About this WINE
Berliquet is one of the oldest vineyards in Saint-Emilion. The vines, exposed south, southwest, are neighbours to several first growths. Since 1996 Patrick de Lesquen and his team have been hard at work to install Berliquet's fame by producing one of the most thoroughbred wines in the appellation.
Château Berliquet can trace its history back to 1794 and was promoted to a Grand Cru Classé in 1985. It consists of 9 hectares of vineyards superbly sited on the St. Emilion limestone plateau, adjoining those of Château Canon and Château Magdelaine.
Until 1978 Berliquet's wine was made by the local co-operative and the quality was good but rather unexciting. Since 1978 the wine has been vinified and matured at the Château and the wines have improved beyond recognition.
Bereliquet's wine is a blend of 67% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are matured in temperature-controlled vats and the wine is then matured in oak barriques (80% new) for 16 months. The wine is bottled unfiltered.
Patrick Valette has been a consultant at Berliquet since 1997 - "Our philosophy is to have very little production from each plant," says Valette. "We want to achieve a natural maturity and very good concentration, with balance. The wine's quality is achieved outside in the vineyard and not just in the cellar. In our wines, we are hoping to create a long palate and a wonderful expression of the fruit."
The arrival, in July 2008, of Nicolas Thienpont and Stéphane Derenoncourt marked the beginning of the search for even more precision in the vineyards and ripeness with the aim to express the finesse of its terroir.
St Emilion is one of Bordeaux's largest producing appellations, producing more wine than Listrac, Moulis, St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux put together. St Emilion has been producing wine for longer than the Médoc but its lack of accessibility to Bordeaux's port and market-restricted exports to mainland Europe meant the region initially did not enjoy the commercial success that funded the great châteaux of the Left Bank.
St Emilion itself is the prettiest of Bordeaux's wine towns, perched on top of the steep limestone slopes upon which many of the region's finest vineyards are situated. However, more than half of the appellation's vineyards lie on the plain between the town and the Dordogne River on sandy, alluvial soils with a sprinkling of gravel.
Further diversity is added by a small, complex gravel bed to the north-east of the region on the border with Pomerol. Atypically for St Emilion, this allows Cabernet Franc and, to a lesser extent, Cabernet Sauvignon to prosper and defines the personality of the great wines such as Ch. Cheval Blanc.
In the early 1990s there was an explosion of experimentation and evolution, leading to the rise of the garagistes, producers of deeply-concentrated wines made in very small quantities and offered at high prices. The appellation is also surrounded by four satellite appellations, Montagne, Lussac, Puisseguin and St. Georges, which enjoy a family similarity but not the complexity of the best wines.
St Emilion was first officially classified in 1954, and is the most meritocratic classification system in Bordeaux, as it is regularly amended. The most recent revision of the classification was in 2012
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.
Jane Anson, Decanter (May 2020)