Appellation Bordeaux Saint Estèphe
This appellation is located a few kilometres north of the city of Bordeaux, in the south-west of France. It is attached to the Médoc. The Saint-Estèphe AOC is distinguished by its complex mix of terroirs and subsoils and its rich range of wine styles from different producers. In this guide, we will take a look at the vineyards of this appellation and the best wines of Bordeaux Saint-Estèphe.
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Location and description of the appellation Saint-Estèphe
This appellation is located in the northernmost part of the Left Bank. It borders the northern end of Pauillac, next to Château Laffitte-Rothschild. Although Saint-Estèphe is almost identical in size to Pauillac, it has very few crus in the 1855 classification. The appellation covers 1,377 hectares of vines cultivated by 136 winemakers. Among these wine growers, there are 56 different châteaux. The terroir of this appellation offers slopes and elevations based on sands, clay deposits and small gravel pebbles. The clay layers facilitate natural drainage, heat retention and grape ripening. The best terroir is located on the hill of Cos, not far from the vineyards of Château Cos d'Estournel. Heading east, we encounter sandier soils composed of marine limestone and marly subsoils towards the south.
Our selection of wines about Bordeaux Saint-Estèphe appellation
Due to the diversity of terroirs and soil types, grape variety composition and the oceanic climate, there are several styles of Bordeaux wines from Saint-Estephe. If prior to the 1982 vintage, the top wines in this appellation had a reputation for being rustic, austere and high in tannin, improved winemaking procedures and the addition of Merlot to the vineyards have changed this. They are now more fleshy and concentrated with a lingering length. The Crus Bourgeois wines are also more affordable in price and have flavours of plum, earth and softer tannins. The appellation currently has 35 Châteaux classified as Crus Bourgeois.
-Montrose: Classified as the 2nd Grand Cru in the 1855 classification, this 95 hectare vineyard produces some of the oldest wines in the Médoc. Since 2006, it has been owned by Martin and Olivier Bouygues, owners of Bouygues Construction. The terroir is located 800 m from the Gironde estuary with a south-east exposure and is characterised by deep gravel, clay and sand soils. The proximity of the river ensures a climate that protects the vines from frost. The wines of Château Montrose express a masculine, powerful, refined and elegant character, while being firm and tannic. The round fruit coats the palate. They have good ageing potential.
-Cos d'Estournel: This château is named after its 19th century owner, Louis-Gaspard d'Estournel. Cos d'Estournel and Montrose dominate the ranking of the finest Bordeaux wines, reaching the title of 2nd Grand Cru Classé in 1985. Its 100 ha vineyards are located on a south-facing gravel hillside just north of Laffite, and at the southern end of the Saint-Estèphe appellation. The terroir has a clay aspect with gravel, sand and limestone. Today, this vineyard owned by Michel Reybier produces one of the most prized wines in Bordeaux: they are rich, sensual, refined, powerful and elegant with soft tannins. These wines with a great propensity for ageing reveal an intensity and a rare aromatic richness after a few decades. Go to the dedicated page to acquire this must-have wine in your wine cellar!
-Calon Ségur: this château is one of the few fortified wine estates on the left bank. It is also known as the northernmost classified growth of the Médoc. The vineyard is located north of the village of Saint-Estèphe. The 55 hectare vineyard used to produce masculine, tannic, muscular wines before 2014, but following a change in the owner of the estate, they are beginning to adopt a new style that is softer, more feminine, refined and more mature. This improvement in the quality of the wines is due to the significant investments made by the new owner in the winemaking facilities and the overall brand. This is reflected in the price of the wines.
-Haut Marbuzet: this château owned by Henri Dubosq has an exceptional terroir located near Château Montrose and Château Cos d'Estournel. It is composed of clay-limestone soils with gravels exposed to the east on the Gironde. The 66 ha vineyard produces elite wines that are lush, woody, opulent and fruity before the 1990 vintage. The younger vintages are certainly voluptuous with lots of concentrated fruit and complex aromas, but the quality seems to have dropped off. In any case, this wine always improves with a few years of bottle age.
-Phélan Ségur: This château changed owners several times until it came into the possession of Xavier Gardinier in 1985. The latter has undertaken renovation and restructuring work to give it back its former glory. He also aims to express the best of the wines. The wines from this 90 ha vineyard have a fleshy, solid, well-structured character with good ageing potential. The terroir is composed of clayey gravel and a limestone subsoil. This expression allows us to obtain other types of wine that are more delicate, classic, balanced with soft tannins. The wines of this estate need time to show their true character. They need at least 10 years of ageing before they can be enjoyed. The best vintages, on the other hand, can be kept for 15 to 20 years.
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