Wine Words & Video Tape

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Posts Tagged ‘St Emilion Grand Cru’

Bordeaux 2023: Clos Fourtet

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

It was great catching up with Matthieu Cuvelier at Clos Fourtet back in April. It’s now been twenty years since the Cuvelier family bought this stunning Premier Grand Cru Classé St Emilion property. It sits on exceptional terroir atop St Emilion’s limestone plateau just beside the town of St Emilion itself. It has gone from strength to strength under their management and recent vintages here have widely been seen as exceptional. It’s also been just over a decade since they purchased Grand Cru Classé, Château Côte de Baleau and sixteen years since they acquired Château Poujeaux, the jewel in the crown of left bank appellation Moulis. The Cuveliers have proved diligent custodians of these properties, fine tuning the approaches and getting the absolute best from these terroirs. These improvements have also been to the benefit of consumers as prices haven’t risen sharply in relation to quality. Clos Fourtet remains more reasonably priced than some other leading St Emilion properties and Châteaux Poujeaux remains one of Bordeaux’s great fine wine values. So how have all these properties faired in 2023?

Bordeaux 2023: Château Valandraud et al

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Turning up to Château Valandraud is always a mouth-watering prospect. There are fewer wines now on tasting at the refurbished château than there used to be at the tiny cellars beside Jean Luc Thunevin’s home in St Emilion, but it’s still one to get the juices going. While focus is always on the hedonistic Valandraud grand vin itself, I always spend at lot of time looking at the entire range, which is where the value here lies. I’ve been visiting his cellars now for over a decade during primeurs and I’ve been consistently impressed by Domaine de Sabines in Lalande de Pomerol, Clos Badon in St Emilion and Le Clos du Beau Père in Pomerol. These wines do not disappoint in 2023, though there is a freshness and lightness of touch this year in keeping with the vintage. Jean Luc continues to consult for lots of properties on the right bank and I was particularly impressed with Château Mangot this year, alongside Château Sansonnet. What of Château Valandraud itself in 2023? It is inky and bold and definitely needs time.

Bordeaux 2023 Primeurs – First Thoughts

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

What a difference a year makes. Bordeaux 2023 is stylistically light years apart from 2022. That generalisation is based in this case on tasting a hundred or so wines really centred on St Emilion in late April. Yes there is freshness, energy and drive to the nascent wines – they are perhaps more quintessential ‘Bordeaux’ in style than some recent vintages – but there is also heterogeneity. There is not the richness or mid palate weight of the 2022 vintage, or the evenness in quality, but the best wines from St Emilion and Bordeaux’s right bank show brightness and purity in 2023. The difference largely comes down to the weather. The 2023 growing season presented plenty of challenges across Bordeaux. A generally warm and humid year for much of the vegetative cycle, these conditions lead to considerable mildew pressure in the vineyards, challenges that required constant vigilance and affected some properties more than others. While high summer was warm it wasn’t hugely sunny. There were storms in June and there wasn’t the major water deficit that defines the exceptional years. That said there were some heat spikes and as the later growing season progressed the weather became drier, hotter and much sunnier and the vintage was harvested in generally dry, very good conditions. Overall though this is not a solar vintage like 2022 or 2018, and this might be something a relief for some consumers, with the wines perhaps truer to their terroirs and types.

Bordeaux Primeurs 2022: St Emilion

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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?

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