Wednesday Wines – Episode 127 – Grands Crus Classé Saint-Emilion

Episode 127 – Grands Crus Classés Saint-Emilion

21st September 2022

On 12th September, 25 Grands Crus Classés from Saint-Emilion set up stall on Landing42 of the ‘Cheesegrater’ or The Leadenhall Building. Each Château showed their 2019 vintage and one other.  From a total of 50 different wines, I have picked my favourite 15 for you to enjoy.  There is a lot of value to be found here, so get to work on your chosen search engine, and I am sure you will be surprised at some of the prices of these wines – I certainly was!

I have listed the estates in alphabetical order.

2019 Château Bellefont-Belcier

68% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon

They showed a lovely and harmonious 2016 vintage, but it narrowly missed the cut in favour of this beautiful 2019. The Kwok family took over B-B after the 2016 vintage, and it is clear that the work done in the vineyard and chai has brought them another level of fruit exuberance and downright deliciousness in their wines. There is serious refinement and harmony here; while it will live long, this is a remarkably balanced wine already. 18/20

2019 Château Bellevue

100% Merlot

The 2012 vintage that sat alongside this wine looked somewhat tired, but my chosen 2019 was nothing of the sort. Brimming with grippy tannin under plush fruit, this is a super-clean wine with invigorating grainy tannins, and it is set for a superbly long and rewarding life ahead of it.  17.5+/20

2019 Clos des Jacobins

80% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon

I noted that the 2009 vintage was holding on well and that the fruit was nicely judged and accurate. But the 2019 is in a different league with a deeper mid-palate and more carefully-judged oak and spice. Already looking pretty impressive, this is a wine to watch because the fruit is ripe, it has a grandeur about it that is unmistakable, and the finish is long and even. 18+/20

2018 Château Corbin

90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

The 2019 vintage was undoubtedly an enjoyable wine, and it has the potential to evolve nicely, but my pick on the day was this charming 2018 vintage. There is nothing hectic or try-hard about this silky, perfumed, generous wine. I am keen on the 2018 vintage because the wines seem restrained and composed. Corbin is a fine example, and it is already drinking nicely.  17.5/20

2019 Couvent des Jacobins

85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot

Both the 2019 vintage and, somewhat surprisingly, the 2012 vintage looked in great form and if you want to drink a ten-year-old wine with superb fruit and energy, look no further.  A quick search reveals that you can pick it up for £30 (in bond)! But, the 2019 has the edge and always will do so on account of the extra power and darkness of fruit under its bonnet. But, crucially, it is not over-extracted or over-oaked. Well-made and well balanced.  17.5/20

2019 Château Dassault

74% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2018 vintage looked fine alongside this 2019 and seemed a little more robust and backward than many. The 2019 is a richer style of wine, too, and the 6% Cabernet Sauvignon seems to have provided a little more muscle, which darkens the core a touch, too. This is a slightly atypical wine, but it is delicious, too!  18+/20

2019 Château De Ferrand

73% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc

The 2016 vintage seemed at first a little too fruity and then a little too dry, but these anomalies are ironed out in the 2019, and there is a touch more purity and power here. Along with more pronounced fruit, there are decent, crisp tannins, allowing everything to fall into place in a couple of years.  17.5/20

2019 Château Faugères

70% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon

A 2015 looked fully ripe and then very tannic, and I fear that it is currently out of balance and might remain indefinitely. However, the 2019 looked much less tannic and far more balanced and silky.  Still youthful, Faugères always presents a powerful stance, but this is a vintage that will look superb in years to come.  17.5+/20

2016 Château Fleur Cardinale

74% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon

While there is tannin here and the fruit is still a little closed, this is a wonderful wine with spiciness and juiciness in equal measure, and I preferred it to the tense, square-jawed 2019.  17.5+/20

2019 Château Fonroque

86% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc

This is a finer wine than the 2018 on show, yet it does not quite hit the high notes. Reasonably structured and closed, I searched for purity and ripeness, yet these qualities are slightly hidden now. I do not doubt that they will emerge in due course, so this is a wine to keep an eye on.  17.5+/20

2019 Château Grand Corbin

85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc

Everything is in order in this structured and youthful 2019. It is another example of a Saint-Emilion that has yet to get going, preferring a quiet life of contemplation, allowing other, more mellow vintages to face the music. But, like a couple of others in this article, it will work well given time.  17.5+/20

2019 Château La Serre

80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc

Gosh, the 2016 of this wine was superb, but the 2019 has the edge and it already shines with juicy fruit and seamless tannins. Forward, fresh and welcoming, this is one of the most approachable wines in this line-up, and it is a veritable bargain to boot.  17.5/20

2019 Château Laroze

62% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2016 and the 2019 vintages of Laroze looked well balanced and thoroughly enjoyable. The 2019 has the edge because it has more potential and a little more depth, but I can highly recommend both years.  17.5+/20

2019 Château La Prieuré

90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

This is one of the most fragrant wines in the collection, and it is also fairly backward, but there is so much potential here, and I love the way that the limestone terroir is allowed to shine without being drowned out by oak or excess.   17.5+/20

2020 Château Yon-Figeac

83% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot

The very last table had a surprising inclusion. It was a one-off 2020 vintage that had the edge on the powerfully tannic 2019. With obviously juicy fruit and a velvety texture, this wine bodes well for next year’s tasting, and it was a lovely way to finish the 50 wines on a refreshing and fruit-driven footing.  17.5/20