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Bordeaux 2015: Côtes de Bordeaux

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0959 (1)2015 is an excellent vintage for the Côtes de Bordeaux. I was especially impressed with Castillon and Francs this year, but there are also many very good wines to be had from Blaye, Cadillac, Sainte Foy and Bourg. There are seductive fruit tones to the reds, some on the voluptuous spectrum, others with more minerality. The ripeness is high [as are the alcohols] but there is also freshness too. Without doubt these appellations will provide some great bargains for the Bordeaux enthusiast. There are many excellent wines that are of grand cru classé quality but that will be without that price ticket. I will be looking to the Côtes de Bordeaux first for my own cellar in Bordeaux 2015s – and Castillon and Francs particularly.

Top of the tree are the usual over-achievers in Castillon: Château d’Aiguilhe, Château Alcée and Clos Lunelles. All three are contrasting, partly due to terroir, partly through vineyard and winemaking approach. There are impressive efforts too from Château Ampélia, Château Côte Montpezat, Château Veyry and Clos Puy Arnaud. In Francs I was impressed Château de Francs, “Les Cerisiers”, Château Puygueraud and Château La Prade. In Cadillac very good wines have been made at Château Clos Chaumont and Château Reynon, and in Sainte Foy, Château Hostens-Picant and Lucullus look good, the latter is especially bold.

A few words about the growing season in 2015. David Suire and Cyrille Thienpont at Nicolas Thienpont, St Emilion consultants and owners of properties in Castillon and Francs, describe almost perfect conditions for flowering in first fifteen days of June. Very hot weather continued in the region until the end of July. There was some water stress on the limestone-clay terroirs and the grapes developed thick skins. Wetter and cooler weather arrived in late July and continued into August. This rain helped veraision [the colour change in the grapes], allowing it to be as quick and even as the earlier flowering period. The cooler August conditions then continued into September. The first half of the month was cool and cloudy but largely dry and conditions gradually warmed up. They report a rather slow development in skin ripening which necessitated a plot by plot approach to picking. August rain apart, they see 2015 as a very dry vintage on the Right Bank in terms of the water balance, the equation between rain input versus vine transpiration and evaporation. Overall they are very excited by the quality of 2015.


Likewise Vignobles Comtes von Neipperg described a similarly ideal growing season. Flowering occurred in excellent conditions, which was followed by an unbroken dry spell from mid June to the end of July. Organic practices are now applied at their Castillon property d’Aiguilhe [though the property is not yet organic certificated]. These approaches have led to harvests where the physiological maturity and phenolic maturity of the grapes are more in sync and where the harvests are earlier. At Château d’Aiguilhe the harvest began with the Merlot on 23rd September and finished with the Cabernet Franc on 8th October, 2015.

The following wines, listed in alphabetical order, were tasted mostly blind at the Grand Cercle event held at Château Bellefont-Belcier on Sunday 3rd April. Several other properties were tasted with Nicolas Thienpont at Château Pavie-Macquin, Vignobles Comtes von Neipperg at Château Canon-la-Gaffelière and Vignobles Perse at Château Pavie.

Château Alcée, Castillon, Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep and concentrated look; satin; red fruits; sweet; some chalky aspect but round and harmonious; nicely balanced and no trace of oak. Nicely done. Well judged winemaking. This is in the upper tier. [95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2019-2028. 88-90+

Château Ampélia, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep and saturated look; vibrant edge; ripe and fat; quite jam packed on the nose; pent up; concentrated; full; extracted; lots of fruit here; quite stoney; nice finish; good Bordeaux fruit in the end; has some elegance to the finish despite the concentration of the aromatics. [95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2019-2028. 88-90+

Château Bel Air La Royère, Blaye

Healthy; purple hues at edge; legs; sweet fruit; little plum; sweet and simple but attractive; sweet and spicy; ripe attack; simple but well done; vivacious and attractive easy drinking red. Zap and life on the finish. [65% Merlot, 35% Malbec]. Drink 2019-2024. 85-87

Château Cap de Faugères, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Mid depth; some purple at meniscus; riper fruits; little more later picked strawberry tones; little extracted on the palate; rather drying and stewed; needs to settle but sweet fruit back at end; bit extracted and tannins dryish. Should settle. [85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87

Château Carignan, Cadillac – Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep colour; dark centre; earthy purple at edge; again ripe plums with strawberry notes; glossy fruit; supple and round; quite forward and easy; some mineral notes and spices; elegant mid palate; lacks a bit of stuffing but goodish. Drink 2019-2015. 85-87

Château Carignan Prima, Cadillac – Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep and dark; legs; coconut and liquorice from the oak; sweetness; sweet entry; fruit beneath; quite seductive; coffee and mocha notes but rather wood dominated aromatics [though integrated]; finishes well; sufficient fruit; little ‘modern’ and ‘worked’ stylistically. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87

Château Côte Montpezat, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Mid depth; little loser to the rim than the past two; little coconut and spices; some pure plummy fruit beneath; little more fruit driven and less worked than last; attractive; some spices; little lacking in density; a little ‘sinewy’ in the middle with some oak influence; more thoughtful effort. Doubtless will fill out. Drink 2019-2028. 86-88+

Château Clos Chaumont, Cadillac – Côtes de Bordeaux

Mid depth; little redder and looser at edge; little sweat at first; some black chocolate; some plum; coffee and plum notes; little acidic on the palate; actually this is more minerality; nice finish; some purity here; nice fruit showing and a degree of elegance. Little oak on the finish [which is reasonably long]. [53% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2019-2025. 86-88

Château d’Aiguilhe, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Lovely depth; saturated colour; tight to edge; lovely ripe fruits; ripe plums and cherry notes; very glossy; lifted; strawberry tones; really pretty on the nose; little mineral at the back; sweet and ripe; very ripe plums; some spices and wet rock notes; very nice freshness on the finish; emphasis on the sweet fruit. Coquettish. [85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 14.3% alc, 40hl/ha, 30% new oak]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92+

Château Haut Bertinerie, Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux

Mid depth; some purple at edge; spices; little marzipan; some sweet plum; clean palate; nice elegant fruit; little angular in the middle; will settle nicely; elegant example of Côtes de Bordeaux. Positive finish. [60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87+

Château Hostens-Picant, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux

Mid depth; earthy purple; lively attractive fruit; little blackcurrant jam notes; sweet fruit on the attack; nice purity; impressive fruit characters; good stuff; pretty Bordeaux; nice acid twist on the end. Some length. Good effort. Moreish. [70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89+

Château Fougas Maldoror – Côtes de Bourg

Deep at centre; heathy concentration; purple edge; lacks the depth on the nose than the others; little nutty/woody element; not so clean; later cleared up; more plums and softer fruits; with some perfume [grows in glass]; nice purity on the palate; some Bordeaux qualities with some rocks; needs to settle but has some class; bite; perhaps a little austere on the finish. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87

Château de Francs, “Les Cerisiers,” Francs- Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep and bold; very deep looking; colour tight to rim; some smoke; ripe fruits; some plums; lift and some alcohol; clearly promising; layered effort; ripe fruit; plenty of it; quite extracted but tannins good; chewy with depth; has real promise; chew and sap on the finish; also pretty decent effort. Promising. Minerality here. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2019-2028. 88-90+

Château de Laussac, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep; earthier; little duller in the glass than some; ripe, figgy elements; some VA lift; more forward softer & riper style; flamboyant and oak influenced [MLF in barrel sample I’d imagine]; oaky palate but sweet ripe fruit; little disjointed with the wood; needs to meld; gutsy; could be good. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87+

Château de Laussac, Cuvée Sacha, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Deeper; more concentrated; deep and opaque at centre; liquorice and sweet plum; layers; some coffee and black chocolate notes; impressive and modern; thick and ripe; woody; wood spices; bit harsh and disjointed currently but nice fruit beneath when it settles. Wood v dominant and slightly drying at present. Drink 2019-2028. 85-87+

Lucullus, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux

Bold, saturated colour; deep and arterial; solid; little porty; thick and rich on the nose; obviously layers of fruit here; opens up; plums; some tar; ripe; thick entry; chew but not overdone; this is serious stuff and needs a few years; ambitious; wet rocks; density; chew and zap too; good length – serious length. Impressive. Drink 2019-2028. 88-90+

Château La Prade, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep colour; saturated look; nice and vibrant; spices; menthol; vivacious wine; nicely balanced and moreish; emphasis again on the fruit; spicy and menthol; chewy and fresh. Positive wine and will develop well. [85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 40hl/ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 88-90+

Château Puygueraud, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux

Mid depth; some spice; round; minerals; nicely done; emphasis on the fruit; nice and vibrant; alive. Well balanced. [80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 45hl/ha]. 2019-2025. 86-88+

Château Reynon, Cadillac – Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep and vibrant at edge; purple hue; more life to colour than some; ripe fruits; solid but some layers; full; nicely integrated wood; little marzipan; stones; wet rocks; [good]; fresh entry; grip; wet rocks; quite strong acidity; mid weight; some refreshment; lacks a bit of middle but might fill out. [81% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87+

Château Veyry, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Deep and saturated; bold colour; legs; plum; some spice; full; little wet rock; tar and some liquorice; little hardness; little tight; quite packed palate; nicely judged; moreish in character; has depth and chew and a certain elegance; like the sap and balance here. Good stuff. [95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2019-2025. 88-90+

Clos Les Lunelles, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Black and arterial at centre; some purple at edge; lifted and sexy; ripe plums, ripe cherry; very attractive on the nose; very ripe [but not overdone]; nice fruit; new oak! Needs to soak this up; stones and minerality; lots of grip and matter; impressive wine. [80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.4% alc, TA 3.48 pH 3.61, 34hl/ha, 80% new oak]. Drink 2019-2030. 90-92+

Clos Puy Arnaud, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux

Heathy colour; vibrant meniscus; ripe, attractive fruit; nicely composed on the nose; pretty; some plums and floral notes; some extra sweetness; ripe fruit; nice body; little boiled sweet, plum and blackcurrant notes; lack bit of density in the middle but elegance and soft finish. [95% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc]. Drink 2018-2025. 85-87


Château Puygueraud, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux

Silver/gold; minerals and oyster shells; nice wax character; with weight and balance and freshness; saline quality. Good wine. Bring me a dozen oysters! [60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sauvignon Gris. No oak.]. Drink 2016-2018. 87-89+

Château Les Charmes Godard, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux

Silver gold; mineral but with some depth; rounder; more grapefruit; zesty; real weight to this too; really lively and zesty. Really lively and zappy whites. Refreshing but has the weight to deal happily with lobster. [50% Sémillon, 25% Sauvignon Gris, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, aged in 500L barrels and on lees for 6 months.] Drink 2016-2022. 90-92+

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