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Vintage - 2012 - 2016, Bordeau...

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Bordeaux



Maritime Bordeaux in the west of France is a large producer of quality wines. Although saying that there's a large gap between the top few who produce ultra-premium wines with hefty price tags (Lafite, Margaux, Y'Quem, Petrus….) and the rest of the field.

The Left Bank with its gravelly composition of soils is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon while the Right Bank is made up more of clay and this is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate (as they are earlier ripens and don't mind getting their feet wet). In the middle, the Entre Du Meurs provides a slew of whites and reds made for early drinking.

On the right bank outside of St Emilion and Pomerol, there are a lot of well-priced merlots made that are more for early consumption. These come from the satellite Bordeaux regions.
The English built up a thirst for the better Bordeaux reds which they have coined 'clarets'. These are often tucked away for a while in their cellars to age and drunk with a few years under their belts. But not all Bordeaux is built for aging, so choose wisely.

Styles
For whites, there are the crisp and easily quaffed whites from Entre De Meurs, or the more ambitious oak-aged Semillion Sauvignon blends from Pessac Legonan. The queen of dessert wines, Sauternes can also call Bordeaux home. French oak maturation is a common thread amongst the elite reds, whites and sweet wines.

Grapes

White:Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot

Some of the most highly rated recent vintages are 2005, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2018.

Favourite Producers
Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Poitevin, D'Yquem, Coutet,
 



Alsace

 Nestled behind the Vosges Mountains the Alsace region is one of France's driest and a lovely hotbed for organic and biodynamic viticulture on volcanic soils.  History has seen it change hands between Germany and France many times which shows up in the strong Germanic influence in food, architecture and grapes.

Red or White? White wines reign supreme here. Usually dry and savoury, though some can be made in an off-dry style. This is a clear cut region to understand as they usually put the grape variety on the label. There are also two sweeter styles; late picked, vendange tardive and the botrytis infected dessert wine, selections de grains nobles.

Grapes
Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, Gewuztraminer

Style
There's a lovely minerality thread in these wines due to their volcanic soil origins. Smokey wafts and exotic fruits are on full display in youth. Over time they develop a honeyed richness. Some wines may have a richer mid-palate and can be off-dry in style.

Favourite Producers
Marcel Deiss, Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine Ostertag, Paul Blank

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  1. Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 2016
    Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 2016
    60% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Côt
    The Coteaux du Quercy AOC is one of France smallest wine region with only 400 hectares and less than 20 growers. It lies between Cahors & Gaillac. After the Phylloxera, the Quercy, once 50 000 hectares was almost destroyed. Roger Gisbert and his brave mates started their appellation from scratch. With high draining slopes of white clay and limestone soils, Cabernet Franc was chosen to blend with the Merlot, and off course the Cot (aka. Malbec) replanted on the rocky soils. The grapes are harvested and sorted, then fallow slow and gentle traditional fermentation.
    2016
    Cabernet Franc, Merlot
    France
    356
  2. Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling 2012 375ml
    Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling 2012 375ml

    Bright pale straw-green. Fresh nose of green apple, quince lime and herbs. Then minty, almost peppery flavors of green fig, apple and gooseberry. Finishes long and suave with zippy acidity and a hint of minerality at the back. This is still very young but magically combines precision, concentration and refinement as only this cuvée manages. Strikes me as an earlier maturing version of Fréderic Emile, but will undoubtedly be another great star in this wine’s constellation history. IAN D'AGATA, Vinous Media

    The 2012 Riesling Frédéric Emile starts clear, subtle and very elegant on the floral nose. Elegant, piquantly mineral and finesse-full on the palate, with a lot of Spiel and restrained power but also some petrol hints (?) this bottling shows a nice purity and a long and tension-filled finish. A real Trimbach classic to be enjoyed over the next 20+ years. STEPHAN REINHARDT, The WIne Advocate

    2012
    Riesling
    France
    343
  3. Chateau Montravel Blanc (Semillon) 2016
    Chateau Montravel Blanc (Semillon) 2016
    This is a 100% Sémillon form a 1 hectare vineyard located in Montravel, a sub-region of Bergerac.
    The grapes are hand harvested in small lug boxes, bunches are selected one by one. Pressed in an air tight press, the must is then barrel fermented and the wine aged on fine lees with regular batonnage. Aged for eleven months in 1/3 new, 1/3 one year old and 1/3 in two years old oak barrels.

    I love this wine - Semillion grown on chalk with a minerally intense core. It is opulent and dense yet has great freshness. A slight touch of stuck match reduction adds complexity to a lifted bright nose of citrus and minerally notes. Great power and mouth coating flavour and yet finishes crisp and clean. ALEX WILCOX


    2016
    Semillon
    France
    356
  4. Vray Croix de Gay 2013 375ml
    Vray Croix de Gay 2013 375ml

    This tiny estate’s (less than 12 acres) sensational terroir has never been fully exploited, but that will change now that the owner of Chateau Latour, Francois Pinault, has purchased an approximately 50% interest in Vray Croix de Gay. Made from a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the dark ruby-hued 2013 exhibits notes of black cherries, loamy soil and underbrush. Consume this medium-bodied effort during its first 4-5 years of life. ROBERT PARKER, 2014

    2012
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
  5. Weinbach Cuvee Colette Riesling 2020
    Weinbach Cuvee Colette Riesling 2020
    Catherine Faller’s mother, Colette Faller, was an force of nature in Alsatian wine and so when she passed in 2015 it was big loss not just for the faller family, but the region as a whole. As a tribute she has been immortalised by a wine bearing her name, as was done for Colette's late husband Theo. This wine comes from 45 year old vines lower down on the Schlossberg sloper where the soiles are deeper and sandier. It's picked a touch later too delivering a wine of serious power. intensity and energy. A portion of this wine comes from vines just outside the Grand Cru boundary but rest assured this is of Grand Cru quality is all but name. ALEX DOBSON
    2016
    Riesling
    France
    343
  6. Belgrave 2016 1500ml
    Belgrave 2016 1500ml

    HAUT-MÉDOC 5th Growth Cru Classé

    The 2016 Belgrave is a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot and was picked from 28 September until 20 October. It has a generous bouquet with small dark cherries, blueberry and crushed violet aromas, quite Margaux-like in style. There is certainly good intensity here. The palate is medium-bodied with a supple opening: blackberry, mint and cedar. From the start there is fine tension and there is very impressive structure towards the finish, plus a long saline aftertaste. This is a very strong follow-up to the 2015 Belgrave and indeed, it may surpass it. (90-92) NEAL MARTIN

    Ample and richly textured, the 2016 Belgrave is super expressive from start to finish. The exotic bouquet reveals graphite, herb, crushed flowers and a multitude of enticing inky fruit nuances. This powerful, overachieving Haut Médoc has quite a bit to offer. (89-91) ANTONIO GALLONI

     

    2016
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
  7. Camensac 2016 1500ml
    Camensac 2016 1500ml
    HAUT-MÉDOC - 5th Growth

    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. (90-92) NEAL MARTIN
    2016
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
  8. Pichon Baron 2016
    Pichon Baron 2016

    PAUILLAC - 2nd Growth

    The 2016 Pichon-Longueville Baron is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot picked between 3 and 18 October at 39 hectoliters per hectare for estate (therefore the Grand Vin will be less). It is matured in 80% new oak and 20% one year old for 18 months. It has a very intense, extremely pure bouquet with blackberry, bilberry, cedar and graphite notes; it is a straight-down-the-fairway Pauillac. The palate is medium-bodied with a very tensile opening, that seam of graphite penetrating the black fruit. There is a wonderful structure here, unapologetically classic in style with just the right amount of austerity on the aristocratic finish. The aftertaste is incredibly long, lingering after two or three minutes in the mouth. This is a majestic Pichon-Baron and it may well to surpass both the 2009 or 2010. (96-98) NEAL MARTIN

    The 2016 Pichon-Longueville Baron is fabulous. In fact, the 2016 is one of the best recent Pichon-Barons I can remember tasting. Smoke, gravel, chocolate, graphite, licorice, leather, black cherry and grilled herbs open up first as the wine shows off its extraordinary aromatic palette. Like so many wines in this vintage, the 2016 delivers serious flavor intensity, but with no excess weight. The richness of the Cabernet, at 85% of the blend, is palpable, as is the quality level. Vivid and deep to the core, the wine finishes with notable density, yet retains its midweight structure. (93-96) ANTONIO GALLONI

    2016
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
  9. La Mission Haut Brion 2016
    La Mission Haut Brion 2016

    PESSAC-LÉOGNAN CRU CLASSÉ - LIMITED
    The 2016 La Mission Haut Brion is a blend of 57.5% Merlot and 42.5% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 19 September and 14 October, one of the longest ever. "We had to be patient and wait for each plot," Jean-Philippe Delmas told me. "It took longer than usual." As is customary, I allowed my sample, and likewise all the wines poured at this tasting, around 40-45 minutes to open since they always transform in the glass. It has a clean and precise, quite understated bouquet with fine mineralité, cold stone aromas infusing the black fruit. This has incredible precision, perhaps even more pixelated than the "gaff over the road" Haut-Brion. The palate is medium-bodied with supple and lithe tannin. I appreciate the line of acidity here, the smoothness and harmony that takes your breath away. Every atom is infused with life-affirming freshness. It is a wine bridled with incredible focus and delineation. I thought that the 2015 La Mission Haut-Brion flirted with perfection. The 2016 has that extra edge, a "je ne sais quoi" that leaves you reaching for the thesaurus looking for superlatives. (98-100) NEAL MARTIN

    The 2016 La Mission Haut-Brion is a total knockout. Vertical and powerful, but not at all austere, it exudes class. Fine-grained tannins support the fruit, but they are barely felt, as the wine's balance is so extraordinary. Lifted floral notes and a host of red fruits give the 2016 energy and verve. I can't wait to see how it ages. (94-97) ANTONIO GALLONI

    2016
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
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