Chateau Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse was consigned to the same basket as Aqua, Eddy Grant, Los del Río, Vanilla Ice, Deee-Lite, Sinéad O'Connor, The Proclaimers, and Nena as one of the ultimate one hit wonders. Well okay, The Proclaimers had a couple of good songs. Nevertheless, the spectacular 1990 Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse stood aloft as a towering beacon of what this terroir could achieve. With the magical 100 points from Robert Parker and described as one of his ‘desert island wines’, it became the stuff of legend. Wind on two decades (of mediocrity) and this overlooked Chateau got a much needed shot in the arm with the introduction of superstar consultants Nicolas Thienpont and Stephane Derenoncourt. The old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth doesn’t apply here - Michel Rolland completes the dream team. Sustainable farming techniques, picking at optimal ripeness, draconian selection and ultra-modern wine-making has resulted in not one, but two more 100 point scores (2009 and 2010).
Located just to the west of St Emilion town, the 6.5 hectares of vines occupy a portion of the plateau and the slopes beneath. Clay and limestone dominate here; the terroir is ideally suited to Merlot (which accounts for upwards of 80% of the plantings). Modern examples are exotic, lavish and deeply complex – the combination of world class terroir and modern wine-making. It is safe to say that Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse is well and truly back in business.
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.