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Bordeaux 2015: St Estèphe

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0843St Estèphe has made some very good wine in 2015 but the appellation has not done as well as in 2014 in my book. This is down to the heavy rain showers in mid September, the residual effect of ‘Storm Henry,’ that arrived on the eve of the Merlot harvest, a key varietal component to many of the wines in St Estèphe. While conditions improved from mid September until early October, how estates and different terroirs responded to these conditions determined the relative levels of success. There are some top wines in the appellation – Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Montrose, Château Calon-Ségur, Château Lafon-Rochet and Château Meyney spring to mind – but there is not the uniformity here for me of 2014, nor the exciting power in the wines. Whether 2015 will claw back some of that ground during elévage remains to be seen.

Despite the vintage rain here, rain that grew heavier as you creep further north on the left bank [it affected the cru bourgeois properties of the northern Médoc the most], many of St Estèphe’s top wines still display the tell-tail hallmarks of the 2015 vintage – the pretty fruit tones, the balance and freshness, the harmonious and supple tannins. For me though they lack the power and concentration of 2014. In some cases there is obvious dilution, a direct effect of the harvest rain. The wealthy properties employed strict selection in the blending process to ensure quality. For example at Château Montrose and Château Cos d”Estournel only 31% and 39% of their respective harvests made it into the grand vin. Other properties had to make similarly tough financial decisions in order to maintain quality.

So we have a vintage that is excellent in places, but with real variability. Combine this with price rises this year at the top level [and the exchange rate increases for UK based customers at least], I think fans of St Estèphe looking for value are better seeing what 2014 bargains are remaining rather than considering 2015. For me these have greater depth, are more homogeneous and are cheaper.

The following wines were tasted at the UGCB event at Château Lafon-Rochet on 5/4/16 as well as at other tastings at the châteaux identified.

Château L’Argilus du Roi, St Estèphe

Translucent rim; lacks depth; light bubblegum aromatics; very light palate and weak on the finish. Drink 2018-2022. Tasted Cru Bourgeois 7/4/16. 78

Château Beausite, St Estèphe

Mid depth; some leaf and spice; fairly light palate; loose finish. Might put on weight in bottle. Feels a little rain affected. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted Cru Bourgeois 7/4/16. 80-82

Château Le Boscq, St Estèphe

Deep and dark looking; good coffee; some fruitcake spice; soft and easy palate; lacks a bit of depth but supple with no hard edges. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted Cru Bourgeois 7/4/16. 85-87+

Château Calon-Ségur, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe

Mid depth; not huge colour; nice purity on the nose; elegant vintage; again very Bordeaux; lovely Cabernet here; elegant and mid weight; this has nice texture and harmony; good acidity and freshness. Round. Will fill out further. Classical. [82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 13.3% alc, TA 3.4, pH 3.75, 47hl/ha, 100% new oak]. Drink 2025-2040. Tasted at Calon 4/4/16. 92-94+

Château Capbern, St Estèphe

Mid depth; purple at edge; ripe and pure fruit aromatics; pretty; some spice; lovely purity; ripe, elegant and nicely judged. Soft finish. [68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 13.7% alc, TA 3.3, pH 3.8, 47 hl/ha, 60% new oak]. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted at Calon 4/4/16. 89-91+

Château Clauzet, St Estèphe

Mid colour; red at edge; soft and easy; light; clean but feels dilute. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted Cru Bourgeois 7/4/16. 81-83

Château Cos d’Estournel, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe

Dark at centre; colour close to the edge; seriously deep with a voluptuous edge; black fruits; dark cherries, some spice – a lovely seam of pure fruit here; plushness on the palate; very clean and cool entry; lots of layers; pretty voluptuous effort this. Best Cos since 2010 I reckon. Drink 2024-2040. Tasted at Cos 4/4/16. 96-97+

Château Cos Labory, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe

Deep and dark; round and aromatic; mineral note; palate quite full and attractive plummy style; caressing and lifted; little extract on the finish; nice job; plenty of flesh here; spice and chew on the finish. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 13.25% alc]. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted UGCB at Lafon-Rochet 5/4/16. 88-90

Château Le Crock, St Estèphe

Mid depth; earthy at edge; nice perfume; some stone fruits; attractive; quite pretty and floral later; nice structure and material; elegantly put together; lots of matter but nicely balanced with fine finish. Very nicely done. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot, IPT 71, TA 3.5, pH 3.62, 13.5% alc, 44lh/ha.] Drink 2019-2027. Tasted 4/4/16 at Leoville-Poyferre. 86-88. [Second tasting] Deep and saturated colour; sturdy and well made. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted Cru Bourgeois 7/4/16. 85-87

La Dame de Montrose, St Estèphe

Deep and attractive; opaque at centre; lovely creamy cherry notes; very exciting; very plush indeed; round palate; plenty of weight but also the elements held up in the air by freshness and acidity; a wine on tiptoes; minerality on the finish; stones; nice sap on the finish. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 13.4% alc]. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted at Montrose 4/4/16. 90-92+

Château Haut-Marbuzet, St Estèphe

Deep and saturated look; vibrant purple at the edge; ripe and attractive; nice purity; blackcurrants and black plums; little chocolate; nicely ripe without being exaggeratedly so; plump on the palate with nice acidity and freshness; lots of matter but good freshness; nice length but real vibrancy on the end – and the fruit has totally soaked up the oak as far as I can see. Interesting and vibrant. Elegance too. Harvest spanned September 15 to October 12. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 100% new oak, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2019-2030. Tasted at Haut-Marbuzet 4/4/16. 90-92

Château Lafon-Rochet, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe

Deep purple; earthy at edge; cark core; nice fruit; black cherry notes; cassis; some stone fruit; minerality at edge; nice entry to the palate; ripe fruit and extraction nicely handled; harmony to the wine; plenty of extract and matter here but nicely judged winemaking. [54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.5%]. Drink 2024-2033. Tasted UGCB at Lafon-Rochet 5/4/16. 90-92

Le Marquis de Calon Ségur, St Estèphe

Mid depth; purple at edge; attractive fruit; some spice; elegant; nice soft and supple entry on the palate; very easy fruit here this year; less concentration apparent than in ’14 but a harmony and roundness; fresh and pure; nice extract – very Bordeaux in feel. Good acidity. [57% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 13.7% alc, TA 3.5, PH3.7, 47hl/ha, 50% new oak]. Drink 2024-2030. Tasted at Calon 4/4/16. 90-92

Château Meyney, St Estèphe

Bold and deep; saturated look; tight to rim; little oak on the nose but plenty of fat fruit beneath; layers of fruit; quite pent up; ripe fruit – black fruits beneath; good on the palate – lots of flesh and concentration – excellent palate; lots of chew and extract. Good length. Big wine in 2015. [52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted at Meyney 4/4/16. 90-92+

Château Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe

Deep and arterial; colour right up to the rim; vibrant purple; lovely lush qualities; deep – very deep indeed; legs; black fruits – ripe black cherries; some smoke – but remarkable purity; very layered; [volume seriously turned up in this wine]; pretty profound stuff; very full – certainly – round too; lots of matter and extract but not extracted; powerful. 65% new oak. Lovely wine – almost the equal qualitatively of 2014 [but stylistically very contrasting reflecting the very different growing season]. Lovely grip and length. [67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2025-2045. Tasted at Montrose 4/4/16. 95-97

Château Ormes de Pez, St Estèphe

Deepish; earthy edge; healthy looking; bright fruit; cherry notes; blackcurrants; aromatic and lifted; nice fruit on the palate and good texture; black cherry and dark chocolate notes; freshness too; good palate and should come together well. [49% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 13.2% alc, 45% new oak]. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted UGCB at Lafon-Rochet 5/4/16. 88-90

Pagodes de Cos, St Estèphe

Deeply coloured; reddish purple at the edge; opaque at centre; pretty and ripe; focused; cherries; nice spices and black fruits too; very appetizing; nice entry; more concentration clearly but with charm and harmony; lots of grip and chew here. Length. [46% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 13.1% alc, TA 3.0, pH 3.75, IPT 57, 30% new oak yield 44hl/ha]. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted Cos 4/4/16. 91-93

Château de Pez, St Estèphe

Deep; earthy looking; purple at edge; mineral and saline note; black cherry fruits behind; black cherry and plum; little pinched in the middle; has grip and acidity. Should settle OK. [51% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignin, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 30% new oak, 13.65% alc]. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted UGCB at Lafon-Rochet 5/4/16. 86-88

Château Phélan-Ségur, St Estèphe

Deep at core; purple at edge; attractive aromatics; solid feel here; fruitcake spices; seam of black cherry fruit beneath; creamy fruit but also minerality; wet rocks; good freshness on the palate. Intelligent wine. [53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 49hl/ha, 13.5%]. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted UGCB at Lafon-Rochet 5/4/16. 88-90

Château Tronquoy-Lalande, St Estèphe

Deep and arterial; very black; concentrated at edge; opaque at centre; lovely sweet black cherry and blackcurrant tones; creamy notes; really joyful; full palate with lots of freshness and sap; black cherry; mineral notes; schist almost; chewy fruit; lots of extract but nicely done. [55% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 13.8% alc]. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted 4/4/16 at Montrose. 89-91


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