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Bordeaux 2015: St Emilion

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0825Let’s not beat about the bush. St Emilion has had a glorious vintage in 2015. I think I’ve scored it even more highly than 2010 in many cases. It’s a different beast of course – in fact more of a beauty. There is a supple quality to the fruit, a seductive aspect. It makes so many of the wines delicious. If they don’t have the prodigious densities achieved in 2010, that’s not a bad thing. Many of these wines are caressing and voluptuous. There’s more apparent freshness too than in 2009. There are far fewer of the jammy over-ripe qualities that affected some wines here that year. I think I’m also detecting a perceptible shift in winemaking emphasis on the right bank too. This new paradigm hasn’t quite arrived everywhere, but I think we are starting to witness the positive results of changes in the approach and sophistication of vineyard management [and an increasing movement to organic methods], harvesting at better combined ripeness [not over-ripeness] and greater sensitivity in the cellar in terms of extraction. For me there is no doubt that these 2015 St Emilions are the most attractively styled primeur wines I’ve yet had from this varied and fascinating appellation.

It’s the consistency that is striking. The St Emilion Grand Cru and St Emilion Grand Cru Classé appellations really stood out when tasted blind at the Grand Cercle event at Bellefont-Belcier. After a string of comparatively inconsistent vintages, there was far greater uniformity of quality than usual. Many of these wines will be excellent value I’d imagine [though this will depend on the exchange rate for UK customers…]. Amongst the St Emilion Grand Cru tasted, Château Boutisse, Château Carteau Côtes Daugay, Château Croix Cardinale, Château du Parc, Monolythe, Château Patris, Château Pindelfleurs, Clos Debreuil [especially good] and Château Godeau impressed in different ways.

The fifteen Cru Classé tasted blind were a particularly impressive bunch, led by Château Bellefont-Belcier itself [a sublime effort that evokes Larcis Ducasse] with Château Sansonnet, Château Fombrauge, Château Destieux, Château Grand Corbin Despagne, Château La Marzelle, Château Fonplégade, Château Laroze, Château Le Prieuré, Château Fleur Cardinale and Château de Pressac all looking very impressive. Again priced attractively all these will all provide wonderfully beautiful St Emilion to drink.

I’ve already written individually on the great wines produced by the very top properties in the appellation. Château Angélus, Château Beauséjour [Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], Château Canon, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Figeac, Château Pavie, Château Valandraud, La Mondotte and Bellevue-Mondotte are all approaching perfection in my book. To this group I’d also add Château Belair-Monange – a beautifully pure yet concentrated St Emilion from the team at JP Moueix.

Just fractionally beneath these [for now…with elévage they may well catch up] are glorious efforts from Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, Château La Dominique, Clos Fourtet, Château Pavie-Macquin and Château Pavie Decesse. Château La Dominique and Clos Fourtet, in particular, stood out at the Union des Grand Cru event held at Château La Couspaude. If the price is right Château Berliquet, Château Soutard and Château Villamaurine should also prove excellent bets for those of you seeking value [like me!] and quality.

Château La Gaffelière looks impressive. It is usually a bit subdued during primeurs tastings but the sample I tasted showed precision, depth and minerality. Château Troplong-Mondot continues to explore the outer reaches of extraction and alcohol. The concentration and sublimation are formidable and the tannins ripe but I’d like to see how genuinely drinkable this is down the track.

Château La Serre tasted alongside Clos St Martin and Château Chauvin at JP Moueix in their Libourne offices were very attractive – the latter two were especially seductive and appealing. I will report on the Moueix Pomerols [looking very good generally] in a forthcoming post [next but one].

Now let me go back to what I alluded to at the beginning of the post about greater subtlety in St Emilion’s cellars this year. A great many wines I tasted showed that you can, somehow, have your ‘cake and eat it’ [an ancient English phrase examined here]. Many St Emilions in 2015 are loaded with fruit and tannin, but the fruit tones are fresh and plummy, not often jammy, and the tannins silky. Even the properties that favour extraction had a balance and digestibility. There are exceptions of course. There seems a greater emphasis on purity, some estates are reducing the percentage of new oak, or the size of oak vessels. Organic practices appear to be yielding fruit that achieves physiological ripeness earlier too, so that the resulting grapes retain freshness and are less jammy. Part of this is the beauty of the 2015 year, where the dry and hot weather was mediated by the cooler August and calm September.

But I think there is also a change in the zeitgeist. Part of this is the slow staged exit of Robert Parker from the Bordeaux scene. Last year he gave up en primeur reviewing; today he relinquishes Bordeaux reviewing entirely. It’s the end of an era. Along with it passes the idea of one man’s definitive judgements guiding a market. Tastes are changing too. We’re seeking greater purity and authenticity in our wines. We want them to feel less overtly manipulated and, when they are, we want them fresher and more vivid. All these things are feeding into the way the winegrowing wind blows in Bordeaux and this is undoubtedly affecting St Emilion too.

Market moving in the absence of Parker now falls to James Suckling. He has the flamboyance and profile, yet his tastes are more varied, his notes more instinctive and immediate, [sometimes casual even] in comparison to Parker’s dense notes. Interestingly he has given spectacular reviews to many in St Emilion this year [and I think I agree with him in many cases]. Still, no-one will probably ever achieve the effect Parker had had on style and on price. You could literally see prices climb by the hour on merchant’s lists in the run to the publication of his definitive in bottle reviews. Now the picture is more complex, the voices multiple and more nuanced. And of course you really only need to visit this site if Bordeaux’s your thing!

Back to St Emilion. The following notes were taken over several days of tasting as I’ve mentioned. Most of the St Emilion Grand Crus and many of the St Emilion Grand Cru Classés were judged blind at the Grand Cercle tasting at Château Bellefont-Belcier on Sunday 3rd April, 2016. The Union des Grand Crus tasting at Château La Couspaude on Wednesday 6th April was supplemented by half a dozen individual chateaux visits that day. All these wines were not tasted blind. The major omissions were, in no particular order, Château Ausone, Le Dôme, Château Trotteveille, Château Beau-Séjour-Bécot and Château Tertre Rôteboeuf. I hope to correct these omissions soon.

Judging young wine, you are judging a fast moving target. The great wines are usually obvious yet many of those that feel disjointed and clumsy early on often clear up and make excellent wine in bottle. Because of its constant evolution definitive judgements on a wine are problematic – though how we all crave them – especially in numerical terms. Given that caveat, then, as ever, here are the notes – and they are more important than the numbers…

The following reviews are listed in alphabetical order [largely..]…

Angélique de Monbousquet, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated colour; colour tight to the rim; ripe and voluptuous nose; little jam; attractive; olives; black fruits; nicely textured; chew on the palate with some minerality; stones; some cherry fruit on the finish; good stuff. [60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38hl/ha, 14.3% alc, 3.76pH, 3.16TA, aged in 100% one year old oak]. 89-91+

Château Angélus, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, ‘A’

Deep and saturated; opaque at centre; wonderfully lush but precision here too; beautiful poise; wonderful aromatics; such juicy fruit; a very joyful vintage [not hot, sweet or overly ripe]; black fruits; sweet ripe plums; lovely seam of fruit on the nose; opens up to reveal layers of aroma; lovely palate; laden with fruit; considerable structure beneath the lush fruit; still nicely woven together with excellent depth – not the tannins of say 2010 evident; more lushness but also with some freshness too; nice length on the finish. Needs ten years but the fruit is beautiful here in 2015. [62% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2022-2035. 97-100

Arômes de Pavie, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated look; colour tight to the rim; quite seductive; violet lift; black fruits; nicely interwoven oak; provençale olives; spices; depth; lots of material; quite elegant mid palate; nice chew and sap on the finish. Olives and black fruits on the finish. Length. [66% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.3% alc, 36hl/ha, pH3.73, TA 3.18 50% new oak]. Drink 2021-2030. 91-93+

Château Balestard La Tonnelle, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Thick and dark looking; ripe and jammy nose; fruit but a little rasin-y; lifted; jam; never changes here; sweet ripe entry on the palate; ripe, extracted but not too dry on the finish; soft and easy fruit with little chew at the back. Drink 2020-2030. 87-89

Château Beauséjour [Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Deep and glossy; opaque at centre; lovely briary fruit; pure and really joyful; caressing but with intensity; lovely purity; great length; unadorned with oak or other distractions. This has lovely length. Exciting wine. [5.4ha in production, 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 34hl/ha]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 3/4/16. Drink 2023-2035. 95-97+

Château Belair Monange, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Mid depth; healthy colour; right to the rim; fragrant and fruity aromatics; plums; nice delicacy; like Canon aromatically [the terroir neighbours the property]; some spices; lovely palate; quite delicious St Emilion – light on its feet; but plenty of depth; excellent wine. I may be underrating this. Very good length indeed. [88% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 24ha]. Drink 2020-2035. 95-97+

Château Le Bel Air Ouÿ, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and dark; more red at edge; little fresh and reductive; has bitter cherry notes; dark chocolate; fresh quite fresh and spicy; nice Bordeaux flavours; nice sap and freshness; has good acidity and feels like St Em. Good – if less lush – more spicy style. Drink 2020-2028. 90-92+

Château Bellefont Belcier, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and opaque; ripe fruit in the ascendant [ie what you arrive at first]; quite lush and fully ripe – verging towards the red fruits – satiny Larcis Ducasse style almost; nice and full; little wood and dryness but the fruit does meet in the middle; rich; some fruitcake spice; very good indeed. Best yet from Bellefont-Belcier. [72% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13ha]. Drink 2020-2028. 92-94+

Bellevue Mondotte, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated colour; legs; rich looking; very ripe lifted black fruits; glossy and seductive; sweet attack; plenty of fruit – glossy and creamy; textured but with soft tannins; a certain elegance; new oak influence on the palate but plenty of length; little chew at the back; sweet matter that is concentrated. [90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.7% alc, 20hl/ha, TA 3.50, pH 3.60, 100% new oak]. Drink 2022-2032. 96-98+

Château Berliquet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep; vibrant at edge; minerals, chalk with violet lift from the fruit; supple and attractive entry; these wines are nicely managed in the cellar; nicely balanced; nicely judged. [8.5ha in production, 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 35hl/ha. Tasted Pavie Macquin 3/4/16. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+ [second tasting UGC 6/4/16] Mid depth; dark core; purple edge; little more minerally; black fruits beneath; harmonious entry on the palate; chalk and wet rocks; minerality again; little dry towards the back but the fruit returns on the end; grip on the finish. Appetizing, Will work very well. Drink 2022-2028. 90-91+

Château Boutisse, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated; ripe and liquorice with black fruits; some freshly cut wood; nice fruit here; attractive; some wood and depth to the fruit; spices.; nice freshness to the fruit; this will work nicely in the end. I like the tightness on the finish if a little dryness. [85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Carmenere]. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89

Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Deep colour; more solid and substantive than L’Oratoire; layers; ripe black fruits; very nicely judged; some Cab influence here on the palate with the spicy characters; very supple and approachable; nice depth; soft finish. [55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, Certified organic, 39hl/ha, 55% new oak, 30 day cuvasion, 13.7% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 93-95+ [second tasting at UGC 6/4/16]: Deep colour; substantial aromas; quite a lot of fruit here; sweet ripe plums; spicy note from the Cab Franc; satin fruit to begin with but plenty of guts in the middle and a little chew on the finish; nicely textured; structure here under the satin fruit canopy. Depth. Drink 2020-2035. 93-95+

Château Carteau Côtes Daugay, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; some wet rocks; satin notes; ripe, plummy fruit; soft and easy; lacks structure but easy and supple. Little dryness on the very end. [73% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87

Château Cap de Mourlin, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and extracted looking; purple at edge; heady liquorice and strawberry fruits; not unattractive; little wet rocks too; soft entry on the palate; some marzipan; black fruits; spice; chewy finish; feels a little over extracted but will probably settle fine. Chewy finish. Drink 2020-2028. 87-89+

Château Canon, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Very healthy looking in the glass; deep and purple at edge; legs; mineral tones, some chalk and wet rocks; opens up in the glass aromatically; perfumed, ripe and full; lovely blackcurrant and black cherry tones; layered and enticing; real finesse; beautifully balanced on the palate with lots of matter and substance; length. Spellbinding Canon. [72% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 42hl/ha, 70% new oak; 14.5% alc]. Drink 2022-2040. 96-98+

Le Carillon d’Angélus, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep; slightly looser at rim than Angélus; lots of fruit; spicy fruitcake and mincemeat; full some briary notes; nice creamy tone; nice texture; some minerality; spices and fruit cake notes; stones and some wet rocks; mid weight feel in fact; nice acidity and freshness here; plenty of material here. Nice tannic grip on the finish. [50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2023-2030. 91-93+

Château Chauvin, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and dark; lots of matter on the nose; quite sexy; some pain grille notes with plenty of plummy, spicy fruit tones; nicely layered aromatics; really ripe and overt; full and sweet palate; caressing and ample; really nicely done; will be a seductive beauty. [75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15ha]. Drink 2019-2028. 91-93+

Château Cheval Blanc, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘A’

Deep at centre; healthy looking; beautiful aromatics; lovely Cab aromatics; very pretty; spices; some menthol tones; very nicely made; attractive modesty and elegance; has real ethereal quality, but there is also depth; lovely balance; nice delicacy; freshness; some grip and mineral tones on the finish. Mineral finish and very long. Expect this to fill out further during elévage. [55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc, 100% new oak]. Drink 2022-2040. 96-98+

Château la Couspaude, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Mid depth; purple edge; some black chocolate; black fruits; soft entry on the palate; nice Merlot; some grip and chew to the fruit; structure evident; needs to settle. Goodish effort. [75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon 14% alc] Drink 2020-2028. 87-89+ 

Croix Canon, St Emilion Grand Cru

Depth; legs; purple at edge; red fruits; nicely ripe and pretty; attractive mid palate with good depth of flavour; round and harmonious; lovely fruit; very beautiful. [70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2019-2028. 90-92+

Château Croix Cardinale, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep; ripe and figgy; some red strawberry fruit; some depth; intense; chewy fruit on the palate; some ambition; should settle nicely; has the elements; chewy and density; good palate; texture and depth. This will work well. Has all the elements. [62% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc, 4.5ha]. Drink 2019-2028. 89-91+

Château la Croizille, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep; ripe fruit; little one-dimensional; nice fruit nevertheless; satin and spice; easy and soft; not much to this; early drinking offering. Rather too much coffee and oak on the finish currently. [85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5ha]. Drink 2019-2023 84-86.

Château Dassault, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated look; ripe; masses of black fruits; plums; sweet fruit; nice entry on the palate; nicely handled; purity; not over-extracted; well done and not over worked. Much better extraction and balance than some vintages here for me. [75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2020-2030 90-91+

Château Daugay, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; sweet and ripe; plums, liquorice and molasses; some olive hints and vanilla lift; red fruits; some strawberry notes; satin quality to the wine; quite seductive and sweet; very attractive glass of St Emilion! [60% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.8ha plot] Drink 2020-2028. 89-91+

Château Destieux, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep; earthy at edge; ripe and some marzipan; liquorice and plums; seductive; full and flavoursome palate; nice black fruits and satin tones; good texture; very nice wine. [66% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8ha]. Drink 2019-2026. 90-92+

Château La Dominique, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Lovely dense yet glossy looking colour; saturated but vital; ripe seam of fruit on the nose; black cherry and cassis; nice velvety style on the palate; lovely; beautifully handled extraction and beautiful fruit; very pretty but also substantial; great length. Super wine. I love La Dominique. [85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% alc]. Drink 2020-2035. 94-96+

Le Dragon de Quintus, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid red; solid colour at core; earthy purple/red edge; lovely black cherry and ripe plum aromas; clean and pure; minerality; [76% Merlot, 23% Cab Franc, 1% Cab Sauv]; freshness and elegance; feels medium weight and has a degree of delicacy; little eau de vie on the finish. Mineral. [76% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2019-2025. 89-91

Château Figeac, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Lovely depth of colour; deep at centre but very healthy looking; colour tight to rim; lovely pure blackcurrant aromatics; really great; this has great clarity; minerality; depth on the nose; lovely stuff; great entry; pure fruit; focused layers; great acidity; lovely composure and elegance; really nicely balanced. Terrific effort for me [a lover of the left bank!]. Cool [in the fashionable sense but also in the modesty – but impeccable effort]. Best wine at Figeac since 2009? [43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc, 41hl/ha, pH 3.75]. Drink 2023-2040. 96-98+

Château Franc Mayne, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and arterial; glossy edge; ripe black fruits; liquorice and strawberry jam; soft entry on the palate; very ripe and late picked style; lacks a little definition; little dry and extracted on the finish currently but will doubtless meld in barrel. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc]. Drink 2021-2028. 87-89

Château Fombrauge, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deepish; some black chocolate; bitter cherry; density and chew; solid but with character; purity; minerality; depth and potential; warmth on the finish but nice chew; not stewed. Like this. Classical. [89% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 58 ha]. Drink 2019-2026. 90-92

Château Fonplégade, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Bold and dark; sweet and satin; strawberry jam notes; liquorice too; freshness though; some spices; fruit and grip; quite vivid palate; chewy finish but not over extracted; need to fill out in the middle. Good texture; bit of warmth on the finish. Will be impressive. [95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 18.5ha] Drink 2019-2028. 90-92+

Château Fonroque, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Mid depth; satin and tea; quite unctuous; ripe fruit initially if little stretched in the middle but works; relatively simple compared with some – though should fill in. Wet rocks and stones. Some chew on the finish. Actually could be pretty good. [85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 17.6ha]. Drink 2019-2026. 87-89+

Château La Fleur d’Arthus, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deepish; tight to the rim; dense at centre; ripe and full; mineral edge; sweet attack; ripe fruit; good texture; supple fruit. Good St Emilion. Nice texture. Sturdy. [100% Merlot, 2.5ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 88-90

Château Fleur Cardinale, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Saturated looking; toasty nose; black fruit beneath; rich; good texture and concentration; creamy notes; full and sweet; plenty of extract and body; very good wine in a modern St Emilion style. Coffee and chocolate on the finish. Tannic weight too. [75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24ha]. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+

Château Grand Corbin Despagne, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and dark; nice minerality; satin and red fruits; some spice too; attractive; nice fruit; fresh and clean; some spice; should fill out well. Emphasis on the fruit. Clean finish. Good purity here. [75% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29ha]. Drink 2019-2028. 88-90+

Château La Grangère, St Emilion Grand Cru

Quite deep looking; inky but fruit tones verge on the vegetal; chocolate and coffee notes; dry and extracted palate; this is not me; extracted and chewy. I’d like to see this again after bottling. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6ha]. Drink 2019-2023. 83-84?

Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; ripe; little acetone note; stalky and fresh; mid depth; not that grand; sturdy with some chew on the finish. [75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 15ha planted]. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87. 

Château Laplagnotte-Bellevue, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; lighter at edge; stalky notes; some sour cherry; ballsy and stalky; bit reductive; sour cherry beneath; lacks concentration. Should clean up and fill out but little straightforward at this stage. [70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6ha]. Drink 2019-2023. 84-86

Château Godeau, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated; tight to rim; ripe liquorice notes and black fruits; fleshy and full; ripe and full; quite modern; some tar and black fruit notes; some chew and depth. Finishes a trifle short but will fill out. [95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 7ha]. 87-89

Château l’Hermitage Lescours, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and opaque at centre; some ripeness and sweetness; little stalky note; clean fruit entry; good fruit; density with plenty of extract; sweetness to the fruit; nice finish. Good fruit. [70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.2ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89+

Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Big and bold in colour; vibrant at rim; lots of depth; plenty of fruit; not pretty exactly but there is a suave quality to the fruit profile; nicely cool fruit; excellent quality; purity and ripeness without over doing it; real clarity; fresh and still nimble. This will fill out and will probably get even better than the score I’m giving. Let’s see. Lovely terroir adjacent to Pavie. [9ha in production, 37hl/ha, 87% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 3/4/16. Drink 2021-2035. 94-96+ [Second tasting UGCB 6/4/16]: Mid depth; purple edge; stone and mineral note; opens up with ripe black fruits; plums and cherries; lots of extract and matter but extremely refined palate; needs to meld a fraction on the finish. Lots of matter and extract – but not extracted in style. Pure. Drink 2021-2035. 93-95+

Château Larmande, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated look; earthy at rim; some raisin and jam on the nose; very ripe fruit; chewy and tannic on the palate; drying finish. Needs to settle. [65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% alc]. Drink 2020-2028. 86-89

Château Laroze, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Bold and dark; cream, liquorice and black fruits; stalks and some freshness; nice freshness actually; pure plums and ripe cherry notes; I like this; nice emphasis on the fruit; some spice too; good balance and not too chewy in my book; appetizing and digestible. [66% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28ha]. Drink 2020-2028. 90-92+

Château Lusseau, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep core of colour; saturated look; attractive nose; complexity; layers; sophisticated nose; plums, spices; some darker fruit tones and olives; nice texture on the palate; plenty of extract; nicely handled; little oak to integrate. Not flamboyant but has concentration and texture. Property of Pavie’s technical director. [70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35hl/ha, 13.8% lc, TA 3.35 pH 3.72 60% new oak]. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+

Lynsolence, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deeper; more saturated look; some gloss; ripeness; little lift; some intensity to the aromatics and ambition; some chew and depth; little chewy and extracted though; some coffee; quite strong acids and elements; needs to meld; some forward traction and plenty of ‘matter’. [100% Merlot, 2ha planted]. Drink 2019-2026. 87-89

Château Magrez-Fombrauge, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; red purple edge; satiny and saturated aromatics; quite sexy; red fruits; nice and open; easy red; soft and quite seductive; not pretentious but works well in a sexy, forward style. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 1.7ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 88-90+

Château Mangan la Gaffelière, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; lighter with looser meniscus; little liquorice and sour cherry; more elegant and less depth than former. Light-ish. Lose finish which lacks concentration. [75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10ha]. Drink 2019-2023. 84-86. 

Château La Marzelle, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and extracted looking; solid and sturdy; some dark chocolate; grippy by comparison to some; nice fruit here emerges though; fresh, pretty good in a fresher style. [74% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89

Château Monbousquet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated; reddish edge; opaque centre; ripe black fruits and spices; glossy; polished; lifted aromatics; some dark chocolate and mocha tones too; very integrated though; lush entry; nice texture again; compact but plenty going on; nicer balance here in 2015; much better wine than 2014 – still serious but more ripeness and greater generosity on the mid-palate – and not overdone on the finish. Excellent stuff. [60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon 35hl/ha, 14.5% alc, TA 3.25, pH3.78 70% new oak]. Drink 2020-2035. 92-94+

Château Moine Vieux, St Emilion Grand Cru

Depth in the glass; nice core; pretty and attractive wine; spices; soft and easy; nice and attractive; ripe fruit. Goodish effort. Drink 2019-2024. 85-87

Château Mondorion, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep; quite saturated; lifted; ripe fruit; some sweetness; nice sweet entry; nicely done; good compact texture; feels complete and not over-extracted. Some chew on the finish. Good solid St Emilion. [79% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 12.4ha planted]. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89+

La Mondotte, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated look; opaque at core; seductive; all velvet and satin; black fruits but difficult to define – more a sense of overall seduction – little dark chocolate and kirsh notes; satin fruit; lovely palate; like ample Grand Cru Burgundy [except it’s not often this good J]; lovely texture and depth – actually very intense – but you just don’t notice it. Lovely length too. [85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 34hl/ha, 80% new oak, 14.2%, 33 days cuvasion]. Drink 2020-2030. 96-98+

Monolythe, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; deep and tight to rim; some stones and wet rocks as well as ripeness; attractive spices too; good purity; spicy and attractive palate; good purity and life; like this; texture and depth. Spices and herbs. Chew on the finish. Impressive. Drink 2020-2025. 89-91+

Château Montlabert, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deepish; spices and wet rocks; full; ripe fruit; has nice quality; round with some depth; nice texture and sap to the fruit; appetizing finish. Good effort. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 12.5ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89+

Château du Parc, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated looking; loaded and concentrated nose; intense; jammy; loaded with fruit but not drying; nice inky palate; ripe and saturated but works; cool quality but also has composure. Good effort. Chewy finish but this needs a few years. Should prove really good. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5ha]. Drink 2020-2030. 89-91+

Château Patris, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deepish; close to edge; purple edge; attractive sweet fruit; some boiled sweets; clean; attractive and fresh on the palate; some perfume; this will be enjoyable St Emilion. Excellent stuff. [95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11.4ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 88-90+

Château Pas de l’Ane, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; fractionally looser; more on the sour cherry spectrum; little stalky; still has freshness; clean and pure fruit; ripe; stalky; quite high tones with quite a lot of bite; should settle in an elegant style. Nice fruit potentially. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 86-88

Château Pavie, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, ‘A’

Deep and saturated colour; dark; tight to the rim; sweet ripe black fruits; intense but also has a beauty; layers; very plush; some mocha notes; very focused seam of fruit on the palate; concentrated but not in the least jammy; this is excellent. Lovely focus on the palate; real concentration but precise; structure and depth; lots of length on the palate; very long indeed. [60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% alc, 36 hl/ha, TA 3.50 pH 3.72 80% new oak]. Drink 2025-2040. 96-100

Château Pavie Decesse, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated look; ripe fruit aromas; nice lift; black fruits and spices; glossy and attractive; rich entry; black fruits; plenty of matter but some elegance in the middle; nice matter and texture; plenty of matter. Needs time. Lots of material and body with plenty of glycerine and texture. Excellent length too. Wow! [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 18hl/ha, 14.65% alc, TA 3.32, pH 3.66 100% new oak]. Drink 2023-2035. 95-97+

Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Deeply coloured; saturated; pure fruit; minerality with some plums and ripe qualities; unadorned by oak; real clarity to the wines.  Like the purity here. Attractive finish – very long on the palate with real purity. Length. Purity and length. [13ha in production, 40hl/ha, 84% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 3/4/16. Drink 2022-2035. 94-96+ [Second tasting UGCB 6/4/16]: Deep and saturated look; substantial wine; powerful; certain minerality here; full and structured palate; lots of extract but freshness too; not tired or over-worked. Needs ten years. Vin de garde St Emilion. Drink 2025-2035. 93-95+

Petit-Figeac, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; purple at edge; fresh looking; lovely Cab freshness – blackcurrants; lift; vivid palate; with freshness but also composure; nice texture and elegance; very nice wine; elegant but with depth; certain modesty; nice fresh finish. Composed. [32% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% new oak]. Drink 2020-2025. 91-93+

Château Pindelfleurs, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; colour lacks some of the depth of others; stalky plum notes; spices; attractive; fresh; little on the reductive side; nice St Emilon; spicy plum and ripe qualities; some acid and balance; nicely done. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 17ha planted]. Drink 2019-2025. 88-90+

Château de Pressac, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Dark and arterial; inky and intense; sublimated style; concentration; some dark and bitter chocolate notes; some smoke and toast; ripe black fruits; sublimated style; rich; full; nicely extracted; plenty of black fruit and warmth at the back. Works very well. [65% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Pressac, 2% Carmenere, 36 ha]. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+

Château Le Prieuré, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Mid depth; earthy edge; savoury saline edge to the nose; freshness; cherry notes; clean; fresh palate; easy plum and Merlot style; light and lacks some concentration. Some joy at the end and soft tannins. Not dry. As easy drinking St Emilion. May fill out further in barrel. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 6.2ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 86-88+

Château Puy Blanquet, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; earthy/red purple; sappy aromatics; vinous; creamy palate; fresh and sappy but with texture and cream on the middle; like this; appetizing St Emilion; nice freshness and twist. Fresh, appetizing, and hopefully inexpensive St Emilion. Twist on the end. [95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 20ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 86-88+

Château Quinault Enclos, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; purple at edge; floral notes; quite perfumed; ripe cherry tones; some black fruit notes; nice glossy palate; sweet and soft entry; elegant; some freshness – harmonious; very soft tannins; nice balance; very elegant style. Fine finish. Nice minerality. Appetising. [69% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 14.2 alc 50% oak in 450 litre casks]. Drink 2020-2028. 90-92+

Château Quintus, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; purple at edge; lovely ripe fruit; precise in aromas; layers and delicacy; some perfume; little chalk note; nice minerality to the wine also; depth to the fruit; nicely extracted but quite traditional in structure; little tightness in the middle but has real elegance. Some length to the wine. This will fill out so I may be underrating this currently. [76% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, 15.2% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 92-94

Château Ripeau, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and dark; dark chocolate and sour cherry; kirsch; quite tight palate; some freshness; taut and tight. Rather dry finish currently. [65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 85-87

Château Roylland, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; saturated look; cashmere and satin; elegance; ripe; easy; some wood; little dry on the palate; lacks balance; very drying finish; disjointed. Chewy finish. Needs to meld. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5ha]. Drink 2019-2023. 84-86

Château Rol Valentin, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep; tight to the rim [fractionally loser]; little geranium; some density; full but a little streak of earthiness here somewhere; nice flesh; chew and chocolate on the finish; fresh and earthy style. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7.3ha planted]. Drink 2019-2025. 86-88

Château Roc de Boisseaux, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep-ish; tarry note; concentrated on the nose; liquorice; black fruits; intense – almost new world in style; menthol and blackcurrant jam; big; sweet entry; lots of matter and sweet ripe fruit; still soft; very attractive; nicely done wine. Perhaps falls away a little on the finish. [75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 8ha plot]. Drink 2020-2025. 89-91+

Château Sanctus, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; solid colour; ripe; some gloss; minerals and wet rocks; quite a solid effort; bit dry; think this will work out well in the end. Like the clean fruit tones and purity though. [70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 4ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89

Château Sansonnet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and arterial; some violet lift and plummy tones; ripe and sweet; nicely composed on the nose; ripe plums; caressing; pure; nicely done; lots of fruit – I like this style. Has density but also purity. [85% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7ha]. Drink 2019-2026. 90-92

Château La Serre, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

More vibrant at edge; purple edge; some minerals; chalk; ripe cherry; black chocolate; little wood on the nose which needs to integrate; little woody at present on the palate; fruit is there and will soak up the oak which dominant at present. Has flesh etc. Dry finish. Needs to soak up the fruit and settle. [70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 7ha.] Drink 2020-2027. 88-90+

Château Soutard, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated colour; ripe black fruits, lifted but with life; nice creamy cassis notes; this works well; no over-ripeness; good palate with depth and some minerality; will meld well. Good wine. Inky finish. Lots here. [62% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec]. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+

Château Soutard Cadet, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and dark; little herbal and geranium note; lighter; some sweet fruit; less worked but rather simple; this will be ok in a simple St Emilion type way. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2.1ha]. Drink 2019-2023. 84-86

Château Tauzinat l’Hermitage, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deeply coloured; purple at edge; tarry; quite ripe; little reticent at first; little dry and austere; will work out but not the ripest rendition of St Emilion. Some chew and chocolate at the back. [70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.6ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 84-86

Château Tour Baladoz, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; pretty clean plum fruit; sweet and ripe entry; enjoyable; full clean and ripe; some spices; some wet rocks; works well. Modest but enjoyable. [70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. 8.6ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 86-88+

Château La Tour Figeac, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Mid depth; fresh at edge; nice fresh Merlot aromatics; plums, spices and a little leaf/spice from the Cab Franc; mid weight palate; appetizing style; fresh too. Good effort. [75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 14.5%]. Drink 2020-2028. 90-92

Château Trianon, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; ripe and attractive; spices; quite forward; clean and attractive; sturdy but nicely handled fruit; elegant; nicely done. Soft and easy St Emilion. [80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Carmenere]. Drink 2019-2024. 87-89+

Château Trimoulet, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep; little wood and chocolate; little dumb but density here; solid; chewy St Emilion. Inky finish. Some dryness. [75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 15.6ha]. Drink 2019-2023. 84-87

Château Troplong Mondot, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated look; lots of ripe, sublimated fruit tones on the nose; black fruits, liquorice notes; kirsch; palate is sweet and ripe; black fruits; extremely concentrated palate; liquorice and mocha notes on the palate; very big indeed; chewy finish and dry on the end. A super extracted, extremely ripe rendition of St Emilion. It’s big. It’s point scoring. It’s Troplong’s style – just not quite mine. Others will score even more highly I’m sure. [90% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 15.5% alc]. Drink 2022-2035. 93-95

Château Valandraud, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Arterial; colour right up to the edge; doesn’t get any denser or more viscous than this; tears slowly creep down the glass; lovely aromatics; very sexy and very full – could a wine be fuller, more pent up and lush I wonder? This wine is from another planet – Planet Hedonist; but there is precision here too – a wonderful seam of concentrated fruit on the nose; full attack on the palate with layers of ripe plummy, concentrated sweet fruit; not jammy in the slightest though; concentrated and quite phenomenal; weight and extract are really considerable but the tannins so soft and the extraction expert; lots of coffee and mocha tones on the finish; very big but somehow defies the gravity of its own proportions. Remarkable. Drink 2022-2035. 96-100

Château Villemaurine, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated look; purple edge; ripe, glossy black fruits; some mineral tones on the nose; attractive palate – composed with layers. Nice texture. Well-judged St Emilion that will be digestable and enjoyable. Good stuff. [80% Merlot, Cabernet Franc 20%]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92+

Virginie de Valandraud, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated; opaque at centre; satiny fruit; layered and sexy; quite sublimated in style but I like this; some coffee and mocha tones integrated into the fruit; ripe entry; full; satiny aspect again – which makes it quite a contrast to the grand vin; attractive and no hard edges or drying aspect on the palate; freshness on the finish – though the alcohol is clearly considerable [I forgot to ask]. Chalk v cheese with the Valandraud grand vin. A beauty. Drink 2020-2030 93-95+

Château Yon-Figeac, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deepish; more on the cherry and bubblegum spectrum; clean; some cherry; quite extracted but there is enough fruit; still a bit drying on the finish; chewy. This should fill out. Bit chunky at present. [81% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 24ha]. Drink 2020-2026. 87-89

Clos Badon, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated colour; lovely lush aromatics; layers here; nicely integrated oak; plums, dark chocolate; spices; full certainly; ripe; full and quite concentrated; though the tannins are quite soft there are a great many of them; chewy on the finish but there is plenty of matter so this should work well. Satisfying and pretty jam-packed with fruit. Big. Drink 2022-2030. 92-94+

Clos Debreuil, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deepish; saturated aromatics with liquorice and ripe black fruits; layers; full and lush palate; ripe; quite seductive; modern; nicely made with good black fruits and saturated with flavour. Nice finish. Excellent wine in a modern style. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4.2ha]. Drink 2019-2028. 90-92+

Clos Fourtet, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Mid depth; purple edge; ripe plums; impressive purity; opens up in the glass; seductive; velvet palate; nicely extracted. Lots of fruit evident but very satin in the middle. Very fine and excellent length. A beauty. [88% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc]. Drink 2020-2035. 94-96+

Clos Les Grandes Versannes, St Emilion Grand Cru

Mid depth; saturated look; tighter to rim; burnt edge and slightly roasted note from the oak handling; oaky toasty note; quite inky; should settle into a plum and chocolate St Emilion. [80% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1ha]. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89

Clos la Madeleine, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Mid depth; earthy at edge; little more cherry and sweet plum; some spices too; lighter and less intense than above; little pinched and lacks generosity by comparison; will work out; bit austere at present. Chocolate and coffee on the finish. Some chew. Should fill out. [75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 2.2ha]. Drink 2020-2025. 87-89

Clos de L’Oratoire, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated colour; creamy sweet plums; very seductive; lovely beautiful quality to the fruit once again; pure om the nose; little oak on the palate; but this has lovely fruit tones; cream and sweet, ripe plums again; very easy on the palate without a hard edge. Soft finish. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45hl/ha, 40% new oak, 30 day cuvaison, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2019-2027. 92-94+

Clos Saint-Martin, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Mid depth; dark at centre; legs; ripe and lifted; ripe black fruits; seductive; very berry; ripe and fruity; real beauty; harmonious; supple and round tannins; sexy; ripe mid palates; nice length; beautiful vintage here; some length and concentration. [90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.3ha]. Drink 2019-2030. 92-94+

3 de Valandraud, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep at centre; attractive fruit; some lift; plum; some fruit cake; layered; lighter and less lush than Clos Badon [tasted at the same time]; fresh fruit and quite lively; had Bordeaux quality here; some texture in the mid palate; fleshy for a 3rd wine. Nice chew and extract on the back. Good effort – and bodes well for the quality of the grand vin. Drink 2019-2025. 89-91+


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