Hopefully you weren’t holding your breath. The delay in getting Part 2 of my review of the Grands Crus Classés of St Emilion up and published was due to a combination of COVID over the winter break and then the volume of other work in January which blew me off track. Anyhow, finally here is my summary of the second tranche of twenty-one 2018s St Emilion classed growths tasted last September. Again, these are a generally rich and ripe set of wines, some quite precocious, and many already a joyful drink. Alongside these, properties also showed one other vintage. As in my earlier piece, the 2016s really impressed, but so too did many 2017s. So what are the picks?
Posts Tagged ‘Merlot’
Way back in early September the Association de Grands Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion put on a tasting high up above London at Landing Forty Two in the remarkable Leadenhall Building. The views were impressive. So were many of the wines. Ostensibly it was an opportunity to taste the joyful 2018 vintage, but each producer also offered an additional, older vintage. This was fascinating. For me it also confirmed the superlative quality of the 2016 vintage in St Emilion, but also the quality of some of the rather unsung 2017s. In fact, there were quite a few properties to my mind that performed better in ’17 than they did in ’18 – and that was no mean feat given the challenges of the frost that so badly affected the former vintage. Given that some 45 different chateau were represented at the tasting, I’m dividing my report into two parts. This one contains notes and thoughts on some twenty-four properties [and forty-seven wines], starting with Château Barde-Haut and ending with Château Franc-Mayne [essentially half of them alphabetically].
Final blog post for the moment on the reds of Bordeaux in 2020. I’ve grouped together notes taken on wines from the Médoc and Haut-Médoc in this post, as well as some specific communes like Margaux, Moulis, Listrac, St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe. All of these are based on samples sent by the Grand Cercle. I’ve yet to taste members of the Union des Grand Crus and there are a number of properties that I usually get to taste which I didn’t manage to organise this year. I hope to update these omissions soon. From what I have tasted the reds are fresh in the Médoc in 2020, although there is not the richness of 2019 or 2018 for me. In some there is a certain austerity and angularity. Wines tasted from the Haut-Médoc have good depth and colour, with freshness and zap, but again some can feel a little angular. A handful of wines tasted from St Estèphe look promising, with good colours and nice textures, and there were some nicely perfumed, fresh wines from Margaux. The few bottles I tasted from St Julien and Pauillac showed finesse, but were not quite up with the quality and concentration of the previous two vintages. Overall my tastings in these communes were not as comprehensive as those on the right bank this year. If you want detailed reports on the left bank wines I’d defer to others whose writing on Bordeaux I admire [Jane Anson, James Lawther, Chris Kissack, Neal Martin & Jeb Dunnuck all cover Bordeaux extremely well]. Nevertheless, I hope you find the notes on the following 24 wines useful.
There are many properties to search out in the St Emilion satellite appellations. For the last few years I’ve been impressed with the wines of Château Barbe Blanche, Château La Rose Perrière and Château de Lussac in Lussac St Emilion. There is real polish and style exhibited here by these properties. Over in Montagne St Emilion Coralie de Boüard is blazing a trail with Château Clos de Boüard but this year I have also been impressed with Château Faizeau, Château Messile-Aubert and Vieux Château Palon presented by the Grand Cercle. Overall in 2020 all these wines show strong colours and exhibit lots of extract but the winemaking is sophisticated and the tannins soft and pure.