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Château Beau-Site, Saint-Estèphe 2016

Red Wine from France - Bordeaux
0 star rating 0 Reviews
Talented winemaker Arnaud Durand has produced an exemplary wine this year, with notes of graphite and bilberry on the nose and spicy dark fruit character on the palate. Well-priced, appealing Saint-Estèphe. 2021–2032.
is no longer available
Code: CM20071

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 75cl
  • Now to 2032
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Cork, natural

Medoc, Graves

Médoc, Graves and Pessac-Léognan areas, located on the left bank of the Garonne, are synonymous with well-structured, full-bodied but elegant red wines dominated by cabernet sauvignon which grows well in the predominantly gravelly soil of the area. As cabernet grapes are high in tannins, the wines usually have excellent ageing potential and are usually blended, principally with merlot as well as petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec in much smaller quantities. When young, the wines can have a mulberry-purple colour, aromas of blackcurrant, cedar and cigar box, and a dry, tannic finish.

The Médoc

The Médoc is the 40 kilometre long tongue of land north of the city of Bordeaux jutting out to sea to form the southern shore of the estuary. It comprises two parts divided along a line just north of the St-Estèphe commune. To the north of this line lies the area called Bas Médoc (though more commonly simply Médoc), while south of the line is the Haut-Médoc. All the wines, north and south,...
Médoc, Graves and Pessac-Léognan areas, located on the left bank of the Garonne, are synonymous with well-structured, full-bodied but elegant red wines dominated by cabernet sauvignon which grows well in the predominantly gravelly soil of the area. As cabernet grapes are high in tannins, the wines usually have excellent ageing potential and are usually blended, principally with merlot as well as petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec in much smaller quantities. When young, the wines can have a mulberry-purple colour, aromas of blackcurrant, cedar and cigar box, and a dry, tannic finish.

The Médoc

The Médoc is the 40 kilometre long tongue of land north of the city of Bordeaux jutting out to sea to form the southern shore of the estuary. It comprises two parts divided along a line just north of the St-Estèphe commune. To the north of this line lies the area called Bas Médoc (though more commonly simply Médoc), while south of the line is the Haut-Médoc. All the wines, north and south, are made within a band no more than 10 kilometres wide at its broadest.

The Bas Médoc, centred on the town of Lesparre, is made up of more clay and sand than its southern neighbour, interspersed with outcrops of the gravel for which the Haut-Médoc is famous. The climate in the peninsula, moderated by the estuary and sheltered by the great Landes forest to the west, is the mildest of any in Bordeaux though also the wettest after Graves.

In the north many estimable red wines are made and there are numerous properties classed as cru bourgeois, a malleable classification which places properties just below the Grand Cru level, using the classic blend of merlot and cabernet, but it is to the south in the Haut-Médoc that the most prestigious wines are made.

The communes of St-Estèphe, Pauillac, St-Julien, Margaux, Listrac and Moulis are contained within the Haut-Médoc, and wines that are not fortunate enough to find themselves within one of these communes may label themselves Haut-Médoc AC. However, any student of Bordeaux knows that some of the most famous wines in the world are produced in the communes named above. All but one of the five Premier Grand Cru Classé wines of the almost mythical 1855 classification are located here, with three alone sitting in Pauillac.

The soils of the Haut-Médoc are often characterised as gravelly, and indeed there is a significant amount of gravel throughout, in outcrops known as croupes, and much of the success of the great classified estate is attributed to this terroir even though the story of the soil types hereabouts is rather more complex. Gravel is free draining as well as warm in the summer and it is this, in an alliance with the influence of the estuary, that allows cabernet sauvignon to ripen sufficiently. The closer the estate to the estuary the sooner the grapes can ripen, sometimes as much as five or six days earlier than those eight to nine kilometres inland. Though the soils drain freely this causes the vine roots to delve deeply in search of water. This is an asset in regulating the supply of water to the vines which is now regarded as the key to producing high quality fruit.

The land of the Médoc and Haut-Médoc is less fragmented than that of its main rival for the affections of lovers of the finest wines, Burgundy, and estates boundaries can be somewhat more fluid as the reputation of the property is not so bound up in the precise area of terroir it occupies. For example, if Château Margaux were to acquire some vines from a neighbouring property within the commune it could quite legally add those vines to those that supply grapes for their grand vin without it affecting its classification status. As such estates here can occupy quite large tracts of land in comparison with most Burgundy producers.

Graves & Pessac-Léognan

The Graves region lies around the west and south of the city of Bordeaux, and as the name suggests, is famous for the gravelly nature of the soils. Actually there is sandy soil here too but the same free draining, warming characteristics apply as further north. Since 1987 the area has been split , with the creation of the Pessac-Léognan appellation removing the estates north of the town of La Brède and up to Bordeaux itself. This split left Graves without nearly all of its most prestigious properties, including its only Premier Grand Cru Classé in Château Haut-Brion, and a somewhat reduced reputation in the eyes of the public. Much excellent red and white wine is made here on estates that often lie in clearings among the almost ubiquitous pine forests of the area.

Pessac-Léognan is blessed with deeper, more gravelly terroir than its erstwhile compatriot appellation to the south, and has a cru classé system introduced in 1955 that, while younger and less regarded by some than the 1855 version, is at least reviewed occasionally and allows for the recognition of new quality and the demotion of the lacklustre. The classification recognises both red and white wines.

Classified Red Wines of Graves - Château Bouscaut, Château Haut-Bailly, Château Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Château de Fieuzal, Château Olivier, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Château La Tour-Martillac, Château Smith-Haute-Lafitte, Château Haut-Brion, Château La Mission-Haut-Brion, Château Pape-Clément, Château Latour-Haut-Brion.

Classified White Wines of Graves - Château Bouscaut, Château Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Château Olivier, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Château La Tour-Martillac, Château Laville-Haut Brion, Château Couhins-Lurton, Château Couhins, Château Haut-Brion.

As mentioned above, the brightest star in the Pessac constellation is Haut-Brion, with a reputation as one of the first Bordeaux châteaux to successfully emerge as what might these days be called a Brand, and is mentioned with pleasure by Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1660. The encroachment of the city has surrounded Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and Pape-Clément and a good deal of prime vineyard area has been devoured by this relentless urban creep. Though mostly red wine is made there, the white wines of Pessac-Léognan have a very fine reputation, as intimated by the classification above, and are made from a blend of sauvignon and semillon with occasional additions of muscadelle, usually aged in oak and with great potential for ageing.
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Borie-Manoux (Castéja family)

Founded in 1870, the top -quality négociant Borie-Manoux has passed down through several generations of the Castéja family, and is currently in the hands of Philippe Castéja.

The company has over ten properties, most of which are in Bordeaux, but its flagship is Château Batailley in Pauillac. This fifth growth property is one of the oldest in the Médoc and is an established favourite of members of The Society. Its name is a nod to the 100 Years War: it is thought a famous battle – or bataille in French – was fought where the vineyards are today.

Batailley has long been known for producing consistent, classic Pauillac at a fair price, but since Philippe took full control of the château in 2002, his efforts in the vineyard and cellar have made a good wine even better. The wine is usually a blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot, and spends 18 months in oak, 60% of which is new. A typically long-lasting Pauillac, it is normally ready to drink after six to seven years, and better vintages hold up well for 20 to 30 years or more.

Château Haut-Bages Monpelou, described by the Castéjas as Batailley’s ‘little brother’, was for a long time part of Duhart-Milon, but Emile Castéja bought it in 1970. This cru bourgeois property is situated on gravel soils in the heart of the Pauillac appellation and produces cassis-flavoured wines typical of the area. Batailley lends it both cellar facilities and the expertise of its technical team.

The wine is ...
Founded in 1870, the top -quality négociant Borie-Manoux has passed down through several generations of the Castéja family, and is currently in the hands of Philippe Castéja.

The company has over ten properties, most of which are in Bordeaux, but its flagship is Château Batailley in Pauillac. This fifth growth property is one of the oldest in the Médoc and is an established favourite of members of The Society. Its name is a nod to the 100 Years War: it is thought a famous battle – or bataille in French – was fought where the vineyards are today.

Batailley has long been known for producing consistent, classic Pauillac at a fair price, but since Philippe took full control of the château in 2002, his efforts in the vineyard and cellar have made a good wine even better. The wine is usually a blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot, and spends 18 months in oak, 60% of which is new. A typically long-lasting Pauillac, it is normally ready to drink after six to seven years, and better vintages hold up well for 20 to 30 years or more.

Château Haut-Bages Monpelou, described by the Castéjas as Batailley’s ‘little brother’, was for a long time part of Duhart-Milon, but Emile Castéja bought it in 1970. This cru bourgeois property is situated on gravel soils in the heart of the Pauillac appellation and produces cassis-flavoured wines typical of the area. Batailley lends it both cellar facilities and the expertise of its technical team.

The wine is normally 70% cabernet sauvignon with 27% merlot and 3% cabernet franc, and it spends 16 months in oak barrels, 30% of which are new oak. A stylish but relatively forward wine, it needs a good vintage to show its best, but can age well for between five to 10 years.

Another of the Castéja family’s left bank Bordeaux treasures is Château Beau-Site in Saint-Estèphe. This property certainly lives up to its name: the well-situated vineyards are on one of the Médoc’s highest points, and its neighbour is the third growth Château Calon-Ségur, one of Saint-Estèphe’s finest properties. Since Philippe took over the estate in 2002, it has become increasingly impressive, and this always respectable, good-value claret now has extra weight and fruit. This is a cabernet-dominant wine, with around 60% of the blend made up of this grape, but it also has around 34% merlot, 5% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. Beau-Site will age well for between five and 15 years depending on the vintage.

The Castéjas have stars on the right bank too. Château Trotte Vieille, which has been in the family’s hands since 1949, is one of the finest premier grand cru properties in Saint-Emilion, and Philippe’s efforts to raise quality levels yet further since 2000 have been hugely successful.

The wine typically contains 55% merlot and 5% cabernet sauvignon, but it is the 40% cabernet franc that gives Trotte Vieille its classy bouquet, length, flavour and excellent balance. It is aged for 16 months in 100% new oak, and will develop beautifully for between 10 and 25 years, however it has often been undervalued when compared with the bolder wines of some of its neighbours. Since 2002, the property has also released a second wine, La Vieille Dame.

The aptly named Château du Domaine de l’Église – thought to be the oldest property in Pomerol – can be found next to the appellation’s famous church on the Pomerol plateau. Although it often slips under the radar, it was in fact the favourite wine of Philippe’s father Emile Castéja, who bought the property in 1973. He replanted much of the six hectares of vines, and today the wine is 95% merlot, with a little cabernet franc making up the rest of the blend. It is aged in oak, 60% new, for around 18 months, and the finished wine is a consistently succulent, well-balanced and full-flavoured claret with enough structure to keep for eight to 20 years. In 2005 the family acquired another property, Château La Croix du Casse, on the southern edge of the plateau of Pomerol on a terroir of gravel, sublayers of sand and veins of iron. It is a property to watch.
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Bordeaux Vintage 2016 Médoc, Graves

Bordeaux has produced an abundance of superb wines in 2016. The reds exhibit real energy and vitality, with pure bouquets, plush silky tannins, plenty of mid-palate fruit and impressive length of flavour. Slightly lower-thanaverage alcohol levels, allied to the perfumed fruit and ripe tannins that typify the vintage, will ensure wines with exceptional balance and ageing potential. Comparisons of 2016 with previous vintages are hard to draw, and none of the owners and winemakers that we talked to during our visits were willing (or able) to suggest a similar vintage in terms of wine style. Nicolas Audebert, who makes the wines at Château Rauzan-Ségla, uses the description ‘un kilo de plumes’, or a pound of feathers for those preferring imperial measures, meaning that the wines have volume as opposed to weight. This comes closest to capturing the essence of the 2016s. Unlike last year, the successes of the 2016 vintage come from all corners of Bordeaux. Cabernets from the Médoc ripened...
Bordeaux has produced an abundance of superb wines in 2016. The reds exhibit real energy and vitality, with pure bouquets, plush silky tannins, plenty of mid-palate fruit and impressive length of flavour. Slightly lower-thanaverage alcohol levels, allied to the perfumed fruit and ripe tannins that typify the vintage, will ensure wines with exceptional balance and ageing potential. Comparisons of 2016 with previous vintages are hard to draw, and none of the owners and winemakers that we talked to during our visits were willing (or able) to suggest a similar vintage in terms of wine style. Nicolas Audebert, who makes the wines at Château Rauzan-Ségla, uses the description ‘un kilo de plumes’, or a pound of feathers for those preferring imperial measures, meaning that the wines have volume as opposed to weight. This comes closest to capturing the essence of the 2016s. Unlike last year, the successes of the 2016 vintage come from all corners of Bordeaux. Cabernets from the Médoc ripened beautifully from Margaux to Saint-Estèphe, as they did in PessacLéognan and the Graves, while both Pomerol and Saint-Emilion enjoyed a healthy, ripe merlot crop.

So-called second wines were almost uniformly excellent too. This is partly due to the fact that with cabernet sauvignon ripening so perfectly, many châteaux increased the proportion of that grape in their grand vin. The knock-on effect was that high-quality merlot grapes, normally destined for the first wine, ended up in the properties’ second wines, to their undoubted benefit.

One point of caution to note is that vineyards in some parts of Bordeaux this spring have been devastated by late frost (around 26th and 27th April), and consequently there will be little or no wine available from some châteaux in the 2017 vintage. The overused adage ‘buy now while stocks last’ may actually be relevant this year!
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2016 vintage reviews

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