Small producers in Aquitaine - wines of Bordeaux and elsewhere in south-west France.

At the end of October 2005, I was invited by the French Chamber of Commerce in London to attend a two-day event in Bordeaux, aimed at promoting at promoting the gastronomy of the South Western France into the UK market.

This wasn't quite the jolly it might sound at first glance, and my best description of the meetings with the producers, which took place in the Chambre de Commerce's offices in Bordeaux, would be as wine-tasting speed-dating.  The producers had been told that they could each bring two wines (though for most of them the "deux" seemed to have got misheard as "douzaine"), and they had twenty minutes to present their company and their wines.  A number of efficient local students did their valiant best to try to keep the producers and tasters on track, but without much success.  The urgent "vite, cinq minutes" was generally understood to mean "quinze minutes", meaning that I was still there after 7pm in the evening!

The prices shown are guesstimates at a UK retail price, based on the ex-TVA, ex-cellars prices I was told by the producers.

Château La France, Beychac-et-Caillau
Eric Monneret, Director

Château La France are producers only: unlike many of the companies presenting their wares at these meetings, they have no negociant business.  25% of their sales are direct to French private customers, 75% go for export.

The property covers 90 ha between Bordeaux & St Emilion and the wines produced fall into the Appellation Controlée of Bordeaux Supérieur

2004 Cuvee Tradition
12% oak ageing; £6
Fruity and easy

 2003 Cuvee Selection
12 months oak ageing; £8
Ripe.  Very 2003, but still approachable.

 2001 Cuvee Selection
12 months oak ageing; £8
Very round and open, oaky nose.  Good palate – very clean and elegant.  Gentle tannic structure.

These aren’t overly complex wines – they’re nice and easy with good elegance and decent character and worth the money.  Although Eric Monneret pointed out that the name of his chateau, was great for sales in France, I can't help thinking that it's a bit of a grotty name – it might go down well in France, but for England perhaps it sounds a bit cheap and invented?


Domaines Jean Guillot, Sainte-Eulalie
Jean-Louis Guillot, President

Chateau Bouteilley is a 50 hectare property in Premières Côtes de Bordeaux.

The domaine also owns Ch. Maillard (AC Bordeaux), Ch. Grand Jour (1eres Cotes de Bordeaux),  and Ch. Cap de Fer (Bordeaux Superieur).  They also operate a small negociant business. 

2003 Ch. Bouteilley, 1eres Cotes de Bordeaux
65% merlot; 20% cabernet sauvignon; 15% cabernet franc
An attractive floral nose.  Nice elegance – very atypical 2003 and much more of a normal claret than most 2003s.  Attractive and pleasant.  This is very good, especially at the price.  £5-6

2004 Chateau Cap de Fer, AC Bordeaux Superieur
65% merlot, 25% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc
Fairly closed nose.  Soft fruit with big structure in the mouth.  Significant tannins at the moment.  Could be rather good in a couple of years.  £4-5


Chateau Vieux Robin, Begadan
Maryse Roba; Isabelle Roba
Cru Bourgeois Superieur

Nice labels!  But distinctly pricy and I don’t think worth the money.

2004 Ch. Vieux Robin, Blanc de Lunier, AC Bordeaux
Sauvignon blanc, vinified & matured in oak (50% new barrels)
Very pleasant wine indeed.  But not really worth the £14 UK retail it would be.

1999 Ch. Vieux Robin, AC Medoc
Slightly stinky nose.  Lots of round, ripe fruit on the palate.  Very ripe, cabernet dominated (55% cabernet sauvignon, 42% merlot; 3% cabernet franc).  Doesn’t smack immediately of claret.  £13-14

2001 Ch. Vieux Robin “Bois de Lunier”, AC Medoc
Very interesting nose.  Much more character and typicity.  Gentle oak.  A distinct step up.  Finishes well.  Very good length. £14-15

1997 Ch. Vieux Robin “Collection Bois de Lunier”, AC Medoc
Oaky spicy nose.  Less satisfying than the ordinary Blanc de Lunier.


Vignobles Bechet, Lansac
Jean-Yves Bechet

2002 Ch. Riou de Thaillas, AC Saint Emilion Grand Cru
A 3 ha property, planted entirely with merlot.
Not a lot on the nose.  Good clean body with a fairly tannic finish.  A pretty straightforward St Emilion.  Good structure, quite concentrated.  Very good length and very nice after.  The tannic structure tends to dominate the merlot fruit, particularly on the finish.  Probably just about worth the money.  (c. £22)

2003 Ch. Fougas Maldoror, AC Cotes de Bourg
12 ha; hand harvest.  75% merlot; 25% cabernet sauvignon.
Smoky, cedary nose.  A more serious, more Parker wine.  Quite big, but not overblown.  Big tannic structure, but not excessive.  An impressive wine that needs a bit of time.  Decent value at around £16.
The bottle says 13%: I think it’s more and he agrees.

2003 Ch. Fougas Prestige, AC Cotes de Bourg
75% merlot; 25% cabernet sauvignon
Nice leathery, plummy nose.  Very good on the palate.  Nice round fruit, but not overripe.  A very attractive wine with really good character.  More ready now than the Maldoror, with a touch more fruit.  Impressive.  I like the way they’ve kept 2003 under control in both the Prestige and the Maldoror.  Great value at £10-£11.


Chateau de Parenchere, Ligueux
Julia Gazaniol 
The vineyard contains 50% merlot, 40% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet france and 1% malbec

2004 Chateau de Parenchere Bordeaux Clairet
Cold maceration on the skins for 24-48 hours to extract the colour, then fermented at 15°C.  The wine is bottled within two months of being made.  Deepish colour.  Aromatic red fruit nose.  2004 is sold out; 2005 will be available in January.  Full-flavoured with very good structure.  A touch of residual sugar is event on the finish that she says will not be there in the 2005.  Nice spicy finish.  Very attractive.  Good price.  (c. £6 - £6.50?)

2003 Chateau de Parenchere, AC Bordeaux Superieur
50:50 merlot: cabernet sauvignon
Concentrated nose with lots of cassis.  Ripe, easy and approachable.  Nice spicy finish.  You don’t notice the 14% alcohol.  Maybe a touch simple? (£7 - £7.50)

2002 Chateau de Parenchere, AC Bordeaux Superieur
A concentrated nose again, but immediately less cassis.  More balanced nose.  Lots of ripe fruit.  Better balance with more structure.  Tannins noticeable on the finish.  Better than the 2003. (£7 - £7.50)

2001 Chateau de Parenchere, AC Bordeaux Superieur
Immediately a much more mature nose with leather, tobacco and cedar cigar box aromas.  Very elegant attack.  Very clean and precise with good elegance.  Very attractive.  A very classic claret. (£7 - £7.50)

2003 Chateau de Parenchere Cuvee Raphael, AC Bordeaux Superieur
(used to be stocked in Oddbins, but it was delisted when Castelnau/Nicolas took over Oddbins)
From 40 year old vines, yielding a low 4000 litres per hectare, this is usually a blend of 50:50 merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Aged 14-18 months on fine lees, without racking but with micro-oxygenation in Tronçais oak, 30% of which is new on average depending on the type of vintage.
A dull nose that eventually reveals very deep fruit.  Ripe fruit on the palate.  Very modern.  Lacking character.  Could be from anywhere.

2002 Chateau de Parenchere Cuvee Raphael, AC Bordeaux Superieur
Not particularly impressive on the nose.  Big fruit & big tannins.  Still quite international.


SCEA de Suyrot Clos des Terrasses, Sigoules, Bergerac
Catherine de Suyrot

The de Suyrots have 15 hectares in Bergerac planted with merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, cot/malbec and sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle.  There wines are produced on organic principles but without certification as M. de Suyrot doesn’t want people coming in telling him how to make his wine.

2003 Clos des Terrasses, AC Bergerac
60% merlot, 40% cabernet franc
Big smoky nose.  Quite big and powerful on the palate.  Very clean and fruity with precise flavours.  Low yields are evident in the good concentration.  All in check.  All very proper.  Good stuff.  At the first impression, it’s perhaps a bit lacking in character until you get to the finish.  But it grows on you.  Really nice and clean after with huge length with hints of prunes and chocolate on the finish.  An impressive wine that it would be good to see available in the UK, where it would probably be around £8 to £9.

2004 Le Fruit des Terrasses AC Bergerac Sec
Semillon-Sauvignon blend, 30% aged in oak, very old wines, low yields.
Quite an interesting nose, though a bit dull.  Very good on the attack.  Quite explosive on the palate.  Really well made.  Very expressive of the region.  Really good balance on the palate: lots of character and interest, without being scary for the casual drinker.  Very impressive.  Excellent price.  (c. £5-6)


Les Vignobles Louis Ballarin, Chateau Le Grand Housteau, St Germain des Graves
Tony Fortier

JL Ballarin, Cuvee Royale Brut, Cremant de Bordeaux
60% semillon; 30% muscadelle; 10% sauvignon
Clean, fresh nose.  Largely undistinguished.  OK.  c. £9

JL Ballarin, Milady Cremant de Bordeaux
100% cabernet sauvignon
A very strange nose – slightly cardboardy cherry fruit, but he says it’s absolutely fine.  Weird and not at all pleasant.  c. £10-11.

2004 Chateau Grand Housteau, AC Bordeaux Blanc Sec
100% sauvignon
Ripe, but muddy fruit nose.  Initially very undistinguished.  But then it fills out with melony fruit flavours.  A bit ordinary, but very palatable.  £5 ish.

2004 Chateau Grand Housteau, AC Bordeaux (Rose)
A dull, unimpressive nose.  Ok on the palate, but very undistinguished. Little to recommend it.  £5-£6

2004 Chateau Grand Housteau, Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux
Aged six months en barrique.  Cabernet Franc & merlot.
Good character on the nose – smoky & spicy.  Good palate.  Fairly simple and straightforward, but it does have a decent character.  Decent length.  Ok at the price (c. £5)

2003 Chateau d’Armagnac Cuvee Prestige, AC Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux
Small production – under 10,000 bottles.  60% cabernet sauvignon; 30% merlot; 10% cabernet franc.
Interesting nose – a touch of stink but otherwise a fairly classic claret nose.  Very light and really quite classy.  Quite impressive.  c. £7

2002 Chateau Le Magne, AC Bordeaux
50% cabernet sauvignon; 50% cabernet franc.
Poor nose: green and a bit ropey and tired.  Pretty nasty with nothing to recommend it.  Green and damp.


Jean de Monteil, St-Etienne-de-Lisse
Jean de Monteil

2003 Chateau Brehat,  AC Cotes de Castillon
65% merlot; 15% cabernet franc; 20% cabernet sauvignon.  38 year old vines; 38hl/ha; long maceration.  Around 40,000 bottles produced per annum.
Elegant, smoky tobacco nose.  Very clean and precise on the palate, with a good concentration of flavour.  Spicy after.  Very good length.

2002 Chateau Brehat,  AC Cotes de Castillon
More elegant, but still very concentrated.  Very good.  Will last longer than 2003.

2003 Chateau Haut Rocher, AC Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Very ripe nose – slightly jammy.  Very approachable – soft on the palate.  Atypical.

2002 Chateau Haut Rocher, AC Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Much more typical Saint Emilion on the nose.  Quite attractive.  Better structure and better balance than the 2003.  Very Good.


Jean-Baptiste Audy, Libourne
Nadege Sabras, Export Assistant

Jean-Baptiste Audy are a negociant-proprietaire and they concentrate on merlot.  Michel Rolland consults.

2003 Ch. Jalousie, AC Bordeaux Superieur
70% merlot; 30% cabernet sauvignon  £5
Undistinguished nose.  Solid and straightforward.  Also sold under the Chateau David label.  Not especially interesting.

2002 Ch. Rocher-Calon, AC Montagne St Emilion
95% merlot.  Green nose with underripe plums.  Soft and fruity.  No oak.  Fairly lean, especially on the finish.  Not bad – lot of structure with plenty of tannins on the finish.  £9 - £9.50

2002 Ch. Vieux Faurie, AC St Emilion
80% merlot; 20% cabernet franc  £9 - £9.50
Much cleaner and tighter on the nose.  Much better fruit than the Rocher-Calon.  Good fresh flavours with nice structure.  Good balance.  I like this one.

2002 Ch. la Croix Chantecaille, AC Saint Emilion Grand Cru
80% merlot; 20% cabernet franc.  40% new oak.  £15-£16
Much more open on the nose; more complex with spicy, cedary notes.  Nice and concentrated on the palate.  A little international in style.  Pretty good, but still a touch uninteresting.

2001 Ch Haut Ballet, AC Lalande de Pomerol
65% merlot; 35% cabernet franc  £11 - £12
Good open nose – very feminine.  Very soft and fruity on the palate.  Decent balance.  Lacking a bit in structure.  Very short.  Nothing but tannin after – no flavour.


Vignobles de Castenet, Auriolles
Francois Greffier

2004 Ch Castenet Greffier, AC Entre-Deux-Mers
70% sauvignon blanc; 15% semillon; 15% muscadelle
Quite a sweetish feel to the nose.  Soft round fruit.  Unexceptional.  Feels sweet, but it isn’t – there’s only 1g/l sugar and a total acidity of 4g/l

2004 Ch. Castenet Greffier, AC Bordeaux Rose (from Entre-Deux-Mers)
25% cabernet sauvignon; 20% cabernet franc; 55% merlot.  1g/l sugar; 3.7 g/l total acidity.
Good fruit.  Nice ripe, clean flavours.  Good balance and it works well.  Has a nice structure and some complexity that will keep wine lovers interested, as well as everything to please the casual drinker.

2001 Le Coeur de Castenet, AC Bordeaux Superieur
85% cabernet sauvignon; 15% merlot.  18 months in 100% new oak.  35hl/ha yields.
Good, attractive nose with nice depth.  Nice light, fruity, very clean wine.  Impressive.


Vignobles Dulon, Soulignac
Francoise Dulon

They have 5 or 6 labels under which they bottle, including:
Chateau Grand-Jean
Chateau Julian
Chateau du Vallier

2004 Ch. Grand Jean Bordeaux Sauvignon c. £5
Crisp clean nose.  Crisp and clean on the palate.  Good well-made wine at a nice price.

2004 Ch. Grand Jean Entre-Deux-Mers c. £5
More complex nose.  Good fruit character and nice balance and length.

2004 Ch. Grand Jean AC Bordeaux c. £5-£6
80% semillon; 20% sauvignon.  Aged briefly in oak.
Much fuller, richer feel.  You don’t really notice the oak.  This is a little different – interesting and well made.  This would go well up against an Oz semillon.

2004 Ch. Grand Jean AC Bordeaux
60% cabernet sauvignon; 40% cabernet franc
Delicate strawberry nose.  Nice rich fruit on the palate.  Good balance.  Good Bordeaux rouge.

2003 Ch. Grand Jean AC Bordeaux
Same assemblage.  Simple clean nose.  Good fruit character on the palate.  Bit of structure on the finish.  OK.

2003 Ch. Grand Jean AC Bordeaux Superieur, £6
8 months in oak.  Nice smoky, serious nose.  Good fruit on palate with balancing complexity.  Slightly bretty sort of flavour.  Very good structure.

2002 Ch. Grand Jean AC Bordeaux Superieur, £9-£10
Spent 12 months in oak – one third of the wine goes into new oak barrels, a third in 2nd use barrels, a third in third use barrels.  French and American oak.
Oaky nose.  Very smooth palate.  Very good, but the 2003 is better.

2004 Ch. du Vallier, AC 1eres Cotes de Bordeaux, c. £12
A great barbecued sausage nose.  Very young with big tannins.  Lot of very ripe concentrated fruit.  Big.  Needs time, but I’m not sure how it will show given the time.


Univitis, Les Leves
Bence Nieland
Gert-Jan van der Smit

Univitis are a union of nearly 300 producers.  Unfortunately, they brought the wrong price list. 

2004 Les Combelles, AC Cotes de Duras
Semillon with a bit of sauvignon.  Fairly closed nose.  Basic on the attack.  Stronger flavours appear after a while.  Simple and completely unchallenging.  Has some character.  Quite earthy towards the finish.  All in all, a simple wine though.

2004 Ch. Les Vergnes, AC Bordeaux
Prolonged skin contact; aged on lees.  Mainly sauvignon blanc.
Full, clean nose.  Lot of fruit character with good body.  Little development in the mouth.  Very good length.  Ok at the price.

2004 Ch. Mondesir, AC Bergerac
Merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon.
An open nose with tobacco and green notes.  Ripe and fruity.  An astringent note appears.  Unsatisfying & unsatisfactory.

2003 Ch. Les Paris, AC Sainte-Foy Bordeaux
Half aged in steel; half in new French oak.
Black fruits with toasty notes.  Ripe flavours.  Good structure.  Round and expansive.  Rather an international style, but enjoyable.

2003 Ch. Vergnes-Beaulieu, AC Bordeaux Superieur
Vergnes-Beaulieu is a small part of the Ch. Vergnes vineyard.  The winemaker has carte blanche and an open cheque book for this parcel.  Only made in the best years – not made in 2002 and unlikely to be made in 2004.
Very much a cigar box nose with some spicy wood character.  Ripe, concentrated flavours.  A lot of depth, but not a lot of complexity.  A bit too young.  Overripe.


ViniSource, Bergerac
Pierrette Sarda

ViniSource are negociants covering Bordeaux, Bergerac, Gascogne & Languedoc. 

2004 Chateau de Thenon, AC Bergerac Blanc Sec
A 12 ha property in Razac de Saussignac; 100% Semillon
Deepish colour.  Very aromatic nose.  Very ripe fruit flavours with interesting spicy notes.  Very full.  Very good as an aperitif/on its own, but also with fish/seafood/chicken in cream sauce.  Perhaps a bit on the simple side.  But a good price.  £4

2003 Aramis Ch Les Jandis, AC Cotes de Bergerac (red)
(Aramis is a group of four Bergerac winemakers)
60% merlot; 25% cabernet sauvignon; 15% cabernet franc
An interesting nose with leather and some green notes.  Ripe fruit on the attack with some green notes.  Quite a lot of acidity.  Not sure what to make of this.  £9-£10

2002 Ch. Les Hauts de Caillevel, AC Monbazillac
A 21 ha property in Pomport.  This wine is made from 80% semillon; 20% muscadelle, from old vines – 80-100 years old.  The yields are low (13 hl/ha).  It is fermented in new and one-year old barriques and then aged for 14-16 months in barriques.  It is made by a couple who previously worked in sport, organising things like the Paris-Dakar rally and the Tour de France before retiring to make Monbazillac – their first vintage was in 2000.
A very fragrant, delicate nose.  Delicate and quite refreshing on the palate.  Good concentration, but far from oversweet.  Really a very good example indeed and worth its £10 for 50cl.


Francoise & Philippe Lannoye, Puissegain
Francoise Lannoye

2001 Ch. Lanbersac, AC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion
A 20 ha property.  76% merlot; 16% cabernet sauvignon; 8% cabernet franc
Very concentrated blackberry and mint nose.  Good light fruit.  Quite a bright, open, elegant wine with a lovely finish.  Extremely attractive.  Not a bad price at all (c. £9)

2002 Ch. Lanbersac Cuvee Louisa Lecoester, AC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion
85% Merlot; 15% cabernet franc.
Not an easy name for the British market.  Very soft, open nose.  Rounded.  Works much better with the oak than the Ch. Moulin de Clotte wines.  Carries itself very well.  Nice, but definitely its price.  (£11 - £12)

2003 Chateau Moulin de Clotte, AC Côtes de Castillon
An 8 ha property in Côtes de Castillon
85% merlot; 10% cabernet franc; 5% cabernet sauvignon
Big concentrated black fruit nose.  Soft and smooth on the attack.  Builds on the palate into quite a big wine that could easily stand up to barbecues.  Quite big tannins on the finish.  (£7)

2002 Chateau Moulin de Clotte Cuvee Dominique, AC Cotes de Castillon
75% merlot; 25% cabernet franc
Remarkably closed nose.  Rather too dominated by big tannins, but there’s some really good fruit structure behind.  Big spice after.  Obviously too young, but even so it’s not really doing it for me.  (£9)


E.A.R.L. Fedieu, Haut-Médoc
Denis Fedieu

Chateau Micalet, AC Haut Médoc, Cru Artisan
45% merlot; 45% cabernet sauvignon; 3 % cabernet franc; 7% petit verdot.  All in the £11-£12 price range.

1999 A nice mature colour.  Good nose: cedary with a hint of high tones.  An impressive fairly mature Medoc with good structure and nice length.

2000 A much denser colour.  More closed on the nose.  Good palate – much more masculine.  Quite concentrated.  A touch astringent with firmer tannins.  This needs time – probably three years.

2001 20% aged in new barrels.  A lighter colour than the 2000 a lot murkier.  Powerful nose.  Much more approachable than the 2000.  Very nice, feminine Médoc.

2002 A very dark colour.  Vanilla-sweet black fruit nose.  Very attractive attack.  Very open on the attack, but gradually closes in and grips tightly.  It strikes me this is going to be very similar to the 2000, though perhaps ready a bit sooner.

2003 Similar appearance to the 2001.  Lightly perfumed nose.  Ripe fruit, as you’d expect from 2004.  Very feminine with a soft tannic structure.  Not at all overdone.  Really quite a good 2003.

2001 Chateau Micalet Reserve, AC Haut Médoc, Cru Artisan
Made in small quantities, this has a concentrated cassis nose with woody spice notes from the oak ageing.  Very smooth and silky on the attack.  Doesn’t really develop much in the mouth, however.  Dominated by oak.  Will last longer than the regular 2001, but what’s the point?

2002 Chateau Micalet Reserve, AC Haut Médoc, Cru Artisan
A beefier, meatier nose.  More concentrated, yet still very silky on the attack.  Much bigger tannins, turning aggressive on the finish.

1999 Chateau Moneins, AC Haut Médoc
Thoroughly mature colour.  Cedary and elegant nose.  Elegant plate.  Mature and pretty much a point.


Chateau Mayne Lalande, Listrac Médoc
Bernard Lartique


2002 Ch Mayne Lalande, AC Listrac-Médoc, Cru Bourgeois
35% merlot, 55% cabernet sauvignon, 5% cabernet franc, 5% petit verdot.
Quite a serious nose with pure black fruits – ripe and deep.  More depth and concentration on the palate.  Very masculine wine with big tannic structure.  Really good length.  Probably needs two years.  c. £14

2001 Chateau Malbec Lartique, AC Listrac
35% merlot, 55% cabernet sauvignon, 5% cabernet franc, 5% petit verdot
Decent nose with plenty of tobacco.  Not overly complex.  Good soft fruit.  Open and approachable.  Gentle tannic structure on the finish, following through on good length, that derives mainly from the tannins rather than fruit flavours.  Not bad at all, but perhaps at the top of its money.  c. £7


Vignobles Bertinerie, AOC Premières Côtes de Blaye
Eric Bantegnies

2002 Ch. Haut Bertinerie Red
Old vines.  40% cabernet sauvignon; 60% merlot  Made with free run juice only.
Very nice nose with tobacco and plums.  Round and fruity.  In a really fresh and open style.  Very smooth.  Clean and focussed throughout.  Very low tannins, just some on finish and lingering after.  Good, but not distinctive and not especially Bordeaux.  Also too dear (c. £13-£14)

2002 Ch Haut Bertinerie White
100% sauvignon; old vines yielding 42 hl/ha.  Fermented in new oak barrels without temperature control.
Very oaky nose, but not overdone.  Very good palate.  Full, with really good body.  Quite concentrated.  Very good indeed, but quite a lot of money (£14 ish)

2003 Ch Bertinerie Red
60% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc.  Bottled two months ago.
Green nose with blackberry and blackberry leaf.  Round, ripe fruit.  Very good balance.  Soft round fruity style.  Very much its money (£8.50 - £9)

2004 Ch Bertinerie White
100% sauvignon.  Limited use of sulphur.  4 g/l total acidity; no residual sugar.  Very pale.  Clean, fresh nose – buttery and quite peachy.  Fresh and clean.  Really very simple and quite uninteresting.  (£7 - £7.50)

The 2001 Ch. Haut Bertinerie is listed by the Wine Society at £9.50.


SARL Pascal Labasse
Alphonse Calderon


2004 Domaine Bellegarde Cuvee Thibault, AC Jurancon
100% Petit Manseng.  50cl bottles.
A slight nose.  Very attractive and refreshing with good acidity.  Very delicate.  Lacks the fragrance of the better monbazillacs.

2004 La Rose d’Angely, AC Cahors
Around a fiver.  Not a rosé, but it has a picture of a rose on the label.  100% malbec.  Very soft nose with floral strawberry notes.  Smooth, fruity and balanced.  Not a typical Cahors by any means!

2003 Vinum du Chateau La Colombiere, AC Côtes du Frontonnais, 11.5%
100% Negrette.  £8ish
Fabulous nose: very fragrant, almost with cardamon notes.  Very light and fresh flavours.  A very interesting, yet also hugely attractive wine.  Loads of character and real cherry fruit on the finish.  Stunning wine.  I kept a glass of this on one side for a few hours, and it was really excellent.

2001 Domaine du Crampilh, Cuvee L’Originel, AC Madiran
70% tannat, 30% cabernet sauvignon.  £7
Powerful sweet nose.  Big and wide on the palate.  Huge fruit.  Big tannins – chewy and complex, yet the fruit continues throughout.  Impressive.

2003 Chateau de Saurs, Rouge Tradition, AC Gaillac
Blend of Braucol, merlot & syrah, aged 12 months in oak.  £8
A great nose with floor polish and bundles of quince.  Never had a red wine that smells so powerfully of quince!  Ripe, sweet fruit on the palate, and it even seems a bit appley in the mouth too.  A bit weird really.  Lots of tannins on the finish, which largely serve to remind you that it is actually a red wine!  (Served entirely blind, you wouldn’t guess immediately that it was a red wine.)  Very well balanced.


Antoine Moueix & Fils/Jules Lebeque & Cie
Pierre Julia

2001 Ch. Haut Maynes, AC Graves
60% sauvignon; 30% semillon; 10% muscadelle.  Vinified in new oak.
Very nice colour – greeny gold.  Good nose – well balanced and round, showing wood and fruit, but well integrated.
Nice full palate.  Very good balance.  Perhaps a bit straightforward.  Good stuff, with wide appeal, but perhaps a bit expensive.

2003 Ch. L’Esperance, AC Bordeaux Superieur
75% merlot.
Very ripe fruity nose.  Very soft and round.  Could be a ripe merlot from anywhere.  Very easy and drinkable.  Good price at around £5.

2001 Ch. du Carillon, AC Fronsac
70% merlot; 30% cabernet sauvignon.
Very nice nose – good and expressive blackberry fruit with nice roundness, but not overripe.  Very open and inviting on the palate.  Soft, almost creamy fruity, with a velvety texture.  Very impressive.  Good price too.  Nice complexity and depth on the finish.  Excellent length.

2001 Ch. Haut Mayne, AC Graves
Elegant smoky, leathery nose.  Very precise fruit on the attack with good ripeness and plenty of character.  Great depth and nice and elegant.  Good balance.  Possibly a touch simple.  Very good length.

2002 Ch. Lestage Simon, AC Haut Médoc, Cru Bourgeois
Soft ripe nose with a touch of astringency to it.  Ripe round fruit.  A bit lacking overall.  Easy drinking.  But very expensive at around £17-£18.

2001 Ch. Cantin, AC St Emilion Grand Cru
95% merlot.  Concentrated nose – very deep black fruit plummy nose with a hint of eau de vie.  Very expansive, open palate.  Lovely feminine fruit characters.  Lots of very good St Emilion character with excellent length.   £20-£22


Quien & Cie
Francois Gillet

2003 Ch Moulin de Bel Air, AC Bordeaux Supérieur
A 12 ha property planted with 100% merlot. 
Quite mature looking.  Fairly evolved nose with good merlot fruit.  Nice balance on the palate.  Good fruit; decent structure.  A touch sour with some astringency towards the finish.  A bit simple.  Not terribly impressive.  c. £5

2002 Ch. Belle Vue, AC Haut Médoc, Cru Bourgeois
A 10 ha property.  45% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot, 20% petit verdot, 3% carmenere
Very dense, dark colour and the nose is pretty much the same.  Way too young and quite hard work at the moment.  Interesting high PV content.  Good depth and concentration.  Nice balance and finishes well with spicy wood and ripe blackberry fruit notes.  £21-£22

2003 Ch. Freydefond, AC Côtes de Castillon
15ha.  70% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc.
Dullish nose with some black fruits.  Very nice palate.  Deep plummy fruits with great depth and some decent complexity.  Nice structure.  Good finish with plenty of tannins, but the fruit persists throughout.  Very Good.  £5.
This one really stands out among the Quien wines.

2003 Ch. des Leotins, AC Bordeaux
50 ha estate.  52% merlot, 46% cabernet sauvignon, 2% petit verdot.
Old fashioned nose with leathery black fruits.  Very unimpressive.  A bit stinky, sweaty, cheesy tasting.  Tannins appear and dominate on the finish.  Ok only.  £4 - £4.50

2003 Ch. Haut Gay, AC Bordeaux Supérieur
8 ha.  30% merlot, 50% cabernet sauvignon, 20% cabernet franc.
A rather scary bright orange label and capsule.  Very dense appearance.  Toasty blackcurrant and other black fruits on the nose.  Very ripe and full.  But overall a bit lacking and a bit ordinary.  €5.00


France Uncorked
Simon Trevor

2004 Ch. Le Clou, AC Bergerac Sec  (Organic)
100% sauvignon.  A rich, fairly fresh nose.  Good, clean body with a good fruit character.  Nice length.

2004 Ch. Ferran, AC Entre-Deux-Mers  (Organic)
50% sauvignon; 30% semillon; 20% muscadelle
Good round nose – attractive.  Very attractive on the palate.  Smooth and very easy.  Seems a touch sweet initially, but finishes bone dry.  This is very nice and will have wide appeal.

2004 Ch Le Clou, AC Bergerac  (Organic)
60% merlot; 20% cabernet sauvignon; 20% cabernet franc.  Unoaked.
Nice young colour.  Not much on the nose.  Good soft fruit.  Very attractive and open.  Decent structure.  Good wine.

2001 Ch. Ferran, AC Bordeaux (Organic)
12 months in oak.  60% Cabernet sauvignon; 40% merlot
Big plummy nose.  Good fruit.  Nice balance.  Gets a bit astringent as the tannins kick in towards the finish.  Good length, but it’s mainly from the tannins.

2000 Ch. Le Temple, AC Médoc
60% cabernet sauvignon; 35% merlot; 5% petit verdot.  12 months in oak.
Smoky, tobacco, cedar and cassis nose.  Very sweet fruit on the palate.  Very precise and clear on the finish with good length.

2003 Ch. La Gamarde, AC Monbazillac, 13%
80% semillon; 17% msucadelle; 3% sauvignon.  Very delicate floral nose. Very nice, very elegant.  Nice and refreshing.


Chateau Monestier La Tour, Monestier, Bergerac
Frederic Guiraud

A 38 ha estate in Bergerac, divided equally between white (50% semillon; 40% sauvignon blanc; 10% muscadelle) and red (50% merlot, 20% cabernet franc, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 10% malbec) grapes.

Virtually all the grapes are mechanically harvested.  Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel.  The reds and the Ch. Monestier La Tour white are barrel aged.  Wine-making consultant: Stephane Derenoncourt. 

2004 Tour de Monestier, AC Bergerac Blanc Sec
50% semillon, 30% sauvignon, 20% muscadelle
Impressive nose with a bit of lees evident.  Quite powerful flavours.  Round and expressive.  Very even throughout.  Bottled with stelvin.  £6

2003 Chateau Monestier La Tour, AC Bergerac Rouge
65% merlot; 10% cabernet sauvignon; 15% cabernet franc; 10% Cot.
Dense colour.  Very solid, ungiving nose.  Very ripe fruit – lots of ripe black fruit on the palate with plum flavours and hints of woody spice.  Very big 2003 flavours.  A really nice back flavour on the finish.  Good assemblage, working well together.  £9 - £10.

2003 Emily AC Côtes de Bergerac Rouge
70% merlot; 25% cabernet franc; 5% cot
Very dark colour.  Very inviting nose with toasty oak and black fruits.  Very attractive palate.  Strong fruit flavours, but also good wood characteristics.  Very concentrated.  Big tannins on the finish.  £14.


Les Vignobles Olivier Decelle, Saint Emilion
Charles Lemoine

Les Vignobles Decelle have the following properties:
Mas Amiel, Roussillon
Ch. Haut-Maurac, Médoc
Ch. Haut-Ballet & Ch. Bellevue  (Canon Fronsac & Fronsac)
Ch. Jean Faure, Saint Emilion Grand Cru

Michel Rolland, winemaking consultant


2002 Ch. Haut Maurac, AC Medoc, Cru Bourgeois
28 ha 60% cabernet sauvignon, 40% Merlot
Quite an intense nose with lots of leafy cassis.  Open, balanced fruit.  Quite attractive.  Clean, fruity style with good balance.  Tannic finish.  Pretty standard Rolland stuff.  £10.50-£11

2003 Ch. Haut Maurac
Higher percentage of cabernet in the 2003.  An unexpressive, fairly closed nose.  Ripe cassis fruit.  Fairly soft tannins.    £10.50-£11.

2002 Ch Haut Ballet, AC Canon-Fronsac
100% merlot.
Better nose than the Bellevue with more tobacco notes.  More complex overall than Bellevue.  Open and expansive on the palate with plenty of fruit.  But it’s just another Rolland wine.  £12

2002 Ch Bellevue, AC Fronsac
This is the same estate as Haut Ballet: these are the 8ha over the AC boundary.
100% merlot.
An even youngish colour.  Fruity nose.  Very international style.  Open and fruity.  Really only the tannins on the finish to point to it being Bordeaux.  £10


Mr Pacwine

A new concept – the bottles are made of aluminium (coated inside so that the wine’s not in contact with the aluminium) – they’re unbreakable (they just dent when dropped from a height, as he demonstrated!) and targeted at style bars and night clubs.  They’ll shortly be adding fluorescence onto the bottles so that they glow under the black light in night clubs.  Completely unashamed.  No pretension to the wine being anything more than plonk.  The wines are also available in bag-in-boxes so you can refill the bottles.

Gascogne Blanc, VdP Cotes de Gascogne
Inoffensive stuff, that you can well imagine going down well with people who are drinking to drink alcohol.  9g/l residual sugar.  A red AC Bordeaux was exactly the same.

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Last updated: 19 April 2006