For a full analysis of the growing season and my first thoughts on 2017 St Emilion during primeurs week in April 2018 you can click through to the full report here. As is well known, the devastating frosts of April 2017 sealed the fate of some producers in St Emilion entirely. They were a few unable to make wine at all. For others it substantially reduced yields and affected their blends. Some were left unscathed. Nature can be cruel and unfair, though not obviously in an intentional way [just leave that to us!]. Given this, you’d expect there to be considerable variation in quality in St Emilion. Ironically, judging from the wines lined up by the Union des Grands Cru de Bordeaux last October, the appellation has produced some of the most appealing Bordeaux in the region with a reasonable degree of consistency. The notes below are limited to those who are members of the UGCB so this is a comparatively small snapshot clearly. In this case, a dozen wines. The stand outs for me were Clos Fourtet, Château Figeac, Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Pavie Macquin and Château Valandraud which have all produced superlative St Emilion. Just a notch below these are Château La Gaffelière, Château Troplong Mondot and Château Trotte Vieille who also impressed with complex and satisfying wine.
The following notes were taken at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in London in October 2019. Hope you find them useful!
Château La Dominique, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deep; spices; mint; some leaf; quite aromatic; spicy and earthy on the palate suggests a fair proportion of Cab Franc and Sauvignon in the blend [30%], streak of green too, although it remains appealing in an elegant way; lacks depth in the middle, earthy finish. Atypical La Dominique for me, not surprising as they lost 70% of their crop. Drink 2021-2030. Tasted October ’19. 88
Château Figeac, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deeply coloured; lovely Cabernet style from this wonderful property; cool coffee bean and blackcurrant aromatics; stylish; lovely texture on the palate; really rich extract with very nicely judged extraction; very fine. One of the wines of the tasting for me. Beautifully long finish and lovely texture to the tannins. Drink 2023-2037. Tasted October ’19. 96
Clos Fourtet, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Lovely colour; really fresh looking; almost opaque at centre; very clean and pure aromatics; reminds me of Larcis Ducasse in ’17; plummy and perfumed fruit; some spices; very good indeed; these fruit characters continue on the palate; very caressing; lovely finish again. Terrific wine in any vintage context, exceptionally so in this year. Drink 2024-2040. 96
Château Franc Mayne, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deep and dark; inky and quite deep; some schist notes; structure but dry on the palate and feels a little over-extracted; should settle, but other properties were more harmonious and impressive on the day. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted Oct ’19. 87?
Château La Gaffelière, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Mid depth; deep-ish core; chocolate; ink and resin; quite lifted overall; some cherry fruit notes beneath; inky palate which lacks a little vibrancy perhaps; good texture overall and plenty of layers here; pretty good effort overall with good length on the finish. Drink 2024-2035. Tasted Oct ’19. 91
Château Grand Mayne, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deep; still earthy purple at edge; quite ripe and sweet on the nose; little extracted in style on the palate and the tannins feel a little stewed; dry finish. Needs some time to meld potentially. Drink 2024-2032. 88?
Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Bold colour; wonderfully pure plummy fruit; fresh, pure and clean as a whistle; very caressing on the palate – this property often manages a satin quality from the sun-drenched slops of the Côte Pavie. Lovely depth and length here. Excellent 2017. Drink 2024-2040. 94+
Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deep and dark; bold aromatics; layered and concentrated; dark fruits; plums, black fruits; texture to the tannins; very satisfying with no hint of over-extraction despite the evident concentration; bags of fruit here; powerful. Warm finish. Terrific! Tasted Oct ’19. Drink 2025-2045. 95+
Château Soutard, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Nice healthy colour; clean and fresh; chocolate and some violet; soft entry; plush fruit on the palate; some dryness to the finish but this will work well in the end. Tasted Oct ’19. Drink 2023-2032. 90
Château Troplong Mondot, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deep colour; some schist and wet rock; smoky black fruits with some tapenade notes; intensity to the palate with plenty of fruit and ripe tannin; spices and black fruits again and dark olive characters. Pretty good overall. Tasted Oct ’19. Drink 2025-2040. 92
Château Trotte Vieille, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deep and inky; lovely Cabernet Franc influence to the aromatics; fresh and cool; lovely; fresh palate with spicy Cabernet Franc again; clean and classic; really nicely done; Savoury and moreish [56% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted Oct ’19. Drink 2023-2037. 93
Château Valandraud, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deep and dense; inky and attractive; glossy style to the fruit; great depth to the wine; black fruits; plums; some resin and ink; lots going on here. Excellent length. An impressive effort from the idiosyncratic and passionate Jean-Luc Thunevin. Tasted Oct ’19. Drink 2022-2040 94+
Tags: Bdx17, Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2017, Chateau Figeac, Chateau Franc Mayne, Chateau Grand Mayne, Chateau La Dominique, Chateau La Gaffelière, Chateau Larcis Ducasse, Chateau Pavie Macquin, Chateau Soutard, Chateau Troplong Mondot, Château Trotte Vieille, Chateau Valandraud, Clos Fourtet, St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé