L’Hêtre (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2016)
Special Price: $173/6-pack (~$29/bottle)
One of the most obvious ways to find excellent value is to mine lower-end bottlings from producers that have a solid reputation for making some of the world’s greatest wines. Jacques Thienpont‘s tiny estate of Le Pin produces one of the most sought after wines today. It is in such high demand that even current vintages can fetch upwards of $5,000 per bottle. While Jacques Thienpont’s newly acquired Castillon property is no Le Pin, you can expect that he is just as dedicated to elaborating the best possible wine the terroir is capable of producing.
It was only a few years ago that Jacques and his sister, Anne Thienpont-De Raeymaeker, purchased the 25 acre Castillon estate of Château Goubau. It is situated at about 300 feet in elevation at the end of the Saint Philippe d’Aiguilhe plateau that runs eastwards from Saint-Émilion and is the highest point in the region.
Given his affection for trees – Jacques’ other wineries are Le Pin (pine) and L’If (yew) – the Château Goubau was renamed L’Hêtre (beech tree) and immediately converted to organic cultivation. Jacques’ nephew, Maxime Thienpont, was tapped to manage the estate. The vineyards enjoy good southeasterly exposure and a continuous gentle breeze. The soil types are mixed, with the parcels on the plateau being limestone, while the slopes are a mixture of clay, limestone, and chalk.
2016 L’Hêtre is the first release of the property. The blend is 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc from vines with an average age of 40 years. Vinification is done in oak and concrete vats with temperature control and the wine is aged for 15 months in oak barrels (50% new, 50% one-year). The result is a wine that is fresh and ripe, expressing lovely blackcurrant fruit and smoky spice. A sip is both rich and firm. It’s a downright steal at half of one percent the cost of Le Pin.
La Raison d’Hêtre (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2016)
Special Price: $119/6-pack (~$20/bottle)
La Raison d’Hêtre is produced from vines around 20 years of age on the lower slopes of the plateau. The blend is the same as the first wine at 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Vinification takes place in temperature controlled concrete vats and the wine is aged in oak barrels (50% one-year, 50% two-year). Raison d’Hêtre is lighter in body, as you would expect of a second wine. The fruit leans a little more red and bright, suggesting this wine might be a perfect partner to pizza and general merrymaking — its raison d’être, if you will.