I used to save the best to last. When I first started visiting the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin I’d turn up at the end of primeurs week. What a fool I was. Now it’s the first place I head to in St Emilion. It was interesting hearing Jean-Luc’s thoughts on the 2017 vintage. In places unaffected by frost, on the best terroirs he reckons it’s the equivalent to 2014 and even 2015 in places. Importantly Château Valandraud itself was not affected by the late April freeze. Other properties that Thunevin advises were, including some of his own properties such as Clos Badon in St Emilion and Le Clos du Beau Père in Pomerol. If volumes are down, in many cases quality is good to very good, judging from the wines tasted in Thunevin’s cellars. I love the energy that he manages to generate in his own wines and for Valandraud fans [read Jean-Luc fans] his 2017s do not disappoint.
Posts Tagged ‘St Emilion Grand Cru Classé ‘A’’
Hubert de Boüard is understandably delighted by the quality of the wine at Château Angélus in 2016. It is remarkable St Emilion that rivals the prodigious 2015. With price up 16% [33% in Sterling terms] on the ’15 the de Boüards clearly think they have something even better on their hands. Yet it is the quality of the other wines here that dazzled particularly this year. Carillon d’Angélus is no slouch. It is nicely layered with wonderfully refined tannins. Château Bellevue showed brilliantly. It has lots of beautiful perfumed fruit and a great texture. Château Daugay is enticing and open. It is all satin and black cherry tones currently. Château Roc de Boisseaux comes fully loaded with black fruits and is lots of fun. 2016 looks impressive across the range here.
I spent a second day in St Emilion, starting at Château Pavie-Macquin to taste the range of wines that Nicolas Thienpont crafts as well as listening to a review of the climatological aspects of the vintage. It was an opportunity to hear Stéphane Derenoncourt discuss his thoughts on 2016 as a ‘miracle’ vintage. He sees it as the third in a trilogy of impressive vintages starting in 2014. Next up was Château Angélus to look at their stable of wines and discuss the vintage with Hubert de Boüard as well as examine the expanding range that he consults for. This gave me an opportunity to taste the first of a series of seriously impressive wines from the left bank in Pauillac and the Haut-Médoc. I then completed tastings at the Grand Cercle held at Château Montlabert. Here I assessed a dozen or so St Emilion Grand Cru Classés [generally exciting and homogeneous] as well as tasting more wines from the left bank appellations St Julien, Pauillac, Margaux and the Haut-Médoc. My overall feelings was how exciting this vintage is for both right and left bank, perhaps left especially.
Vignobles Perse have produced a bevy of excellent St Emilions in 2015 culminating with an extremely powerful and wonderfully polished Château Pavie. It is exceptional. But the entire range here is extremely impressive this year. Château Monbousquet has concentration and lush fruit tones, Château Lusseau [close to Monbousquet and owned by Pavie’s technical director] is textured and complete. Château Pavie Decesse is full of flamboyant, glossy, textured fruit and has very considerable power. And Bellevue-Mondotte is a seductive beauty. There is plenty of weight and saturation across the range, but there is also a degree of freshness too and nothing tips the scales for me. These are extremely impressive wines.
Day four on the primeurs trail saw me return to the right bank. There is no doubt that 2015 is at its most consistent and impressive in St Emilion. Arriving at Château Pavie, appropriately enough I thought in a Napa Valley-like fog, it was actually interesting to see how they had opted for comparatively modest extraction here this year. Yes there was substance and extract, but also composure across an exciting range. Pavie itself is genuinely impressive, as is Bellevue-Mondotte [quite ravishing], Pavie-Decesse and Monbousquet [much better than its 2014]. I was also struck by the quality of their Castillon, Clos Lunelles. Château Cheval Blanc was up next. Chalk and cheese of course with Pavie. There is wonderful beauty and elegance here in this 2015 offering from Cheval Blanc, which comes from its unique terrior that borders Pomerol. The wine reminds me of their 1985. Pierre Lurton is very excited by the quality. They are comparing to 2010 and 1998, in terms of the dry, yet cool maturity [more on this later].