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.
Posts Tagged ‘St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé’
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.
Château Figeac is bold and aromatic in 2014. The vintage has undoubtedly played to the strengths of the Cabernet dominant blend here [60% Cabernets] and while there is the usual finesse and poise at Figeac, there is fascinating texture too in 2014. It is undoubtedly the finest wine the property has produced since the terrific 2009 and 2010 combo. The vintage marks the second year here for consultant Michel Rolland. There has been some tinkering in the cellar but you don’t sense any undue influence from Bordeaux’s most famous and controversial figure, perhaps other than to further pronounce what is already there.
St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé Château Canon has magnificent walled terroir atop the famous limestone plateau to the south and south-west side of St Emilion. It has produced a very pure and harmonious 2014 with a floral, perfumed quality that is very attractive. Croix Canon is plummy and fresh with layered fruit and nice delicacy. John Kolasa’s long stint at the helm here, a period which has coincided with the renaissance of the property since it was bought by Maison Chanel, comes to an end with this vintage as Kolasa has announced his retirement. It marks the end of an era.
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.
Very impressive wines have been made at the various estates that Stephan von Neipperg runs in St Emilion in 2014. Premier Grand Cru Classé Château Canon-la-Gaffelière is bold and concentrated with wonderful texture, Grand Cru Classé Clos de l’Oratoire is glossy and full flavoured, saturated with ripe fruit. The tiny Premier Grand Cru Classé La Mondotte vineyard has produced something typically voluptuous and caressing but also with deceptive power and concentration. For sheer value and immediacy, the over-achieving Château d’Aiguilhe in Castillion also delivers the goods in 2014 – a great introduction to the seductive charms common to the Neipperg wines.