Belair Monange, like sister property Lafleur Petrus has gone down the road of M&As and now incorporates the vineyards of Magdelaine. 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. There is a real sense of terroir here and a gourmand quality that is most alluring. Initially the griotte liqueur flavours take centre stage, but this is multi-layered with intricate fine detail. Although this is ethereal and dances over the palate, there is real substance here and a succulence on the mid-palate that coats and impresses. As ever, this is a real wine with a sense of place, which proves that you don't need over-ripe fruit and 15% of alcohol to make a spectacular St Emilion. A class act!
The estate formally known as Chateau Belair - one of the most revered estates in Bordeaux; Belair Monange is the renaissance of a great terroir. Despite its enviable position on the limestone Cote of St Emilion, next to Chateau Ausone, Belair was a perennial underachiever, unable to replicate past glories from its heyday.
Purchased in 2007 by the Moueix family, the name was changed in honour of Anne-Adèle Monange, wife of Jean Moueix, and also to avoid confusion with the multitude of other Belairs! A huge effort in the vineyard, in the winery and also restoring the Chateau has made an instant impact. The first vintage produced under the watchful eye of Christian and Edouard Moueix was the 2008. The results were clear to see. In September 2012 Belair Monange incorporated the neighbouring vineyards of Magdelaine (also a Moueix estate). This has increased production and far from diluting the quality, subsequent vintages keep getting better and better. Those who like serious, ethereal, high-toned St Emilion should take note.
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.