The 2021 Talbot is promising, exhibiting aromas of wild berries, cherries, cigar wrapper and sweet spices, followed by a medium to full-bodied, layered and velvety palate that's bright and seamless, with an enveloping, charming profile despite analytically rather high levels of polyphenols. This is a fine effort that reminds Jean-Michel Laporte of the 2001 vintage in style—though the 2021 will benefit from all the improvements that the last two decades have witnessed at this address. Tasted four times.
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (Apr 2022)
The 2021 Talbot, the Saint-Julien stalwart now under the aegis of Jean-Michel Laporte for several years, was picked from September 27 to October 11 at 44hL/ha and matured in 60% new oak, the alcohol registering 12.8%. It has a clean, focused and correct bouquet, hints of blood orange and graphite surfacing with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with a supple entry. This feels cohesive and smooth, delivering moderate depth and a touch of licorice toward the finish. I would have just liked a little more on the aftertaste. (12.8% alcohol)
Drink 2025 - 2045
Neal Martin, vinous.com, (May 2022)
A fruity and attractive 2021 with currant and berry aromas and flavors. Hints of citrus. Medium body. Fresh finish.
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (May 2022)
Open and aromatic with blackcurrant and mineral notes. Palate unusually seductive at this stage, the fruit supple and tannins finely honed. Some grip and drive on the finish. Medium-bodied and compact, if not quite the depth of a top year.
Drink 2028 - 2038
James Lawther, jancisrobinson.com (May 2022)
This feels old school in the best way, a nod to the classic vintages of the past, with concentration and structure, powerful but savoury and sculpted cassis and blackberry fruits, curls of bitter black chocolate and spice. Great quality. 44hl/h yield, and a natural 12% alcohol, really leaning into the vintage, successfully so.
Drink 2027 - 2042
Jane Anson, janeanson.com (May 2022)
About this WINE
Château Talbot is one of the best-known Bordeaux wine estates to a UK audience, not surprisingly because it takes its name from John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, who in 1453 suffered the ignominy of losing the battle, and with it his life, which allowed Bordeaux and its vineyards to slip back into French control after belonging to the British Crown for over 340 years.
In the last century it has been owned by the Cordier family, and the red wine of the estate has long enjoyed a reputation for solid dependability. It is one of the largest estates in the Médoc and its 102 hectare single vineyard is situated inland from the Gironde River and west of the hamlet of St-Julien-Beychevelle.
Georges Cordier, who owned the property in the mid-20th century, was a great lover of white wine, and, determined to produce his own, took the highly unusual step of planting 5 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon in his vineyard, producing his first crop of white wine in 1945 (Le Caillou Blanc de Ch Talbot). The aim is to make wine in a Burgundian style, aged in oak barrels, with the 80% Sauvignon Blanc imparting vivacity and acidity, while the 20% Semillon imbues the wine with weight, backbone and ageing potential.
Red wine from Talbot is typically a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (66%), Merlot (26%), Cabernet Franc (3%), and Petit Verdot (5%) - the vinification includes 18 months maturation in small oak barriques (50% new).
Talbot has a reputation for consistency and is one of the most carefully made and reliable of the St-Julien Cru Classé clarets. The best examples are richly aromatic with a bouquet of cedarwood and vanilla scented cassis fruits and with a palate packed with well-delineated, ripe, black fruits and finely integrated tannins. It is classified as a 4ème Cru Classé.
St Julien is the smallest of the "Big Four" Médoc communes. Although, without any First Growths, St Julien is recognised to be the most consistent of the main communes, with several châteaux turning out impressive wines year after year.
St Julien itself is much more of a village than Pauillac and almost all of the notable properties lie to its south. Its most northerly château is Ch. Léoville Las Cases (whose vineyards actually adjoin those of Latour in Pauillac) but, further south, suitable vineyard land gives way to arable farming and livestock until the Margaux appellation is reached.
The soil is gravelly and finer than that of Pauillac, and without the iron content which gives Pauillac its stature. The homogeneous soils in the vineyards (which extend over a relatively small area of just over 700 hectares) give the commune a unified character.
The wines can be assessed as much by texture as flavour, and there is a sleek, wholesome character to the best. Elegance, harmony and perfect balance and weight, with hints of cassis and cedar, are what epitomise classic St Julien wines. At their very best they combine Margaux’s elegance and refinement with Pauillac’s power and substance.
Ch. Léoville Las Cases produces arguably the most sought-after St Julien, and in any reassessment of the 1855 Classification it would almost certainly warrant being elevated to First Growth status.
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.