Bordeaux 2019 at Two Years: St Estèphe
St Estèphe is a commune which, along with Margaux, sometimes ploughs a very different furrow to that made by neighbouring Pauillac and St Julien. There are many reasons that this is so for St Estèphe (and yet other reasons pertinent to Margaux), many of which I alluded to in my 2019 primeurs report for this commune, because they are relevant to this vintage. The bed of limestone and cooler clay soils that lie beneath the great mounds of gravel can store and release great volumes of water, significant in a vintage marked by dry weather. There is also the more northerly climate, and the narrowing landmass of the peninsula, which begins to feel the squeeze of the Gironde and Atlantic Ocean on either side. All these features can help when warm and dry weather ravages the vineyards as it did late on in 2019.
The result in this vintage is a slew of great wines which cover all bases. There are the grands vins from the cru classé estates, most of which have produced exemplary wines. Then there are the many cru bourgeois properties, some of which provide fine yet good-value drinking, wines which don’t necessarily punch above their weight, but which give plenty of pleasure, sometimes for many decades. Most significant, however, are those châteaux which have ideas above their station, a cohort of powerhouse cru bourgeois properties which every sensible Bordeaux drinker should at least consider for the cellar.
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