There is no doubt that 2019 is an excellent vintage in St Emilion. There are many fabulous wines displaying beautiful fruit, concentration and supple tannins. Alcohols are high – fifteen degrees is not uncommon – but many wines still retain surprising freshness. With potentially high tannin levels, the foot has been held off the gas in the cellar by many properties, showing a more nuanced approach to winemaking here than perhaps a decade ago. It shows how the heady days of over-extraction appear to be behind us in the appellation. If 2019 doesn’t quite have the exuberance of 2018, or the heavenly balance of 2016, it could be seen as a hypothetical blend of the two, or a combination of 2009 and 2010, but without the late picking and extractive practices that characterized that period.
Posts Tagged ‘St Emilion Grand Cru’
It is always a joy tasting through a range of wines that Jean-Luc Thunevin is involved with. The famous iconoclast of St Emilion has a hand in a large range of properties on both the right and left bank in Bordeaux as a consultant. His flagship wine is his own Château Valandraud and evidently Thunevin has pulled out all the stops again in 2019. This is powerful St Emilion with wonderfully lush fruit tones and extract that is simply knockout. This year I was also struck by his juicy Clos Badon which was looks fruit packed and joyful. The white Valandraud is also worth a special mention. This is usually a remarkably intense and concentrated white. It is once again bold and weighty in 2019 and also has good zap and energy.
Hubert de Boüard de Laforest thinks their 2019 might just snip what he describes as their ‘baroque’ 2018 at Château Angélus. Certainly the wines are quite different. There is greater freshness in Angélus 2019, which has real focus on the palate and a suave quality to the tannins. It is fractionally lower in alcohol than 2018 [14.4% as opposed to 14.7%] and overall the impression is of a complete and classy grand vin. Carillon d’Angélus too looks super good. The emphasis is on the Merlot here and there is a terrific seam of black fruit running through the wine. The Number 3 is zappy and fresh with the accent on the fruit. Amongst the other proprietary wines that the de Boüards are behind, Château Bellevue is wonderful. Lashings of creamy black fruit hide a significant structure. In Lalande de Pomerol, Château La Fleur de Boüard is a delight, with plenty of fruit and zap, while sibling Le Plus is fantastically concentrated. Over in Montagne St Emilion I was particularly taken by a fine and savoury Dame de Boüard which impressed. It shows the beauty of the Cabernet, alongside the Merlot, in this vintage.
Many delicious wines have been made in St Emilion in 2018. This is a vintage with the most sumptuous, sublime fruit. While the wines do not have the magical balance of 2016 or 2015, with their fresher acidities, on the best terroirs there are a range of wines here that rival 2009 in character for sheer exotic ripeness and joy, but without the evident over-extraction that characterised the appellation a decade ago. Yes, these are wines with plenty of tannin, enviably ripe tannin, and in all but a few cases I would confidently expect the wines to settle by bottling. As in 2009 this will be a vintage that will drink well from the very beginning, but that has the evident structure to last.
Château Angélus looks very strong in 2018. There is the usual depth and power but the bold tannins suggest a long life. The wine is now made by Hubert de Boüard’s daughter Stephanie. The property is on conversion toward organic growing so the vagaries of the 2018 vintage [the wet start with its threat of mildew] were a challenge. Overall, however, volumes are not down and the considerable [yet ripe] tannin profiles are a testament to the extraordinary sunny and hot weather that defined the second half of the growing season in 2018. Other wines in the de Boüard stable also look impressive in 2018. I’m a great fan of Chateau Bellevue and Chateau Daugay and both are excellent in this vintage. Chateau Roc de Boisseaux also is very good.
There was a slightly mournful note last year in the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin. The frosts of 2017 had robbed many properties that Jean-Luc consults for on the right bank of much, if not all their crop. This year during primeurs, the mood was jubilant. 2018 is evidently a lovely vintage in St Emilion on the best terroirs. Yes, there might be more noise emanating elsewhere in Bordeaux in 2018 [in St Estèphe especially] but believe me there is an army of seductive reds on the right bank too. As ever there is so much to enjoy in the wines Jean-Luc consultants for and he’s pulled out all the stops in his own wines. Château Valandraud is always pretty remarkable stuff. This year it is a wonder.