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.
Posts Tagged ‘St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé’
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.
Nicolas Thienpont describes the 2013 vintage as a ‘winemaker’s nightmare.’ The honesty is refreshing. Still despite the bad dreams and insomnia the properties he manages in St Emilion with his son Cyrille and winemaker David Suire have performed pretty well in 2013. There is surprising richness to Château Larcis Ducasse, genuine plushness to Château Pavie Macquin and sinewy purity to Château Beauséjour[Duffau-Lagarrosse]. Château Berliquet is sweet, ripe and quite fleshy in the middle. Just how did they manage it?
It must be great to have a business card with Clos Fourtet on one side and Château Poujeaux on the other. Matthieu Cuvelier has. He and his father Philippe clearly have an eye for smart purchases. The family bagged Clos Fourtet in 2001 and Poujeaux in 2008. Neither were exactly in the doldrums at the time but both properties have perhaps since produced some of their finest wines under their new ownership. A visit during primeurs week in early April to taste the 2013 vintage also provided the opportunity to taste the Cuvelier’s most recent acquisitions, Château Côte de Baleau and Château de Grandes Murailles, as well as Clos St Martin, all St Emilion Grand Crus Classé.
There can be no doubt that outside Pomerol, St Emilion has put in the strongest performance in 2012. There is great beauty to the best wines. The vintage was not without its own problems of course as detailed in earlier posts – various heavy bouts of rain in October; the difficult start to the growing season which lead to uneven and protracted flowering; the risks of mildew in early July and botrytis in October. The most attentive and diligent have triumphed and the quality of the best Merlot is stunning.
It was Friday. No ordinary Friday but the last day of a grueling three-week primeurs period. At close to seven o’clock, I was over two hours late for a rendezvous with one of Bordeaux’s more controversial figures. It seemed highly unlikely that he would still be around to greet me. What an embarrassment. Every owner-winemaker in Bordeaux by now would surely have shut up shop, poured the champagne and put up their feet. Not Jean-Luc Thunevin.