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.
Jean-Faure might not demand the $1,200/bottle than one could expect to pay for Cheval Blanc. But not only does it offer a compelling story about the rebirth of the grand old chateau, it's also a splendid wine that's not out of place among its high-flying neighbors.
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 2006 vintage was inconsistent in the Right Bank appellations, but the well-drained clay and gravel slopes of the Jean-Faure property allowed the estate to turn out wines that stood among the top of St. Emilion.
Medium ruby in color, this wine is full and generous, with mature ripe tannins, and ripe, blackcurrant fruit.
Pair this wine with bistro classics like rack of lamb or cassoulet.