The Greatest Right Bank Vintage Since 1982
As we would discover on our 3-day stay in and around St. Emilion with Pierre Paillardon -- and as Robert Parker's Wine Advocate reported in his exhaustive March 2013 report -- the 2010 vintage on Bordeaux's Right Bank would be the most astonishing of Parker's 30 year career.
In the Medoc, the crop size was small, if not catastrophically so. But in Pomerol, St. Emilion and their satellite appellations, flowering was irregular, the vines riding the see-saw, trimming yields by as much as 40%. While that would prove to be bad news for Chateau balance sheets, it would make for a consumer windfall. From top to bottom, the rigorously farmed estates on the Right Bank turned out astonishingly rich bottles, often infused with Napa-like concentration. But most importantly, as Parker was first to emphasize, all that ripeness was matched by unusually firm acidity, making for wildly opulent bottles that are drinking beautifully on release -- but will age gracefully for decades.
As Chinese investors locked into every bottle they could buy of Parker's 100pt Cheval Blanc, Petrus and Le Pin, bargain hunters scoured the Right Bank, focusing their attention on what are the finest, most concentrated wines ever to come out of Fronsac, Cotes de Bourg and Cotes de Castillon. We discovered a handful of stupendous bargains, but all too often, our discoveries were tempered by the size of our allocations -- nowhere more so than at Jerome de Monteil's Chateau Brehat.
The Cotes de Castillon appellation is a gorgeous composition of 300 hectares set in the plains and hillsides of nine distinct hamlets. But as the superstars of St. Emilion would learn early on, quality varies with the exposition of the vineyards and the makeup of the soils. Over the last decade, Gerard Perse, owner of both Chateau Pavie and Chateau Monbousquet, purchased three small estates in Castillon. Hubert de Bouard, proprietor of storied Angelus followed suit. Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere took charge of Cotes de Castillon hotspot Chateau d'AIguilhe, just as the inimitable Stéphane Derenoncourt turned Parker on his ear at Domaine de l'A. None of this was lost to one of St. Emilion's rising stars, Jerome de Monteil.
In 2009, de Monteil purchased one of the smallest properties in the appellation. Chateau Brehat was all of 11 acres. On paper, it seemed to be an irrational investment. But one look at Brehat and it's easy to understand why de Monteil couldn't help but pull the trigger.
The vines were mature, averaging 30 years of age. The soils, most importantly, mimicked the makeup of St. Emilion and the Cotes de Castillon estates of Perse and Derenoncourt. Rich in limestone and light clay, Brehat, though tiny, is one of the few Chateaux of the appellation able to match St. Emilion in both richness and mineral complexity. In 2009, de Monteil put out a beautiful Chateau Brehat -- dark, rich, and forward, a first release that swiveled heads in St. Emilion. But in Parker's greatest Right Bank vintage in 30 years, Jerome de Monteil's new release has sent Chateau Brehat's stock soaring.
Dark ruby/purple in color with mouthwatering aromas of black fruit and creme-de-framboise, gently laced with new wood vanilla. The attack is decidedly modernistic, almost Napa-like, a richly textured, sleek mix of blackberry and raspberry, dosed with ripe cassis, all braced by the fine, supple tannins of this historic vintage.