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Bordeaux 2014: Top 10 St-Estèphe

See the scores and tasting notes for the top 10 St-Estèphe wines from the 2014 vintage, tasted by Steven Spurrier

The feeling was that 2014 was a Cabernet vintage due to the long hangtime that Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc love, and this certainly favoured the Left Bank. However, looking at the proportion of Merlot now planted in the Médoc, this was not the sole cause for quality. Words like ‘clarity’, ‘precision’, ‘fragrance’ and ‘freshness’ abounded in my notes and in the leaflets produced by the châteaux, and while Merlot’s ripe black fruits were present, blending perfectly with the firmer Cabernets, words like ‘plummy’, ‘rich’ and ‘robust’ were hardly mentioned.

The wines in general have lovely fruit, a natural density and tannins that support but do not overwhelm, creating wines that express their origins and impress by so doing. In the Médoc, the elegance of Margaux came through, but fewer great wines than expected; St-Julien was as homogenous as ever as a commune, while the three Léovilles were as different as usual with some lesser crus coming on strong. Further north, there were some great successes in Pauillac, a vast improvement on an uneven 2013, while the variety on offer in St-Estèphe made this, for me, the commune of the vintage.

The generic Médocs will make good bottles for the turn of the decade, as will the interestingly varied Haut-Médocs with more depth and length. Finally , Listrac and Moulis, the former firm, the latter supple, were more than reliable. The three rare whites I tasted from Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Cos d’Estournel were remarkably good. All in all, 2014 on the Left Bank left a very good impression.

This commune boasts only five crus classés yet, with  1100ha, is the largest of the Médoc’s four major communes. The vineyards are more hilly than those in the south and while mainly gravel, they have more clay. The overall wine style is sturdy (a delicate St-Estèphe is a contradiction in terms), with firmness and staying power. The past decade has seen a greater focus on fruit, the robustness being a given, with impressive results. The three leading châteaux are at a very high level, each totally different from the other and this variety is also seen in the appelation. st-Estèphe has moved from ‘reliable’ to ‘exciting’.

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