Château Rocheyron takes its name from its location, Rocheyron. Sharing a boundary with Château Laroque along one side of the estate, its history is linked with that of the neighbouring vineyard, classed as a Grand Cru Classé.
In 2010 Silvio Denz, a co-owner of Clos d’Agon in Spain (Catalonia) and Peter Sisseck, the oenologist of Clos d’Agon, indicated their interest in buying Château Rocheyron under the AOC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.
Peter Sisseck is off course a native of Denmark, who came to the Bordeaux winegrowing region to spend some time with his uncle Peter Vinding-Diers (of Rustenberg fame), an oenologist working in Bordeaux at the time. Peter then settled in the Spanish Ribera del Duero region in 1990, acting as a consultant oenologist to a major winegrowing estate. In 1995 he created the estate Dominio de Pingus and his first wine, Pingus.
Château Rocheyron now gives Peter the opportunity to rediscover the characteristics of the great wines and terroirs of Bordeaux. Every vintage shows improvements as Peter slowly masters his new Rocheyron terroir and the 2016 probably represents his finest, most complete Bordeaux expression to date.
Chateau Rocheyron 2016 St. Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux (En-primeur Cask Sample)
The fabulous 2016 is comprised of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. This embryonic red, tasted as a barrel sample, is beautifully cool and focused with a fine creamy suave texture and plush, concentrated fruit intensity. Impressive breadth and balance showing tart black cherries, kirsch liquor, red currants and a blue berry opulence. There is very fine clarity and purity and everything about this wine exudes classical precision and finesse. Peter himself regards this as his best effort to date, even surpassing his mighty impressive Rocheyron 2015. A legendary wine in the making.
It’s old but it’s still very very funny at this time of year, doing the annual pilgrimage to Bordeaux. So, having spent a week in Bordeaux, having gums assailed by giant tannins, somebody has finally got to grips with some basic French…. enjoy!
French: A good year
Translation: a bad year
French: A classic year
Translation: most of the wines are undrinkable
French: A Parker wine
Translation: lucky bastards
French: an elegant wine
Translation: a wine with no fruit
French: a wine with great structure
Translation: a wine with ferocious (probably unripe) tannins
French: A vintage for the purist
Translation: please buy my wine – somebody, anybody…
I first visited the impressively modern Château La Croizille winery in St Emilion at En-primeur time in 2015. Prior to that, I’d only ever cast a curious eye over its large, orange, modern-art tasting room that protrudes from the limestone cote, across the way from Chateau Tetre Roteboeuf. I had never tasted the wines and had never seen them in the UK market, the Claret capital of Europe.
The reason for this relative obscurity perhaps lies in the fact that La Croizille is a St Emilion Grand Cru estate that originally was acquired by the Belgian De Schepper – De Mour family in 1996 and is sold mostly in the Benelux. The 5 hectares of vines belonging to the Château benefit from the same remarkable soils, on the borders of the clay-limestone plateau of Saint-Emilion in the commune of Saint-Laurent des Combes, as Chateaux such as Tetre Roteboeuf and Troplong Mondot.
After 1996, the De Schepper family commenced on a large investment spree, bringing the estate into the modern winemaking era, combining its sought after terroir with high-end technology and traditional know-how to create a wine with great opulence, finesse, modernity and personality.
This winery is a rising Saint Emilion star which you’ll read a lot more about in years to come. Already, the winery’s more recent vintages have garnered several 90 plus point scores from international critics including James Suckling and Decanter Magazine. Buying a few cases of the opulent 2015 or intense 2016 could be a very smart choice.
Tasting Note: Chateau La Croizille Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2012, 13 Abv. ~ A dark cherry black opaque colour greets the drinker. Initially, the nose is broody and closed. But a little glass swirling and coaxing starts to elicit some of the more classical elements of the bouquet… black berry, black cherry pith, cassis, dusty limestone minerality, hints of graphite and a gloss of buttered brown toast. The oaking is almost imperceptible, revealing a very restrained and quite classical expression from this “drinking” Bordeaux vintage. The palate has all the sleekness, suppleness and accessibility that you’d expect from a 2012. A soft fine grained texture, polished powdery tannins, chalky grip and spicy, plummy, peppery black cherry and black berry fruit. It’s all packed into a very classical, medium bodied parcel, that delivers pleasure now but also suggest it is structured enough to be holding back a few surprises in reserve for drinkers in 5 to 8 years time.
As the Burgundy En-primeur campaign starts to fizzle out after a fantastically successful vintage for merchants and retailers, attention starts once more to turn to the grand region of Bordeaux.
Continuing my new series of tastings reviewing a selection of Bordeaux second wines, today I’m looking at a relatively unknown entity… the second wine of Chateau Clerc Milon, which forms part of the Domaines Baron Rothschild portfolio.
Nature was particularly kind in 2009, providing conditions that favoured an optimal growing cycle which helped the grapes of Bordeaux to reach full maturity. The very fine weather and high level of hydric stress, alleviated by a few well timed showers, enabled the grapes to ripen slowly to full maturity.
Temperatures in August 2009 were 1.4 °C higher than the average. This ideal weather continued into September as cool nights alternated with hot days, encouraging the concentration of aromas and flavours and the accumulation of anthocyanins in a perfectly ripe crop. 2009 will undoubtedly go down as a vintage to match the finest in history.
Tasting Note: 2009 is the first vintage of Pastourelle de Clerc Milon, whose label shows the classic dancers of Château Clerc Milon. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon: 50%, Merlot: 36%, Cabernet Franc: 11%, Petit Verdot: 2% and Carmenère: 1%, the wine has a dense, deep colour with a crimson hue. The aromatics are refined, perfumed, and expressive with black fruits, cassis, kirsch cherry and dusty graphite nuances. There’s an attractive bruleed note showing espresso and mocha coffee bean complexity. The palate is sleek, medium to light weight and overtly polished. There’s an attractive sweet spot on the front of the palate and a pronounced red liquorice, black current and milk chocolate opulence underpinned by soft silky tannins and supple, soft toned acids. There is balance and a real feel of harmony, but the overall package does lack the overt fleshy depth so many other 2009 second wines possess. Eminently drinkable, this attractive Pauillac finishes with lovely bitter chocolate and vanilla wood spice length. Start drinking now and over the next 3 to 6 years.
Second Wine Rating: Attractive, light weight, mid-week Claret with polish. Buy if priced modestly.
I recently had a fantastic opportunity to taste a mixed vertical of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande with Nicolas Glumineau. Such finesse, elegance and balance, in youth and with age. But of course Pichon Lalande’s neighbour, Pichon Baron, makes some awesome wines as well.
If Pichon Lalande is finesse and femininity personified, then the Cabernet Sauvignon based wines of Pichon-Longueville Baron are characteristically more muscular, tannic and full-bodied in general. Owned by the insurance giant AXA since 1987, and managed since 2000 by Christian Seely, this 73 hectare Pauillac estate lying on deep gravel soils consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc plantings.
I was very pleased to get the opportunity to taste and re-evaluate the impressive Pichon Baron 2010 recently, which is undoubtedly a great year for both of the Pichons. Only time will tell, but the suave, concentrated, fleshy elegance of the 2009 vintage may well serve the elegant style of Pichon Lalande better while the block buster 2010 vintage with its pure, ripe, dense fruit expressions, coupled with serious weight, power and structure will almost certainly compliment the masculine style of Pichon Baron better. Either way, it’s always thrilling to retaste epic vintages like 2009 and 2010.
Tasting Note: Beautifully bold and confident, this is a big dense, power packed expression. Brimming with dark fruits, licorice, black plums, black cherry, creme de cassis and subtle earthy forest fruits, there is still a fairly overt bruleed oak note with nuances of brown toast, espresso and sweet wet tobacco. Acids are fresh and linear, giving extra frame to the dense, ripe, powerful creamy tannins. Layer upon layer of unctuous black current and cassis roll off the tongue with a generous salt and pepper seasoning of spicy cedary oak and graphite lead pencil notes. This is a monumental wine from this Chateau that will undoubtedly continue to improve in bottle for 30 to 40 years.
In the first part of a new series of posts evaluating Bordeaux second wines, I kick off with a little Graves red from Chateau Haut Brion’s near neighbour, Chateau Carmes Haut Brion. Due to recent changes in appellation laws, regarding the use of protected terms, in this case “Clos”, newer vintages of this wine will be known as Les C des Carmes Haut Brion.
Tasting Note: The 2012 Le Clos des Carmes Haut Brion is beautifully rich, fragrant and expressive with plenty of potpourri, violets, coffee, mocha and buttered brown toast notes, integrating with lush, rich, creme de cassis, sweet black plum and tart red cherry.
The palate is fleshy, open knit and very approachable, largely because of a 81% dollop of Merlot, with powerful backing vocals from 19% Cabernet Sauvignon. Such a wonderful complexity of black cherry, mocha, vanilla pod spice and new tannery leather. There are fresh acids but they are finely rounded and well woven into the harmonious texture of this wine. While a real joy to drink even in its youth, there would be no harm cellaring this gem for 8 to 12+ years.
Another wonderful masterclass today tasting over four decades of Chateau Pichon Lalande, a Chateau that has only had four owners since its establishment in 1850. The estate consists of 89 hectares of vines with an average age of 35 years old, planted at a density of 9000 vines per hectare with a mix of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, Cabernet Franc 7% and Petit Verdot 3%.
The Chateau is currently experimenting with organic and biodynamic viticulture and with detailed top soil and sub-soil mapping, which they hope will help increase the Grand Vin quality even further.
Flight 1 – Reserve de la Comtesse (First vintage produced in 1973)
Reserve de la Comtesse 2012 – 90+/100
64cs, 35m, 5cf
Piercing sweet rich nose shows black berry, espresso, buttered brown toast, bruleed oak spice with vanilla pod spice. Soft textured palate with plenty of spice, pithy black currant, black cherry and soft accessible acids. Plush, gentle, suave tannins carry to an elegant lacy finish.
Reserve de la Comtesse 2011 – 91/100
43cs, 49m, 8pv
Big concentrated dry vintage to follow the block buster 2010s, but not without its difficulties. Plenty of dusty, leafy cassis fruit with pronounced coffee bean spice. Dark, deep core with black chocolate, violets and wood spice. Dense, masculine palate, power with elegance, tannin frame and dry extract concentration with fine, fresh integrated acids on the finish. Still young and worth cellaring further.
Reserve de la Comtesse 2009 – 92+/100
53cs, 38m, 9cf
Soft sweet, perfumed seductive nose of violets, black berry confit, kirsch liquor, and earthy, savoury foresty red currant fruits. Palate is soft, suave, fleshy, and accessible, ready now and showing a lot of charm and finesse for the price. Sweet ripe tannins and an elegant finish. Lovely Pauillac expression.
Flight 2 – The Grand Vin Selection
Chateau Pichon Longueville 2012 – 93+/100
59cs, 28m, 8cf, 5pv
Similar to the 2012 Comtesse, but chock full of bruleed black berry, espresso, mocha spice and plump caramelised plums. Suave, broad, and oh so elegant and fine. Almost like draping silk over your tongue. Accessible, seductive and seamlessly balanced finish. Beautiful lighter style vintage.
Sweet black berry, kirsch liquor, seductive fragrance and violet perfume. Oak is definitely receding revealing the most opulent, tantalising fruit purity, crisp acids and plenty of elegance. Sweet cassis, buttered brown toast, chalky, powdery marshmallow tannins. Massive full mouthfeel, reaching every corner of your palate. So impressive, so alluring, a real block buster. Leaves you weak at the knees. An icon vintage for sure.
Rich, savoury, ripe, opulent nose with forest fruits, confit, stewed fruits and hints of Christmas cake. Some game meat notes developing, tannery leather, sweet tobacco and plush, sweet earthy red currant confit length. Soft opulent fleshy wine with mellow acids, slightly chalky tannins that are slightly drying on the finish. Holding up well but perhaps time to start drinking if you have in your cellar.
Chateau Pichon Longueville 1996 – 97/100
75cs, 15m, 5cf, 5pv
Sweet classical nose that screams Cabernet Sauvignon expression. Violets, cedar, sandalwood spice, talc, sweet tobacco box, and mint / Eucalyptus leaf. Almost exotic in style. Palate is modern, almost new world, with hints of cinnamon spice, pithy cassis, spicy cherry skins, mineral tannins and hints of graphite. Youthful, dense and powerful. Such a beauty. Still masculine, foursquare but showing more generosity year by year. One to buy!
Chateau Pichon Longueville 1995 – 95/100
45cs, 40m, 15cf
Evolved nose of sweet herbs, earthy savoury leathery garrigue and tobacco. Cigar box, sandalwood, pencil spice, graphite and savoury red berry fruit. Big rich Cabernet cassis concentration, marshmallow powdery tannins, starting to resolve nicely, with fine balance and classical elegant cedary depth.
Chateau Pichon Longueville 1985 – 96/100
Beautiful lifted nose of cedar, stalk spice, dusty gravel and cassis leaf with just a hint of capsicum spice. Peppery and complex, this wine speaks of a different era in Bordeaux production. Palate treads lightly, showing plenty of mint leaf, cedar, black berry spice, grilled herbs, graphite minerality, and drying gravelly tannins. Still holding its shape beautifully, this is yet another 1985 that has turned out to have surprisingly impressive longevity with a classical framework. Just the right amount of chalk/stalk/capsicum savoury melange. Lovely food wine.