Figeac enjoys one of the most complex and exciting terroirs in St Emilion. Based just below the plateau of Pomerol, the estate lies adjacent to Cheval Blanc on three croupes. The soils consist of gravel, iron-pan, sand, clay and molasse and are quite unique to Figeac. As a result, the vineyards are planted with almost equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Michel Rolland consults here, although the style is very much to our liking. Freshness and lift are hallmarks of good Figeac. Produced from 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc and 29% Merlot the 2015 Figeac is an aristocratic and distinctive St Emilion, initially quite reserved, but after aeration one is met with cool earthy cassis, gravel, cooked meats, stones and some leafy Cabernet perfume. There are also aromas of thyme, rosemary and violets. On the palate there is plenty of sumptuous, lifted black fruit – this is quite generous and seductive. One has to admire the balance and the sense of freshness. There is a lot of wine here and impressive depth of fruit, yet it never appears ponderous or heavy, it is all about balance and lift.
Situated just to the west of Cheval Blanc close to the Pomerol boarder, Figeac has a Medoc-like gravelly terroir that is best suited to the Cabernet varietals. The wines are unique and can be excellent, however, recent release prices have been expensive. Back vintages (pre 2009) are worth looking out for.
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.