I’ve been following Château Berliquet, Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Pavie-Macquin closely for the past half dozen vintages, properties all managed by Nicolas Thienpont. It was interesting to look at the wines in more detail back in April at a tasting held at Pavie-Macquin with Cyrille Thienpont and David Suire. Along with the 2013s shown, we had another look at 2011 in bottle and, fascinatingly, a decade on, the 2004s. There was also the opportunity to taste Chateau Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse] 2013, 2011 and 2004, a property which the Thienponts have been managing since 2009.
Posts Tagged ‘St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé’
Overall St Emilion is something of a mixed bag in 2013. Quality is better than you might expect given the dreadful vintage, conditions that were especially tricky for Merlot, the district’s principal grape. It was badly affected by poor weather at flowering, which reduced yields and led to poor fruit set; later the humid conditions at vintage and the threat and rapid onset of rot [botrytis] also adversely affected the variety. Still St Emilion has made a number of attractive and well-made wines. But there are plenty of disappointments too. Some are thin and over-worked; others hollow. Quality follows terroir and those with cash. The best wines have forward and attractive fruit flavours and some are competitively priced. While it’s a complex picture, overall the wines of St Emilion are probably a more immediately appealing and joyous bunch than their left-bank counterparts in 2013.
The notes that accompany Château Cheval Blanc in 2013 describe the vintage as ‘a minefield’. There were casualties. The team here produced no Château Quinault L’Enclos this year after a late July hailstorm effectively destroyed the crop. The hail missed Cheval Blanc but the other myriad meteorological hazards that affected the growing season could not be escaped. Even with great terroir, a dedicated team and all the resources available in the winemaking world, Cheval Blanc remains a delicate effort in 2013. Measured and not at all forced, it will doubtless fill out during elévage, but it will always remain elegant in style.
Château Angélus has particularly fine terroir in St Emilion with south facing sun exposure. It looks to have produced a very good wine in 2013. There’s composure and depth to Angélus and seductive violet tinged aromatics. There’s some weight and density here too and it all adds up to a pretty complete effort.
There’s a buzz of excitement when you enter the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin, tucked hidden in St Emilion’s narrow cobbled streets. It’s the anticipation of the guilty pleasures that lie ahead. You can certainly taste the effort has gone into Château Valandraud in 2013. The deep colour, the flattering and seductive aromatics, the volume of material and extract, are all hallmarks of the tiny yields, ultra strict selection and artisanal, micro production. It makes Valandraud an almost muscular effort, seemingly from a different vintage entirely when set against many wines this year. That will offend the purists but Thunevin won’t care. He’s made his reputation rocking-the-boat and working against the grain.
Good terroir and extremely low yields have enabled Stephan Von Neipperg’s St Emilion properties to turn in good performances in the challenging conditions that the 2013 vintage presented. There is gloss and plushness to the wines as well as attractive sap and freshness. They may not have the length or richness of the big years here but in the context they are impressive wines.