Napa Valley lovers line up for Inglenook and Bordeaux connoisseurs swoon for Domaine de Chevalier, Clos de l’Oratoire, Pavie-Macquin, and Smith Haut Lafitte, but what’s their associated link? One name: Stéphane Derenoncourt, who does hands-on consultation at all these properties. Labeled the world’s hottest (trendiest) winemaker in 2010 by Wine Spectator and widely considered one of the greatest wine whisperers of France, this is a man who gets his hands dirty, scoffs at scores, and produces wines of authenticity—and guess what? We got our hands on one of the small Bordeaux properties to which he consults!
Coming to you for a mere $24, today’s Château Saint-Paul is a sensational Left Bank value that delightfully marries supple Bordeaux fruit and its renown gravel terroir. It’s a classic example of this historic region that just so happens to be drifting right in the middle of a perfect drinking window. Share with everyone you can, while you can—this is a low-priced, direct-import exclusive that tops the price-to-quality charts!
In 1932, Bordeaux wine merchants came together with the backing of their local Chambers of Commerce and Agriculture to create a prestigious list of standout estates—the ‘Cru Bourgeois’—and Château Saint-Paul is one of them. The estate lies less than a mile from the Gironde estuary in Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne, a small village filled with value-driven, undercover superstars. Specifically, it’s located just north of Saint-Estèphe (though they are confusingly still within the administrative canton of Pauillac). Honestly, we don’t know much about this château, other than the brilliance in the bottle that we first tasted last year. To us, the mystique behind this label only amplifies its enjoyability!
Stéphane Derenoncourt was hired as a consultant in 2009 and quality immediately skyrocketed. Great detail was put into revitalizing the vineyards and the ecosystem around it, as well as instant changes in the winery. Today’s wine is the culmination of those results. Château Saint-Paul controls almost 27 hectares of mature vines, largely planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, that are planted in classic gravelly-clay soils. During their two-week harvest towards the end of September 2014, the team rigorously sorted the crop, ending up with just 30 hectoliters per hectare of vineyard. To put that number in perspective, the average yield for 2016 was 52hl./ha.! The grapes fermented in both stainless steel and concrete vessels for one full month before the resulting wine was transferred into 15% new French barrels for one year—the remaining 85% aged in barrels that had been used at least once before.
Today’s 2014 Saint-Paul Cru Bourgeois is everything you could possibly want in a Bordeaux that comes in well below $30. Cassis, red plums, dried black cherry, dusty gravel, cigar wrapper, damp rose petal; it’s a wholly perfect expression of this time-tested region. The palate delivers firm tannins—this wine’s drinking window isn’t closing any time soon—that are sanded right down by a smooth and highly refreshing finish. It’s not dried-out Bordeaux, nor is it juicy, but rather a phenomenal balance between, ripeness, minerality, and development. Still, it’s a soft and supple Left Bank that should please Bordeaux lovers across the spectrum. All that’s needed to enjoy this 2014 Saint-Paul is to (a) keep the drinking temperature around 60-65 degrees, (b) show it a quick 15-minute decant, and (c) pair it with some food! Sure, you can drink this exquisite Bordeaux all by its lonesome but, say, a braised duck leg will add some layers of enjoyment—like a good solo act versus a harmonizing quartet. Enjoy!
Merlot 50%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, Cabernet Franc 8%, Petit Verdot 2%
15% New French