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Bordeaux 2017: Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac look good in 2017. The wines are nicely balanced, with plenty of flesh and harmony. They should age well in the medium term but will be easy to appreciate in their infancy. All in all, this is an interesting vintage for the consumer. Obviously 2015 and 2016 were excellent vintages here, with greater richness and structure, but I was genuinely surprised by the appeal of the wines in 2017. Yes, there has been a reduction in volume due to frost but I didn’t get any sense that quality had been dramatically affected. Quite the opposite. I was especially impressed with Château Dalem, Château de Carles, Château de la Dauphine, Château de la Rivière, Château Moulin Haut Laroque, Château La Vieille Cure and Château Villars. That said, quality seemed pretty homogenous to me and there really weren’t any misfires in the other wines I tasted from Fronsac or Canon-Fronsac earlier this year.

The following wines were tasted blind at the Grand Cercle event at Château de la Dauphine in April 2018 and several were tasted again in the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin.

Château Dalem, Fronsac, 2017

Deep and opaque; colour tight to rim; purple edge; strong Cabernet Franc influenced nose; nice fruit; like the purity and precision here; composed; feels ambitious; nice entry; well done here; layers; nicely done; like the texture; some dark chocolate note too; good fruit on the palate. Like this. [85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. Drink 2022-2028. 90-91+

Chateau de Carles, Fronsac, 2017

Deep and saturated looking; ripe; fruitcake and marzipan notes; sweet oak and some liquorice; black fruits; oak on the palate; needs to settle but will work; briary blackcurrant fruit beneath. Nice. Inky finish. Prefer this to bigger brother Haut-Carles! [90% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Jean-Luc Thunevin April 2018. Drink 2022-2027. 90-91

Château de la Dauphine, Fronsac, 2017

Earthy purple at edge; dark core; spicy blackcurrant; briary notes; cool entry to the fruit; very nice fruit; nicely done; like the purity here; some spicy new oak notes but the wine has not dried – this is promising; this will develop well; nice acidity here which is good; like the balance. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. Drink 2022-2028. 89-91+

Château de la Rivière, Fronsac, 2017

Earthy purple at edge; ink; earth; savoury note; more savoury for sure; good clean entry; earthy savoury note continues; feels Cab influenced; nicely judged again; elegant but has sufficient flesh on the bones. Nicely done on the finish. Fine. Good length. [84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. Drink 2023-2028. 89-91+

Château Fontenil, Fronsac, 2017

Nice colour; purple at edge; deep at core; red fruits; lift; undergrowth; strawberry and raspberry; good stuff; some spices; nice pretty fruit on the palate; quite ‘jolie’; this works; has elegance; not weighty but works in its flavour profile; moreish and easy. [100% Merlot]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. Drink 2022-2025. 87-89+

Château Gaby, Canon Fronsac, 2017

Deep, purple at meniscus; little more jam; plum jam in fact; unctuosity; full for sure but in check too; sweet and enticing aromatics overall; elegant on the palate; some jam and plum notes again but not exaggerated; feels nicely judged; lacks the flesh and texture of some but still works; elegance here again on the finish. Unforced. [80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. 88-90

Haut-Carles, Fronsac, 2017

Earthy purple red; deep at core; feels a little tired; full; some cereal and merlot notes; sweet and large on the palate; lacks complexity or finesse at this early stage; chunky fruit; rather chewy finish; some sweet fruit and oak here but lacks finesse for me at this stage. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. 85-87 [Later note] Deep and saturated; black at centre; fig, super ripe plum; sweet; palate feels sweet, chewy black fruit; less tannins than you would imagine given the aromatics. Dusty finish? This needs to settle. [90% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Jean-Luc Thunevin April 2018. Drink 2022-2027. 85-87

Château La Vieille Cure, Fronsac, 2017

Deep and saturated look; opaque at centre; some earth; dust; blackcurrants; will develop a savoury edge; plummy fruit emerged later; nice entry to the palate; again like the purity; nice balance; not a struggle this tasting overall; Vielle Cure has flesh and texture; real middle; nicely balanced on the finish. Good stuff. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. 90–91+ [Second note] Deep and saturated look; black at centre; rich fruits on the nose; black fruits; plum; packed; sweetness; something Bordeaux behind it; creamy plum; this will work well when it settles. Like this. Some oak to integrate but pure and polished plummy fruit with some Cabernet influence. Good length on the end, Espresso finish. [75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon].Tasted Jean-Luc Thunevin April 2018.. Drink 2023-2030. 90-92+

Château Les Trois Croix, Fronsac, 2017

Darker; opaque at centre; tight to rim; firmer; solidity to this; savoury note; this opens upo to reveal juicy plum and black cherry fruit; quite deep; nice entry; nioce round and fruity mouthful; has charm and plenty of fruit; not heavy or over concentrated; nicely done again. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. 88-90+

Château Moulin Haut-Laroque, Fronsac, 2017

Little less tight to the rim; some lift but good fruit here; little liquorice; black fruit note; little tar; later the purity of the fruit shines through; ripe entry; nicely precise; lush and well done; like this; has nice acidity; like the harmony; perhaps a little compact but this should work well. Good length on the end. [65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. 90-91+

Château Moulin Pey-Labrie, Canon Fronsac, 2017

Little lighter at the edge; less close up; cool; rather simple bubblegum at first but has perfume and lift though; cherry comes through late; quite elegant; oak influence come through but the palate is not too dry; some of the oak tannins here; slightly maskes the fruit at this stage [in this sample; will come good in the cellar; has some length at the back. [95% Merlot, 5% Malbec]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. 86-88

Château Villars, Fronsac, 2017

As above but with more red at the edge; cool fruit on the nose; feels quite plush; some layers here; nicely pure and mineral; deeper; more cassis and dark plum; some dark chocolate notes too; good texture on the palate; structure evident; this looks good to me; has plenty of matter and extraction nicely done but more ambitious in its interpretation of the vintage. Not gone too far either. This will should come together nicely. [83% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted Grand Cercle April 2018. 89-91+

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