There was no tasting at Le Pin this year. Jacques said that the wine was not ready to show as fermentations had been so protracted. Instead we went to Jacques' St Emilion property, L'IF. This property close to the water tower at Troplong Mondot used to be called Haut Plantey. The average age of vines here is 40 years old, planted on a variety of limestone and clay soils. The 2014 was a revelation - the 2015 didn't disappoint. Produced from 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, Jacques finished harvesting the Merlots on the 12th of October, yet despite this relatively late vendage, there is no lack of freshness. It is decadent, luxurious and fragrant; all things we've come to expect, but this has real bass and treble. It is powerful and deep with lithe mulberry fruit, griotte liqueur, wild strawberries, seductive loganberries and much more. It is also wonderfully high toned with vibrant cranberry fruit, flowers and spice. This is all framed by luxurious tannins that caress the mouth. A deeply sexy and complete wine.
L'If (or Yew tree) is the new wine made by maverick Pomerol producer and owner of Le Pin (Pine tree), Jacques Thienpont. It is situated close to Troplong Mondot and Barde Haut of the limestone Cote of St Emilion. 2011 was the first wine to be bottled under this label (the estate was previously called Haut Plantey). The second wine will continue to be called Chateau Haut Plantey and is made by the wine making team of Jacques and his nephew Cyril (son of Nicolas).
This ancient Abbey is divided into two distinct terroirs. The first is a continuous strip of 2.4 ha (6 acres) located in the commune of Saint Hippolyte, with a southerly exposure, which allows maximum sunlight. The soils here are deep running clay and limestone. The second section, also completely continuous, consists of 5 ha (12.5 acres) on the limestone plateau on the border of the communes of Saint-Emilion and Saint Laurent des Combes, alongside the vineyards of Château Troplong Mondot. Plantings are dominated by Merlot as one would expect in this corner of Bordeaux - 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet-Franc and 5% Cabernet-Sauvignon.
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.