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2017 1er Grand Cru Classé Saint Emilion

Grapes Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot
Colour Red
Origin France, Bordeaux
Sub-district Saint Emilion & Satellites
Village Saint Emilion
Classification 1er Grand Cru Classé
ABV 13.5%

47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Over 50% lost to Frost. Lots of creamy red fruit on the nose. Very precise and 'on point'. Excellent texture. The Cabernet duo gives the wine precision and tension. The red fruit re-appears on the palate with the acidity underlining the fruit giving it definition. Smoke and mineral flavours linger in the background. Well integrated tannins kick in at the end. Long finish. This claret has character and charm - a star of the vintage. Rating: 95 L&S (Apr 2018)

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The 2017 Figeac was picked from 7 September to 3 October at 22hl/ha (average across frosted and non-frosted parcels) with 13.5° alcohol. It has a deep purple hue. The bouquet is very well defined, quite strict at first with well-behaved blackberry, raspberry, pressed rose petals and just a touch of violet. The palate is medium-bodied with a fine backbone, fresh in the mouth with a sense of energy, quite precise and linear with a pinch of spice towards the finish, a little graphite lingering on the aftertaste. This is unapologetically classic in style and whilst it might be over-shadowed by the sensational 2015 and 2016 Figeac, this is an impressive follow-up to that might pair that has really put Figeac back on the map. Drinking range: 2023 - 2045 Rating: 93-95 Neal Martin, 2018)

The 2017 Château Figeac is an undeniable success in the vintage and this estate is on an incredible roll under the guidance of winemaker Frédéric Faye. Sensational notes of crème de cassis, graphite, violets, and a hint of minerality all emerge from this elegant, medium to full-bodied Saint-Emilion. Similar to the 2016, yet with the intensity turned down just slightly, it has building tannin, no hard edges, and a great finish. Give bottles 3-4 years and enjoy over the following two decades. The blend is 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc, with the harvest stretching from September 7 to October 3. Yields were a soul-crushing 22 hectoliters per hectare, half of normal. Rating: 94-96 Jeb Dunnuck, 2018)

43% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. Yield 22 hl/ha. Half the normal harvest. 100% new oak. Deep cherry red with lots of purple. Lifted and fragrant. Finely and intensely scented. This is very fine: pure and precise, some red fruit on the palate. Succulent, juicy, scented on the palate too. Silky, charming, mouth-watering. So succulent, so precise, unforced. Drinking range: 2025 - 2040 Rating: 18.5 Julia Harding MW, 2018)

The aromatics here are highly appealing, the well-weighted cassis fruit with touches of woodsmoke scents reflecting the clean black fruits on the attack, delivered with a sense of precision. The fruit is a little below the exceptional quality of the last few years, but 2015 and 2016 were just such sensational wines here, and this was a far trickier vintage. The austerity needs time to soften, opening up in the glass but lacking the floral signature of the estate, perhaps due to low Cabernet Franc levels - Figeac lost 55% of the crop to frost, hitting the Cabernet Franc particularly hard, which is why this vintage has the lowest Cabernet Franc on record at the estate. They have done an excellent job of not over-extracting, and it has a gentle depth of bramble fruit, menthol and eucalyptus that unrolls with some minerality. The last plots came in on 3 October, but they often went through the same plot several times to wait for full ripeness, and only around 10% of second generation fruit made it into the final wine. 50% of overall production will make Figeac in 2017, equating to perhaps 48,000 bottles. Yield 22hl/ha. This is an excellent wine, but lacks a little of the Figeac signature that has been so brilliantly developed over the past few years. Drinking range: 2026 - 2040 Rating: 93 Jane Anson, Decanter(Apr 2018)

Bright and fresh, offering lovely cassis and black cherry notes sitting atop a sleek iron spine. Floral and savory details run throughout. Shows a refined structure. Sneakily long, with persistent fruit. Rating: 92-95 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator(Apr 2018)

This is a dense and layered red with blackberries, blueberries and hints of hazelnuts. Full-bodied, very tight and focused. Impressive young tannins. Velvety texture. Very pretty to taste. Juicy and delicious. 43% merlot, 47% caberent sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc. Less franc than normal due to the frost. Rating: 95-96 James Suckling, 2018)

The 2017 Figeac is, like the wine of their neighbour Cheval Blanc, another hard-won victory over the frost. Here a helicopter was sent up to try to displace the cold air. The team worked hard in the vineyard to differentiate between frosted and non-frosted parts, marking 25,000 vines in order to be able to separate the first- and second-generation fruit at picking. The harvest eventually kicked off on September 7th, finishing on October 3rd. The volume of the harvest was reduced by 55% overall. Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be on the top of the gravel mounds, and was largely spared, but the Cabernet Franc suffered extensive damage and the second-generation crop was of a lesser quality. Frédéric Faye blind-tasted the various lots he had to work with, and ended up selecting some second-generation Merlot for use in the grand vin on this basis, accounting for 10% of the final blend. Thus the blend in 2017 is 43% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and just 10% Cabernet Franc. It includes 10% second-generation fruit, all Merlot, which was vinified in small vats, with limited extraction. The first-generation fruit vinified in vat, with no pigeage or délestage, at a slightly cooler temperature than is usual, 26ºC rather than 28ºC, all to control the extraction. The overall yield was 22 hl/ha but up to 45 hl/ha on the non-frosted vines. The alcohol is 13.5%. It has a definite Cabernet influence on the nose, with black olive and a dried cherry-skin intensity and freshness, but along with this there is also some perfumed plum and sweet black cherry fruit from the Merlot. The palate is fresh, pure, cool, restrained, revealing immediately a wealth of rich, ripe, broad and velvety tannins, wrapped in pencil-drawn black fruits, with lots of dark character, a very thin vein of menthol-freshness, but it is so light, just a subtle suggestion, and what dominates is the dark, sinewy, slightly dried-fruit concentration. Very savoury, with a little chalky-limestone freshness here, a very ripe tannic structure, fresh and bright, with a great floral and finely drawn finish. A wine of delicious harmony, and brilliant potential. It feels closer in style to Cheval Blanc than I recall from other vintages tasted at theprimeurs. Rating: 94-96 Chris Kissack, 2018)

Château Figeac

Figeac is a very ancient estate dating from the Gallo-Roman period. Its origins go back to at least the 2nd century, at which time it belonged to the Figeacus family, who gave their name to the “villa” located on this site. Château Figeac has been in the family of the present owner since 1892. Thierry Manoncourt, later assisted by his wife, Marie–France, took great pains to renovate the vineyards in order to bring Figeac up to the level of the very greatest Bordeaux. Today, his daughter Laure and his son-in-law Count Eric d’Aramon have joined them in managing the estate, and perpetuating the family tradition. Figeac is located in the “Graves de Saint Emilion”. It has an unusual topography and outstanding terroir consisting of three gravelly outcrops. This explains why Figeac is the right bank wine chateau with the highest proportion of Cabernet grapes. It is a great but atypical wine, often called “the most Médoc of Saint Emilion wines”.

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