My primeur visits to Château Pavie Macquin are really rewarding. There is so much to learn from the collective wisdom of Nicolas and Cyrille Thienpont and David Suire about wine growing on the right bank. Last year there was an excellent technical presentation about the 2016 vintage, this year a convivial lunch after tasting the 2017s. The lunch underscored a need to polish my St Emilion blind tasting skills [and improve my French] but also gave me the opportunity to consider the many virtues of the 2011 Château Beauséjour hDL [spot on right now], the 2004 Château Pavie Macquin [don’t underrate this vintage here] as well as two bottles of Château Larcis Ducasse, the 2009 [a forward beauty] and a spectacular bottle of the 1964, [fresh as a daisy]. With previous vintages evidently in great shape, how did the Thienpont’s portfolio fair in 2017?
‘The punishment of some, the happiness of others,’ Nicolas Thienpont writes to sum up the experience of the 2017 growing season. If frost reduced the crop in St Emilion by 60%, it hides the fact that some properties were untouched, while others lost everything. A relatively precocious start to the growing season, with bud break a week earlier than previous years, didn’t help. This left the vines exposed to frost when it arrived. The terroirs on the plateau or on the south facing slopes of St Emilion which includes Pavie Macquin, Larcis Ducasse and Beauséjour hDL, were all largely spared, but on the Thienpont owned properties in Francs and Castillon it is a different story. No white Château Charmes Godard has been produced this year, and production at Château Puygueraud was frost affected. Overall there are smaller volumes and, for the red, there is a larger proportion of Cabernet Franc and Malbec in the blend. The white varieties at Puygueraud were badly hit volume wise but the wine looks brilliant to me. Château La Prade, also in Francs, was affected too as was Château Alcée in Castillon, with three of the five hectares subject to frost. So across the portfolio four properties affected, three spared.
After the frost, for those vineyards undamaged flowering occurred in good conditions. This allowed for even fruit set. The summer was dry without being hot. There was some humidity and veraison was quick. There was rain in September, but the Thienpont’s report that the fruit was phenolically ripe and the acidities fresh. They see the 2017s as fairly classical wines, in which phenolic and technical ripeness coincided nicely. Certainly there is plenty of vitality and purity in the wines here this year. While they aren’t in the league of the 2015–2016 duo, these are wines of impressive harmony and finesse.
You can’t beat Château Puygueraud for value. Both red and white versions deliver bang for your buck. The white wine, made in much smaller quantities than usual, is very impressive. Château La Prade has attractive, plump fruit and Château Alcée has finesse, if it lacks a little middle this year. Château Larcis Ducasse shows wonderful purity as you would expect with an exciting texture but Château Pavie Macquin steals the show with a powerful wine in 2017. It is savoury and full. Château Beauséjour dHL is excellent. It exhibits terrific purity and great length.
Château Puygueraud, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux, 2017
Nice healthy colour; warm nice fruit; attractive; some spice; texture on the palate and good minerality; some spice; good body; well done; nice acidity and freshness this year. [63% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec]. Tasted 8/4/18. Drink 2022-2027. 88-90+
Château La Prade, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux, 2017
Nice healthy colour; ripe fruit; has strength; nicely ripe; quite round and full on the palate; attractive; good finish. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 8/4/18. Drink 2022-2027. 88-90+
Château Alcée, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux, 2017
Nice healthy looking colour; full; attractive Merlot aromatics; round and attractive; good entry; perfumed; nicely balanced with harmony; good palate; needs to full out a little but has genuine finesse. Lost one of the plots that usually adds weight. Chocolate on the finish. Works well. [14% alc. 100% Merlot]. Tasted 8/4/18. Drink 2022-2028. 89-91+
Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Nice attractive colour; vibrant at edge; deep core; warm and attractive; silky aromatics; round palate; easy it seems and has elegance; harmonious; nice texture; round; nice fresh acidity. Will be approachable early. The vineyard was unaffected by frost. [92% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 8/4/18. Drink 2024-2032. 93-95+
Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deeper; bolder; more evidently powerful than Larcis; some liquorice notes; very full; some sublimated tones; this works well; black fruits; nice seam of fruit; lush fruit; works well on the palate; full; savoury; extract; some mocha notes on the finish; very attractive texture, nice extract and weight; good length. Like this very much. [80% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted 8/4/18. Drink 2025-2037. 95-96+
Château Beauséjour [Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2017
Deep core; healthy colour; very pure fruit; clean; layered; love the purity here; quite crystalline; ripe entry; really clean and attractive; lush too; polished; very curved; no hard edges at all; lovely palate; great length; nice tension between the texture and the acid. Almost great Grand Cru Burgundy. [88% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 8/4/18. Drink 2024-2040. 95-97
Château Puygueraud Blanc, Francs – Cotes de Bordeaux, 2017
Brilliant looking; lovely lees and citrus flavours; fresh and attractive; nice and lees notes on the palate; very good zip and zing. Attractive finish – really wonderful zip on the end. Great stuff! [85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sauvignon Gris]. Tasted 8/4/18. Drink 2019-2024. 90-92+
David Suire, Nicolas Thienpont and Cyrille Thienpont [pictured in 2016]
Tags: Castillon, Chateau Alcée, Château Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], Chateau La Prade, Chateau Larcis Ducasse, Chateau Pavie Macquin, Chateau Puygueraud, Côtes de Bordeaux, Cyrille Thienpont, David Suire, Francs, Nicolas Thienpont, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé