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Bordeaux 2023: Fronsac

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Fronsac is usually a ‘go-to’ appellation for serious but good value Bordeaux. The finest properties here make excellent, ambitious wine, from exceptional limestone terroir. This over-achieving district doesn’t succeed as much in 2023 as it did 2022 [for me a knockout year for the wines of Fronsac] but there are still good wines to be had. I tasted nine wines blind in the Grand Cercle tastings back in late April. The picks? Château de la Dauphine has made savoury and attractive wine, alongside Château de la Rivière, Château La Huste and Château Fontenil. Château Moulin Haut Laroque also had lots of extract and texture. Château Villars and Château Dalem were good but lacked a bit of middle. They may well pick up depth during élevage. Château La Vieille Cure, usually up at the top of the pack, was not showing well on the day. That said, overall, there more consistency here amongst the wines than in the Castillon appellation in 2023.

The following wines were tasted on 20th April, 2024. I hope you fine the notes useful. They are listed in the order that they were tasted [blind].

Château Moulin Haut Laroque, Fronsac, 2023

Deep and saturated; tight to rim; legs; blue tones; quite full; some sweetness and marzipan; nice and clean; more solid; lots more fruit and some juice to it; more texture in the middle; falls away at the end. Some eau de vie on the end. [Vineyard 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon , 5% Malbec]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2033. 85-87

Château La Vieille Cure, Fronsac, 2023

Deep and saturated; redder tone at edge; more saline but with a slight sulphur whiff; quite high toned; some mineral; has structure but not much flesh. This may fill out during élevage but a disappointing showing from this property. NB I had no time to check another sample. [Vineyard 78% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2033. 83-85?

Château Villars, Fronsac, 2023

Deep; soft aromatics; bit mushy; some blue fruits and tones; not that expressive; has some mineral qualities; not huge flesh; lacks a bit of middle; acidity and freshness; sappy. Ok to good. [Vineyard 75% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2035. 85-87

Château Dalem, Fronsac, 2023

Mid red; looser at edge; fresh and attractive; some perfume; little sawn wood; easy entry lacks a little depth and concentration but not angular but lacks middle; soft and loose currently but may fill out during barrel ageing. [Vineyard 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2035. 85-87+

Château de la Dauphine, Fronsac, 2023

Deep and saturated; colour tight to edge; full; savoury edge here; attractive; more to it; had texture and some fleshy matter; some mineral notes. Works. Little lean on the finish but this is good overall and should fill out during barrel ageing. [Vineyard 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2038 86-88+

Château Les Trois Croix, Fronsac, 2023

Deep and concentrated; fresh; mineral schist; nicely layered fruit behind; attractive; little more caressing fruit but still bit sweet sour; but had some freshness and fruits. OK to good. [Vineyard 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2033 85-87

Château de la Rivière, Fronsac, 2023

Deep; redder at edge; fresh; some blue fruit and mineral; not hugely aromatic; opens up; some new oak; good entry; had some flesh and texture; little nutty note; lacks depth on the end; relatively soft and easy Fronsac. [Vineyard 88% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2033. 88-90+

Château La Huste, Fronsac, 2023

Deep; bluer at edge; mineral; some blue fruit again; little more lifted than 27; attractive; solid; some grip; flesh; more to this; but not exceptional length. [Vineyard 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2033. 86-88

Château Fontenil, Fronsac, 2023

Deep and concentrated colour; tight to edge; legs; smoky note; savoury tones; some new oak; opens up nicely; oak on the palate with savoury fruit; not unattractive and well-integrated. Early drinking savoury Fronsac. [Vineyard 100% Merlot]. Tasted 20 April, ’24. Drink 2028-2033. 88-90

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