As we have stated in our vintage overview, this is not the most homogenous vintage, particularly for many of the less expensive wines. However, if you look closely, (and we did at literally hundreds), you can discover some great value wines for short to medium term drinking. This is only the third vintage from this estate and it is already a firm favourite with us. There are only 4000 bottles of the wonderful 2009, produced from 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. This is an utterly seductive and very impressive definition of St Emilion. There is a bouquet of deep unbridled cassis, griotte cherries, damsons, spice box, cut flowers as well as notes of complex minerals. The palate is packed with pure, luxurious black fruits and is beautifully balanced with bright acidity and ripe, grippy tannins. A sensational `must-buy` St Emilion.
Situated in the village of St Christophe des Bardes, Chateau Valade is produced from 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Annual production is just 8000 bottles, however, only 4000 bottles were produced in 2009 due to the hail storms that wreaked havoc in May. Paul and Cedric work tirelessly in the vineyard to harvest perfectly ripe fruit. High trellises are used to maximise photosynthetic activity, rows are ploughed, the canopy is thinned twice a year, yields are managed with green harvests and the crop is entirely hand-picked to ensure healthy, ripe berries. Paul believes in a gentle extraction, yet the wines possess deep colours, considerable body and good structure. Aging takes place in 80% new and 20% one year old barrels for 12 months. We expect the latest addition to the Valade family portfolio to be a great success as it offers all the characteristics we have come to expect from Paul’s wines: generosity, charm and good value.
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.