Château Bois Mondont Saint-Germain 2016
This week’s Weekend Wine sees us journeying north on the Médoc peninsula once more, to the commune of Saint-Germain-d’Esteuil.
Saint-Germain-d’Esteuil is one of the southernmost communes of the Médoc appellation; it sits inland of the appellation of Saint-Estèphe and the vineyards of Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne, which is home to a number of well-to-do Haut-Médoc properties, the best-known of which is undoubtedly Château Sociando-Mallet. It is quite an extensive commune; its more westerly parts are given over almost entirely to forestry, but closer to the Gironde there are vineyards, where we find a couple of notable properties, including Château Castéra and Château Livran. Of these two, it is the former that is relevant to Château Bois Mondont Saint-Germain, the two estates in the same ownership.
Château Castéra has a quite remarkable history; it was an originally a fortress built in the 14th century to defend the estuary and the Médoc (if it sounds too far inland for that role, bear in mind it was once much closer to the water – many channels and inlets have silted up during the years that have since passed). Of that original fortress a large tower still remains, dominating the estate, surrounded by more recent buildings which date largely to the 17th and 18th centuries.
The property passed through the hands of numerous noble proprietors, and viticulture was established here long ago, but the modern era for the estate began in the 1980s when it was purchased from Alexis Lichine by two German businessmen, Dieter Tondera and Carl Press. Today the latter’s son, Thomas Press, remains in charge here, assisted by administrator Jean-Pierre Darmuzey and technical director Philippe Grynfellt. They preside over a beautifully restored château and extensive vineyards.
It was in 2013 that Thomas Press expanded his Médocian holdings with the acquisition of the neighbouring vineyards of Bois Mondont Saint-Germain. This gave him and his team another 18 hectares of vines, 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon on the typical Pyrenean gravels of the region, to work with. The fruit is largely machine-picked, vinified in stainless steel cuves, and then aged in barrels for twelve months, using a modest 30% new wood. The wine is marketed under the name Château Bois Mondont Saint-Germain, and was classified as Cru Bourgeois in the 2020 Cru Bourgeois Classification.
In the glass the 2016 Château Bois Mondont Saint-Germain presents a dark and rather glossy hue, with a little rim of fresh black cherry. Aromatically it presents some charming red fruit character, dark raspberry and sweet red cherry, with a little hint of crunchy blackcurrant, and threads of soot, menthol and green peppercorn, all classically Médocian. There was a touch of reduction when I first tasted this, a few years ago now, but that has faded leaving behind this rather more supple character which feels elegant and gently polished on the palate, with some lightly degraded red cherry fruit mirroring the nose, as well as a little baked softness. There is a ripe and melting tannic structure underneath it all, adding just a little dry grip towards the finish, the only point at which the structure starts to dominate. This is an attractive wine, drinking well now, although I am sure in the right cellar it will evolve for a year or two yet. Well done. The declared alcohol is 13.5%. 91/100 (4/4/22)
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