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Bordeaux 2015: Berliquet, Larcis Ducasse and Pavie Macquin

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0824It is always a pleasure to taste the Thienpont wines each year at Château Pavie-Macquin. Not only does the property have an excellent tasting room that looks back towards the town of St Emilion, but there’s always an intelligent discussion of the vintage to be had with Cyrille Thienpont and winemaker David Suire. This year I also had the chance to discuss the vintage with Nicolas Thienpont himself. They are understandably positive about the growing season, the quality and homogeneity in the wines in 2015. They are amongst the purest and most harmonious you will come across in St Emilion. The emphasis is on work in the vineyard ‘winegrowing’ and getting the best expression of the contrasting terroirs they consult for at Château Berliquet, Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Beauséjour.

The Thienponts have been consulting at Château Berliquet since 2008. They have made substantial improvements in this period to the vineyard with much replanting in 2012. The terroir is on sun-facing limestone not a million miles from Angélus. The wine has a distinctive mineral quality and ages very well. The 2015 is amongst their best yet for me [the first tasting of Berliquet at Pavie-Macquin being slightly ahead of the second sample I tried later in the week at the UGCB in busier tasting conditions].

Château Larcis Ducasse needs little introduction. It has a fabulously sunny spot on the Côte de Pavie neighbouring Château Pavie itself. When mature this is indulgent and flamboyant St Emilion [Robert Parker recently anointed the 2005 with the legendary ‘100’ score] but it also has the stuffing to age. This is a 2015 with exceptional purity and, perhaps a bit like the 2005, I’d expect this to fill out even further during ageing. I do hope the Parker effect won’t lead the property to elevate prices too much this year. Interestingly they have moved on to ageing Larcis in larger 500 litre barrels. Twice the size of traditional barriques, these barrels give half as much oak contact with the wine. It’s a trend to be encouraged.

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Next up in the range is Château Pavie Macquin. The vineyard here is on the top of St Emilion’s plateau with limestone-clay soils. This is always a more powerful and obviously structured effort than Larcis. The wine ages superbly too. There is a lot of evident power here in 2015. It is amongst the best young samples from this property I have tried. It represents the 20th vintage that the Thienponts have been consultants at Pavie Macquin.

Finally to Château Beauséjour. This is a tiny 7 hectare vineyard [5.4ha in production] that is close to Château Canon. It is situated on limestone-clay soils. Yields are low [34hl/ha] but the wine doesn’t exhibit any of those exaggerated, super charged aromatics that define St Emilion’s great pretenders. Here, simply, is Rolls-Royce refinement on the nose. The aromatics are stunningly beautiful and there is delicious purity on the palate. This wine is giving a remarkable amount of joy already from barrel but clearly has years ahead of it. There is wonderful length on the finish.

Across the range on these top terroirs, with this wine growing team, 2015 is easily one of the most exciting vintages I have yet tasted on the Right Bank.

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Château Berliquet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep; vibrant at edge; minerals, chalk with violet lift from the fruit; supple and attractive entry; these wines are so nicely managed in the cellar; well balanced and finely judged. Best Berliquet yet for me. [8.5ha in production, 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 35hl/ha]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 3/4/16. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+ [second tasting UGC 6/4/16] Mid depth; dark core; purple edge; little more minerally; black fruits beneath; harmonious entry on the palate; chalk and wet rocks; minerality again; little dry towards the back but the fruit returns on the end; grip on the finish. Appetizing. Will work very well. Drink 2022-2028. 90-92+

Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Big and bold in colour; vibrant at rim; lots of depth; plenty of fruit; not pretty exactly but there is a suave quality to the fruit profile; nicely cool fruit; excellent quality; purity and ripeness without over doing it; real clarity; fresh and still nimble. This will fill out and will probably get even better than the score I’m giving it  now. Let’s see. Lovely terroir adjacent to Pavie. [9ha in production, 37hl/ha, 87% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 3/4/16. Drink 2021-2035. 94-96+ [Second tasting UGCB 6/4/16]: Mid depth; purple edge; stone and mineral note; opens up with ripe black fruits; plums and cherries; lots of extract and matter but extremely refined palate; needs to meld a fraction on the finish. Lots of matter and extract – but not at all extracted in style. Pure. Drink 2021-2035. 94-96+

Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Deeply coloured; saturated; pure fruit; minerality with some plums and ripe qualities; unadorned by oak; real clarity to the wines.  Like the purity here. Attractive finish – very long on the palate with real purity. Amazing purity and length. [13ha in production, 40hl/ha, 84% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 3/4/16. Drink 2022-2035. 94-96+ [Second tasting UGCB 6/4/16]: Deep and saturated look; substantial wine; powerful; certain minerality here; full and structured palate; lots of extract but freshness too; not tired or over-worked. Needs ten years. Vin de garde St Emilion. Drink 2025-2035. 94-96+

Château Beauséjour [Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Deep and glossy; opaque at centre; lovely briary fruit; pure and really joyful; caressing but with intensity; lovely purity; great length; unadorned with oak or other distractions. This is exceptional young Bordeaux. Very exciting wine. [5.4ha in production, 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 34hl/ha]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 3/4/16. Drink 2023-2035. 96-98+

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