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Château Ampélia, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2018

Red Wine from France - Bordeaux
4.000000000 star rating 1 Reviews
Ampelia is a small gem of a property that is certified organic. It is run by the talented Franpois Despagne, and in 2018 displays deep colour, with lovely notes of plums and vanilla spice. It is packed with generous, ripe merlot (80%) and cabernet franc (20%) fruit. Dense, pure and appealing.
Price: £14.50 Bottle
Price: £174.00 Case of 12
In Stock
Code: CB5701

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Merlot/Cabernet Franc
  • 75cl
  • Now to 2030
  • 15% Alcohol
  • oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Cork, natural

Bourg, Blaye, 1er Cotes

The best growers in the less-fashionable regions of the satellite appellations Blaye, Bourg, and the old Premières Côtes have to work that bit harder to get their wines known and the quality is often exceedingly high while the prices remain sensible.

Blaye is the northernmost of these satellites, named after the town of Blaye (pronounced ‘Bly’), which sits on the varied soils of the right-hand shore of the great Gironde estuary. Merlot dominates and the majority of the wines are soft and easy-drinking, balanced and flavourful, but without the dominance of new oak. The wines are usually ready to drink much sooner than those of neighbouring Bourg.

Côtes de Bourg is a smaller region south of Blaye, where the Dordogne joins the Garonne to become the Gironde. The soils here are more homogenously clay with limestone and the wines, though still generally merlot dominated, are more robust with delectable tannins, and they benefit from a little more time in bottle as a result. They can...
The best growers in the less-fashionable regions of the satellite appellations Blaye, Bourg, and the old Premières Côtes have to work that bit harder to get their wines known and the quality is often exceedingly high while the prices remain sensible.

Blaye is the northernmost of these satellites, named after the town of Blaye (pronounced ‘Bly’), which sits on the varied soils of the right-hand shore of the great Gironde estuary. Merlot dominates and the majority of the wines are soft and easy-drinking, balanced and flavourful, but without the dominance of new oak. The wines are usually ready to drink much sooner than those of neighbouring Bourg.

Côtes de Bourg is a smaller region south of Blaye, where the Dordogne joins the Garonne to become the Gironde. The soils here are more homogenously clay with limestone and the wines, though still generally merlot dominated, are more robust with delectable tannins, and they benefit from a little more time in bottle as a result. They can develop extremely well with short to mid-term cellaring.

Before the draining of the marshes of the Médoc in the 17th century it was these areas that provided a good deal of the wine exported to Britain.

Castillon adjoins Saint-Emilion to the east along the Dordogne and inland to the north. It is developing a good reputation for its wines and several prestigious producers from neighbouring appellations have invested a good deal to make wine here and too very good effect alongside a number of excellent locals such as Château de Pitray. Merlot again dominates on a mixture of soils from clay to sand and gravel, though cabernet sauvignon is also has a presence.

A wider umbrella appellation controlee called simply Côtes de Bordeaux identifies special terroirs, which includes Blaye and Castillon with one or two others on the banks of the two rivers Garonne and Dordogne. The vast majority of production is red, made mostly from merlot, and there are many excellent producers here, such as Denis Dubourdieu.
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Château Ampelia

Francois Despagne, of Grand Corbin Despagne, has owned this Côtes de Castillon property on the eastern edge of Bordeaux since 1999, and it has been one to follow since its first vintage in 2000.

The small 9 hectare estate is on the Saint-Philipe d'Aiguilh plateau of clay-limestone soil over limestone rock and lies next to the better-known Château d’Aiguilhe. The vines, which are farmed sustainably, comprise 80% merlot with 20% cabernet franc making up the remainder, and they average 30 years of age. They are carefully managed throughout the season before being hand harvested, and the fruit is then manually sorted before reaching the press. The property produces rich, fruity and spicy claret with a lovely touch of freshness and a propensity to offer delicious drinking between three to eight years.

Bordeaux Vintage 2018

This is an exceptionally good vintage for Bordeaux, with the best reds probably eclipsing those of any vintage in recent memory.

In our visits to Bordeaux in early April 2019 we tasted some of the finest clarets we have ever tasted en primeur. The wines are intense, powerful and most have excellent ageing potential. Colours are deep, alcohol levels are between half a degree and a full degree higher than recent averages, and tannins are ripe. Yet the best wines have maintained freshness, energy and most importantly balance.

And it's not just the top wines that shone in 2018; many super wines were made at the more affordable end of the price spectrum, and this offer includes plenty of examples.
But whilst all the top communes and appellations made a number of truly remarkable wines, 2018 is not a universally fabulous vintage. It is much less consistent than 2016, 2010 and 2009, and considerable care was needed in selecting the wines we wanted to offer our members.

The keys to making...

This is an exceptionally good vintage for Bordeaux, with the best reds probably eclipsing those of any vintage in recent memory.

In our visits to Bordeaux in early April 2019 we tasted some of the finest clarets we have ever tasted en primeur. The wines are intense, powerful and most have excellent ageing potential. Colours are deep, alcohol levels are between half a degree and a full degree higher than recent averages, and tannins are ripe. Yet the best wines have maintained freshness, energy and most importantly balance.

And it's not just the top wines that shone in 2018; many super wines were made at the more affordable end of the price spectrum, and this offer includes plenty of examples.
But whilst all the top communes and appellations made a number of truly remarkable wines, 2018 is not a universally fabulous vintage. It is much less consistent than 2016, 2010 and 2009, and considerable care was needed in selecting the wines we wanted to offer our members.

The keys to making excellent wines in 2018 were firstly choosing the right time to harvest, and secondly ensuring gentle handling of the grapes during the winemaking process. Picking too early meant good acidity in the wines but a lack of phenolic ripeness, whereas harvesting too late led to over-alcoholic wines lacking freshness. The grapes at harvest were tiny in 2018, and the skins were packed with tannin. Only the gentlest of extractions was necessary in the winery.

In addition to the many red wines there were many excellent dry whites, which despite the heat and dryness of the vintage also maintained admirable freshness.

2018 was another vintage of extremes. One of the wettest early seasons on record was followed by one of the driest and sunniest summers. The mild, damp spring encouraged a widespread and aggressive mildew attack. This had a devastating effect on some châteaux’s yields, with those producers employing organic and biodynamic practices particularly badly affected. Hail also struck in parts of the southern Médoc, Sauternes and the Côtes de Bourg.
But then the clouds parted and the sun shone… and shone. Between the beginning of July and the harvest there was 25% more sun than the 30-year average, and rainfall was tiny – just 46mm fell throughout the entire summer at Château Margaux. The harvest was very long and unhurried, with growers able to decide exactly when each plot of vines should be picked.

In conclusion, it was possible in 2018 to make superlative wines, as long as you were vigilant in the vineyards during the growing season, when choosing the optimum harvest date, and then in managing the vinifications in the cellar. Not everyone got these three vital elements right, and so careful selection has been key for us.

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