About this WINE
Cotes de Castillon
To the east of the St Émilion wine appellation, and on the north bank of the Dordogne, Côtes de Castillon has been the site of considerable interest and investment since the early 2000s. Wine production is significant, yielding over 1.5 million cases per annum and quality is quite variable, ranging from the everyday from the sandy and light gravel soils to imposing, aspirational wines benefiting from considerable investment, and made from the clay and limestone vineyards on higher slopes.
The style of these latter wines is akin to good St Émilion, and the wines use predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In common with other regions recognised to produce interesting and good-value wines, several well-known St Émilion proprietors have invested in the appellation over the past decade, among them Gérard Perse of Ch. Pavie, Stephan Von Neipperg of Canon-la-Gaffelière, and consultant Stéphane Derénoncourt.
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.