There are some excellent wines in St Emilion this year. While the 2017 vintage will always be remembered for the severe April frost, unlike 1991, that other frost affected year, there are a great many impressive wines in the appellation [and the same could never be said for ‘91]. Still the frost has created inconsistency, affecting the blends of some, reducing the volumes for many, and wiping out vineyards for others. Interestingly critic Antonio Gallioni has called 2017 a right bank year. Certainly many of the top wines here are really good, friendlier perhaps that the correct reds on the left bank, even though the left bankers technically profited more from the growing season. Yet as Cyrille Thienpont at Pavie Macquin pondered, ‘It is not really a case of left bank versus right this year, or Merlot versus Cabernet, more a question of which terroirs performed best.”
Posts Tagged ‘Cyrille Thienpont’
My primeur visits to Château Pavie Macquin are really rewarding. There is so much to learn from the collective wisdom of Nicolas and Cyrille Thienpont and David Suire about wine growing on the right bank. Last year there was an excellent technical presentation about the 2016 vintage, this year a convivial lunch after tasting the 2017s. The lunch underscored a need to polish my St Emilion blind tasting skills [and improve my French] but also gave me the opportunity to consider the many virtues of the 2011 Château Beauséjour hDL [spot on right now], the 2004 Château Pavie Macquin [don’t underrate this vintage here] as well as two bottles of Château Larcis Ducasse, the 2009 [a forward beauty] and a spectacular bottle of the 1964, [fresh as a daisy]. With previous vintages evidently in great shape, how did the Thienpont’s portfolio fair in 2017?
It is always a pleasure to taste the Thienpont wines each year at Château Pavie-Macquin. Not only does the property have an excellent tasting room that looks back towards the town of St Emilion, but there’s always an intelligent discussion of the vintage to be had with Cyrille Thienpont and winemaker David Suire. This year I also had the chance to discuss the vintage with Nicolas Thienpont himself. They are understandably positive about the growing season, the quality and homogeneity in the wines in 2015. They are amongst the purest and most harmonious you will come across in St Emilion. The emphasis is on work in the vineyard ‘winegrowing’ and getting the best expression of the contrasting terroirs they consult for at Château Berliquet, Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Beauséjour.
2015 is an excellent vintage for the Côtes de Bordeaux. I was especially impressed with Castillon and Francs this year, but there are also many very good wines to be had from Blaye, Cadillac, Sainte Foy and Bourg. There are seductive fruit tones to the reds, some on the voluptuous spectrum, others with more minerality. The ripeness is high [as are the alcohols] but there is also freshness too. Without doubt these appellations will provide some great bargains for the Bordeaux enthusiast. There are many excellent wines that are of grand cru classé quality but that will be without that price ticket. I will be looking to the Côtes de Bordeaux first for my own cellar in Bordeaux 2015s – and Castillon and Francs particularly.
Cyrille Thienpont showed the range of wines that the Thienponts manage on the Right Bank at a comprehensive tasting at Château Pavie Macquin earlier this month. The jewels here are in St Emilion and include Château Berliquet, Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Pavie Macquin itself and Château Beauséjour [hDL]. These wines look very good indeed in 2014. Larcis Ducasse has beautiful ripeness and seduction, Pavie-Macquin power and strength and Beauséjour fantastic purity. The Nicolas Thienpont properties in the Côtes de Francs [Château Puyregaud and Château La Prade] and the Côtes de Castillon [Château Alcée] are also very much worth considering in 2014. On the question of whether the vintage is a year for the Cabernets [Franc especially so here on the Right Bank] Cyrille Thienpont sees that is it just as much a question of soils as varieties. Cabernet Franc from the best terroirs is very good indeed and benefitted the most from the September and October sun, but in the right spots the Merlot has succeeded well too.
Bordeaux’s primeurs week ended for me, as it began, in St Emilion. While perhaps 2014 will be seen as a vintage for the Cabernets and therefore the Left Bank, there is in fact a lot to like about the texture and freshness of the best wines from Pomerol and St Emilion. Cyrille Thienpont who works with his father at many Right Bank properties [including Berliquet, Larcis-Ducasse and Pavie-Macquin], said it was as much the terroir that mattered [well drained, clay-limestone] as the variety [Merlot/Cabernet] in St Emilion. These thoughts were echoed in Pomerol by his cousin Alexandre Thienpont at Vieux Château Certan [the 2014 VCC is an intellectual beauty by the way]. What pleased him was the marriage of the Merlot and the Cabernet on his property. The vintage, he believes, allowed the elements to combine well, and that the strength of the wine [and perhaps the vintage?] was in the combination rather than in any of the particular elements here on the Right Bank.