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Château Bélair-Monange, Saint-Emilion 2011

Red Wine from France - Bordeaux
0 star rating 0 Reviews
The old vines at Bélair average 50 years of age and include one parcel planted in 1903. The perfectly sited limestone terraces here produced a 2011 that combines fleshy intensity with elegant balance. Deep in colour with refined fragrance and fresh but ripe fruit on the palate. This wine is a Museum Release: thanks to our member-owned co-operative model, our buyers are able to buy wines to mature in the perfect conditions of our temperature-controlled cellars and release them when they are ready to enjoy.
Price: £88.00 Bottle
Price: £528.00 Case of 6
In Stock
Code: CS8431

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Full-bodied
  • Merlot
  • 75cl
  • Now to 2032
  • 14% 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 2011

Nature threw many a challenge at Bordeaux growers in 2011 but the difficulties were faced down by diligent producers and many ripe, pure and traditionally styled clarets were made.

An early harvest, sometimes by two or three weeks in some cases, benefited from largely fine weather, without which the cabernet sauvignon would not have ripened sufficiently. Spring had been hot, to the point of some vines shutting down at one stage, and though flowering had been even there was some uneven ripening later. Indifferent weather in August meant that strict selection was required at the harvest. Those who were rigorous in the vineyard and the cellar have made classic clarets characterised by ripeness balanced by refreshing purity of fruit and fine, tight-knit tannins that return to a more traditional style of Bordeaux that many enthusiasts have missed in the previous couple of vintages.

Certainly the wines do not display the concentration and exuberance of 2009 and 2010, but there are...
Nature threw many a challenge at Bordeaux growers in 2011 but the difficulties were faced down by diligent producers and many ripe, pure and traditionally styled clarets were made.

An early harvest, sometimes by two or three weeks in some cases, benefited from largely fine weather, without which the cabernet sauvignon would not have ripened sufficiently. Spring had been hot, to the point of some vines shutting down at one stage, and though flowering had been even there was some uneven ripening later. Indifferent weather in August meant that strict selection was required at the harvest. Those who were rigorous in the vineyard and the cellar have made classic clarets characterised by ripeness balanced by refreshing purity of fruit and fine, tight-knit tannins that return to a more traditional style of Bordeaux that many enthusiasts have missed in the previous couple of vintages.

Certainly the wines do not display the concentration and exuberance of 2009 and 2010, but there are outstanding examples throughout Bordeaux. Saint-Julien and Pauillac performed particularly well, as did the most favoured sites of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, though in every case the wines are fresher, more classically proportioned expression of Bordeaux than the two vintages that preceded it.

Some have likened the vintage to 2001 and that has turned out to be considerably better than expected, and other have assessed the vintage as being somewhere between 2004 and 2008 in style. Wines made by the best producers with great terroir, and the resources to ensure that the necessary care was taken in the vineyard and the cellar, have produced wines that will age well for many years to come. Most are likely to need more time in bottle than the 2012s or 2013s.

Sauternes and Barsac enjoyed their third excellent vintage in a row. The warm, humid conditions at the end of the season were a gift to these regions, whose winemakers have rarely seen such regular onset of noble rot. Here the rich but beautifully fresh style of the vintage makes for easier comparisons with the fine 2007, and perhaps the great 2001.
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Decanter

(3* - Recommended)Cherry cola, sweet spices and violets on the perfumed nose. Smells classy withelegance and finesse.

- Panel Tasting

The Times

A swanky St Emilion from the Moueix family, this is a bold, brooding, beefy, graphite and bay leaf-edged gem. 

- Jane MacQuitty

2011 vintage reviews

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