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This leading Grand Cru Classé estate, Château Teyssier is celebrated around the world for its imitable handcrafted fine-wines. Progressively growing in size and quality since the 1700s, this wine-producing tract is now the flagship property and residence of Englishman Jonathan Maltus and his family. Purchased in 1994, right in the middle of the pivotal garage movement, the Saint-Émilion château gained recognition for their oenological technologies and viticultural passion culminated by their wine, Le Dome. Today, the over 50-hectare vine covered estate stretches across the village-hugging Cru Classé terroirs of the appellation, producing eight wines ranging from estate to limited-production single-vineyard bottles. The modern vinification practices, headed by Neil Whyte start with pre-fermentation maceration, followed by malolactic in barrel and ageing on the lees for added richness. Each blend is produced in the same spirit of excellence, the wines are soft, attractive, subtly spicy, dark and plummy examples of the region.
This Single Vineyard wine is made from a single hectare on 'Astéries' (rock limestone) soil between Château Fonroque and Clos Fourtet. The vines survived the frost of 1956 and are up to eighty years old. ‘Panachéed' in the old style (merlot interspersed with cabernet franc to ensure easy blending in the days before pumps) they are cropped down to four bunches per vine to reflect the 'terroir' of the parcel.
Unlike most of the wines of the Château, Les Astéries exhibits a strain of minerality that emphasises the 'rock' like sub-soil.
The wine is pure vineyard rather than a 'winemaker's' wine. Huge colour, high extraction of black fruits, totally hedonistic palate but almost Saint-Estèphe grip on the finish, fresh and very, very long.
BORDEAUX 2019 VINTAGE
When I was visiting Bordeaux early March, Corona was a threat on the horizon and France has been more concerned by a strike of the air traffic control. However, I was travelling to Bordeaux and had the chance to get some first insights to the 2019 vintage. I was very much looking forward to the “en primeur tastings” which were scheduled for March 26, 2020 but the tastings were cancelled mid-March. Immediately I contacted the different associations and wineries in Bordeaux and asked for samples.
The result was a small number of wines which arrived in Essen before the shutdown of France made shipments rather difficult. These first samples of the vintage 2019 were tasted under pristine conditions to assure a fair and equal assessment of all qualities. In fact, the samples proved right the opinion of some of Bordeaux’ leading figures. Bruno-Eugène Borie from Château Ducru-Beaucaillou sees 2019 in a line with the excellent vintages of 2016, 2010, 2009 und 2005.
Henri Lurton talks about his best vintage, along with 2016, he has ever vinified at Château Brane-Cantenac. Philippe Dhalluin from Château Mouton-Rothschild asses the vintage as rich and abundant in quality and also in quantity. After some smaller crops they came back to an average production.
Emmanuel Cruse from Château d’Issan sees that 2019 has a lot in common with 2016 yet preserving more freshness. It is a very good vintage but appearing at a very difficult time on the market. In fact, the start of this vintage was very positive. Enough precipitations during winter were retained by soils like chalk and clay. Vineyards on these water retaining soils had a huge advantage in the future growing period. With exception of a wet June, the vintage has taken advantage of a rather dry climatic condition, which prevented diseases in the vineyards to a huge extend. No chance for powdery or downy mildew. Even the heat waves were not really harming the vines as rain set in, always at the last moment but still early enough to prevent massive water stress and a slow-down of the maturity. The late physiological maturity brought a lot of alcohol, but the wines show more freshness as in the previous years.
Fabien Teitgen, Winemaker of Smith-Haut-Lafitte relates this freshness to the good acidity “due to cool night temperatures during the ripening period”. This fact is also good news for white wines. „They are the big surprise “, says Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier.
At Château Coutet in Barsac, Philippe and Aline Baly were harvesting in three passes with a total of 19 harvesting days. They judge the conditions as rather ideal: “These climatic conditions have generated a harvest whose quality is indisputably present.” Same samples made their way to Essen and I have tasted them. Some more samples are announced and will hopefully arrive during the current week. There will be a weekly update of my tasting notes, whenever samples will arrive.
Unfortunately, 2019 arrives in a difficult time, the Corona virus puts the world in fear and makes trade more and more difficult. Trade berries and new customs duties create a difficult frame for this vintage. However, we should not forget one thing: there are wonderful 2019s waiting for us, wines with ageing potential and charm which will survive every crisis.