Today has seen the Bordelais galloping furiously down the home straight with releases of the final four Right Bank stars, among the finest wines of the campaign: Chx Figeac, La Conseillante, Ausone and Cheval Blanc.
Ch Figeac 1er Grand Cru Classé St Emilion 2015
£1,100 per 12 bottles IB / £1,110 per 6 magnums (150cl) IB
Managing director Frédéric Faye and consultant oenologist Michel Rolland are very clear about respecting the classical, almost Left-Bank style of Figeac, but are committed to making it the very best it can be. There is no complacency here; during our tasting Faye commented, “We are always fine-tuning, asking what we can do better next year, but always respecting Figeac’s DNA.”
The beautiful quality of the Merlot across the region has grabbed a lot of headlines this year and this can certainly be seen in the opulent mid-palate. However Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 43% of the Grand Vin and, combined with 28% Cabernet Franc, gives fabulous concentration and drive to the wine. This will grow up into a very fine wine indeed, very Figeac, very delicious.
Deep opaque purple. The nose carries the lifted prickle of minty notes and blackcurrants thanks to the high proportion of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Cabernet Franc in the blend. These are well matched by the toasty oak nose, resulting in a wine that is expressive, harmonious and balanced. The palate is built on solid foundations and a broad frame of firm tannins, combined with a luscious splash of Merlot fruit (29%). Unlike some left bank wines, this St Emilion has perfect synergy between ripeness and freshness running concurrently from start to finish. Drink 2023-2035. Goedhuis, Score: 94-96
The Cabernet comes through strongly on the nose – classic Figeac in many ways – black fruit, a touch of cassis, pencil and a touch of rose petal. The palate is drop-dead gorgeous, its foundation a lattice of filigree tannin and perfectly judged acidity. It is very fresh from its vivacious start to its pencil-lead finish imbued with effortless grace. It is almost comical that naysayers decried that Michel Rolland would turn Figeac into some kind of fruit bomb. Head winemaker Frédéric Faye has overseen a tip-top classic Figeac without any of the greenness that occasionally affected older vintages, now boasting a level of precision up there with the very best in the Right Bank. It was difficult to find fault with this quite astonishing Saint Emilion and who knows what could transpire once it is in bottle. Neal Martin, Score: 97-99
This is the most structured Figeac in modern times. I tasted wines from this estate from the 1920s and 1910s but this is something. Full and powerful. Pure and focused. James Suckling, Score: 97-98
The 2015 Figeac is superb. A blast of tannin hits the palate first followed by waves of inky purplish fruit, exotic spices, new leather, lavender and mint. Beams of pulsating acidity and structure give the 2015 much of its super-distinctive personality. The 2015 is powerful and built to age, that much is clear. In 2015, Figeac brings together the generosity of the year with the classic sense of structure that is so unique to Figeac, with a touch greater polish that Michel Rolland has brought since he arrived. The 2015 is compelling. It’s as simple as that. Antonio Galloni, Score: 93-96
Ch La Conseillante Pomerol 2015
£615 per 6 bottles IB
La Conseillante’s terroir has long been recognised as one of the best in Pomerol, and Pomerol is undoubtedly one of the most successful and sought-after appellations in 2015.
Their 12 hectares are in the heart of the Pomerol plateau next to Evangile, Vieux Chateau Certan and Petrus. With such prestigious neighbours, its consistently high quality can be no surprise and their 2015 is absolutely glorious.
The violet coloured capsule reflects the violet flavours often found in their wines when they have a bit of age and the 2015 is a fabulous wine. A terrific balance of ripe Merlot (81% of the blend) with lovely freshness at the end of palate, this beauty came from pretty low yields of 39 hl/ha.
Deep opaque colour, a lovely luxurious wine, with smoky black cherry aromas. This is lively and fresh, with lovely sweet Christmas cake flavours and hints of spiced vanilla. Graceful as always, this will evolve into one of the all-time outstanding La Conseillantes. Drink 2023-2035. Goedhuis, Score: 96-98
The 2015 La Conseillante, a blend of 81% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc, is extraordinarily pure and elegant on the nose. Here, I find a little more red fruit than black fruit, extremely elegant and articulating the terroir with great clarity. At first, wild strawberry and cranberry, then crushed stone, a touch of black truffle and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied, fresh and elegant with fine tannin on the entry. This is one of the most approachable La Conseillante wines that I have tasted in barrel, the acidity very well judged, “classic” in style, good backbone here with a structured finish. It does not quite possess the bravura of the 2010 La Conseillante and I would agree with winemaker Marielle Cazaux that it bears more semblances to the 2005 La Conseillante at this stage, and even bore common traits with its neighbour, Vieux Château Certan. This is an intellectual and to put it prosaically, “delicious” La Conseillante. Neal Martin, Score: 95-97
A very dense and more focussed wine than in the past, the wider shoulders and more grip mean that this is going to be a longer-lived wine with more potential glory in the future. This is a highly perfumed La Conseillante with more size and power and yet there is no exoticism here, just deep, dark concentration. Fabulously strict and tense, very long and noble this is a quietly confident and very centred wine without a trace of boastfulness or front. I was transfixed with this wine, finding is rather amazing and it just started to open up as I swirled vigorously with magical fruit peaking over the rim of the glass. Matthew Jukes, Score: 19++
A total knockout, the 2015 La Conseillante possesses stunning depth, nuance and complexity. Soaring aromatics meld into a core of dark-fleshed stone fruits, with hints of mocha, crème de cassis, menthol, violets and dark spices that develop in the glass. The 2015 is not an obvious wine, but it is exceptionally beautiful. The blend is 81% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc. Don’t’ miss it. Antonio Galloni, Score: 95-97
Ch Ausone 1er Grand Cru Classé St Emilion
£2,800 per 6 bottles IB
This thoroughbred St Emilion was released this morning at £2,800.00 per six bottles In Bond. Ch Ausone is one of the most elegant of right bank clarets. The 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc sets up a complex marriage of plummy rich flavours and fresh precision. It received a whopping 100 points from James Suckling. It’s rich but nuanced structure promises a long evolution ahead of it.
A blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot, this is a very fine example of St Emilion’s success in this vintage. A delicious combination between the velvety textured Merlot variety, with flavours of chocolate and damsons, and the vibrant crisp sensations of the Cabernet Franc, calming the potential alcohol level. A wine which will evolve beautifully, very lovely indeed. Drink 2022-2035. Goedhuis, Score: 94-96
A mindbinder of a wine with pure fruit and so much fine tannins and mineral character. It’s hyper tight and super polished. The palate starts off slowly and ends with a bang. Amazing endless finish. What an energy. James Suckling, Score: 100
This is a much richer and fuller-bodied wine than the second wine, Chapelle, building power and also fruit in equal measure. The amplitude of flavour here is impressive and while the tannins are dry and rather solid the whole experience is exceptionally involving. The nose is by far the most interesting aspect right now with Cabernet Franc playing a huge part in the complex aromatics. Serious length and epic harmony are already here, but the fruit flows slowly across the palate with not enough momentum yet and this will be resolved as the wine starts to get its house in order. In time this will be a magnificent Ausone. Matthew Jukes, Score: 19++
Ch Cheval Blanc 1er Grand Cru Classé St Emilion 2015
£2,600 per 6 bottles IB
Cheval Blanc has made an extraordinary wine this year, which could easily contest for wine of the vintage. The estate’s 45 plots are usually separated into the Grand Vin and second wine, Petit Cheval. Pierre Lurton says that in 2015, uniquely, only two parcels were not of Grand Vin quality, hence the absence of a second wine this year.
Unlike much of St Emilion’s limestone soil, Cheval Blanc has more in common with Pomerol’s soils due to its high clay content. This meant the deep rooting old Cabernet Franc and Merlot vines were saved from any water stress during the hot dry summer. The result, Pierre Lurton says, is “très Cheval”.
Discreet, magical, and undeniably one of the wines of the vintage. This is an extraordinary pleasure to taste, with a density of dark fruits and mellifluous tannins. Pierre says the blend – 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Franc – is “très Cheval”. There is no greenness, no over-ripeness. It is savoury, graceful, agile, and restrained in its precision and purity. An exceedingly grown up wine. Drink 2025-2042 Goedhuis, Score: 97-99
The 2015 Cheval Blanc represents the entire vineyard this year, since there is no Le Petit Cheval (two plots that did not meet requirements were not included in any blend). A blend of 45% Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Merlot, matured in 100% new oak, it has a very complex bouquet, subtle and tightly wound, very precise with dark berry fruit, hints of graphite, minerals and a hint of black pepper, perhaps a little spicier than recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with extraordinarily fine tannin. Beautifully balanced, perfectly controlled, this Cheval Blanc gently builds in the mouth, but remains strict and precise. The Cabernet Franc here is very expressive (though apparently the Merlot was showier prior to malolactic). This is an intellectual Cheval Blanc, thoroughly enjoyable, but it will need 10-12 years to really show its pedigree. A profound wine in the making, it will rank with the great wines of the past. Neal Martin, Score: 97-99
My Right Bank wine of the vintage and close to perfection. Exudes elegance, class and precision. Dense, fresh, perfumed nose and the most velvety of textures. Remarkable quality of tannin allows a gentle attack then prodigious length and persistence. Nothing out of place. Decanter, Score: 98
A wine of total finesse, the 2015 Cheval Blanc speaks to understatement above all else. Sweet floral notes meld into a core of bright red stone fruits and mint. Silky, nuanced and wonderfully persistent on the palate, the 2015 possesses remarkable depth, but in an understated fashion. There is plenty of tannin buried beneath the fruit. The 2015 is not an obvious Cheval Blanc, but rather a sublime wine that will only start to blossom with a decade plus in bottle. It will drink well for decades beyond that. Antonio Galloni, Score: 96-97