Frédéric Faye thinks he has made the best Château Figeac yet in 2019. This is partly because a significant parcel of newly replanted vineyards have just come on stream, now making it into the blend, wine from a plot on enviable terroir that borders neighbour Cheval Blanc. Together with other developments in the vineyard, and also in the cellar, for example increasingly plot by plot vinifications [even intra plot ferments], these collectively have added even greater precision to the wine. This, allied to the 2019 growing season – very dry and sunny but with just the right amount of moisture at the right time – had led to what Faye describes as “200% Figeac.” It is certainly a super impressive 2019. It is polished and pure with super precision, fine extract and the most Rolls-Royce of tannins.
2019 looks like a strong vintage for the properties of Stephan von Neipperg. His right bank estates, headed by La Mondotte and Château Canon-la-Gaffelière have succeeded well. The vintage here reminds me of the freshness and balance of the wines in 2016. La Mondotte has all its usual plush beauty, but there is great depth to this wine. For me it is up there with the very best St Emilion in 2019. Clos de l’Oratoire has produced another excellent wine. It is laden with sumptuous black fruits but also has joy and life. In fact, all these 2019s show freshness across the board. At the trail-blazing Castillon property, Château d’Aiguilhe, another fine red has been produced. It has excellent depth and minerality, alongside a racy Sauvignon Blanc. Over in Pessac-Léognan, Clos Marsalette has deep, earthy blackcurrant tones and produced a full-bodied, candy and pear drop scented white.
It is always a joy tasting through a range of wines that Jean-Luc Thunevin is involved with. The famous iconoclast of St Emilion has a hand in a large range of properties on both the right and left bank in Bordeaux as a consultant. His flagship wine is his own Château Valandraud and evidently Thunevin has pulled out all the stops again in 2019. This is powerful St Emilion with wonderfully lush fruit tones and extract that is simply knockout. This year I was also struck by his juicy Clos Badon which was looks fruit packed and joyful. The white Valandraud is also worth a special mention. This is usually a remarkably intense and concentrated white. It is once again bold and weighty in 2019 and also has good zap and energy.
Château Laroque has produced another sophisticated wine in 2019. It is less coquettish than the 2018 here, but it is super refined with greater classicism and definition. There are layers of ripe fruit on the palate which has a savoury twist. It is quietly terrific. It marks the fifth vintage for director David Suire, who is taking this well-positioned historic property from strength to strength. I’m not quite sure how he manages it. He also has a hand-in Château Beauséjour and Château Larcis Ducasse with Nicolas Thienpont. A busy man clearly. His dedication at Laroque is certainly paying off. This 2019 is another great buy for the savvy consumer of Bordeaux.
Another set of brilliant wines have been made in 2019 at the properties that Nicolas Thienpont manages in St Emilion. Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Pavie Macquin and Château Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse] are always flagship estates for me in terms of purity and refinement. Tasting them is never less than a joy. 2019 marks the fifth vintage in a row that these properties are successful. Great wines have been made 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 (and 2014 was no embarrassment either). The 2019s are most reminiscent of the 2016s in many respects. Yet whilst they do have something of the fabulous texture of that vintage, they carry their power more noticeably, more in the way that 2010 did. 2019 is evidently a brilliant vintage at all these properties. While they rival 2016, qualitatively there are differences. As David Suire put it, “If the 2016 was a vintage that came down from the sky and the stars, 2019 is a vintage that has come up from the earth.” This evident classic minerality also makes 2019 stand in contrast to the exuberant joys of the 2018s here too.
Hubert de Boüard de Laforest thinks their 2019 might just snip what he describes as their ‘baroque’ 2018 at Château Angélus. Certainly the wines are quite different. There is greater freshness in Angélus 2019, which has real focus on the palate and a suave quality to the tannins. It is fractionally lower in alcohol than 2018 [14.4% as opposed to 14.7%] and overall the impression is of a complete and classy grand vin. Carillon d’Angélus too looks super good. The emphasis is on the Merlot here and there is a terrific seam of black fruit running through the wine. The Number 3 is zappy and fresh with the accent on the fruit. Amongst the other proprietary wines that the de Boüards are behind, Château Bellevue is wonderful. Lashings of creamy black fruit hide a significant structure. In Lalande de Pomerol, Château La Fleur de Boüard is a delight, with plenty of fruit and zap, while sibling Le Plus is fantastically concentrated. Over in Montagne St Emilion I was particularly taken by a fine and savoury Dame de Boüard which impressed. It shows the beauty of the Cabernet, alongside the Merlot, in this vintage.