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.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Grand Corbin’
The MW Institute lined up sixteen leading St Emilion chateaux from the 2010 vintage last November, a small but revealing snapshot of the region’s wines. The best had attractive texture and exhibited lots of fruit, weight, extract and tannin. Some were giddy with alcohol. Overall the elements certainly feel denser in the glass in 2010 than in 2009. The vintage also feels a little closed by comparison with a similar line-up to last year, and there is perhaps more chew to the tannins than in ’09 too. Top of the group for me were Clos Fourtet, Château Belair Monange and Château Larcis Ducasse. Château Angélus, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Figeac, Château Pavie Macquin, Château Canon and Château Canon-la-Gaffelière are also impressive. There were also beautifully glossy efforts from Château Berliquet, Château Grand Corbin and Château La Tour Figeac.
Overall St Emilion is something of a mixed bag in 2013. Quality is better than you might expect given the dreadful vintage, conditions that were especially tricky for Merlot, the district’s principal grape. It was badly affected by poor weather at flowering, which reduced yields and led to poor fruit set; later the humid conditions at vintage and the threat and rapid onset of rot [botrytis] also adversely affected the variety. Still St Emilion has made a number of attractive and well-made wines. But there are plenty of disappointments too. Some are thin and over-worked; others hollow. Quality follows terroir and those with cash. The best wines have forward and attractive fruit flavours and some are competitively priced. While it’s a complex picture, overall the wines of St Emilion are probably a more immediately appealing and joyous bunch than their left-bank counterparts in 2013.
St Emilion proves a difficult appellation to generalize about in 2009. Clearly some truly great wines have been made here. Angélus, Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Belair Monange are absolute beauties. Many other properties have made forward and delicious wine but quite a few remain as thick, ponderous and extracted as they did early on. Maybe this is as it always is in St Emilion.
There can be no doubt that outside Pomerol, St Emilion has put in the strongest performance in 2012. There is great beauty to the best wines. The vintage was not without its own problems of course as detailed in earlier posts – various heavy bouts of rain in October; the difficult start to the growing season which lead to uneven and protracted flowering; the risks of mildew in early July and botrytis in October. The most attentive and diligent have triumphed and the quality of the best Merlot is stunning.
I think St Emilion has made a good fist of 2008. There’s plenty to enjoy in a lot of the wines if you can get past the winemaking in some cases – unless you’ve a fondness for treacle and liquorice. The best here are full and generally have plenty of fruit and no shortage of ripe tannin. There are quite a few who seem to like to make their wines super-ripe and super-reduced – wines of staggering concentration without regard for drink-ability – though the modesty of the vintage has largely kept things in check.