Thursday, March 14, 2024

Château Sérilhan Saint-Estèphe Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux w/ artisan cheese, roasted nuts and fruit

Château Sérilhan Saint-Estèphe Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux with artisan cheese, roasted gourmet nuts and fruit plate

On a quiet evening binging on latest streaming phenom, we enjoyed sipping this easy drinking Medoc Bordeaux Grand Vin Cru Bourgeois with plate of artisan blue cheeses, fresh pear fruit and delicious gourmet roasted Marcona Almonds with Sea Salt.

Château Sérilhan Saint-Estèphe 2010

The Saint-Estèphe appellation at the top of the Left Bank of Bordeaux is known for deeply colored, concentrated wines, often distinctive as ‘go-to’ for great, age-worthy and reliable Bordeaux reds. 

Separated from Pauillac merely by a stream (shown below), St. Estephe is the farthest northwest of the highest classed villages of the Haut Medoc, and is therefore subject to the most intense maritime influence of the Atlantic. We drove through the area during our Bordeaux region visit in 2019.

Vineyards on Pauillac St Estephe boundary

Saint-Estèphe soils are rich in gravel like all of the best sites of the Haut Medoc where the formation of gravel over clay creates a cooler atmosphere for the vines compared to those in the villages farther downstream (south and west). This results in delayed ripening and wines with higher acidity compared to the other villages.

While they can seem a bit austere when young, St. Estephe reds prove to be long lived for aging in the cellar. Traditionally dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, many producers add a significant proportion of Merlot to the blend, which will soften any sharp edges of the more tannic, Cabernet.

Château Sérilhan was transformed in January 2003, when technology businessman Didier Marcelis took over the 20 acre family estate started back in 1982 by his grandfather Merlet, and managed by his parents, Jean and Maryvonne. After his arrival, he began heavily investing to improve the quality of the wines, increasing the vineyard size, replanting, and new material buying including new barrels.

Didier Marcelis expanded the domaine to 35 acres. He hired emblematic wine consultant Hubert de Boüard (owner of Château Angélus) who went on to receive numerous awards for the high quality of recent vintages.

The Saint-Estèphe cuvée is classified “AOC (Appellation Original Controlee) Crus Bourgeois du Médoc. The classification Cru Bourgeois dates back to the Middle Ages, when the citizens (bourgeois), residents of the “burgh” (bourg) of Bordeaux, acquire the region’s best lands and were subsequently granted this designation. 

In 1932, the Crus Bourgeois producers were grouped in a list established by the Bordeaux wine merchants, under the aegis of the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce of and the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture. The criteria for inclusion was based on the quality and value of red wines produced in one of the eight Médoc appellations: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac, Moulis, Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac, and Saint-Estèphe.

This is an evolving classification as from 2010, the official selection has been published annually in September.

Of course, the greatest Medoc Bordeaux are considered to be the Grand Cru Classés, which are themselves divided into 5 growths. For example, the most famous Medocs (Latour, Lafite, Mouton Rothschild, and Margaux) are all “First Growths.” Chateau Palmer, stellar and expensive but not generally considered on their level, is a “Second Growth.”

While there are hundreds of Chateaux in Bordeaux, about 130 are classified as Grand Cru Classés. See my posts of the UGC Bordeaux (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB)), and their annual release of the UGCB in these pages. The “Cru Bourgeois” are the best producers that are not Grand Crus Classés.

In a tasting of the Crus Bourgeois 2010, this vintage release was rated 92 by the Wine Enthusiast; Stephen Spurrier of Decanter and Ronan Sayburn both gave it 86 points, while Stephen Brook gave it 81 points.

The Saint-Estèphe cuvée generally presents a bouquet of ripe red fruit with spicy notes. This vintage release was rated 92 by the Wine Enthusiast who wrote “Good depth of ripe red fruits, fine and lively expression on the palate, still green on the finish, but this is a youthful greenness and will blend in, good wine for the mid term.”

Stephen Spurrier of Decanter gave this 86 points and said, “This firmly tannic wine, characteristic of Saint-Estèphe, is very dry. Underneath the dryness, there is a delicious, opulent juiciness that brings out black currant and plum flavors.”

Good value. Nice every day sipping… best with food … drank with blue cheese, pears and marcona roasted almonds .. medium bodied, dark black cherry fruits with notes of graphite, black tea, tobacco leaf and hint of cedar with moderate tannins on the smooth finish.

RM 88 points.