|Appellation:||Côtes de Castillon|
|Size:|| BT (75cl)|
|Available:|| In bond||
The 2010 Cap de Faugeres, a blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the better sections of the Cotes de Castillon known as Sainte-Colombe, was bottled unfined and unfiltered by consultant Michel Rolland. It tips the scales at 14.5% alcohol and displays kirsch, black currant, licorice and smoky charcoal/barbecue notes. Medium to full-bodied, lush and very sexy already, this sleeper of the vintage is soft enough to be drunk now or can be cellared for up to a decade. Bravo!
All of the carping about high Bordeaux prices never seems to include the argument for the hundreds and hundreds of excellent wines that are less prestigious or come from less glamorous appellations, for example the Cotes de Castillon is a veritable treasure trove for people looking for high quality wines at bargain prices.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (205)
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A newcomer appellation, having been created only in 1989. Interestingly, it incorporates the site of the last battle between England and France which ended the 100 Years War. The Earl of Shrewsbury and his small army, in a desperate bid to recapture the province at the request of the citizens of Bordeaux (who after three centuries considered themselves English), was defeated soundly here.
Nowadays it is home to vineyards which produce authentic, decadent, powerful and fruity wines. The terroir possesses fantastic soil for viticulture with a series of plateaus and hills composed of clay and limestone, with some traces of sandstone. As is usual towards the end of the slopes there are alluvial deposits of silt and sand with tiny stones. Wines produced there are much smoother and delicate.
Merlot is the pre-eminent grape force in the region along with a familiar presence of Cabernet Franc (70 and 20 percent, respectively). Cabernet Sauvignon is found in smaller quantities due to the terroir not being suitable for its maturation process.
In general, the wines are known for red berry and pitted fruit flavours. Aromas of pencil lead, dark plums and juicy raspberries are also found.
Limestone, clay-limestone, gravels, chalks and silts.
Type of wine produced:
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec
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One phrase which is being used increasingly to describe the 2010 vintage is ‘embarrassingly good.’ Given how 2009 was lauded to the heavens by the bordelaise as ‘the best ever’, it’s something of an awkward truth that – a mere twelve months later - we are faced once more with awe-inspiring quality. A due sense of cynicism is to be expected, but this mustn’t interfere with our appreciation of what is, quite objectively, a fabulous vintage.
Not that this came as a sudden surprise, as Bill Blatch (Bordeaux expert and negociant) notes: “Back in November, many owners were already quietly confident that their ’10 was better than the already legendary ’09 but, coming hot on the heels of the hallowed 2009s, they seemed embarrassed to say it too loudly. Today, half of Bordeaux is less timid in assessing ’10 as great as, if not greater than ’09.” He adds, “There is one point of total agreement: It is totally different from its predecessor.”
What we appear to have is more of a stylistic shift, while the quality has remained essentially static in its excellence. This quality isn’t reserved to the top tiers of Bordeaux producers, either. David Peppercorn MW observes that wines are attractive at all levels, from lesser properties all the way up to Grand Crus: “Those with lesser sites have made excellent wines.” He added that he would be quite happy to list many of them as everyday wines at the prestigious West End Garrick Club, where he sits on the wine committee.
These are not wines for the faint-hearted, and in their excellence they are uncompromising. The average alcohol level is 14.5 per cent, peaking at 15.5 per cent in some cases. In addition, pH values are very low, acidity is obviously very high, and the tannins are formidable (ensuring fantastic ageing potential.)
Overall, these are ripe, dense wines packed with sweet fruit notes such as raspberry, strawberry and black cherry. Some are so richly flavourful that they take on a delicious ‘pruney’ dimension. Ordinarily this would be overpowering, but the keen balancing acidity keeps everything in check.
There is also what we might call a ‘rustic’ edge to many of these reds, in contrast to the silky voluptuousness of the 2009s. This is due to a searing hit of green tannins, which will develop and imbue the wine with steadily greater structure and balance.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc were generally picked in near-perfect conditions during the gloriously dry conditions of mid-October. (Click here to close this window)