I’ve been following Château Berliquet, Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Pavie-Macquin closely for the past half dozen vintages, properties all managed by Nicolas Thienpont. It was interesting to look at the wines in more detail back in April at a tasting held at Pavie-Macquin with Cyrille Thienpont and David Suire. Along with the 2013s shown, we had another look at 2011 in bottle and, fascinatingly, a decade on, the 2004s. There was also the opportunity to taste Chateau Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse] 2013, 2011 and 2004, a property which the Thienponts have been managing since 2009.
I’m a real fan of Château Larcis Ducasse. It produces rich St Emilion with a real satiny quality which manages not to be overblown despite the lush ripeness. The property occupies an excellent position next to Chateau Pavie. Recently the estate was promoted in the 2012 St Emilion reclassification to Premier Grand Cru Classé. I’ve always been impressed by the seduction of these wines early on, but the 2004 was also showing no signs of fatigue whatsoever, though it is fully mature. Cyrille Thienpont testifies that Larcis Ducasse has a great ability to age and wines he has tasted from this property made in the fifties are still in excellent shape. 2004 was the third vintage under their management.
Larcis Ducasse 2011 was fractionally more impressive than when tasted last October at the Union des Grands Crus event in London. It was no slouch back then but felt more together. The difference might be explained by the extra six month period in bottle but also perhaps my own palate fatigue. I can’t turn down the opportunity of tasting 120 UGCB chateaux in a single day in their October horizontal tastings, but by the end you can’t fail to miss details and nuances in the rush to squeeze all the samples in. It looks like 2011 sits closer to 2012 [superior] than 2013 [inferior] in this recent trio of vintages, but as time passes I’ll expect we’ll see 2013 seen in a more positive light overall in terms of what’s in the glass. 2009 and 2010 are wonderfully ripe years at Larcis Ducasse and worth seeking out though there has been a little variation in my notes between primeurs tastings and bottling.
Château Pavie Macquin has grown considerably in complexity in recent vintages. It combines the powerful qualities you expect of top-notch St Emilion, but with increasing nuance and balance. It’s muscular but not at all plodding or over-extracted. There is great terroir here too. The property [pictured above] is located on west facing clay limestone soil. It’s a beautiful spot that looks up towards the old town of St Emilion. Again I thought the 2011 fuller and more expressive than when tasted last autumn but the 2004 was the real surprise. What an excellent effort! Ten years on there is still lots of power here with the potential for further development in bottle. If you want full, complex, high quality red St Emilion then look no further. It was certainly on fine form for me and well and truly eclipsed Château Beausejour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse] on the day [more on this property in a moment].
The Thienponts have been on the payroll at Château Berliquet since 2008. This is forward, sometimes lush St Emilion Grand Cru Classé with interesting spicy qualities. There has been a large programme of vineyard works at this property, which lies close to Château Canon, and it appears to be delivering results. This estate has succeeded pretty well in the 2011-2013 period. The 2004 was made before the Thienpont’s arrived. It was the most evolved of the 2004s tasted on the day, but decent enough, a fully mature medium bodied wine of some complexity.
St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé Château Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse] has been on top form recently, a period that neatly mirrors the Thienpont tenure as managers here along with winemaker David Suire [alongside über consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt]. There is excellent purity in both 2013 and 2011 here. The 2004 felt, by comparison, a little un-evolved and backward. Maybe it needed a few hours in a decanter.
Overall I came away with sense that the Thienponts are leading these properties to greater heights. As a stable of wines, they were amongst the most impressive in St Emilion in 2013, and the 2011s re-tasted were developing well. The real surprise were how the 2004s had developed, Larcis Ducasse and Pavie Macquin especially.
The following wines were tasted at Château Pavie Macquin on April 4, 2014.
Château Berliquet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé
2011 Deep and saturated in colour; ripe, lifted aromatics – black fruits, liqource, plums and spices; dense palate, but polished with degree of rich fruit and nicely handled oak influenced. Good effort. Drink 2015-2021. 89+
2004: Mid red; earthy red at edge; tea, spice, leather with some meaty/savoury notes; spices, tea, soft; savoury notes but not gamey; little ‘Golden Virginia’ tobacco note; chocolate and spice. Mature. Drink now – 2018. Drink now. 86
Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
2011: Deep and arterial; ripe, sweet, strawberry fruit; some forest floor notes; ripe and rich on the palate with lots of fruit and chew. Lots of depth and layers. Very lush. Modern style. Attractive now. Drink 2014-2025. 91+
2004: Glossy red; lively at edge; spicy, lifted and attractive on the nose; tobacco and some tea but lovely lush, sweet fruit beneath; very mature, soft palate; quite round; tobacco and sweet plum fruit tones; spice and some menthol too. Very mature but wonderfully sweet and ripe. [3rd vintage under the Thienpont consultancy here]. Joyful. Drink now – 2020. 91
Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
2011: Deep and saturated look; rich and ripe aromatics with plum, spices and hints of marzipan and liquorice; this is big and bold – lots of lush fruit; rich. Chewy tannin but good bite keeps things positive. Very attractive. Drink 2015-2030. 92+
2004: Deepish – still dark at centre; red at edge; ripe, spicy plum aromatics which is just hitting its stride; black fruits; nice intensity on the palate with gloss, weight, plum and quite dense; tobacco, spices, leather tones; very nice density and chew. More chew on the finish. Mature now but has a good years of life ahead. Shows just how nicely these wines age. Drink now – 2024. 93+
Château Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
2011: Black and saturated; tight to the edge; arterial; lots of inky fruit; purity but lots of black cherry with dark chocolate notes; bold palate palate with density and tannin. Long term effort. Excellent purity. Drink 2017-2030. 92+
2004: Earthy red; deep core; dense looking still; sturdy rather un-evolved aromatics; chunky and inky; palate has chewy fruit and decent purity but feels a little compact and four square [certainly compared to the crowd pleasing Larcis Ducasse and Pavie Macquin ‘04s]. Still feels a bit undeveloped. Drink now – 2025. 89
Tags: Château Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], Chateau Berliquet, Chateau Larcis Ducasse, Chateau Pavie Macquin, Cyrille Thienpont, David Suire, Nicolas Thienpont, St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, Stéphane Derenoncourt