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Bordeaux Primeurs 2013: Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_5609A dozen or so wines tasted from Canon-Fronsac and Fronsac were generally a rather lean bunch last month. There’s structure here and serious intent in some but not a huge amount of joy. The picks would have to be from Fronsac and include Château Les Trois Croix, Château Fontenil, Château de Carlmagnus and Château Dalem. Château La Vieille Cure is chewy and needs to settle while Château de La Dauphine, often excellent, has made something elegant, if rather light.

There is no escaping the bitter truth of the growing season here as elsewhere in 2013. The reds are more convincing in Fronsac than in the Côtes de Bordeaux, but there are still disappointments and few set the world alight. A number too felt dilute, high in acidity and pretty slim. The best were those that went for elegance and fruit. These also exhibit vigour and vitality.

Château Fontenil and Château de Carlmagnus are near the top of my list even if they are quite different in style. The former is fuller and bigger in weight and extract, the latter shows good finesse and elegance. Château Dalem also punched through well. It should settle nicely as a medium weight wine of some sophistication.

Several clearly have all the elements to make good wine but still need to settle. I’m thinking particularly of Château La Vieille Cure and Château de la Rivière. These felt a little jumbled but had sufficient fruit and I’d be pretty confident these will settle well. Chateau Les Trois Croix looks a reasonable effort in the circumstances and should turn out well. As I said at the top Château de La Dauphine has produced an elegant wine that is on the light side. Still, while it may yet fill out, it is not really the top tier this year. Château Gaby [Canon-Fronsac] wasn’t shown blind.

Below are the full notes on the wines tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite tasting at Château Bellefont-Belcier on Sunday, March 30, 2014. They are listed in the order I tasted them.

Château Barrabaque, Canon-Fronsac

Mid depth, tightish to the meniscus; some sour cherry and a hint of rhubarb; more vegetal on the palate and very high in acidity – puckering from that. Under ripe. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 72-74.

Château Moulin Pey Labrie, Canon-Fronsac

Medium/light red; lose at edge; rather dilute watery aromatics; soft but dilute; strawberry tones but puckering acidity. Thin and meager on the palate. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 76-78

Château de La Dauphine, Fronsac

Earthy red; mid depth; soft and a whiff of cream; easy and soft; no real structure; light but not mean. This will develop rapidly but is v easy going. Light and inoffensive. Not up to par with the wines here usually but it may yet fill out. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 80-82.

Château Les Trois Croix, Fronsac

Deep and saturated looking; colour tight to the edge; substantial chunky nose; sturdy fruit; some blackcurrants and black fruits; quite sappy on the nose; ‘freshness’. Chew on the attack; depth here; not a bad effort; fruit and nicely handled [for vintage] chew and freshness; chewy and sappy on the finish but acidity is refreshing [not puckering]. Not bad. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 83-85+

Haut Carles, Fronsac

Deep and saturated look; legs; earthy purple and tight to meniscus; vegetal aromatics; some coffee; intense but vegetal; [over concentrated the wrong flavours]. Feels earthy and a little green but with fruit, extract and structure. Acid present so some puckering qualities to the palate. Overall slightly softer than you expect, but still austere and meager. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 76-78.

Château Cillars, Fronsac

Earthy; mid depth; little less focused at the meniscus as above; little dumb/disjointed on the nose; some VA lift; suggests it will be hard; chewy, extracted and puckering on the palate – seemingly all acid and tannin. This may settle – but not attractive now on the palate. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 78-80.

Château Fontenil, Fronsac

Deep and saturated looking; redder at edge; less purple; intensity; blackcurrants; some liqourice notes; maybe a little heavy on the nose; still nice to find ripe fruit qualities; extract on the palate but nicely handled. This is promising. Good purity too. Fresh and complete. One of the best so far. Nice sap and tension on the finish. Should develop well. Nice twist at the end. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 85-87

Château La Vieille Cure, Fronsac

Deep and saturated; more vibrant and tighter to rim; sour cherry and some high toned plum; little perfume from the oak [needs to integrate]; oak dominates the palate; disjointed; masks the fruit [unlike above]; plenty of extract and material which needs to settle but currently feels disjointed because of the oak. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 81-83 [Later note tasted at cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin 2/4/14] Deep and saturated; very deep core; very full and spicy with layers to the nose; oak very apparent on the palate – still there is fruit; needs to settle. Chewy finish. Bold effort, perhaps too much against the grain of the vintage? Drink 2017-2024. 84-86+

Château de Carlmagnus, Fronsac

Similar depth; looser at the edge; savoury, blackcurrant aromatics; not unattractive, spicy and attractive to me and also quite forward; palate quite lean and sinewy but fine. Some polish, finesse and ambition here. Elegant and well balanced on the palate and finish is sound. A good effort. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 85-87

Château de La Rivière, Fronsac

Mid depth; earthy purple at edge; vanilla from the oak; some liquourice and black fruit tones; legs; saturated style on the nose; chewy and worked; oak quite evident though some integration; nevertheless the fruit feels pure if a little masked. Should settle ok. Goodish effort. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 83-85.

Château Chadenne, Fronsac

Mid depth; more vibrant earthy purple; reductive and fresh; gout de chais; fizz on the palate and needs a racking; fresh and sturdy; easy on the palate; soft with [seemingly] lower acidity than some here. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 80-82

Château Dalem, Fronsac

Deep and dense; tight to the rim; looks substantial; legs; creamy aromatics tones; layers; some marzipan; coconut; palate has good fruit; quite pure and attractive; no unripeness on the palate; some coffee at the back; sweetness from the oak but integrated; chew on the finish, but this will work ok. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 85-87.

Château Moulin Haut-Laroque, Fronsac

Deep and dense; little looser at the meniscus; some spices; herbal tones; full-ish; hard on the palate though – too much wood and currently pretty puckering. Mean finish too. Tasted blind 30/3/14 at the Cercle Rive Droite. 76-78. 

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