Tag: Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé

Chateau La Confession 2011

The 2011 Bordeaux vintage has been described variously as a good but not great one, following as it does, immediately after the great Bordeaux vintages of 2009 and 2010.  It saw drought conditions in the first half of the growing season, but then a very cold July, and ended up with a very early harvest.  The 2011 here from Chateau La Confession in St-Émilion is however a good one and I more or less enjoyed it as much as the 2010 vintage of this wine.  It has aromatics of Christmas cake, spice, plum, fennel and clove.  The palate has firm tannins, between medium and long length and licorice, pepper and fennel flavours.  Enjoyable now, the 2011 La Confession has years ahead of it to grow and loosen up.  Very Good

Abv: 14.5%, Price: ~$90, Vendors and website: http://www.jpjdomaines.com (warning: the website frustratingly opens a video), Tasted: 2015

A trio of bruisers: Occam’s Razor Shiraz 2013, Izway Harold Shiraz 2012 and Clos de Jacobins Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 2010

It is fashionable to dismiss table wines that are at or exceed 15% alcohol.  I’ll be honest, I can sometimes suffer from the same prejudice when choosing wines.  But is this fair?  Probably not – I find actually tasting the wine the only reliable indicator of quality and balance.  Some varieties produce higher alcohol wines than others, as do some regions and indeed if terroir is truly important, some vintages.  Personal preferences are a factor too.  To that end, let me know your thoughts.  Here are three heavier weight wines that I recently put to the test.  

Occam’s Razor Heathcote Shiraz 2013

Occam’s Razor is produced at the highly regarded and on trend Jasper Hill in Heathcote.  Accordingly, it is a slightly unexpected candidate for the heavy weight ethanol division, although Heathcote is generally not a source of shy and retiring shiraz.  Weighing in at 15% abv, the 2013 shiraz has aromatics of plums and currants.  The palate has similar flavours, and hides its weight well achieving a finely tuned balance.  A good release. Good

Abv: 15%, Price: $40s, Website and vendors: http://jasperhill.com.au, Tasted: 2015 

Izway Harold Eden Valley Shiraz 2012

This wine is a story of two impressions.  On first impressions, I didn’t like it much.  Its aromatics reminded of currant and spirit, while the palate had impressions of cooked plums, and a hot spirity finish almost like I’d unexpectedly eaten chilli seeds on bread.  Tasted the next day, it was substantially better.  Christmas cake and high toned spices had replaced the earlier jumpy aromatics, while the palate seemed to have achieved a balance, with pure fruit evident and good length on the finish.  A little hard to rate, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt.  What is certain is that this wine will benefit from decanting, and probably 5 years in the cellar to settle.  Good

Abv: 15.3%, Price: $50s, Website and vendors: http://www.izway.com.au, Tasted: 2015

Clos de Jacobins Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 2010

This wine surprised me.  A Saint-Émilion weighing in at 15.5%!  Yet despite the figure, it held its generous alcohol level without incident, although perhaps in the manner of a waiter treading very carefully with an overfull wine glass.  The wine itself is a blend of 80% merlot, 18% cabernet franc and 2% cabernet sauvignon.  Its aromatics are quite muted, reminding principally of cigar boxes.  The palate is savoury, with cedar and blackcurrant characters most prevalent.  The tannins are fine grained, the length quite good and there’s some fleshiness too, but overall I found the wine quite closed.  Good, but could be better for the price.  Good

Abv: 15.5%, Price: $60s, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com, Tasted: 2015

Château La Dominique Grand Cru Classé Saint-Émilion 2010

Dark, deep and structured, this is a serious and powerful Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé from Château La Dominique.  Its aromatics remind of leather, cooked plum and licorice.   The palate is rich, full bodied and saturated with flavours of dark plums, licorice and cedar.  Despite its evident power, the flavours are nonetheless in harmony and the length is very long.  The style will not be unfamiliar to the Australian palate, and has reminders of more robust and structured Coonawarra styles.

Rating: Outstanding, Abv: 14.5%, Price: $80+, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/, Website: http://chateau-ladominique.com, Tasted: 2014

Chateau La Tour du Pin Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 2009

Chateau La Tour du Pin’s 2009 vintage is initially a little closed and lacking in intensity in its mouthfeel.  It does however build aromatics and flavour with time in the glass, with reminders of plum, earth, tobacco and dried spices.  Seemingly able to be coaxed and cajoled into action, the wine’s length builds towards long and it demonstrates a certain class and restraint.  This is a balanced and recommended wine, although decanting it for 30 minutes before serving will allow this wine to show its best.

Rating: Good, Abv: 14%, Price: $40s, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/, Website: n/a, Tasted: 2014

Chateau Le Prieuré Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 2006

This Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé from Chateau Le Prieuré is a blend of 80% merlot and 20% cabernet franc.  It’s an elegant style of Saint-Émilion, with aromatics of chocolate, plums, earth and stems.  The palate starts with shortish length but builds to medium length with air.  Some stemmy tannins show through with time too and add interest to typical flavours of plums, blackcurrant and earth.  This is a very balanced and elegant wine that is ready to drink now.

Rating: Good, Abv: 13.5%, Price: $30s, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/, Website: http://www.baronneguichard.com, Tasted: 2014