2005 Chateau Jean-Faure Saint-Emilion
There are more than a few similarities between Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Jean-Faure. Both are situated in the heart of the Rodeo Drive of St. Emilion. Both have vineyards planted on gravelly soil. Unusually, both are planted to almost 50% Cabernet Franc, adding spice, aromatic complexity and structure to St. Emilion's benchmark Merlot plumpness. The properties are almost adjacent, just a short wedge separating the two.
But there's one really important difference. The 2005 Cheval Blanc, which opened on the Bordeaux futures market at about $600/bottle, now sells for $1,200.
Is Jean-Faure as good as Cheval Blanc? Of course not, but is it as good, if not better, than its other neighbors -- La Dominique and L'Evangile (at over $200/bottle!)? Absolutely.
When Olivier Decelle purchased Jean-Faure, the property was in disrepair. Decelle began pumping money into Jean-Faure at a pace that astonished even his well-heeled neighbors. The vineyards were completely overhauled. He put up a new chai, an above-ground cellar for storing barrels. He hired super-blender Michel Rolland, then added cutting edge consultant Stephane Derenencourt to the team. The 2004 was superb, but when the negociants got wind of the quality of the Jean-Faure 2005, they paraded to Decelle's doors like ants. Decelle could have sold the entire production of Jean-Faure at a high price in just a few hours. But realizing that the negociants were only interested in quick profits, not at all concerned with making buyers understand why and how the 2005 Jean-Faure ranks among the top releases of St. Emilion, he turned them away. He didn't seek out the journalistic market makers either, preferring to allow this deep purple, opulent, beautifully structured St. Emilion to speak for itself.
Chateau Jean Faure
"Good full medium ruby. Very ripe but lively aromas of currant, dark cherry and tobacco. This is fat with fruit and silky in texture, delivering musky, very ripe and rich flavors of plum, dark chocolate, smoke and minerals. Finishes lush, broad and long. Very impressive, and hardly your typical Saint-Emilion. At its release price, this was a steal for the quality."
91-92 points--Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar