We're delighted to offer some sumptuous (yet very-well-priced) reds from one of our favourite French producers: Chateau St-Estève of Corbières in Languedoc.
All wines mentioned can be accessed and bought at the foot of this page.
Situated in the south of France, near the Mediterranean coast, the estate is located in the heart of Corbières, on the terroir of Boutenac, with its clay-limestone soils and round pebbles, in a century-old pine forest. Château Saint-Estève revels in the beauty and the charm of a protected landscape. This is a special place: the estate echoes to singing cicadas in summer, sits among magnificent pine trees and visitors can admire the garrigue, blue sky, protruding rocks and magnificent nature.
Owner Eric Latham has been cultivating the Château's 120 ha of vineyards since 1984. The adventurous and daring spirit of the family, has been strongly influenced by the experiences of their ancestors and their bold lifestyle choices. For example, his great-grand-uncle, Hubert Latham, an aviation pioneer, was known for his attempts to cross the Channel and his rivalry with Louis Blériot. Eric's grand-father, Henry de Monfreid - after whom this wine is named - was a famous adventurer, photographer and writer, native to Corbières and best known for his exploits in the Red Sea.
Carignan and Syrah principally grow on the lands of Saint-Estève; Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Cinsault (also varieties of the Corbières appellation) to a lesser extent. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Caladoc are also present in addition for the production of IGP wines. The red varieties naturally dominate although Grenache Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat are also grown.
If the Chateau name is is familiar, it may be because it/they co-topped a panel of Corbières last year in Decanter.
Of the three panel-toppers, St-Estève’s H de M 2017 – rated Outstanding and 95 points - was my personal favourite, and by quite some margin. It had, for me, the most elegance, class, balance and ageability of the bunch (and far more than is typical of Corbières). I wasn’t alone in thinking this: Exel fans of the H de M have grown steadily in number and the last cases of that vintage sold through recently.
But there is exciting news; the 2018 vintage has recently and seriously wowed Team Jancis … and us.
Personally, I feel it is even better still, with a streak more acidity that adds an excellent and exciting extra tension to the wine, which still maintains its impressive plushness in the new vintage.
As for Team Jancis, they felt and proclaimed this:
“Seductively ripe chocolate-and-coconut-dipped damsons on the nose, but there is also a touch of umami beef stock. Velvety, plush and laden with dark fruit which is so sweet and intense that would be close to syrupy were it not for the elegant, herb-scented acidity running the length of the wine”, scoring it a high 17/20 (and more highly than the 2017) and proclaiming it as Very Good Value at £15.75.
Chateau St-Estève offer more plushness still for the luxury hunter. Their flagship Corbières, the Ganymede 2018, is drawn solely from the Boutenac super-cru (and carries that appellation on its label) and is the epitome of the smoothness available in very top-flight Languedoc reds. Whilst £27.50 may not be a price-tag to suit every Corbières drinker, the Jancis team write-up should attract the curious and tempted:
“Lusciously ripe plums, black cherry and charred chocolate cake. There’s a melange of aromas to buckle your knees. So silky you want to wrap it around your throat. Purring, violet- and coal-black chiffon, the sheen of peacock feathers, sumptuously rich and yet there is a soaring, fragrant lift of wild mint and lavender bringing an extraordinary freshness to the wine. Long. Superior. Irresistible”.
Well, quite. Our thoughts entirely.
Both wines are in stock.
These, you do not want to miss.