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- Bordeaux Chronicles
Follow our trip through Bordeaux during this year’s En Primeur barrel tastings. ARVI’s team will be touring, tasting, and exploring the greatest producers to get a first-hand look at the 2018 vintage. Throughout the first week of April, 2019 we will be updating our webpage each day to give you an inside-look at the most chaotic, but nonetheless celebratory time for this fine-wine capital.
Château Le Pin
Château La Conseillante
Château Le Gay
Château La Violette
Vieux Château Certan
Château Canon la Gaffelière
Château Cheval Blanc
The optimism surrounds us as we wake up in the quaint town of Saint-Émilion for the first official day of En Primeurs 2018. The ARVI team landed in the world’s most celebrated wine region yesterday, and began with a tasting of Château Valandraud at Chais Thunevin in Saint-Émilion. Part of the team also had the pleasure of having dinner at Château Angélus last night for the Dîner des Étoiles which featured three different Michelin-starred chefs. But the star of the night was undoubtedly, the 2000 Angélus.
After all the surprises of the 2017 vintage, we are all looking forward to taste Bordeaux’ newest vintage. Thankfully the initial fears dissipated, after Bordeaux’ rainy spring turned into an exceptionally dry and sunny Indian Summer, that lasted from mid-July to October. Bordeaux was then filled with a sense of real enthusiasm.
This year, we started on the Right Bank, tasting our way through the leading estates of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol. Our first official tasting this week was at Château-Figeac. While the estate is currently undergoing renovations, the 2018 vintage is a spectacular, a harmonious wine, that doesn’t need any work! We had a chance to speak to Frédéric Faye, the General Director, and meet with the president of Château-Figeac,Hortense Idoine-Manoncourt, daughter of the late, Thierry Manoncourt.
Next up on our list was Château Ausone, speaking with the Vauthier family, Alain and his daughter, Pauline, we found this 2018 Ausone to be elegant beyond belief. Our Head Sommelier comments “What a stunner!” Just a short drive away, lying to the south of the medieval village of Saint-Émilion, we visited Count Stephan von Neipperg at his Château Canon La Gaffelière estate. The 2018 line up was absolutely charming, both the Grand Vin and La Mondotte were elegant, with delicate floral notes and a superb freshness.
Next stop, the famous Château Cheval Blanc, where we were able to meet with CEO, Pierre Lurton and Technical Director, Pierre-Olivier Clouet to hear their stories about this 2018 vintage. Château Quinault L’Enclos is getting better and better, year after year, our Head Sommelier says it is seriously becoming a high-quality wine. Their Grand Vin this year is incredible, even “to die for” our Head Sommelier jokes. We also had the chance to taste Lurton’s privately-owned Château Marjosse’s 2018 vintage, from the Entre-deux-Mersappellation, which was equally impressive. The best Marjosse we’ve ever had.Just a couple meters away, we visited the smallest property in Pomerol, if not in all of Bordeaux - Château Le Pin. Only our second time at the estate, we met with the owner, Jacques Thienpont. Davide commented that this year’s vintage has “a fantastic concentration and an endless finale”.
Our first stop of the afternoon was at Château Le Gay. We had a tasting of their 2018 Le Gay, but also Henri Parent’s other Pomerol property, Château La Violette. While tasting Le Gay, Davide said enthusiastically, “It’s subtle, yet strong – the fruit is delicate, the wine almost feels like its tip toeing across my tongue.”We had our second tasting after lunch at Château La Conseillante. It was so great to meet with Marielle Cazaux again, the Managing Director, after she had just visited us in Switzerland a couple weeks ago. Marielle guided us through the 2018 vintage, and she commented “We made the wine we wanted to make.” Keeping with the DNA of La Conseillante was very important to her in this vintage, and after 8 blending sessions with Michel Rolland, she had exactly what she wanted. A perfectly balanced, concentrated yet multidimensional wine, the freshness shines alongside a fruity vibrancy.
Château Clinet was our next stop, we met with Monique Bailly, Ronan Laborde’s wife, who led us through a tasting of the 2018 vintage.After a great maturity of harvest, Clinet 2018 gives off incredible notes of black fruit, it’s perfectly balanced with a striking depth and concentration. Monique couldn’t have said it better “This is a true Clinet.”We crossed over one last time to Saint-Émilion to visit the appellation’s largest Premier Grand Cru Classé estate – Château Pavie. We met with Gerard Perse’s son-in-law, Henrique Da Costa, and the General Director, Philippe Develay who led us through the tasting, and it’s safe to say, Pavie retains its new style perfectly in 2018. Even in a rich vintage like this one, this Pavie is spectacular, having a spot-on elegance sip after sip.
Continuing with our Right Bank tastings, we made our way to Château L’Eglise-Clinet. As always, it was a pleasure to meet with owner, Denis Durantou and taste through his wines. L’Eglise-Clinet is going to be a top sleeper of this vintage, sincerely amazing year after year. Ending the day at Vieux Château Certan, we met with owner Alexandre Thienpont and his son Guillaume, who graciously walked us through the 2018 vintage. Its high-class ranking year after year is more than upheld with this production, our Head Sommelier comments “It’s beautifully balanced, I understand why it’s been named ‘An Amazing Vintage’!”
A full day of tasting on the Right Bank, and what a very good day it was. It’s clear that Saint-Émilion and Pomerol have brought their best wines to the table for this 2018 vintage. Obviously, producers who were able to preserve the fruits’ natural acidity and freshness flourished, crafting truly outstanding wines that marry concentration and elegance in perfect harmony.