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Bordeaux Primeurs 2022: St Emilion

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

The St Emilion Grand Cru Classé that were tasted bling at the Grand Cercle press tasting at Château de la Dauphine back in April were sensational. They stood out along with the wines from Fronsac [more on these shortly]. I’ve already published posts individually on a number of top chateaux in St Emilion in 2022.  I’m including these tasting notes again in this post, but I’m majoring on notes and analysis on a further sixteen cru classé and a handful of grand cru tasted with the Grand Cercle. There is usually some degree of variation between properties in any given year. The particular challenges of ’22, in terms of heat spikes and near continuous drought, would also have varied depending on terroir, viticulture and winemaking approaches. That being said, the astonishing thing about the wines tasted at the Grand Cercle was the high consistency. Many of the best wines are weighing in at fourteen to fifteen degrees alcohol [and, yes, it does now seem possible for a wine to achieve balance and weigh in at fifteen degrees] but there is surprising freshness in the wines, delicacy even. And the textures are sublime. So, what were the highlights at the Grand Cercle tasting?

Château Grand Corbin Despagne has produced a very impressive wine in 2022 and this is usually very good value. Château Laroze is brilliant – I’m a great fan of this property. Château Destieux, Château de Pressac and Château La Marzelle are all beauties. Destieux is plush and nicely layered and de Pressac has pretty perfumed aromatics and creamy tannins. La Marzelle is usually nicely handled in the cellar, and has lovely blue fruit tones and plenty of lush fruit in ’22.

I always look forward to tasting the biodynamic wines of Alain Moueix and Chateau Fonroque doesn’t disappoint. There is great purity of fruit here in 2022. Château Montlabert is super seductive and Château Fombrauge was flattering and nicely handled. A decade ago Fombrauge seemed a case study for over extraction but times have changed here too. This feels so much better judged in winemaking terms and is nicely balanced.

Château Yon Figeac showed great purity, with seductive plum and black cherry fruits. Château Rol Valentin also impressed and had a nice building narrative across the palate. Of the St Emilion Grand Cru I quickly dipped into Château Patris Querre and Château Godeau looked good. Both of these had plenty of fruit, extract and tannin. They needed to settle a bit, but have all the elements.

The slight misfires for me were Clos Dubreuil, Château Tour Baladoz and Château La Croizille, but this was by comparison. I’ve been excited by the wines of Clos Dubreuil in the past. They have forged a forward 2022, though it verges on the overripe to me. It will be an early drinking St Emilion but it didn’t have the definition of the very best. Tour Baladoz felt a little disjointed and finished dry and La Croizille lacked a bit of middle and also finished a little dry. I’d expect all three of these to settle during elévage, but that’s how they faired on the day.

The following reviews [broadly in alphabetical order] incorporate those taken on the sixteen wines tasted at the Grand Cercle event on Sunday, April 23. I’ve combined with those notes taken on another twenty wines tasted at various chateaux in St Emilion [already published on this blog] between 21-23 April, so all my St Emilion 2022 reviews are listed in one place. As ever, the words are more important than the numbers. Next up, thoughts on a series of excellent wines from the Côtes de Bordeaux and Fronsac.

Château Canon la Gaffelière, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deepish; purple edge; schist; wet rock; then opens up with vibrant fruit tones; some black cherry; freshness; sinuosity; had schist and rocky notes; some spices; length and freshness on the finish. Lovely balance. Much less alcoholic than others this year and enjoy that zap. [50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.2%, 47hl/ha, 40% new oak]. Drink 2030-2048. 96-98+

Château Destieux,  St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and saturated; arterial; colour tight to rim; very plush and attractive; a seam of focused fruit; really composed and layered; oak is there but well integrated; nicely well balanced on the palate; no hint of over extraction; has some delicacy; creamy finish; surprisingly supple in the mid-palate. Works well. Some alcohol on the finish. Drink 2027-2042. 92-94+

Château de Pressac, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and saturated; pretty perfumed oak lift; black cherry; some cerise; black cherry notes; supple; creamy palate; really caressing; this is a beauty. Drink 2027-2045. 92-94+

Chateau Figeac, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe ‘A’, 2022

Deep and dark; colour tight up to the rim; legs; attractive looking; spices and a beautifully cool seam of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit; sublime and deep; layer upon layer to the aromatics; really classy on the palate; caressing yet plenty of matter and extract; terrific length; ripe tannin with saline notes and graphite on the finish. Remarkable. Follows a string of great wines here in the past decade.  [35% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Franc, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, pH 3.7, 14% alc, 100% new oak]. Drink 2030-2065. 99-100/100

Château Fleur Cardinale, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and dark; some ripe fruit and jam; red fruits and lifted; sweet and perfumed palate; seductive and texture; satiny; soft and easy: attractive and sweet ripe fruit on the palate; really lush and decadent. [70% Merlot, then split between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2029-2043. 95-97+

Château Fombrauge, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep-ish: not the depth of some; little reticent aromatically: quite composed and compact; opens up; ripe and sweet palate; quite flattering and nicely judged; has delicacy and elegance. Caressing. Supple. Nice twist at the end. Like this. Drink 2027-2042. 93-95+

Château Fonroque, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Very deep and arterial; quite tight to the rim; tar, fig and liqourice; asphalt; quite full; plenty of fruit; supple again and soft. Maybe lacking a bit of ‘narrative’ on the palate but like this. Drink 2027-2040. 91-93

Château Godeau, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2022

Deep and saturated; bit woody and oak; plenty of fruit beneath; creamy black fruits beneath; plenty here; nice attractive fruit; fleshy; supple tannin and plenty of extract. Lacks a bit on the finish but good. Little chew on the end. Needs to settle but will be good. Drink 2027-2038. 90-92+

Château Grand Corbin Despagne, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and attractive looking; legs; sweet ripe merlot notes; some plum and black cherry; some marzipan; attractive: some meatiness; nice and caressing palate; like the texture here; this is nice and polished with good extraction – very nicely done. Drink 2027-2045. 93-95+

Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Lovely colour; really glossy and attractive; very plush and pretty on the nose; enthralling; again lush and plush on the palate; layers of really sweet, ripe fruit; the texture on the palate is beautiful; ripe and fleshy but with a  saline quality which gives freshness on the end; nothing ponderous or heavy here; very round and super fine. Overall, fantastically seductive and pure. Nudging perfection again surely? [86% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 14.7% alc]. Drink 2029-2053. 97-99+

Château Laroque, St Emilion Grand Cru Classe, 2022

Lovely saturated colour; tight to rim; beautiful red and black fruits fruit; spices; freshness; this layered and has real intensity; very polished on the palate, wonderful and super refined with layers of fruit; a beauty; saline notes and fine tannins on the finish; wonderful purity and balance here. This might be the best Laroque under the tenure of David Suire. Drink 2027-2040. [98% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc, 3.55 pH]. 95-97+

Château Laroze, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep; dark and tight to the rim; black cherry and blueberry notes; very intense; attractive: little cassis; creamy black fruits on the palate; neat and layered; little more extract evident but has nice punctuation on the end. Drink 2027-2042. 93-95+

Château La Couspaude, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated; fresh merlot; nice texture; quite fresh and correct; textured; little less expressive than the last few but all there. [75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2028-2038. 90-92+

Château La Croizille, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Mid depth; dumb initially; some eau die vie; some black fruit tones; some creamy fruit; lacks a bit in the middle; little dry on the finish. May come together with elévage. Drink 2027-2035. 87-89

Château La Marzelle, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Similarly deep: focused and tight: compact and layered; blue fruit tones; more new oak perfume; nice entry; layered and creamy palate; supple; again plenty of extract here but deceptive; creamy and soft on the finish. Lovely. Drink 2027-2045. 93-95

Château Moulin du Cadet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and arterial: tight to rim, ripe black fruits; tarry; intense; menthol; ripe and thick; concentrated; thick; layered; deep and textured. Good stuff. [100% Merlot, 15% alc, 2.85ha vineyard]. Drink 2028-2043. 92-93+

Château Montlabert, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep at centre; looser at the edge: redder; very cassis; blackcurrant jam; very precise; some bluer tones: nice soft palate; some caramel; really soft tannins; again quite caressing; again very seductive. Very good. Drink 2027-2042. 92-94+

Château Patris Querre, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2022

Mid depth; deep at core; purple edge; creamy; black fruits quite full; little oak at the edge; savoury tones; attractive palate; little oak to integrate but adds perfume; needs to meld but that’s fine. Some chew on the finish. Chunky St Emilion. Drink 2027-2034. 90-92+

Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and arterial in the glass; bold, strong and inky aromatics; very intense and pure; some chocolate; menthol, black fruits; very concentrated and glossy palate; lovely texture; lots of material and extract but wonderful purity again. Really fine acidity on the end. Surprising freshness in fact, alongside epic length. Possibly the best Pavie Macquin I’ve tasted – and the property has been superlative for the last decade or so! [80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.8% alc]. Drink 2030-2063 97-99+

Château Rol Valentin, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep at core; more purple at the edge; more schist but with black fruits beneath; some tar/asphalt; nice entry; more grip here; ripe fruit; builds nicely on the palate; bit of chocolate; more evident grip here. Works well. Bit sappier. More chew on the finish. Drink 2027-2042. 92-94

Château Sansonnet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and dark: tight to the rim; legs: perfumed black fruits; new oak; glossy;  creamy fruit on the entry; little more extract at the edges; creamy still; little bit more extract and chew here. Like the narrative though. 92-94+ [Tasted blind Grand Cercle]. Deep and saturated; opaque at centre; fruitcake spice; some marzipan; ripe and rich; intense; nice entry; sweet initially; ripe and full; fruitcake spice and schist; freshness on the end. Punctuation on the end. [85% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7ha estate]. Drink 2028-2045.[Tasted Jean-Luc Thunevin] 93-95+

Château Soutard de Cadet, Grand Cru, 2022

Deep and dark; tight to the edge; ripe and deep; some schist and mineral but also fruitcake spice; ripe and deep; quite solid; tannins at the end; rich wine. [85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc Petit Verdot 5%, 15% alc, 2.5 ha estate]. Drink 2028-2038. 90-92

Château Tour Baladoz, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Mid depth; little loose on the rim; weakest colour of the line-up; schist wet rock initially; slightly perfumed palate; little woody; strange note; tar and some fruit; needs to meld. Lacks a bit of character. Rather dry and weak finish. Drink 2026-2032. 87-89

Château Valandraud, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and saturated; colour tight to the edge; layered aromatics; new oak nicely integrated; precise seam of black fruits; firm and well handled; very nicely focused and real seam of fruit; super nice core. Plenty of extract and depth. Excellent. Great length and chew on the finish. [88% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.5% alc, ph 3.55, 3000 cases produced from the 6.6ha property]. Drink 2028-2050. 97-99+

Château Villemaurine, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and dark; opaque at centre; ripe; prunes; schist; mineral; palate is concentrated; sweet entry; attractive; nicely done; quite fleet of foot; has delicacy. Textured but delicate. Really good. [85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% alc]. Drink 2028-2045. 93-95+

Château Yon Figeac, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep; earthy red at edge; little bluer; more morello cherry and plum; almost whole berry notes; creamy and blue fruit tones on the palate; nicely satin; fresh acidity. Textured finish. Very good indeed. Drink 2028-2042. 93-95+

Clos Badon, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep and saturated; legs; satin notes; deep and dreamy; creamy and attractive:, sweet black fruits but nicely refined; lovely palate; really creamy and attractive; full but really focused. Seamless. Lots of finesse. Nicely done. [65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 50hl/ha]. Drink 2027-2035. 93-94

Clos de L’Oratoire, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Legs; deep at centre; bright purple at edge; satin notes; soft; some chocolate; quite ripe style; black cherry; chocolate notes; quite extracted on the finish – bit chewy on the end. Needs to settle but has all the elements. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% alc  30% new oak, certified organic, 47hl/ha]. Drink 2028-2043. 92-93+

Clos Dubreuil, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Really saturated colour: liquorice; fat; black fruit tones; feels a bit heavy on the nose; some fig; bit overripe; lacks a bit of middle; plenty here but doesn’t have quite the intensity of the best. Overripe. Will develop quite quicky. Drink 2027-2032. 89-91

La Mondotte, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2022

Deep black; saturated; legs; colour tight to the rim; layers of plush fruit; creamy; layered and lovely; very deep and succulent; ripe and layered; feels quite cool; and layered; attractive freshness; plush and concentrated. Fabulous length. Outstanding wine. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 40% new oak. 14% alc]. Drink 2020-2053. 97-99

3 de Valandraud, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2022

Vibrant in the glass; legs: texture; earth; mineral; nice texture; Bordeaux. Works well. Good texture on the finish. [85% Merlot and 7.5% Cabernet Franc and 7.5 Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2025-2030. 89-90

Virginie de Valandraud, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2022

Deep and attractive looking: lots here; ripe black fruits; sexy; Christmas pudding; fresh and cool entry on the palate; fresh and clean; attractive. Nicely done. Good length and texture. Second wine of Valandraud. [80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc 5% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2026-2033. 91-93

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