Fine Fronsac and more 2018

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

7 May 2019

In a very good vintage, you can find economically priced wines, and 2018 is no exception. Once again, many Fronsacs assessed at the always well organized Grand Cercle tastings – this year at the lovely Château La Dauphine – proved yet again the quality of this appellation. As I have written in other media, including Somm Journal in the United States, Fronsac is an appellation for savvy wine consumers. The price tags still lag behind quality, and you can obtain wines from Fronsac that are better than many a Saint Emilion from more humble terroir, as Saint Emilion obviously has greater name recognition.

But readers should also look out for other so called satellite appellations on the Right Bank as well as Bordeaux AOC wines. Although I did not taste too many of the more humble Bordeaux AOCs from 2018, I will do so next year and draft a detailed report on these (along with the Bordeaux Superieurs) in Decanter in 2020.

These more humble estates are not part of the en primeur buying process, so there is no rush. I am sure however that consumers will find economically priced quality from increasingly improving producers here.

Fronsac

Château Dalem – This is quite inviting and warm, and smooth in tannic expression. A pleasure to drink, without being soupy. This has more grip than the wine below. 91-93

Château Fontenil – Tasted at both the Grand Cercle and at the negociant Joanne, I like the wine’s rich nose, smooth tannins and quite the enveloping palate, like a comfortable blanket on a cold night. 90-93

Château Moulin Haut Laroque – This has nuance and a welcoming aspect. Some tannic edge to this wine, but overall, like many others, just a warm and huggy aspect. Let’s put it this way: not a 2005, but more like a 2009. And what’s not to like? 90-93

Château de la Riviere – So far, in order listed here, perhaps the most “serious” of the Fronsac wines assessed, as it has a 2009 like appeal with ripe black fruit, but with more grip and structure in evidence. 91-93

Château Les Troix Croix* – Really like the refined tannin here, not just soft, but with a certain vigor as well. Three cheers for this one! Even a bit of tobacco like “minerality” here. This gets my nod as the overall favorite Fronsac! 92-94

Château Vieille Cure – Nose is a bit heady… And yet there is “friendly tannin” and agreeable aspects overall. It is an “easy drinker”, with some heft, a hint of ether but not over extracted. Tasted it again next day at Joanne and a better showing, with the ripe fruit (mass appeal) along with underlying structure more in focus. The alcohol should be high. 90-93

Château La Dauphine – Fine showing here, as the nose is seductive and the palate displays tannic grip, albeit just a tad hard on the finish, but that should be resolved in the aging. A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, cropped at 35 hectoliters per hectare is aging in 30% new oak. Organic and biodynamic winemaking. 91-93

Château Villars – Pretty serious nose, dark fruit, stone as well. I like the tannic edge as well on the palate; serious stuff! OK, maybe some heady alcohol. 91-93

Other satellite appellations and Bordeaux AOC 

Château Croix Mouton (Bordeaux AOC)Nice bright fruit, has juice on the mid palate better than the above too… Another bargain alert here. 89-91

Château Francs Magnus (Bordeaux Supérieur) – There is a certain oak sheen here on the nose. It has fruit and some substance, too. Lacks maximum ripeness of fruit. OK. But no great shakes, either. 87-89

Château Mont Perat (Bordeaux AOC) – While not reaching the heights of, say, La Prade, this is a smooth and even juicy Bordeaux. For the price? Worth a detour. 89-91

Château Thieuley (Bordeaux Supérieur) – Bargain alert! Undeniably fun to taste, with evident red and ripe fruit. There is a good dose of tannin for the appellation, which will soften with barrel aging. A very successful red! 90-91

 

Château Belle Colline (Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux) – This is the most interesting of the three Blayes so far. Has freshness albeit somewhat short on finish. 89-91

Château Gigault (Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux) – The oak is there and so is some drying, although it has pleasing mid palate sap. Still, I am not seeking it out in this vintage. Plenty of dark fruit to be sure. Let’s see what happens in barrel!  88-90

 

Château Reynon (Cadillac, Côtes de Bordeaux) – This has nuance and elegance. Keep in mind the barrel aging, which should fill it out. Will get quite nice with time, as it privileges elegance over power. Somewhat austere tannin. In any case, their red is better than the white. 89-91+

 

Château Alcée (Castillon, Côtes de Bordeaux) – Smooth delivery of tannin, medium bodied, with a certain depth and power. And ripe fruit! At under $25, a good deal! 90-92

Château Joanin Bécot (Castillon, Côtes de Bordeaux) – Cropped at over 45 hectoliters (!) per hectare, tannin extractions are less pronounced compared to previous years and the 13.9% alcohol balanced by freshness (and somewhat thankfully diluted by relatively higher yields). The sense of “drinkability” comes across like no other vintage that I had tasted before. And thanks goes to consultant Thomas Duclos, who emphasizes freshness and elegance. 91-93

 

Château de Francs Les Cerisiers (Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux) – A bit of reduction. The palate is fruit driven indeed, but the oak predominates; it is smooth, but I am not sure I like the oak influence all that much as it dries out just a tad on the finish. There is substance to this wine. 88-90

Château La Prade (Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux) – Nice fruit on the nose! The palate is smoother and more defined. Lovely! 90-93

Château Puygeuraud (Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux) – Also quite nice, defined, chiseled, and with time in barrel, will be a pleasant wine, with structure. Nice! 90-92+

 

 

 

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