Wine Words & Video Tape

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Bordeaux 2023: Château Laroque

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Well, the secret is well and truly out now. Château Laroque is no longer an insiders wine. Everyone it seems has cottoned-on to the increasing quality of the wines made at this St Emilion property and what great value they are. Laroque has enviable terroir on a variety of limestone soils in St Christophe des Bardes. It’s a large property and the wines historically were always good but the catalyst for the transformation here is the arrival of Laroque’s director David Suire just before the harvest in 2015. For almost a decade now, he has quietly been getting on with making the property one of the most exciting prospects on Bordeaux’s right bank. It will come as no surprise to those that know him. The clues perhaps lie in his winemaking background with Nicolas Thienpont at Château Larcis Ducasse and formerly at Château Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse. David Suire to my mind is one of the brightest stars in the St Emilion firmament. He is also wonderfully engaging and honest man with a teasing sense of humour. So how is Laroque in 2023 and what are Suire’s thoughts on the vintage?

“Every vintage has its challenges,” begins David Suire. “We had a couple of months of difficulties in the first half of the growing season, with the threat of mildew early on, but as the season progressed things got back on track. 2023 is a classic vintage – classic in a good way. It’s savoury and perfumed. We’re very happy.” He thinks the 2023 vintage could indeed be seen as a modern day 2001. That vintage that stood in the shadow of the millennium year, but which twenty years on still continues to hold its own. It is likely these 2023s will similarly be in the shadow of last year’s lush and decadent 2022s, but I reckon they will prove fascinating siblings in the years ahead. Where the price is right you can find some good buys in 2023 and Château Laroque should certainly be seen as one of these. This week it was released in the UK at a price of £240 [$300] a case ex duty and tax. For just £20 [$26] a bottle this wine is remarkable value – just don’t tell everyone, only your best friends.

I’ve found recent vintages of Laroque exhibiting wonderful purity and perfumed fruit when tasted during primeurs. The 2023 was no exception when tasted this April. There is an enticing combination of red and black fruits on the nose – raspberry notes with underlying mulberry tones. There is wonderful purity on the palate with the wine showing real harmony and balance. The finish is fresh and long. The overall impression is one of purity, balance with enticingly perfumed aromatics. It’s nimble and moreish. Again, this is another cracking wine from Château Laroque and a wonderful companion to the opulent 2022 here. At the price it has just been released, I’m considering buying it in spades.

The following notes were taken at Chateau Laroque on 21st April. I hope you find them useful.

Château Laroque, St Emilion Grand Cru Classe, 2023

Beautiful colour; deep at centre and purple at edge; perfumed aromatics; raspberry, mulberry, very enticing; wonderful purity here as usual; very harmonious and balanced on the palate with texture to the tannins; fresh finish and a real lightness of touch. This is a very fine wine with tension and verve. Qualitatively almost up with the 2022 last year but stylistically quite different. Great effort. One of the wine values of the vintage. [99% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, yields 46hl/ha, 48% selection to grand vin, 14.15% alc, pH 3.42, 16-18 months oak ageing in barriques [50% new] and large oak foudres] Tasted April 2024. Drink 2030-2043, 94-96+

David Suire – a man with the Midas touch

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