Château Lilian Ladouys (Saint-Estèphe 2014)
Special 6-pack price: $146 (~$24/bottle)
There are few places in France where the complex truths of terroir are explored with subtler articulacy than the “Left Bank” of Bordeaux. Although each of the top appellations share a similar climate and vineyards planted on the well-drained gravel banks set back from the marshy lowlands, it is perhaps what is unseen that counts most. Most wine pundits will tell you that, of all the significant appellations, it is Saint-Estèphe that is the most stern and stony of the bunch, possibly due to a mixture of iron in the appellation’s gravel base.
This might explain why the historic estate of Château Lilian Ladouys has released their Classified Cru Bourgeois 2014 vintage with Merlot as the base of the blend, allowing for a bit more richness and softness earlier in the wine’s developmental arc. Indeed, this blend of 56% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot from low yielding vines is a bit more approachable than your typical newly released Saint-Estèphe wine. But this doesn’t make it a jammy fruit bomb. The wine is finely structured with muscular tannins and tight acidity. Although clearly Merlot-based, the significant amount of Cabernet Sauvignon truly brings out a black-currant fruitiness.
The current owners, Jacky and Françoise Lorenzetti, acquired the estate in 2008. They quickly launched a vast re-parceling program and constructed a new semi-underground vat house to allow for gravity-fed production, promptly improving the quality of the wines. The couple are no strangers to Bordeaux winemaking, also owning “Fifth-Growth” Château Pédesclaux in Pauillac and half of the “Third-Growth” Château d’Issan in Margaux.
There are plenty more fantastic 2014 Saint-Estèphe wines to choose from here at the shop, from Cru Bourgeois to “Second-Growth.” All prices based on the purchase of six or more bottles (mix-and-match).
~$34 Château Meyney
With the consultation of Hubert de Boüard of Château Angélus the 2014 vintage of Chateau Meyney is quite possibly the best wine produced in the history of the estate.
~$44 Château Lafon-Rochet
Since purchase in the late 1950s by the Tesseron family, this classified “Fourth-Growth” estate has continually improved. Today, it’s Basile Tesseron continuing the focus on quality.
~$46 Château Phélan Ségur
One of nine “Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnels” as classified in 2003. In 2011 the estate finished extensive renovations in their wine making facilities and cellars, shifting to smaller stainless steel fermentation vats that allow for more precise vinification on a parcel by parcel basis.
$126 Château Calon-Ségur
Classified “Third-Growth” estate. Very recent renovations allowing vinification on a parcel by parcel basis and a completely new, 100% gravity-fed vat room illustrate the commitment to quality at Calon-Ségur.
~$52 Les Pagodes de Cos (second wine of Château Cos d’Estournel)
$162 Château Cos d’Estournel
Classified “Second-Growth” estate. Cos d’Estournel’s recently renovated world-class cellars are operated entirely by gravity to allow for pure and complete expression of their extraordinary terroir adjacent to Château Lafite-Rothschild.
$198 Château Montrose
Classified “Second-Growth” estate. One of the leading properties of St. Estéphe that produces some of the longest-lived wines in the Médoc. Recent multi-million dollar renovations make Château Montrose not only one of the most modern estates in the world but also one of the most sustainable.