St Estèphe has made some very good wine in 2015 but the appellation has not done as well as in 2014 in my book. This is down to the heavy rain showers in mid September, the residual effect of ‘Storm Henry,’ that arrived on the eve of the Merlot harvest, a key varietal component to many of the wines in St Estèphe. While conditions improved from mid September until early October, how estates and different terroirs responded to these conditions determined the relative levels of success. There are some top wines in the appellation – Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Montrose, Château Calon-Ségur, Château Lafon-Rochet and Château Meyney spring to mind – but there is not the uniformity here for me of 2014, nor the exciting power in the wines. Whether 2015 will claw back some of that ground during elévage remains to be seen.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Beausite’
Only five properties were shown from St Estèphe at the MW Institute event late last year but it included all the big guns: Cos d’Estournel, Calon Ségur and Montrose. Of these, Montrose showed real classicism with tremendous power and freshness. Cos seemed even thicker and richer than I remembered it. Let’s just say it continues to be an extremely bold winemaking statement. But Calon is the one that really does steal your heart. It has produced absolutely delicious Bordeaux in 2009. It is the star buy. Special mention also goes to Château Lafon-Rochet. It has made a wonderfully concentrated St Estèphe in this vintage.
Twenty-minutes isn’t a long time, but it’s a lifetime if, on the eve of harvest, your vineyard is sat beneath a storm producing hail the size of golf balls. As extreme vineyard events go the St Estèphe hail storm that struck on September 1st 2011 was a dramatic as they come. Not every producer was mind you. It was highly localised, passing some vineyards, clipping others but decimating quite a few. Basil Tesseron, owner of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, who made good wine in the end, described it as the viticultural equivalent of falling off the Empire State Building – a microscopically short event ending in oblivion. The immediate fear, apart from the reduction in yield and damage to those vines physically stripped of their leaves, branches and fruit, would have then been the secondary threat of rot on the remaining bunches. This fear would have been made more complex by the fact that the vineyards were approaching maturity but not quite ready to pick. Do you wait and get proper phenolic ripeness or risk losing the lot to rot? Or do you pick quickly but end up with green wines and unripe tannins? Add all this to a vintage that had seen conditions see-saw and which overall was pitifully dry. Pouring over meteorological charts at that few days of harvest was probably all you could do – that and having a stiff gin and tonic and go with your instinct. Close your eyes and feel the force Luke.
St Estèphe has done well in 2010 and has produced big, strong and dense wines. Certainly this isn’t a vintage for early drinking and there is not the succulence of 2009 in the best wines this year. There is richness but it’s shown more in strength rather than in opulence. There is also noticeable grip on the palates amongst the wines along with plenty of dense tannin and high-ish alcohols. The wines will be long lived and will need time in bottle. This reflects the overall vintage conditions and partly Merlot’s reduced yield. The variety was affected by coulure because of unsettled weather during flowering, a problem that hasn’t so much affected quality but has reduced the quantity of Merlot in some blends.