There is no doubt that 2016 is a brilliant year for St Estèphe. The dry summer and sunny harvest conditions played to the strengths of the terroir here. I’ve already marvelled at the harmony and balance of the wines at Château Calon Ségur, Château Montrose and Château Cos d’Estournel in this vintage, but, as ever, there are a bevy of other wines at lower price points that have produced wonderful red wine. Château Beau-Site, Château Le Boscq, Château Capbern, Château Le Crock, Château Domeyne, Château Haut-Marbuzet and Château Meyney, to name a few, have all made excellent wines. St Estèphe is really an appellation to seek out in 2016 [as in 2014 too]. It is also one of my favourite Bordeaux appellations.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Clauzet’
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.
For me St Estèphe has produced some of the 2014 vintage’s most exciting wines. I’ve already written on Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Calon Ségur and Château Montrose who have jointly produced a set of 2014s can will probably hold their own alongside their remarkable 2010s. But this is not the end of the story. Very impressive wines have also been made at Château Capbern, Château Lafon-Rochet, Château Meyney, Château Ormes de Pez, Château Phélan Ségur, and Château Tronquoy-Lalande. Château Le Boscq, Château La Commanderie, Château Le Crock are all potentially excellent too. I’m a great fan of this appellation usually but 2014 is a wonderful vintage here. Given the reasonable pricing of so many of these wines, this vintage provides an excellent hunting ground for price-savvy Bordeaux enthusiasts.
Overall St Estèphe was a little more variable than I’d expected in 2013. The wines are fresh, vigorous and pretty high in acidity. Some lack charm and there’s not the full-fat quality of the good years here. There are successes. I’ve posted already on Calon-Ségur, Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Meyney and Château Montrose, but Château Phélan Ségur looks nicely polished, Château Capbern Gasqueton is very pretty and I was particularly struck by Château de Pez. There are also solid efforts from Château Haut-Marbuzet, Château Tronquoy-Lalande, Château Le Crock and Château Ormes de Pez, though they lack the flair of the best vintages.
St Estèphe is one of Bordeaux’s great value appellations. The wines are noted for their flavour, depth and chew. Vineyard work over the last decade allied to later picking has yielded greater tannin ripeness in the wines and, combined with modern winemaking techniques, this has made St Estèphe overall a much more attractive prospect than maybe it used to be. Nevertheless the wines still have the guts and material to maintain the district’s reputation for producing long-lived reds. A major tasting at Vinexpo back in the summer focused on the 2010 vintage. There is no doubt that this is a very strong year for St Estèphe.
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.