I think St Emilion has made a good fist of 2008. There’s plenty to enjoy in a lot of the wines if you can get past the winemaking in some cases – unless you’ve a fondness for treacle and liquorice. The best here are full and generally have plenty of fruit and no shortage of ripe tannin. There are quite a few who seem to like to make their wines super-ripe and super-reduced – wines of staggering concentration without regard for drink-ability – though the modesty of the vintage has largely kept things in check.
My favourites, as usual, are those with a fair dollop of Cabernet Franc in the blends. In this respect Chateau Figeac, Chateau Trottevielle and Chateau Canon look very good. Also impressive were Clos Fourtet and Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot. The latter is almost always full and seductive and 2008 is no exception here. Chateau Cheval Blanc is the Cabernet Franc wine par excellence but for me it does’t quite succeed alongside the other Bordeaux first growths in 2008. It’s a very good wine in the St Emilion context but it is not as off the charts as I’ve see in other 2008 reviews. Chateau La Dominque had more minerality than usual and should work out well. I thought Chateau Canon-La-Gaffelière was overdone for me, though it will appeal to some. At the other end of the scale Chateau Haut Corbin also looked good in the line up.
I still don’t know what to make of Chateau Pavie. It was recently promoted along with Chateau Angélus [not on tasting] to the exalted ranks of the Premiers Grands Crus Classé group A, so it’s obviously has its followers, Robert Parker especially. Off the back of that it has also been one of the fastest climbers on the Liv-Ex fine wine index in recent months. Yet pretty much every time it comes up in a tasting I struggle to understand it. Yes the 2008 has remarkable density, concentration and extract but it has ferocious levels of tannin. I guess I’ve not had any mature Pavie under the Gérard Perse reign so I’ve no experience of how the wine plays out. I’d be delighted to hear from anyone who has. I sometimes have problems with Chateau Pavie Macquin and their 2008 is also overworked and extracted to me.
Chateau Balestard La Tonelle
Deep and saturated look; strawberry fruit, very ripe unctuous notes; some prunes and darker fruits; quite solid and full; chewy, dense palate. Inky and dense if you like that sort of thing. 87
Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot
Saturated colour; dense at core; nicer nose; sweet fruit, but meaty fruit with more complexity; lots of depth; ripe palate, lots of meat and fruit characters and supple tannins. Depth. Very good. 92
Dense and saturated colour; lifted unctuous style; strawberry and red fruits; feels likely to be quite thick; figgy, prune-y palate; loads of fruit and oak tannins; bit plodding and over-extracted. 86
Chateau Cadet Piola
Mid depth; some strawberry, some wet stones; quite extracted; some thick qualities; dryness to the palate; has some chew and grip but lacks flesh on the bones. Pushed too far. 85
Mid depth; deepish core; steely, some spicy, blackcurrant notes; quite sturdy feel; feels fresh. Chewy palate with lots of grip and extract. Firm in acid and in tannin. Classical. 90
Deep and saturated; black at centre; very ripe and late picked in feel; saturated with black fruits and molasses; unctuous and fat; palate very thick indeed; lots of extracted tannin feels a bit OTT. 89
Chateau Cap de Mourlin
Deep at centre; brighter more lifted strawberry fruit; bit one dimensional; some leaf and herbal tones; mid depth; some fruit; not too thick here; some tannin and chew. Dry at end. Little simple. 86
Chateau Cheval Blanc
Mid depth; some lift on the nose; chalk, minerality; chewy spicy palate; good depth and fruit – all nicely done but lacks the apparent flair of the other first growths for me. 92+
Deep and saturated look; thick and slightly stewed note; undoubtedly lots of fruit here; ripe; saturated palate. Thick and chewy. OK just not me. 87.
Deep and pretty saturated; very lifted red fruit nose; some VA; quite overworked style; chewy and over-extracted palate. 86
Mid depth; rose petal tones, blackcurrant and savoury tones; far more measured and composed [I’m a Figeac fan] blackcurrant, some plums and spice; more delineated style. Nice linear palate with good extract and balance. Very pure. Terrific length. 93+
Deep and dense; some thick ripe notes; sweet oak; lots of liquorice and fig; slightly overcooked palate; grip and acid here too. Chew and bite. Fresher than expected. Probably will develop OK. 88
Deep and saturated; seductive nose, rich and deep; wonderfully plummy; freshness and purity here; nice palate, plummy and spicy fruit; ripe yet fresh. Very good and clean. Grip and extract but very nice purity of fruit. Not at all tired or overworked [as some]. 92+
Chateau Grand Corbin
Mid depth; red fruits; lifted nose; strawberry fruit; quiite super ripe in feel but also simple; chewy palate, thick, ripe, some figgy notes. Tannin and dry on the finish. 87
Chateau Grand Mayne
Thick and opaque colour; raisin and strawberry nose; feels very late picked; lacks life; thick and rich on the palate but almost Amarone like. Chewy finish. Not me. 86
Chateau Haut Corbin
Deep and saturated; attractive combination of fruit, sweet oak and earthy characters; feels more terroir driven than some; this works. Chewy, dense palate but with earthy appealing edge that feels good. 90
Chateau La Couspaude
Deep and saturated look; ripe strawberry tones; quite clean; some figgy notes; thick and rich; not that bad though a little one dimensional. 87
Chateau La Dominique
Deep and dark; some bottle stink; wet stones, some earth and rust, feral quality; chalk too; quite elegant palate with acid and grip. Lots of grip and chew. Goodish effort 89+
Deep and saturated; chocolate and earth tones; earthy notes on the palate; not that bad; some chew. 88
Deep and thick in the glass; earthy lifted nose; little bottle stink; red fruits beneath; very ripe; feels thick and rich; ripe big palate; lots of fruit and chew. Some wood. Very bold. Works. 90
Arterial in colour, saturated; very thick and intense; some earth, resin and dark chocolate and black fruits; clearly laden with fruit and material but how will it play? Satin quality at first to the fruit but then comes the power; really dense and extracted; chewy; very chewy. The most extracted wine here. 14.5% even in 2008. A whopper. Not me. 88?/100
Chateau Pavie Macquin
Saturated; heavy in colour; very unctous; amarone like; red fruits; very saturated and lifted; almost over-ripe notes; thick and extracted. Plodding and feels tired on the palate [or maybe I am from all the extract here..]. 88?
Chateau Petit Faurie de Soutard
Deep and dense; little easier on the senses; some red fruits and oak; not reduced; easy open St Emilion. Chewy but the fruit and style is appealing. 88+
Deep and saturated; some oak resin; very big ripe and thick appealing? Not me. Heady, broad palate, overwhelming fruit. Lots of extract. Drinkable? 87?
Mid depth; nice lift; clean and pure Cab Franc; poor man’s Figeac. Very polished and thank God some delicacy at last. Mid weight, sense of terroir and balance. 92+
Tags: 2008, Chateau Balestard La Tonelle, Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot, Chateau Berliquet, Chateau Cadet Piola, Chateau Canon, Chateau Canon La Gaffelière, Chateau Cap de Mourlin, Chateau Corbin, Chateau Dassault, Chateau Figeac, Chateau Grand Corbin, Chateau Grand Mayne, Chateau Haut Corbin, Chateau La Couspaude, Chateau La Dominique, Chateau Larmande, Chateau Pavie, Chateau Pavie Macquin, Chateau Petit Faurie de Soutard, Chateau Soutard, Chateau Trottevielle, Clos Fombrauge, Clos Fourtet, Clos L'Oratoire, St Emilion