Belair Monange, which now incorporates the vineyards of Magdelaine continues to impress. Anyone who feared that the addition of Magdelaine would in some way detract, need not worry. As one would expect from the most auspicious south facing limestone slopes of the Cote, the fruit is high toned, intense and bursting with mineral complexity. Bitter sweet on the mid-palate, with notes of sanguine orange, cherry liqueur and tayberries, this sings like a soprano. Taut, focussed and composed, this is a thoroughly gourmand wine that proves that you don't need over-ripe fruit and 15% of alcohol to make a spectacular St Emilion. Bravo.
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.