St Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac

For many people, this is where Bordeaux meets Burgundy - small producers, a patchwork of vineyards (the average size of a vineyard in the Medoc is 40 hectares, whereas here it is between 8 and 10 hectares), and wines that are all about pleasure. For others, this is Bordeaux meets the New World - over-oaked micro cuvees, garagiste winemakers who are all about Robert Parker scores and over-ripe fruit bombs. It's a fun discussion to have whichever side of the fence you fall on.    

Chateau Bellefont Belcier, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2005 (approx €38,75)

The 20-hectare property was promoted to grand cru classified status in 2006, under successful direction from the brilliant Dominique Hebrard, meaning that the 2005 really is a bargain because you get all the talent of the winemaker without the classification tag on the label. As with so many of the 2005 Bordeaux, this has all the juice and ripe fruit that the region can lack in less successful years, and here the notes of strawberries, lavender and blackberries of the majority-Merlot make it taste wonderfully seductive only three years after harvest. Some toasted oak gives it a sweet finish. This is classic Right Bank Bordeaux.

(tasted for my Business Destinations wine column, May 2008)

Clos de Clocher, Pomerol 2005 (approx €65)

This small Pomerol property (just over four hectares in one of Bordeaux’s smallest appellations) is always good value for money, but never more so than in 2005, as owner Jean Baptiste Buorotte didn’t raise his prices to quite the degree of many of his neighbours. The attractive name (a clocher is a church tower) comes from the fact that the vineyard is within sight and sound of the small village church that is pretty much Pomerol’s only landmark. Taste-wise, classic Pomerol flavours of violets and truffles abound. Full-bodied but not overpowering; this is a serious wine to watch.
(tasted for my Business Destinations wine column, May 2008)

Chateau La Dauphine, Fronsac 2005 (approx €15)

It has now been seven years since Jean Halley bought this estate from the Moueix family of Chateau Petrus, and the quality has just kept getting better and better. This appellation is just five minutes drive from Saint Emilion and Pomerol, and has many of the qualities of both, without the price tag. Always good value, the 2005 La Dauphine was recently bumped up to a 90-pointer from Robert Parker, meaning that all of a sudden it’s sought after in the US, but although completely sold out at the property, there is still plenty of it available in stores... Round, flattering brambly fruits, full of concentration and purity of flavour. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
(tasted for my Business Destinations wine column, May 2008)

Chateau Angelus, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2007

The high levels of cabernet franc have made this one of the successes of the appellation in 2007, with fresh aromas on the nose of rich ripe fruits. Flavourful mid-palate and soft tannins with long, silky after-taste. (tasted during the en primeurs, april 2008)

Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol 2007

One of the most consistent appellations in 2007, almost every Pomerol I tasted managed to get the rich, fleshy fruit that was so missing elsewhere. This was one of the best examples.
(tasted during the en primeurs, april 2008.)