Let’s not beat about the bush. St Emilion has had a glorious vintage in 2015. I think I’ve scored it even more highly than 2010 in many cases. It’s a different beast of course – in fact more of a beauty. There is a supple quality to the fruit, a seductive aspect. It makes so many of the wines delicious. If they don’t have the prodigious densities achieved in 2010, that’s not a bad thing. Many of these wines are caressing and voluptuous. There’s more apparent freshness too than in 2009. There are far fewer of the jammy over-ripe qualities that affected some wines here that year. I think I’m also detecting a perceptible shift in winemaking emphasis on the right bank too. This new paradigm hasn’t quite arrived everywhere, but I think we are starting to witness the positive results of changes in the approach and sophistication of vineyard management [and an increasing movement to organic methods], harvesting at better combined ripeness [not over-ripeness] and greater sensitivity in the cellar in terms of extraction. For me there is no doubt that these 2015 St Emilions are the most attractively styled primeur wines I’ve yet had from this varied and fascinating appellation.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Figeac’
I’m a great fan of Château Figeac. The finesse here can be exceptional, akin to neighbour Château Cheval Blanc. I loved the wines produced in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014. 2015 is amongst the best of these, if not perhaps the very best in this set of vintages. There is terrific purity here, akin to 2014, but with even more texture perhaps. As a lover of Cabernet the wine is thrilling. The typical blend over the years has been roughly equal portions of Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon. It’s a field blend that matches Figeac’s gravelly terroir. In 2015 that proportion rises to 43% Cabernet Sauvignon with roughly equal proportions of the other grapes. It accounts for the wonderful blackcurrant aromatics and the strength and length of the wine. It is knockout.
So what are the principal characteristics of the Bordeaux 2015 vintage? Firstly there is a real beauty to the fruit tones in the red wines this year. Time after time, especially on the Right Bank but also on the Left I kept writing ‘beautiful,’ ‘pretty,’ and ‘delicious.’ There is freshness, despite pretty high alcohols in the main. The vintage is almost a hypothetical blend of 2009 and 2010, but with less evident structure and weight than those vintages. For me it recalls 1985 in terms of that vintage’s early beauty and freshness – and ‘85 remains in great shape today. But the 2015 vintage is by no means homogeneous. In fact there is considerable variability. What is in no doubt is that ‘15 is terrific in St Emilion. There is concentration and delight in so many wines there this year. It has also been strong vintage in the surrounding Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, especially Castillon and Francs.
Overall 2014 is an impressive vintage judging from what was in the glass in many of the St Emilion’s tasted during primeurs week last month. There is perhaps more weight and structure than 2012 [itself a very good vintage in St Emilion] and, overall, 2014 is probably the best since 2009 and 2010. It also has greater apparent acidity than in those two years. What’s exciting is the combination of the freshness, the aromatics and the depth in the best wines. There are also excellent wines at all levels, not just at the top echelons. That means there is value to be had in 2014, where the price is right. Overall it is undoubtedly an excellent year for Cabernet Franc here. The variety loved the Indian summer. Merlot is also impressive on the best terroirs. It’s a generalization, but the wines seemed less over-extracted than usual, with greater emphasis on proportionality and harmony. This may be the vintage speaking, but let’s hope it reflects more balanced, adaptive winemaking approaches. And even where properties have gone hell for leather, generally the ball stays in the air. The notes on the following 107 wines represents my most comprehensive primeurs tastings yet of the wines of St Emilion.
Château Figeac is bold and aromatic in 2014. The vintage has undoubtedly played to the strengths of the Cabernet dominant blend here [60% Cabernets] and while there is the usual finesse and poise at Figeac, there is fascinating texture too in 2014. It is undoubtedly the finest wine the property has produced since the terrific 2009 and 2010 combo. The vintage marks the second year here for consultant Michel Rolland. There has been some tinkering in the cellar but you don’t sense any undue influence from Bordeaux’s most famous and controversial figure, perhaps other than to further pronounce what is already there.
The highlights from Wednesday’s 2014 tastings were the juicy, appetizing quality of the Pomerols shown at JP Moueix and the depth and breadth of the white wines in Pessac-Léognan. In St Emilion there are some impressive wines [Figeac, Cheval Blanc, Clos Fourtet] but there is some inconsistency – some reds are a little extracted relative to their fruit. The best had bright vivacious qualities, and there was certainly a voluptuous aspect to the set of Neipperg wines shown at Canon-la-Gaffelière. There was plenty of extract, matter and acidity on display amongst the reds at the UGC event held at Château Smith Haut Lafitte. I generally enjoyed the more composed and harmonious – Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Olivier, Pape Clément and Smith Haut Lafitte were especially impressive.