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Château Fontesteau, Haut-Medoc
Located in the centre of the Médoc peninsula and 4 km West of Pauillac, Fontesteau’s 100 hectares stretch over a remarkable natural landscape that includes a thirteen century castle, a forest and a lake. The estate with its gravelly soil and limestone base has 32ha under vine split 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc.
Chateau Fontesteau is the estate’s Grand Vin or flagship wine. Plots are vinified separately to preserve the characteristics of each plot and are then blended in the January after the harvest. Three-quarters of the blend is aged for 12 months in barrels (25% new) for a fine-tuning of the tannins. A quarter of the total volume stays in vat to ensure a certain freshness and conserve the pleasant fruitiness before the bottling is carried out from May.
A younger style of Bordeaux which can be drunk young, the house style is medium bodied with the aromas of cherries and raspberries leading to flavours of flowers and hints of cedar and vanilla all finished with velvety tannins.
Château Fontesteau, Haut-Medoc 2015 €29
Wine Advocate: “Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois annual tasting, the 2015 Fontesteau has a generous bouquet with blackberry, raspberry, cedar and sous bois scents that are nicely defined. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, quite fine tannin, plenty of edgy red fruit and impressive delineation on the finish that shows focus and length. This is recommended. Bravo. Tasted September 2017″ – 91 pts
Jancis Robinson 16 pts: “Lively crimson. Light bodied but fresh and unforced. A tad simple but very straightforward and appetising. Quite long and neat. 13% Drink 2018 – 2023 – 16 pts
Château Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc 2014 €50
According to Jancis Robinson (Oct 2018) – its good news for those who invested in 2014 left-bank reds, “they are looking even-better now than they did en primeur”.
Jean Gautreau bought the estate in 1969 and through sheer determination (no background in wine making) turned the dilapidated estate and 5 ha of vines into a well regarded and respected property comprising of 83 hectares today. Jean died in 2019 and the estate is now managed by his daughter Sylvie.
Sociando-Mallet’s terroir consists of Günz gravel over a deep layer of clay-limestone soil. Grape varieties are 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 54% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. The vines are an average 35 years old.
Harvesting, sorting and winemaking is done by a plot-by-plot selection meaning that each vat can be vinified in optimum conditions with a tailor-made process. Grapes from the finest terroirs produce the grand vin, Château Sociando-Mallet. Sociando Mallet is vinified traditionally. Only native yeast and bacteria naturally present on the grapes and at the estate are used. Wine chosen for Sociando-Mallet is aged in 100% new French oak barrels for 12 months.
Wine Advocate 92 pts: “The 2014 Sociando-Mallet put in a great performance in barrel. Now in bottle, the sophistication is evident on the nose with beautifully defined black fruit tinged with cedar and graphite. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, supple tannin, a silver bead of acidity and superb focus towards the finish. The energy here is superb and it tempts you back immediately for another sip. Probably a Sociano-Mallet that will drink young, yet there is the class to suggest it will age supremely well”
Jancis Robinson 16+ pts: “Tasted blind. Quite ripe and fleshy for a northern Médoc on the nose and then very fleshy on the palate until an extremely austere finish! Drink 2025 – 2038”
Château de Camensac, Haut-Medoc 2016 €50
Château de Camensac is a lesser-know classified growth (5th growth) producer. Once owned by the family who own Marqués de Cáceres in Rioja, the estate was bought out in 2005 by the Merlaut family, which owns several top left bank estates, Graud-Larose and Chasse-Spleen.
Based in the Médoc town of St. Laurent, just west of St. Julien, this 65 ha estate is planted 60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot. Vinifcation take place in a combination of vat and barrel and the wines are matured in oak barrels (35%-70% new) for 17-20 months depending on vintage. Camensac estate possess 2 different types of soil, fine gravel mixed with coarse sand and one made of larger pebbles, the estate works hard to maximise the expression of this terroir which when combined produces a certain north Medoc minerality and the floral accents of Pessac.
The 2016 vintage is considered a good vintage – the late, dry harvest meant Cabernet Sauvignon benefited from a long, slow ripening. Of 2016 Jancis Robinson says “underneath all that bright fruit, the 2016s have no shortage of structure (as we call chewiness) and should last a nice long time as well as being approachable relatively young”.
Decanter 91 pts: “This is a vintage where the freshness levels run high, and here a rich array of dark tight fruits is joined by high acidity with menthol and eucalyptus notes. It’s good quality, but needs to settle into its stride, and fatten up a little further in bottle. There has been pyrazine in the past at Camensac, and they are doing a lot of work with the vines to reduce that – this 2016 has clearly shifted from green pepper to eucalyptus, which gives good Médoc typicity while retaining fruit character. A successful wine. Drinking Window 2024 – 2040”
Wine Advocate 90-92 pts: “The 2016 Camensac is an equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, picked from 27 September until 18 October at 42 hectoliters per hectare. There is a pastille-like purity on the nose: blackberry, briary and a light floral note coming through with time. The quality of the vintage shows through on the palate, which is very harmonious and demonstrates both excellent backbone and intensity. It builds in the mouth, maintaining plenty of freshness and with a mineral-driven finish. This is an excellent Château de Camensac and fingers crossed it will represent great value in the market once released”.
Château Potensac, Médoc 2016 €45
Château Potensac 2016 was named in Decanter’s Top Wines of 2018: Most Exciting Picks.
Family owned for generations, Jean- Hubert Delon inherited the Cru Bourgeois estate from his paternal grandmother. He is also proprietor of highly regarded 2nd growth estate, Chateau Leoville Las Cases in St. Julien. The estate located in the far north of the Médoc, is a large property, consisting of 50 hectares of vineyards, which are planted on soils of gravel and red clay. They produce a very fine wine with tight texture, great richness and wonderful freshness. The vines 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Franc have a high average age of around 35 years. Grapes are hand harvested and vinification is in a combination of stainless steel tanks and concrete. Wines are aged in small oak barrels (20% new) for 14-16mths.
Decanter 90pts: “This is such classic Médoc – the freshness is clear, perfectly underpinning the crunchy red and black berry fruits. It’s super-seductive and easy to drink despite being closed right now, as you would expect at this stage, but the weight of tannins suggests that it will open back up fairly swiftly, and a second bottle I tasted was even more juicy. 2% Petit Verdot completes the blend”. Drinking Window 2022 – 2036
Robert Parker 90 pts: “Blended of 44% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Potensac features chocolate box and Sichuan pepper scents with a core of cassis, warm blackberries, kirsch and menthol. Medium to full-bodied, it has a great core of expressive black fruits, grainy tannins and lovely freshness, finishing with a red fruit lift”. Drink 2020 – 2035
Château Malescot Saint Exupery, Margaux 2014 €80
Château Malescot Saint Exupery is a 3ème Cru Classé property in Margaux. A historic estate with a history that dates back to 1616. Current owners the Zuger family bought the property in 1955 and diligently replanted the vineyards turning it into the best-maintained and most quality-driven of the Margaux Cru.
Situated in the middle of Margaux village itself, the estate has 30 hectares of vineyards (spread throughout the commune) some of which abut the vineyards of Chateau Margaux.
Well known and well regarded, the estate’s signature style is one of lushness, dominated by rich and pure cabernet sauvignon (50%) and backed by silky merlot (35%), Cabernet Franc (10%) & petit verdot (5%).
Wines are matured in oak barriques (80% new) for 16 months. Can be drunk young and best decanted but will benefit from more ageing 5-10 years.
Antonio Galloni 93pts: “The 2014 Malescot Saint Exupéry is powerful, rich and explosive. One of the more exuberant, flamboyant Margaux that readers will come across, the Malescot exudes serious depth and intensity. Black cherry, plum, smoke, licorice and dark spice meld into the deep, succulent finish. The 2014 needs time in bottle, but it is impressive and also highly promising,”
Wine Advocate 92 pts: The 2014 Malescot-St-Exupery has a clean, fresh and vibrant bouquet with blackberry, raspberry and cedar scents, a touch of graphite emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with supple red berry fruit laced with cedar and graphite. The acidity is well judged, that pencil lead note heightened towards the finish that demonstrates very fine persistence. I like the swagger and class of this Margaux and I can see this offering two decades of drinking pleasure.
Château Latour Pauillac 1995 €700
A real treasure for a Bordeaux wine lover. Its not often you will come across a 96 point Chateau Latour, a grand vin considered the greatest and most long-lived of all the Bordeaux first growths. A pure powerhouse of a wine, Robert Parker has said “I have been blown away by this wine on recent occasions. The wine is a more unctuously-textured, sweeter, more accessible Latour than the 1996. Wow!”
Robert Parker 96 pts: A beauty, the opaque dense purple-colored 1995 exhibits jammy cassis, vanillin, and minerals in its fragrant but still youthful aromatics. Medium to full-bodied, with exceptional purity, superb concentration, and a long, intense, ripe, 40-second finish, this is a magnificent example of Latour. As the wine sat in the glass, scents of roasted espresso and toasty new oak emerged. This classic will require considerable cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2050.
Jancis Robinson 18.5pts: Lustrous deep crimson almost right out to the rim still. Hint of mint on the nose – quite aromatic. Pretty. Charming for a Latour grand vin! Though there is a strong undertow of graphite. More intense than 1996. Drink 2013 – 2035