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A classy wine from a small, well-run estate close to Saint-Emilion. Mainly merlot, but with some excellent old-vine cabernet franc, which adds depth and complexity. Beautifully balanced Bordeaux.
Product Code: CB4661
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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.
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.
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.
"This is for the 2016 vintage. Initially it had a rather fresh mouthfeel, possibly due to the cab franc element, which I’m not a great fan of but after a couple of hours the merlot comes through to give a pleasant drop of right bank claret. It’s not bad, just I prefer a bit of cab Sauvignon in my red wine, hence the 3 stars. Not one for the roast beef dinner, maybe pork or chicken would suit it better. Good to see an organic wine on the market, there should be more on TWS books."
"Underwhelming nose, lacking in fruit with just some subtle spice aromas. Some volatile acidity too (under ripeness?) Simple mouth feel too. From a wet vintage and a cool vineyard spot as far as I know. Sadly it hasn't aged well to this point. "
"This is a very good value claret with a pleasing balance between weight, fruit and freshness. Versatile and goes well with a wide range of meats and roasted chicken."
I would recommend this wine
Decanter 27th Apr 2016
and deep purple in colour, this has violet edging and a good structure,
starts out well although majors n cinnamon and spice rather than fruit in the
mid-palate. A very enjoyable wine, with a sexy Castillon flourish from
one-third new oak barrels. François Despagne's Castillon estate, taking his
excellent vineyard-driven approach out of his home turf of Saint-Emilion. 80%
merlot and 20% cabernet franc.
- Jane Anson
"I think this wine is drinking well, but I do like wine with age on them at this price very good"
Mr Geoffrey J Wilson (10-Mar-2020)
"Very disappointing. Quite harsh and too harsh on first opening. Mellowed out a little after a 3 hour decant. Overall I found it to have an imbalance of oak, fruit and acidity that didn’t work for me. "
Mr Tom Rodger (08-Jun-2019)
"Bought for Christmas day, but left feeling very underwhelmed! "
Miss Oonagh Langrishe (31-Dec-2018)
"The nose is really lovely, it indicates a big wine. Ripe plums and oak and a bit of spice. Unfortunately the palate it's not all that. Much less enticing than the nose, some fruit but not as lively."
Mr Rafael Goncalves (25-Jun-2017)
"While this is quite a good, well-made red wine, for me it lacks classic Bordeaux typicité. It's fruity and spicy but very much on the red fruit end of the spectrum on opening, more like a modern Rioja crianza or a Cotes du Rhones. It lacks that unmistakeable Bordeaux cassis. For that reason I have to disagree with Jane MacQuitty of the Times saying its a claret that bursts with blackcurrant fruit - I just cannot find that here. My opinion is consistent with the Wine Society note, which says its approachable, fruity and spicy. I would add that it is definitely in the modern camp, it's starts with ripe strawberry and cherry but with a 2 hour decant it becomes much spicier and the sweet red fruit fades, giving way to something more pruney, with clove and oak). This is certainly not an old-school, classic Bordeaux (cassis, green pepper, pencil shaving) - its a more modern right-bank style. It is still good value though at £12.95 if you like the modern/international (ie Parker/Rolland) style of wine."
Mr Alan Hennebery (18-Mar-2013)
"I suspect this will improve over the next 2 years or so as the tannins are still too hard, although it gives reasonable satisfaction even now. Not a classic 'claret' in my opinion. Ch. Beneyt, although cheaper I think, is more satisfactory."
Mr Guy Norgrove (07-Dec-2012)
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