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2012 Ch. Thénac Rouge, Bergerac
Every once in a while a Château emerges in a less fashionable wine-producing area that punches well above the standards of that particular area. This is the case with Château Thénac from Bergerac.
Situated in beautiful countryside south of Bergerac itself, this 60 hectare vineyard is planted on a clay/limestone terroir on a south-facing slope, allowing for maximum exposure to the sun. With the average age of vines around 40 years, Thénac wines have complexity and structure and offer a refreshing alternative from Bergerac's more illustrious northern neighbours in Bordeaux. The Cuvée Prestige White is made up of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Sémillon and is matured in new French barrels, giving the wine refreshing crispness but an exciting complexity. The Cuvée Prestige Red is made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc and is qualitatively, more akin to a right-bank Bordeaux than the wines synonymous with Bergerac. It has recently been awarded the maximum rating of 3* by the illustrious Guide Hachette in France and a bronze medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
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