Petit Bocq is something of a patchwork quilt of St Estephe. There are 94 separate plots coving 18 hectares. Over the years there has been a concerted effort to increase the amount of Cabernet in the blend. The 2010 is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, cropped at 48 hl/ha and will be aged in 40% new oak barrels. There is definitely a more masculine style here (than past vintages), but by St Estephe standards, this is pretty, feminine stuff. Beautiful nose of cut flowers, graphite, charcoal, cooked meats, crème de mûre and cedar. On the palate there is ample fresh, bramble fruit, black cherries, cassis, plums and mulberries. A plump, polished Petit Bocq that punches well above its weight. Excellent!
The Lagneaux family own eight hectares of land in St Estèphe spread over five plots, the majority of which come from a vineyard abutting Château Haut-Marbuzet. Viticulture and vinification are controlled by Dr Gaëtan Lagneaux who is ably assisted by Pascal Berteau. Unusually, even for a St Estèphe château, Merlot comprises almost 70% of the vineyard area, the rest is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an invaluable statistic for the Lagneaux family as the early ripening Merlot is often harvested well before the all too frequent Médoc harvest rains. Any unhealthy or poor quality grapes are discarded, whilst the rest are vinified parcel by parcel and then spend a year in oak barrels, half of which are new. Dr Lagneaux’ wines are always well structured and full of plump berry and blackcurrant flavour. However, it is above all their purity and vivacity that make them so striking.
A part of St-Estèphe is separated from Pauillac's Lafite only by a stream.Though St-Estèphe contains some gravel, it is largely renowned for the high clay content of its soils compared with other vineyards on the left bank. These wetter cooler soils favour the Merlot, hence the relatively large proportion of plantings compared neighbouring communes, though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates. The cool soils means the grapes are later ripeing and tend to have high acidities, archetypal St Estèphe is a strong-willed, tannic structured wine to be laid down. The stars of St-Estèphe are Montrose, Cos d’Estournel and Calon-Segur, whilst Haut Marbuzet and Lafon Rochet have been producing excellent value wines over the last few years.