The notes that accompany Château Cheval Blanc in 2013 describe the vintage as ‘a minefield’. There were casualties. The team here produced no Château Quinault L’Enclos this year after a late July hailstorm effectively destroyed the crop. The hail missed Cheval Blanc but the other myriad meteorological hazards that affected the growing season could not be escaped. Even with great terroir, a dedicated team and all the resources available in the winemaking world, Cheval Blanc remains a delicate effort in 2013. Measured and not at all forced, it will doubtless fill out during elévage, but it will always remain elegant in style.
Château Angélus has particularly fine terroir in St Emilion with south facing sun exposure. It looks to have produced a very good wine in 2013. There’s composure and depth to Angélus and seductive violet tinged aromatics. There’s some weight and density here too and it all adds up to a pretty complete effort.
There’s a buzz of excitement when you enter the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin, tucked hidden in St Emilion’s narrow cobbled streets. It’s the anticipation of the guilty pleasures that lie ahead. You can certainly taste the effort has gone into Château Valandraud in 2013. The deep colour, the flattering and seductive aromatics, the volume of material and extract, are all hallmarks of the tiny yields, ultra strict selection and artisanal, micro production. It makes Valandraud an almost muscular effort, seemingly from a different vintage entirely when set against many wines this year. That will offend the purists but Thunevin won’t care. He’s made his reputation rocking-the-boat and working against the grain.
Château Canon has made refined and voluptuous wine in 2013. It always relies on purity and balance rather than exotic dances to entice. I’m intrigued by these parades just as much as anyone, of course, [there’s room for all!] but it has to be said there is something about the class and the finesse that stands out like a beacon at Canon pretty much year in, year out. On the mid palate this wine is very nicely done indeed and in that respect it reminds me of Clos Fourtet. What’s more Canon has been released at a sensible price [around £370/$620 per dozen], fractionally lower than the current cost of a case of the 2007 [2013 is clearly superior]. So is this top-notch Bordeaux to seriously consider this year?