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About St.Estephe wine

An abundance of high quality

Bourgeois Growths in St.Estephe such as the Châteaux of Andron-Blanquet, Beau-Site, le Bosq, Domevne, Ia Haye, Lavilotte, Meyney and de Pez, to name but a few, makes it the “bargain basement” of Bordeaux. And with just five crus classes covering a mere six per cent of the commune, it is a rich source of undervalued clarets where the prices paid by wine-drinkers are unlikely to be “gazumped” by wine-investors.

Château Cos D’Estournel

While the commune might lack classed growths, it does not lack class, if it had just one cru classé- the stunning, stylish Château Cos d’Estournel, St.Estephe would still he famous. The reputation of this château soared after perfectionist Bruno Prats took over in 1971. Essentially this success can be put down to his maximizing the true potential of Cos d’Estournel’s exceptional terroir, a superb south facing ridge of gravel with perfect drainage. Those vineyards on heavier soil with less gravel and more clay tend to produce wines of a more rustic style.

The new wave

Most St.Estephe wines are well structured and have great longevity, but they have more fruit than they used to, and this fruit is now accessible at a relatively young age. It was once essential to buy only the greatest vintages and wait twenty years or more before drinking them. These wines are still capable of great longevity but an increasing use of the Merlot and vinification techniques that extract the colour and fruit in preference to the harsher tannins, makes them richer, fruitier and drinkable in most vintages.

St.Estephe Cru Classé statistics

Crus classes in AOC St.Estephe

5 châteaux (8% of all crus classés) with 226 ha (558 acres) ofvineyards (8% of all cruss classés).

1st Growths: None.

2nd Growths: 2 châteaux (14% of all 2nd Growths) with121 ha (299 acres) of vineyards (15% of all2nd growth).

3rd Growths: 1 château (7% of all 3rd Growths) with 48 ha (119 acres) of vineyards (11% of all 3rd Growths).

4th Growths: 1 château (10% of all 4th Growths) with 45 ha (111 acres) of vineyards (10% of all4th Growths).

5th Growths: 1 château (6% of all 5th Growths) with 12 ha (30 acres) of vineyards (2% of all 5th Growths).

Factors affecting taste and quality

Location: St.Estcphe, the most northerly Of the classic communes, is situated 18 ktlontetres (11 miles) south of Lesparre, bordering the Gironde.
Climate: As for the Medoc.

Aspect: Well-drained, well-sited, softly sloping vineyards. The south-est facing crest of gravel overlooks Château Lafite-Rothschild in Pauillac and is relatively steep for the Medoc.

Soil: Gravelly topsoil, more fertile than in communes further south, with clay subsoil exposed in parts, consisting of clay beds, stony-clay and limestone over iron pan.

Viticulture and vinification: Only red wines have the right to the appellation. With incrceasing emphasis placed on the Merlot grape, which can now account for up to 50 per cent of the vines cultivated in some châteaux, less use of vin de presse and improved vinilication techniques, these wines are becoming far more accessible in less sunny years. All grapes must be de-stalked, duration of skin-contact averages three weeks and maturation in cask currently varies between 15 and 24 months.

Primary grape varieties: Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot

Secondary grape varieties: Carmenere, Malbec, Petit verdot.

St.Estephe profile

Appellation area: Covers parts of the commune of St-Estephe only.

Size of commune: 3,757 ha (9,284 acres).

AOC Area under vine: 1,100 ha (2,718 acres), (29% of commune).

Surface area of crus classes: 226 ha (558 acres), (6% of commune, 21% of AOC).

Special comments: Approximately 5 ha (12.3acres) of vineyards withinSt. Estephe are classified as AOC Pauillac.