Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac 2015 €45
Chateau Fontenil hails from the Fronsac region, on the right bank of the Bordeaux. A small appellation with 280 hectares of vines and 71 producers. The wine comes from the estate of Michel Rolland, a well-regarded winemaker and oenologist, who consults for many leading estates in the region. He is well-known for making wines that are clean, polished and velvety. Fontenil is his very own baby, meaning he owns it and makes the wine there to fully reflect his philosophy.
Decanter 91 points: Chunky, ample, frank fruits: a sense of clay beneath your feet! You can also smell that vivid acidity somehow: a kind of raspberry tang as well as the sweet plum. Satisfying and mouthfilling – the living proof of Fronsac’s value. Gruff, just the way we like it, with concentration, amplitude and depth. Drinking Window 2019 – 2025
Wine Advocate 91 points: The 2015 Fontenil is deep garnet-purple in colour with crushed red and black currants, black cherries and mulberries notions with an earthy undercurrent of underbrush and truffles plus a waft of tilled soil. The medium to full-bodied palate has bags of purity and minerality with a firm frame of chewy tannins and lively acid line lifting the youthful fruit to a long finish. This should age beautifully!
Château Clos L’Église, Pomerol 2006 €120
6 hecates of vines in the heart of Pomerol, over 20 years in the Garcin family. Winemaking is overseen by Hélène Garcin-Lévêque and her husband Patrice. The blend is usually around 80% Merlot with 20% Cabernet Franc. Since 2012, fermentation has taken place in stainless-steel tanks instead of wooden casks, and maturation takes place (16-18months) in new 300-litre French oak barrels.
Decanter 91 points: Clear cinnamon on the nose, followed by grilled saffron spice. This is impressive and gives a lovely sense of burrowing down through layers of black fruits. The tannins are barely yielding but they are neither bitter nor intrusive. Definitely ready to drink and will continue for another 10 years. Drinking Window 2016 – 2028.
Jancis Robinson 16.5: Tense and unforthcoming on the palate. Fig and cocoa aromas. Fibrous tannic feel, heavy body. This is Pomerol with a vengeance – pumped up and concentrated, yet not giving much away. Drink 2020 – 2040
Pensées de Lafleur, Pomerol 2013 €125
Pensées de Lafleur is the second wine of Château Lafleur, one of the jewels of Pomerol. A 4.58 hectare estate owned by Baptiste and Julie Guinaudeau as of 2012, having taken over from Baptiste’s father Jacques. Family owned for nearly 150 years, its Cabernet Franc and Merlot vines are some of the most sought after and prestigious vines in the world. It is situated on prime Pomerol land with Château Petrus on one side and Château La-Fleur Pétrus on the other.
Jancis Robinson 16+: 59% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Franc. Light nose and a bit pinched on the end but there is lots of surprisingly luscious fruit too. I tasted this next to the Ch Lafleur 2013 and it didn’t suffer too much. In fact, it was much more fun to drink. Drink 2017 – 2022
Decanter 93 points: Confident stuff to finish the tasting with a pair of 2013s; not just the main wine but Pensées also. This is clearly still young in terms of structure and primary fruit character, but it’s already beginning to soften, as is the character of the vintage. But that’s where the easy shortcuts to the watery challenges of 2013 end, because this is packed full of flavour, with blueberry and redcurrant notes, sweet liquorice and cigar box and floral overtones. An impressive wine that underlines how underappreciated vintages can offer sweet spots if you know where to look. Drinking Window 2019 – 2035
Clos René, Pomerol, 2016 €58
Clos René, is an estate that dates back to the mid -18th century, it is now co-owned by the Garde and Laserre families and managed by Winemaker Jean Marie Garde. Situated on the western side of Pomerol, the 16 hectare estate manages its Merlot (60%), Cabernet Franc (30%) and Malbec (10%) vines using sustainable methods. Winemaking at Clos René is quite traditional, with fermentation taking place in temperature controlled cement vats and tanks. The wines are aged for an average of 18 months in oak barrels, out of which only around 25% are new.
Wine Advocate 89 – 91 points: The 2016 Clos Rene has a light, rather clayey bouquet, moderate definition and perhaps missing the tension and energy of some of its peers. The palate is better with light tannin and pretty blackberry and bilberry fruit, a touch of truffle developing towards the finish that evidences some carefully integrated oak. It is not a long-term Pomerol, but it is well crafted and should drink well for a decade or so.
Decanter 87 points: Here we find the lower register of dark fruit in a lovely, sincere old-school Pomerol. It just tightens up and drops off earlier than some of the others, but it’s enjoyable.
Château le Puy, Barthélemy 2010 €150
Described by Jane Aniston of Decanter as “one of Bordeaux’s most overlooked wine estates”, Chateau le Puy is a firm favourite with the Green Man Wines team. Winemakers and family owners for the past 400 years, the Amoreau family and team are regular visitors to the shop, including a memorable Chateau le Puy dinner and tasting last year. The château has never been classified, and is made with almost 100% Merlot. Demeter certified, the vineyards are farmed according to biodynamic principles with minimum sulphites added.
Château La Gaffèliere, Premier Grand Cru Classé 1989 €130
La Gaffèliere is a fascinating estate full of history. The estate takes its name from a leper colony that was found at the foot of the village in the Middle Ages; the ‘gaffe’ was the stick that lepers carried to help them walk! Whats more, La Gaffèliere has been owned by the de Malet Roquefort family for more than three centuries, since 1705.
Situated on the southern hillside of Saint Emilion, 22 ha of the 32ha estate, are classified as Premier Grand Cru Classé B. Located on clay-limestone soils, the vineyards are planted 75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc. Average age of vines is 35 years (50% have been replanted over the past 20 years).
Wine Advocate 89 points: Not since 1970 has La Gaffeliere made so promising a wine as the 1989. The vines of this well-placed vineyard will never produce blockbuster wines, but can, when well-made, turn out a stylish, graceful, yet still concentrated wine that balances power and finesse. The 1989 is such an effort. Its bouquet of black-cherries, spring flowers, minerals and toasty new oak is enthralling. In the mouth, the wine is medium to full-bodied, shows good acidity for the vintage, relatively high yet soft tannins, and a long, velvety, rich finish. This is a stylish yet authoritative La Gaffeliere.
Château La Fleur, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2007 €50
Chateau La Fleur is 27ha of limestone clay soils with a vineyard mix of 84% Merlot 14% Caberent Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Average age of vines is 40 years. Fermentation takes place in cement and stainless steel and aged in 70% new barrels.
Jancis Robinson 15.5 points: Rather light purple rim. Hints of sandpaper on the nose. But fresh light fruit. Not desperately ambitious. A simple but well made wine that you really shouldn’t have to buy en primeur.
Château Corbin, Grand Cru Classé, Saint Emilion 2013 €42
Château Corbin is 13ha, located in the northwest St-Emilion on the Corbin plateau, close to the Pomerol border and planted to 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Since 1924, Château Corbin has been in the hands of the same family. Passed down from generation to generation by female heirs, it is today the property of Anabelle Cruse (a trained oenologist), the fourth generation; she has managed the estate since 1999 and became owner (bought out the rest of the family) in 2006. A Grand Cru Classé estate since the inaugural ranking of 1954.
The terroir is made up of two types of soil ancient sands surrounding the château over an iron-rich clay subsoil, which give the wine its delicacy and finesse and clay on the Pomerol side of the estate, which brings the wine its richness. Average age of vine is 30 years. Vinification is in concrete vats before being transferred to oak barrels for 17-19 months, depending what the vintage requires.
Decanter 87 points: Soft red fruits and the entire structure is open, with well integrated tannins. There is no doubt this will be best enjoyed while the fruit is in the foreground. 2013 was one of those difficult years when severe selection was essential. However even with low yields (28hl/h), plus only 68% given to grand vin production and no second wine (the rest was sold en vrac), this lacks the rich precision of the château’s other vintages. Drinking Window 2018 – 2023
Chateau Beau-Séjour Becot, Premier Grand Cru Classé 2013 €75
Chateau Beau-Séjour Becot is one of the leading 1er Grand Cru Classé B properties. This boutique St-Emilion estate is situated just outside the town and its 20ha of vines sit on a coveted limestone plateau. The Château Beau-Séjour-Bécot 2013 contains 75% Merlot, higher than usual, as the Merlot from La Gomerie is now in the blend since 2012, along with 21% Cabernet Franc and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon. Bècot bucked the trend in ’13 by harvesting late and using a rather long 30 day maceration and according to James Molesworth of Wine Spectator ‘It looks to be one of the successes of the vintage’.
Jancis Robinson 16 points: Tasted blind. Mid garnet. As on the wine just tasted (which turned out to be Quintus), real sweetness of fruit and oak on the nose and nicely peppery/dusty. Quite a lot of oak. Firm and chewy tannins with good density and moderate length. Little bit of heat on the finish. A bit tough overall.