(an 83/17 blend of merlot and cabernet franc, from a vineyard on the same chalky slope as Chateau Pavie, slightly to the east): Bright medium ruby. Knockout nose combines cassis, espresso, smoked meat, crushed rock, olive, caramel and a whiff of V-8. Broad, thick and fine-grained but youthfully tight, with uncanny weight to the flavors of black raspberry and minerals. But an exhilarating floral element gives lift to the middle palate. Doesn't have quite the pungent minerality of Pavie but I love the suave extraction here. And the smooth finish goes on and on. A great vintage for this wine, which is made by the team of Nicolas Thienpont and Stephane Derenoncourt. (I should note that an earlier bottle of similar quality was distinctly more primary and penetrating, and showed a more powerful spine of acids and tannins. This very savory sample showed more energy and grip but was more dominated by its structure in the early going.)
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(85 % merlot and 15% cabernet franc; 3.4 pH) Bright ruby-red. Strawberry, red cherry, white pepper and flowers on the perfumed nose. A refined midweight on the palate, with fresh red cherry and plum flavors complicated by herbs and spices. The peppery, smooth, long finish features hints at flowers and white pepper. This pristine, lovely wine packs in a ton of flavor without coming across as particularly powerful or large-scaled.