Sensitive Winemakers, Unusual Routines & 2013 In bottle Review!

January 7th, 2016 @ 12:00am Jonathan Maltus Wine

Sensitive Winemakers, Unusual Routines & 2013 In bottle Review!

'Tasting the 2013 In Bottle Wines of Saint-Emilion' by Chris Kissack

By the time I made it to Saint Emilion, after my tastings in London and on the left bank, I was beginning to realise just how much fine tuning the élevage needed in 2013. The first thing I noticed at the Union des Grands Crus tasting, as I have already espoused in my introduction, was just how much some wines were dominated by oak, in aroma and flavour, the fruit disappearing behind layers of fennel, aniseed, liquorice and other new-barrel scents and spices. Combined with the lighter texture of the vintage, this produces the sensation of watery oak-juice. Asking around in St Emilion, I sensed again how important this might be; sensitive winemakers stepped back from the routine in 2013, reducing the time in oak, or reducing the amount of new oak used, or both. Others followed the usual routine (sometimes the full 18 months in 100% new oak) and although, being fair, this was usually done on the basis of tasting, I wasn't always convinced the right call had been made.
"The wines are like crystal, and I wanted the fruit that we found in barrel to come through in the bottle, so we worked hard to preserve this, and to protect the wine from oxidation. This was key I think".
The wines at the Suire-Thienpont-Derenoncourt domaines, not only Château Larcis Ducasse but others including (but not limited to) Château Berliquet and Château Pavie-Macquin, all saw less time in oak, and less new oak. Jonathan Maltus also leaned towards a shorter élevage.
"We used the same amount of new oak in this vintage, 80% on the single-vineyard wines, but we tended to take the wines out of barrel earlier, perhaps a month or two. We also blended down into Château Teyssier from the upper levels in the range."


Vieux Chateau Mazerat 2013, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru


A Jonathan Maltus wine. This is 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc (planted in 1947) on clay over limestone. The wine is dark, smoky, with a pointed and perfumed polish here, with an aromatic, curranty, fruit-skin character. Overall it is really quite appealing. The palate is full, fresh, with that little curranty note here again, also with notes of dried and dusty red cherry skins, a touch of tobacco leaf, pencil shavings too. Plenty of energy here, acid and mineral-driven. Dark, pencil-fine expressive Cabernet Franc here. Some short-to-medium term potential. – Chris Kissack

Le Dôme 2013, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru


Not so expressive on the nose as Vieux Château Mazerat despite being dominated by the more aromatic Cabernet Franc. Dark and spicy when worked in the glass though, so there is certainly something here. The palate is fresh, with dried red cherries, a touch of sweet cranberry and currant fruit to it as well, the latter particularly appealing. Fresh, with supple fruit, nicely textured, harmonious, with a ripe tannic grip. Supple, cool, with finely judged substance, and some fresh, pointed acidity. – Chris Kissack 


Les Astéries 2013, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru


There was a shortened élevage here, the wine spending less time in barrel, and it was bottled in August 2015 (usually it sees out 20-22 months, it was a month less this time, the wine usually bottled in September). The use of new oak was unchanged. A smoky nose, with darker plum skin fruit, a little more diffuse than is usual here, without the really confident minerally expression that Les Astéries often shows. The palate is fresh, full, with a lightly degraded, macerated dried fruit-skin character, with fresh acids and here I find a little of the minerally bite that tends to mark this wine. It shows class in its structure, more so than Le Carré, but it does have the bright, acid-defined character of the vintage too. This will make appealing drinking and it has some capability for the cellar for sure. – Chris Kissack


Le Carré 2013, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru


The soils here are clay over limestone, the assemblage 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. I get dark and smoky red fruit on the nose. There is a more confident texture here, and this is certainly a step up from from Château Laforge. The fruit has a fresh energy, lots of red cherry and fresh dried skin character, with acidity. Bright and flavoursome. A pretty wine. – Chris Kissack


Chateau Laforge 2013, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru


Smoky, red cherries, a red forest-fruit character here. The palate is full, supple, showing some fresh texture, the acid freshening it up nicely. Dried berry fruit here, a little curranty note to it as well which I like. Supple, smoky, rather alluring texture on the palate, with some grip in the middle. A pretty, rather easy-going style, but attractive in that vein. – Chris Kissack


Chateau Teyssier 2013, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru


The assemblage is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. A moderate hue. A warm, slightly sandy, spicy sandalwood nose, with a slightly smoky, hot-oil edge. The palate follows on in the same style, supple and broad, showing a nice energy in the middle though, despite a little note of oily richness. Nuances of red fruits here, cranberry, cherry, showing higher levels of acidity than I would usually expect, in this I find it to be very typical of the vintage. It culminates in a smoky, grained fruit finish. – Chris Kissack


Le Nardian 2013, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru


Only ten barrels here, as usual, so fermented in oak, 50% new, 50% one-year old. A cold maceration at 6ºC first, a temperature at which the wine can be left for a long time, sometimes until the vinification of the reds is finished. Some smoky, fennel and aniseed oak showing here. Fresh, supple, energetic, a rich fruit expression which is very much the Nardian style, pear fruit, yellow peach, with a lovely acid cut. Lots of matière here, substantial and rich. And yet it is fresh too. This should evolve nicely but it will need some time to shake off the oak. – Chris Kissack

"Le Nardian from Jonathan Maltus is certainly of the same level of quality, rich and characterful as per the house style."


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