This 16 hectare estate on the St Emilion plain has a sandy, gravelly terroir, but despite the humble situation, Fonbel produces some sensational wines - hardly surprising given that this is an Alain Vauthier estate. Produced from 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Carmenere and 5% Petit Verdot, the 2015 Fonbel is less wild than normal, but still conjures up aromas of briar, tayberry, bramble and herbs. There is plenty of gorgeous mouth-watering red currant fruit on the palate and a nice bright texture. Good.
This property lies below Ausone and Moulin St Georges and belongs to the same owner, Alain Vauthier. Despite very reasonable pricing, it benefits hugely from the attentions of Mr Vauthier, regarded by some as the finest winemaker in St Emiliion, and represents quite simply some of the best-value St Emilion available today.
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.