The Scoop of the week in St Emilion

by The Antique Wine Company 1 April 2010 13:46
The Scoop of the week in St Emilion

My final Bordeaux blog has a hot journalistic scoop. I’ve just discovered at the tasting held by Jean-Luc Thunevin who owns Chateau Valandraud, that two new big players have just bought vineyards in St Emilion. The first is none other than Jacques Thienpont of Le Pin in Pomerol and the second is Peter Sisseck famous, of course for Pingus in the Ribera del Duero.

Firstly, Thienpont has bought a six hectare parcel very close to both Troplong Mondot and Valandraud. The property was called Le Haut Plantey, but it isn’t clear yet whether Jacques will keep or change the name. Many years ago, it was called "La Bouygue" and used to belong to the Petit Faurie de Soutard chateau now owned by Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle (Cap de Mourlin family), the St Emilion Grand Cru which I visited just last year.

Meanwhile, Peter Sissek also picked up a five hectare vineyard parcel of Merlot vines called Hocheyron. This is also situated very close to Valandraud and I believe it is a joint venture with Silvio Deince of Chateau Faugeres. Even hotter off the press is the purchase of an addition one hectare parcel of Cabernet Franc. In my opinion, if the current symptoms of climate change continue then this grape variety will play an increasingly important role in the wines of the St Emilion plateau.

This is big news for St Emilion. Jean-Luc Thunevin expressed delight at having two new neighbours of such international repute. It will also be fascinating to see what both Thienpont and Sisseck do in forthcoming vintages. Perhaps Ausone will have some serious competition?

I tasted a few of the 2009 wines at Jean-Luc’s tasting which was held in the original garage where he first produced Valandraud back in the 90s – and it really is an old garage in the heart of St Emilion. He told me that when he made his first vintage, there were just very modest French cars parked outside, but these days, he tends to see more luxury models!

One of the many wines on show was the Pingus 2009 which had been opened yesterday, but was certainly still a powerfully expressive wine and certainly a vin de garde. However, I was disappointed by the 2009 La Dominique. It was surprisingly tough and tannic with a worrying vegetal finish.

I also tried Virginie de Valandraud and Valandraud itself. According to Jean-Luc, it was an easy vintage with ripe tannins, freshness, and good balance, pH was around 3.5 and the alcohol is 14%. Interestingly, he told me that ‘we picked on the taste of the grapes - not the sugar. And we picked in the middle of October, which wasn’t as late as some.’

Virginie de Valandraud was good with impressive acidity and blueberry fruit, cream and liquorice. But I just felt a shade too much alcohol on the finish. Valandraud was very plush and concentrated and had more depth too. The freshness was certainly attractive, but I still found the finish long but also a little too hot for my liking.

Well, that’s it for today. But tomorrow, I’ll post my final blog with my thoughts and conclusions of my week long tastings.


About the author

Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams, Founder and CEO

Stephen Williams began trading as a wine merchant in 1982 and wishes he had stocked his cellar with Château Pétrus on day one. Since founding The Antique Wine Company,  Stephen has built The Antique Wine Group into an organisation with clients in 63 countries and a global network of offices, representatives and business groups. Regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in fine and rare wines, he has created some of the greatest wine cellars and collections in existence – in châteaux, palaces, wineries, hotels and private residences across Europe, Asia and North America. As a popular commentator on the wine industry, fine wine investment and the global wine market, Stephen is frequently quoted by both the UK and international press corps. Along with his regular lectures at AWC Wine Academy, this blog offers a behind-the-scenes view into the world of fine wine.

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