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 ‘St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé’
Château Cheval Blanc is cool and pure in 2014. There is no doubt that the Indian summer favoured the later ripening Cabernet Franc here, which is such an important constituent in the grand vin [it represents 45% of the blend]. The resulting wine is aromatic and elegant, the palate beautifully sophisticated with plenty of extract and purity. All the elements are held in proportion and there is impressive length on the finish. Cheval Blanc doesn’t usually come out of the starting gate first during primeurs, so expect this to gain further weight and depth during elévage. While vintage comparisons may often be erroneous [but fun] I reckon we are perhaps looking at something similar to 2001 or 1985 here in Cheval Blanc 2014.
Château Angélus is magnificent in 2014. The wine is very pent up and tightly packed with fruit but it has wonderful precision and focus on the palate. The tasting experience comes together beautifully on the finish. It is a seamless narrative, if that doesn’t sound woefully pretentious, and it makes Angélus one of the most impressive wines from the right bank in 2014. It also represents the thirtieth vintage of Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, who, despite this achievement, still looks youthful in his distinctive flowing silver locks. The quality of La Fleur de Boüard in Lalande de Pomerol is also excellent in 2014. Good wines also produced at Château Bellevue and Château Daugay in St Emilion.
Gérald Perse spares no expense on the making of his wines in St Emilion, nor has there been any penny pinching on the recent renovations and redevelopment of the buildings at Château Pavie. The combination of the Côte de Pavie’s remarkable aspect – the vineyards sloping down from exposed limestone outcrops above – with the newly minted stone buildings that form the offices, tasting rooms and chais lined below, is very impressive indeed. It’s a statement about ambition and seriousness of purpose, traits apparent in the Vignobles Perse range. There’s a masculine quality to Château Pavie in 2014. There is a lot of extract, weight and matter that makes this a formidable and dense wine, but there is also beautiful quality to the fruit. Château Bellevue Mondotte displays considerable gravity and Château Pavie-Decesse shows super concentration. Certainly these are not wines for the faint of heart.
There is no more informal, carefree primeurs tasting to be had than the one on offer in the speakeasy St Emilion cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin. ‘JLT’s own range of properties is laid out on a bench before you, followed by those he consults for and distributes [and there’s a multitude of these]. You’re given a set of large glasses, a table between some stainless steel tanks and it’s time to help yourself. If the approach is refreshing, the wines are even more so – glass after glass of provocative, exotic, remarkable Bordeaux passes nose and lips. It’s a purists nightmare but a hedonists dream. And sat at the top of the Thunevin tree is Château Valandraud itself. The wine is as much a statement about the man and his ambitions as it is an expression of terroir, [though that is perhaps true of all great wine] and, frankly, who cares when the stuff tastes so damn good. And Valandraud 2014 is damn good in my book.
Matthieu Cuvelier is very happy with the quality of his Clos Fourtet 2014, made in something of a roller-coaster vintage with a wet and grey July and August saved by the record breaking Indian summer which lasted until mid-October. This combination of a cool summer with a hot and dry autumn has produced a deliciously pure Clos Fourtet, with pronounced aromatics, supple tannins and attractive freshness. Château Côte de Baleau and Château Les Grands Murailles, also made by the Cuveliers, are both attractive and ripe St Emilions.