St Estèphe is awash with good value Bordeaux. This most northerly appellation in the Haut-Médoc produces firm yet fleshy reds with lots of extract and tannin. Modern methods of vinification combined with the picking of tannin ripe grapes have reduced the coarseness that characterised some of the wines here a decade or so ago. Full-throttle St Estèphe always was but now there’s much more finesse to be found here. A list of affordable, good quality wines from this appellation would certainly include Château Capbern, Château Le Crock, Château Le Boscq, Château Tronquoy-Lalande and Château Beau-Site. In very top vintages these wines are of classed growth quality. There’s another tier above which includes Château Haut-Marbuzet, Château Lafon-Rochet, Château Cos Labory, Château Phélan-Ségur, Château Ormes de Pez, Château de Pez and Château Meyney. At the top of the tree, classed growths Château Calon Ségur, Château Cos d’Estournel and Château Montrose often make wine of equivalent quality [in very different ways] to the neighbouring Pauillac first growths.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Lafon-Rochet’
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.
St Estèphe enjoyed an excellent vintage in 2010. The vintage showed great promise early on and later at Vinexpo at an in-depth tasting of the appellation’s wines two years ago [see those notes here]. The MW Institute’s line up of five of the top properties of the appellation last November, albeit sans over-achiever Château Meyney, shows the wines to be living up to their potential. Almost all have much more to give with further bottle age. Château Montrose is full of power and weight, but also freshness. This is yet another Montrose with years of life ahead of it. Château Calon Ségur has produced beautiful Bordeaux that has the most wonderfully moreish texture. Château Cos d’Estournel was a little backward compared with the rest, and certainly compared to its own overt 2009, but there is greater freshness and typicity to Cos in 2010. Château Cos Labory has made another chewy, substantial wine. Qualitatively it rivals their fabulous 2009.
Five St Estèphe properties tasted back in October were pretty much in keeping with the appellation’s character as well as the style of the 2012 vintage. Top crus Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Montrose and Château Calon Ségur don’t show at the UGCB, but there was plenty of finesse displayed by Château Lafon-Rochet. Château Ormes de Pez, Château de Pez and Château Phélan Ségur were consistent, with good fruit and attractive harmony. Château Cos Labory was chewy but should settle.
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.