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Annonce de Bélair-Monange, Saint-Emilion 2014

Red Wine from France - Bordeaux
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The first release of top Saint-Emilion property Bélair-Monange's second wine. It is beautifully refined and perfumed, with silky texture and a polished, ripe tannins. A classy wine from the J-P Moueix stable.
is no longer available
Code: CS10231

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Merlot
  • 75cl
  • Now to 2025
  • 14.5% Alcohol
  • oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Cork, natural

St Emilion, Pomerol

Saint-Emilion

There is an ancient history of wine making in the area of St Emilion, with Roman viticulture attested to in the poetry of Ausonius after whom the Première Grand Cru Château Ausone is named. The vineyards and much visited town have been awarded UNESCO world heritage List status as a cultural landscape and are enjoying a period of particular dynamism and prosperity.

Merlot is the dominant grape here with cabernet franc in earnest support and some supporters of the more difficult to ripen cabernet sauvignon. The soils, damper and cooler than those of the Médoc, are responsible for this and merlot performs beautifully in the clay, limestone, gravel and other alluvial deposits that make up the vineyard soils. Much is made of the clay based soils of the area but the picture is a broader than that.

If we ignore the areas down by the river and on its flood plain and the satellites that we discuss elsewhere, there remain two main areas where the quality of the wines speaks for the...
Saint-Emilion

There is an ancient history of wine making in the area of St Emilion, with Roman viticulture attested to in the poetry of Ausonius after whom the Première Grand Cru Château Ausone is named. The vineyards and much visited town have been awarded UNESCO world heritage List status as a cultural landscape and are enjoying a period of particular dynamism and prosperity.

Merlot is the dominant grape here with cabernet franc in earnest support and some supporters of the more difficult to ripen cabernet sauvignon. The soils, damper and cooler than those of the Médoc, are responsible for this and merlot performs beautifully in the clay, limestone, gravel and other alluvial deposits that make up the vineyard soils. Much is made of the clay based soils of the area but the picture is a broader than that.

If we ignore the areas down by the river and on its flood plain and the satellites that we discuss elsewhere, there remain two main areas where the quality of the wines speaks for the terroir.

The first is up on the plateau that abuts the border with Pomerol. A continuation of the plateau of sand and gravel that defines the best wines of Pomerol, this area is home to the most sought after of all Saint-Emilions, Château Cheval Blanc. The second group of properties are to be found on an escarpment east of the town of Saint-Emilion, where a thin layer of topsoil overlays a bedrock of sandstone on south-facing slopes that end suddenly and precipitously. Though the best wines of the second group are less highly regarded than the best of the first group there are superb wines in both.

Unlike its Pomerol next door, the wines of Saint-Emilion have access to a classification system akin to that of the 1855 Médoc version. Established in 1955, the Saint-Emilion classification is redrawn every ten years, which always causes a legal rumpus as demoted properties seek redress for the insult. Wines are assessed on several criteria such as soils, aspect and vine age and are tasted for typicity. Once accepted at one of the three levels the wines are required to adhere to stricter appellation rules than their supposedly lesser fellow estates with regard to yields and ageing.

The levels of the classification begin with the Grand Cru Classé properties of which there are several hundred (there are 800 or so estates in Saint-Emilion in total). Above this is Première Grand Cru, with 18 member currently, and at the top the Premières Grands Crus (A) which consists of the Châteaux Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Angelus and Pavie, the latter two having been promoted in 2012.

At its best Saint-Emilion should be should be rich, full-coloured, spicy and apparently sweet, and the best properties balance these qualities with finesse length. No white wines are made.

Pomerol

Despite not having a classification system like the Médoc and Saint-Emilion, Pomerol has an enviable reputation for some of the very best Bordeaux wines that can fetch eye-watering prices. However, at its best Pomerol produces sublime wines with a rich, almost fleshy, velvety flavour. It's worth buying the best which are never cheap.

The appellation is tiny, only 785 hectares, but within this flat but bijou acreage there are a great number of small estates with few of the grand châteaux that crop up throughout other Bordeaux districts. The land is effectively a great bank rising in gentle terraces from the Dordogne and Isle rivers, consisting of a good deal of clay leavened by gravel and sand in varying quantities depending on where you stand. The sandiest slopes, making the lightest wines, are on the lower slopes close to the Dordogne, and the best terroir is considered to be up in the north-eastern corner where the clay is at its thickest. Here you will find the big names of the appellation such Châteaux Pétrus, La Fleur Pétrus, Lafleur and Vieux Château Certan. Nowhere is more than 40 metres above sea level.

Merlot is at least 80% of planting and is similarly represented in any blended wines, though many are pure merlot. Cabernet franc is runner up here, with cabernet sauvignon and malbec also permitted.

The influential Moueix family have been incredibly important in the development of Pomerol’s reputation as a fine wine appellation, both as négociants and as owners of some of the finest properties. Pétrus, Lafleur Pétrus, Hosanna and Providence are all under their ownership.
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Château Bélair-Monange

This property is still a work in progress, having only been acquired by the talented Moueix family in 2008, but it has as great a potential as any of the top premiers crus in Saint-Emilion.

Jean-Pierre Moueix came to Bordeaux with his family in 1929 and settled in Libourne, a town just west of Saint-Emilion and just south of Pomerol, where he founded his négociant business in 1937. Throughout the 1950s he bought several well-known properties nearby. As well as Bélair-Monange, the family properties now include La Fleur-Pétrus, Lagrange, Trotanoy and Hosanna.

Jean-Pierre’s son, Christian – who is also responsible for the exquisite Bordeaux-blend reds at Dominus Estate in California’s Napa Valley – became president of the company in 1991, and since 2003 he has run the family properties with his own son, Edouard. The company also bulk-buys grapes from other producers, which it ages and bottles under the Moueix name, and sources The Society’s Saint-Emilion and our Exhibition Pomerol.

Prior to 2008, this property was just called Chateau Bélair, but as a tribute to his grandmother Christian added her maiden name, Monange, to the title, helping to distinguish it from other properties called Bélair. It had previously been run for many years by former Ausone winemaker Pascal Delbeck, whose vintages always showed great finesse and staying power, if not as much upholstery and charm as other Saint-Emilions.

Its 12 hectares of vines, which neighbour Château Ausone, are the only on the...
This property is still a work in progress, having only been acquired by the talented Moueix family in 2008, but it has as great a potential as any of the top premiers crus in Saint-Emilion.

Jean-Pierre Moueix came to Bordeaux with his family in 1929 and settled in Libourne, a town just west of Saint-Emilion and just south of Pomerol, where he founded his négociant business in 1937. Throughout the 1950s he bought several well-known properties nearby. As well as Bélair-Monange, the family properties now include La Fleur-Pétrus, Lagrange, Trotanoy and Hosanna.

Jean-Pierre’s son, Christian – who is also responsible for the exquisite Bordeaux-blend reds at Dominus Estate in California’s Napa Valley – became president of the company in 1991, and since 2003 he has run the family properties with his own son, Edouard. The company also bulk-buys grapes from other producers, which it ages and bottles under the Moueix name, and sources The Society’s Saint-Emilion and our Exhibition Pomerol.

Prior to 2008, this property was just called Chateau Bélair, but as a tribute to his grandmother Christian added her maiden name, Monange, to the title, helping to distinguish it from other properties called Bélair. It had previously been run for many years by former Ausone winemaker Pascal Delbeck, whose vintages always showed great finesse and staying power, if not as much upholstery and charm as other Saint-Emilions.

Its 12 hectares of vines, which neighbour Château Ausone, are the only on the limestone ridge beside the town to be exposed to sunshine all day long. The Moueix family have made huge investment both in the vineyard to increase quality of the fruit, and in the cellars carved in rock beneath the vineyard, and the results are spectacularly good but yields are still small. The wine is a blend of 85% merlot and 15% cabernet franc and benefits from ageing for between 10 and 30 years.

Since 2014, the château has been making a second wine called Annonce, a grand cru in its own right, which enjoys the same scrupulous attention to detail as the grand vin.
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Bordeaux Vintage 2014

September makes the vintage, it is said. When followed by a golden October, conditions for a fine vintage look promising indeed. A few are suggesting, somewhat optimistically, that 2014 might produce the quality of 2010; all agree that the results are far superior to the last three vintages. Whilst the weather deteriorated towards the end of harvest, smiles remain in Bordeaux after a fine end to the season which resolved most of the problems that had beset the region during the growing season, including some coulure (poor fruit set) on the merlot.

Attentive work in the vineyards was necessary to combat mildew over a cool, often damp summer, as was the sacrifice of some bunches to allow better maturation for the remainder. Fine weather arrived just in time and although interrupted occasionally, it was never for a sustained period. Yields are down for some, albeit without the dramatic losses caused by hail in the last year or two, but at the time of writing many châteaux are enjoying the ...
September makes the vintage, it is said. When followed by a golden October, conditions for a fine vintage look promising indeed. A few are suggesting, somewhat optimistically, that 2014 might produce the quality of 2010; all agree that the results are far superior to the last three vintages. Whilst the weather deteriorated towards the end of harvest, smiles remain in Bordeaux after a fine end to the season which resolved most of the problems that had beset the region during the growing season, including some coulure (poor fruit set) on the merlot.

Attentive work in the vineyards was necessary to combat mildew over a cool, often damp summer, as was the sacrifice of some bunches to allow better maturation for the remainder. Fine weather arrived just in time and although interrupted occasionally, it was never for a sustained period. Yields are down for some, albeit without the dramatic losses caused by hail in the last year or two, but at the time of writing many châteaux are enjoying the most comfortable situation of the last four years, with good quality and average to good volume.

Dry whites were picked in good conditions, from early September for the young-vine sauvignon blancs. Fine dry days and cool nights favoured the retention of fresh aromas and good results are expected across the price spectrum.

Producers of sweet wines played a long waiting game – the fine September weather, so good for dry whites and saviour of the reds, did not favour the development of botrytis in what was already a reduced crop. The Dubourdieu family (suppliers of our Exhibition Sauternes amongst others) have declared themselves happy with quality, less with quantity, and overall the estates which can afford to be more selective, will have fared best. Initial tastings suggest 2014 will be a good vintage for sweet wines.
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