Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Pavie-Macquin are two of my favourite wines in St Emilion [although I confess to having quite a few in the appellation!]. Both are managed by Nicolas Thienpont and his team, both are quite different. Larcis has a wonderful eleven hectare spot on the sunny, terraced south west facing Côte de Pavie. It is a very solar location. Its wines are typically lush and sensual. They are the classic iron fist in a velvet glove – almost more akin to terrific Grand Gru Burgundy than Bordeaux. They also have a magical ability to age. Château Pavie Macquin is often more obviously powerful and structured. It has more varied terroir with a number of different parcels across the St Emilion limestone plateau. Typically, there is slightly more Cabernet Franc in the blend with a spot of Cabernet Sauvignon too. Both properties have made superlative wines in 2022. There is not a hairs breadth between the two qualitatively speaking, though they as ever they are quite different stylistically. I had the pleasure of tasting both in the cellars at Château Larcis Ducasse with winemaker David Suire who works with Nicolas Thienpont.
Posts Tagged ‘David Suire’
Château Laroque has produced a wonderful wine in 2022. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. This large, historic property has seriously been on the up since the arrival of David Suire. The ‘22 follows on from a series of impressive vintages here, starting with the ‘18 and followed on by excellent wines in ‘19 and ‘20. Prior to these vintages the wine was distributed exclusively and not sold through the Place de Bordeaux. All that has changed. I’ve been offered Laroque ’22 en primeur by at least half a dozen independent merchants in the UK this week. Buyers have cottoned on to the improvements here. Price-wise, even with a bit of an uplift this year, Laroque remains something of a bargain. I tasted the ’22 in after an afternoon that included tasting Château Figeac, Château Canon-la-Gaffelière and La Mondotte. Laroque held its own. This is a seriously good ’22, perhaps even more impressive at this stage than the remarkable ’18 was during primeurs.
My primeurs visit this year [my first since 2019] was limited to a four-day long weekend of tastings on Bordeaux’s right bank in and around St Emilion. I hope to have an in-depth look at the left bank at a later date. Despite the brevity of the trip I looked at hundred plus wines and on the basis of those, 2022 certainly looks to be an exciting vintage for many. It was a hot and dry year, with real heat spikes. Challenging? Yes in some cases but if anything, part of the new normal in Bordeaux in climate and meteorological terms. Stylistically what’s the vintage like in terms of other recent vintages? 2018? 2009? 2003? Any declaration on style is affected by the fact that Bordeaux has evolved considerably over the last decade in winemaking and viticultural terms. In warm years, of which there are now many, picking is less super late, winemaking is generally less extractive and oak handling less obvious. Everyone, it seems, is searching for greater freshness and balance. The comparison most frequently offered by winemakers and proprietors in describing 2022, usually after some procrastination and umpteen caveats, was 2010. Not necessarily in terms of the precise weather conditions. 2010 was a vintage of so-called ‘cool’ maturity, which is not evidently the case in 2022. But there is certainly that level of concentration in the wines, and with much less evident extraction than a decade earlier. I certainly found the tannins in 2022 to be like satin. So, what are the highlights?
There are a number of properties in Bordeaux which offer striking value for the quality. St Emilion Grand Cru Classé Château Laroque is most definitely one of them. It has heritage and fabulous limestone terroir high up in St Emilion. It is also a substantial property with over 61 hectares planted. It has been well looked after by the Beaumartin family since the 1930s. So far, so good. But it has been the arrival of winemaker David Suire that has been the catalyst for this property to hit the big time, qualitatively speaking. Fortunately, the prices have still yet to catch up. While Château Laroque is perhaps no longer an insider’s secret, thanks to sensible pricing here this certainly remains a property to follow. The 2020 is another significant wine. Qualitatively it is up there with the impressive wines fashioned in 2019 and 2018. Laroque is an exciting 2020 indeed.