2016 Vieux Château Saint André, Montagne-St Emilion, Bordeaux
From the stellar 2016 vintage, this limited production bottling comes from St-Emilion’s smallest satellite appellation and the home estate of Jean-Claude Berrouet, iconic winemaker behind 45 vintages of Pétrus. Focused black fruit gives way to well-woven tannins and distinct mid-palate concentration.
Drinking window: 2022 - 2030
Stacy Slinkard, Decanter (Mar 2021)
About this WINE
Vieux Ch. Saint André
North-east of St Emilion proper in the Montagne appellation, Jeff Berrouet lives and makes wine at Vieux Ch. Saint André. The 12-hectare property, in his family since 1978, is dubbed “a true insider’s wine” by Jane Anson in Inside Bordeaux.
If the family estate flies a little under the radar, the family names rings out loud and clear. A Berrouet has been the winemaker at Petrus since 1964; Jeff’s brother, Olivier, succeeded their father, Jean-Claude, there in 2008. Petrus – as with all the wines of Pomerol – is also unclassified, so Vieux Ch. Saint André is in good company. “My father has had a big influence on my philosophy,” says Jeff. “He likes to make a wine which can tell the story of its soil and its year. That’s important for us.”
Though Jeff uses modern techniques and equipment, he has learned from one of the best in Bordeaux and seems quite content to carry on the family tradition.
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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The Berrouet name on the label is a key pointer: this is the same winemaking family as has been associated with Petrus for over four decades. The colour is remarkably intense and vivid at five years old. The bouquet is elegant and lifted, with a subtle hint of spice. The first taste is delicate and rather beautiful, held in check by the tannins, which also deliver a freshness and vivacity. There are thyme and liquorice notes. This is a wine of real interest: elegant and complex.
Drink now to 2028
Mark Pardoe MW, Wine Director, Berry Bros. & Rudd
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