The distinctive and elegant wines of Saint Estèphe

Although all the wines of Saint-Estèphe share the same DNA, the diversity of their microclimates and terroirs offer a multitude of different styles and expressions meaning that there is no one-size- fits-all description or category. They can, however, all be described as having an exceptionally powerful tannic structure resulting in excellent ageing potential. This does not prevent them from being enjoyed in their youth, however, thanks to their distinctive and elegant tannins which lend the wines a seductive, harmonious and very intense mouthfeel.

The colour, the tannins, the texture and the balance we saw during the harvest period he seemed to promise a vintage of spectacular quality. Six months on, the wines are living up to that promise ! Already a record-breaking vintage which witnessed the earliest ever harvest, 2022 produced wines of exceptional quality, endowed with remarkable smoothness and balance.
The clay-rich subsoil of Saint Estèphe, combined with the smart choices made by the winegrowers, played a major role in this victory. The grapes were relatively small on account of the heat and the lack of water, but they nevertheless achieved a degree of maturity and concentration that was quite simply astonishing.

Jean-François Delon, President of the Saint-Estèphe Winegrowers’ Association

Every vintage is different. While the 2021 vintage does not appear to be as sunny as the 2020 and 2018 or as magnificent as the 2016 and 2019, it is still worthy of a place in the cellars of all great wine connoisseurs! If we had to compare it to one of its predecessors, it would be tempting to rank it above the 2014 and 2017 vintages, which it resembles in some respects, all whilst boasting distinctive nuances that set it apart. But above all, 2021 is a highquality vintage that makes us proud and gives us hope.

Jean-François Delon, President of the Saint-Estèphe Winegrowers’ Association

2020 ended the decade on a high. It is a perfect example of Bordeaux know-how and is a great, classic, complex, rich and unctuous vintage, which ticks all the boxes. It is one of the fnest early-ripening vintages. An over-achiever, it succeeded in making the most of extreme conditions to reach the perfect balance. While the entire vintage was marked by warm weather, making it one of the fve earliest in the past twenty years, variations in rainfall, which required a great deal of vigilance in the vineyard, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. 2020 will also be remembered for the unprecedented health crisis, which compelled the wine sector to adapt its vineyard operations at all costs.

Te emergence of the #lavignenattendpas (the vines don’t wait) hashtag sums up the dilemma faced by winegrowers. Nature does not lock down!

Basile Tesseron, President of the Saint-Estèphe Winegrowers’ Association

Winegrowing and agriculture go hand in hand. The strength of our village does not only stem from its ge- ographical location and terroir, but also the men and women who toil the soil all year round. Even if the 2019 weather worked in our favour, we still had plenty to do in the vineyard. For the vines, mildew posed less of a threat than previous years but we nevertheless remained cautious. Flowering was slightly dis- turbed by rainy episodes that were followed by one of the hottest summers on record. A few showers in September eventually enabled the grapes to reach optimal maturity. For many estates, the favourable weather conditions were conducive to minimal treatments and subsequently beneficial to the environ- ment. The harvest date did not deviate from the thirty-year average. For the wines, sugar levels were rela- tively high, and extractions were performed rapidly to harness the tannins. All in all, this looks set to be a great vintage.

Basile Tesseron, President of the Saint-Estèphe Winegrowers' Syndicate

2018, what a memorable year for our wine growers. Given the surprising weather cond itio ns, this vintage can be considered a sort of miracle, and the wine will no doubt be excep tional. The first months of the year were really difficult and the very rainy spring was leading us to expect the worst. Then the summer brought perfect, beautiful weather that lasted right through to October, turning the tables and offering the chance of a great 2018 vintage after all. The French proverb “After rain comes sunshine” sums up this year very well. It is indeed the return of the sun and heat that saved the vintage, placing it among the best and endowing it with outstanding freshness and concentration. Once again, the Saint- Estèphe soils have demonstrated their unique capacity to take advantage of any contradictory weather conditions, by using the generous water supply accumulated through the very rainy winter to relieve the thirsty vines through the summer drought !

Bernard Audoy, President of the O.D.G. of Saint-Estèphe

2017, in Saint-Estèphe, warded off the supposed bad luck of “years ending in 7” despite the pessimism brought by the unwelcome spell of frost in late April and the rain before the harvest that stayed in our memories. This is a vintage that deserves a closer look if we are to understand its true nature and its com-plexity. If we can’t claim regularity of this vintage 2017 over the Bordeaux vineyards generally, given the fickle and unfair nature of the weather conditions for some, we can say that Mother Nature was gentle with the Saint-Estèphe appellation, allowing both quantity and quality for this vintage. With the terroirs renowned for their excellent wines, the entire appellation was spared from the frost that hit the area on 27th and 28th April. The yields declared were thus practically identical to those of 2016.

Bernard Audoy, President of the O.D.G. of Saint-Estèphe

2016 marks the first in a series of vintage reports with information about the specific conditions in our appellation. We are tremendously enthusiastic about the 2016 vintage, which inspired us to provide a few explanations. And yet... Who would have predicted such quality at the beginning of the year? Fortunately, Mother Nature has the magical ability to completely change course!

In fact, the weather pattern for the 2016 growing season was unprecedented. Record precipitation from January to June was followed by a long unbroken period of warm Mediterranean-type conditions that transformed 2016 into a truly great vintage. Nature will never cease to amaze us...

Bernard Audoy, President of the Saint-Estèphe Defence and Management Organisation



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