between richness and vitality. Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière epitomizes this. I guess it’s partly terroir, partly the atypical blend here [usually 50:50 Merlot & Cabernet Franc] but there must be something in the Niepperg approach too. Obviously you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear but I’ve been struck in St Emilion how the reverse is sometimes true. That’s never an issue here for me and Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière looks pretty deep and lush in 2012. There is some oak present currently, more obvious on an earlier sample tasted at the UGC, but there is plenty of material and fruit here.
La Mondotte, made from a 4.5 hectarre vineyard east of St Emilion’s limestone plateau, is a seductive beauty. There is dazzling perfume on the nose and no shortage of layered and wonderfully lush fruit on the palate. This wine is clearly deserving of its recent elevation to the ranks of the Premier Grand Crus Classés. I also enjoyed a very open and delicious Clos de l’Oratoire. There’s lots of spicy fruitcake notes on the palate and no shortage of silky opulence either. I’ve previously written about the very rich and indulgent Chateau d’Aiguilhe from Castillon in an earlier Cotes de Bordeaux 2012 profile.
All these wines taken together, along with Jean-Luc Thunevin’s portfolio tasted shortly after these [and up next on the blog], reinforced an impression that at the very top level St Emilion has produced some very exciting wines in 2012. The following wines were tasted variously at Chateau Pavie-Macquin, Chateau Canon and Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière on Friday April 12, 2013. Again notes more important than the numbers.
Chateau Beauséjour her. Duffau-Lagarrosse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Deep and saturated; very deep and tight to the rim; legs; very full and plump on the nose; lush; layer upon layer of ripe fruit – black cherry, summer compote, plum; very lush entry; plush palate with lots of material and depth. Chewy on the finish with some minerality. Very good length. Terrific wine. Very brave late picking here. 87% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc 94-96+ Tasted Friday 12th April 2013 at Chateau Pavie Macquin
Chateau Berliquet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé
Deep and saturated; ripe and rich; glossy colour; lifted nose, plums, black fruits, spices and some menthol and tar with some jam; lots of ripe fruit on the palate; plums, spices and fruitcake; nice to drink already. Feels very forward and lush. 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 89-91 Tasted Friday 12th April 2013 at Chateau Pavie Macquin [Earlier note] Deep and dark; blackcurrant cassis, spices, plums, nicely lifted; black cherry some prunes too; creamy palate with lots of lush fruit; little jammy but nice grip and tension at the end 88-90+ UGC Weds 10th April 2013
Clos de L’Oratoire, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé
Deep and saturated colour; very attractive, plummy fruit on the nose with perfume and sweet cake and spices; very attractive and very open and opulent on the palate with a silky-satin finish 91-93+ Tasted at Chateau Canon-la-Gaffeliere, Friday April 12, 2013
Chateau Canon, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Deep, saturated colour; legs; very vibrant nose; lots of cherry, dark chocolate and plums, surprisingly voluptuous and seductive; some spice here too; wonderfully plump palate with lots of wonderfully attractive fruit; very lush and full; yes there is structure beneath but a very plush Canon. Lush and full. 92-94+ Tasted at Chateau Canon Friday April 12, 2013
Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé
Vibrant purple at edge; saturated look; black fruits, deep aromas; black cherry; lots of layers here; some oak to integrate further on the palate but very attractive wine. Chewy finish. 92-94+ Tasted at Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière Friday April, 12, 2013 [Earlier note] Deep and dark looking; freshness here; some red fruits, some lift; not OTT; lots of oak tannin on the palate but flesh; chew and density. Dense and deep. 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc. 90-92+ UGC Weds 10 April 2013
La Mondotte, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Deep and saturated look; real perfume lift with violets; very seductive; lots of black fruit tones; big palate but balanced and harmonious; extremely lush and loaded with flavour; lots of length on the finish. Big on flavour but manages not to feel overblown. 94-96+
Chateau Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Deep and dense; very saturated look; ripe and thick aromas, very lifted; some minerals, wet rocks as well as black fruits – plums – and spices; ripe and pure; very attractive. Better showing here than at UGC. Chewy palate with lots of lush fruit and ripe flavours with lots of layers. Very ripe. 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc. 91-93+ Tasted Friday 12th April 2013 at Chateau Pavie Macquin [Earlier] Deep and saturated look; plummy, spicy nose; some jam; very lifted with oak influence; palate very ripe and sweet; jam notes; some warmth; little bounce at end. 83% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc. 89-91 UGC Weds 10th April 2013
Chateau Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Deep and saturated, tight to the rim; very pretty, lots of black fruits, chalk and spices; menthol and oak influence too; very rich and attractive; lushness here again; ripe and concentrated palate with some tension and minerality; lots of body and richness. Pretty chewy finish but lots and lots of fruit here [tannin too]. 92-94+ Tasted Friday 12th April 2013 at Chateau Pavie Macquin [Earlier note] Deep and saturated colour; more mineral tones, some wet rocks and also strawberry jam notes; very ripe and lifted aspect; quite worked and oaky palate; little dryness but the finish is sweet and I’d expect it to settle. 85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. 89-91+ UGC Weds April 10, 2013
Chateau Trimoulet, St Emilion Grand Cru
Deep and dense, lots of depth and density in the glass; pretty perfume and lift; plums and spices; soma oak beneath; some mincemeat; pretty lush; ripe entry on the palate, nice minerality; sap and freshness; very correct with nice purity; emphasis on the fruit. Very good. 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. 88-90 Tasted 12th April at Chateau Pavie-Macquin. [Earlier note] Pretty dense and saturated look, not that tight to the edge; ripe and some red fruits but also quite fresh; some perfumed and strawberry notes; spices; fresh palate; stalky and plummy fruit with some cool oak; some drying on the finish. I expect this will fill up during élevage. 86-88 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, Sunday 7th April 2013.
Tags: 2012, Bordeaux, Chateau Beauséjour, Chateau Berliquet, Chateau Canon, Chateau Canon La Gaffelière, Chateau Larcis Ducasse, Chateau Pavie Macquin, Chateau Trimoulet, Clos de L’Oratoire, La Mondotte, St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé