L'If, St Emilion, 2018

  L'If

Alas, L'If is a tiny production, just 7000 bottles of the wonderful 2018 are in the cellar. 50% of the vineyard has been replanted, much of which is not yet used in the blend. Jacques explained that a soft hand was required. Skins were naturally very thick so he did no pigeage. 74% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc, aged in 50% new oak, the L'If 2018 is the most accomplished effort we have tasted to date. There is a noticeable shift both here and at Le Pin towards a more serious, structured style. The exuberance and outrageously aromatic style of old has been parked, the 2017s and 2018s are more classical and arguably better placed for aging. The fruit is detailed and fine with super intensity and energy. Seductive raspberries and loganberries wash over the palate in waves of gloriously velvety fruit. We were impressed by the deftness of tannins - they have been beautifully handled and frame the fruit perfectly. A very impressive L'If.

Contains Sulphites.

About L'If

L'If (or Yew tree) is the new wine made by maverick Pomerol producer and owner of Le Pin (Pine tree), Jacques Thienpont. It is situated close to Troplong Mondot and Barde Haut of the limestone Cote of St Emilion. 2011 was the first wine to be bottled under this label (the estate was previously called Haut Plantey). The second wine will continue to be called Chateau Haut Plantey and is made by the wine making team of Jacques and his nephew Cyril (son of Nicolas).

This ancient Abbey is divided into two distinct terroirs. The first is a continuous strip of 2.4 ha (6 acres) located in the commune of Saint Hippolyte, with a southerly exposure, which allows maximum sunlight. The soils here are deep running clay and limestone. The second section, also completely continuous, consists of 5 ha (12.5 acres) on the limestone plateau on the border of the communes of Saint-Emilion and Saint Laurent des Combes, alongside the vineyards of Château Troplong Mondot. Plantings are dominated by Merlot as one would expect in this corner of Bordeaux - 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet-Franc and 5% Cabernet-Sauvignon.

Appellation: St Emilion

St-Émilion is a very different region to those of the Médoc, dominated by small-holding farmers and estates rather than grand Châteaux. Merlot is widely planted as is Cabernet Franc in some parts. The wines are enormously variable in style depending on the terroir, the grape variety make-up and winemaking style. Loosely the region is divided between the limestone Côtes, Graves or gravelly limestone plateau or the sandy alluvial soils nearer the Dordogne. Traditionally Médoc wines were trade from Bordeaux and St Emilions from Libourne so they have their own classification system separate to that of 1855. The classification is revised every ten years and falls into four categories, St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé and St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Most of the district's best properties are either on the steep, clay-limestone hillsides immediately below the town or on a gravelly section of the plateau west of St Emilion itself abutting Pomerol. There are several high profile estates in the region, including Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Figeac, Le Dôme, Valandraud and Pavie.

Grape Blend: Merlot | Cab. Franc

Cabernet Franc with its unique herb infused red berry fragrance, adds backbone and acidity to the sensual, round favours of Merlot. This is as tried and tested combination used in the vast majority of serious St Emilion and Pomerol blends.