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?
Posts Tagged ‘St Emilion Grand Cru Classé’
The stable of wines that Stephan von Neipperg commands are tip top in 2022. There is an attractive delicacy and freshness here across the board. The wines from St Emilion – Clos de l’Oratoire, Château Canon-La-Gaffelière and the prodigious La Mondotte – are all very impressive. La Mondotte is exceptional. The work horse in the Neipperg line-up is the Castillon, Château d’Aiguilhe, with 90 hectares under vine. This is a fabulous in ’22 – great news for those of us without deep pockets. It will be one of the great values of the vintage. It is also gives a taste of the great many successes the Côtes de Bordeaux have had in 2022 [more on this shortly]. There is also a tiny drop of zippy, saline white made too. Down in Pessac-Léognan, Neipperg’s property Clos Marsalette has made fresh and juicy red wine in 2022 and a forward, full white for early drinking.
Be and think otherwise, that’s the Jean-Luc Thunevin motto. A trip to his cellars is always a thrill. The slight, cheeky, prodigiously talented iconoclast always seems to have a playful trick or two up his sleeve and you never feel quite sure what might happen next. In the past we used to cram into his garage cellars in St Emilion to taste the latest vintage – his own wines as well as dozens and dozens he consults for. Now that Château Valandraud has its cellars completed and front-of-house set up, the tastings are a slightly more sanitised affair, but that’s a measure of his success. In fact, this year St Emilion’s ‘Bad Boy’ even hosted the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux at Valandraud itself, the property he created and runs with his wife Murielle Andraud, now regularly one of the top Premier Grand Cru Classé in St Emilion. The revolutionary now has the establishment eating from his hands. So, what of the magician’s 2022s? Well, they are quite simply magical.
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.