The estate of Château de Barbe Blanche covers 28 hectares of vineyards (70 acres) in the heart of the Lussac-Saint-Emilion appellation, near the even more famous Saint-Emilion village. The town and vineyards of Lussac are located not far from the Gallo-Roman villa of Lucciacus (transformed over the years into “Lussac“), where archaeological founds attested of the region’s ancient winegrowing history.
Acquired for a half in 2000 by famous local winegrower André Lurton, the estate is located on a ridge of clay and limestone in Lussac, facing the best slopes of St Emilion.
Merlot is king here representing 85% of the vineyard surface area of Barbe Blanche, the other 15% are Cabernet Franc.
Château Barbe Blanche re dis fermented in stainless steel tanks, with a maceration on skins of about 3 weeks, before maturing in French oak barrels (50% new) for 12 months.
This Bordeaux red comes in a pretty dark red color indeed, it’s nearly black to the core, you can hardly see through, perhaps with a strong light. The rim is also of a very dark red, with youthful purple hues still. This look like concentrated stuff, even just glancing at it!
The nose seems just as intense. What first strikes, and surprises a little, is the big concentration of spicy peppery aromas, green and black pepper combined, somewhat like smelling a juicy steak in green pepper sauce, with black pepper that would have just been freshly-cracked on top of it. I guess there is a bit of meatiness to the wine’s aromatic profile as well!
But it’s not all pepper, far from it.
Dark blackberry and black cherry, with a touch of strawberry jam. A deep fruity feel comes through, augmented by notes of torrefaction (dark cocoa and coffee), burnt caramel, a touch of oaky smokiness, clove and nutmeg. A lot going on, everything around the spectrum of seriously-deep aromas.
From there, the palate tastes fruitier, livelier, and more inviting that the nose suggested. There is a wealth of vibrant crispy acidity underlining notes of zesty fresh raspberry and fresh strawberries.
The body is round, but not overly so. It doesn’t feel heavy at all. Perhaps this is because the velvety dense tannins are smooth and rounded, making the whole feel somewhat aerial despite the obvious important concentration.
The wine sips harmoniously thanks to a well-crafted overall balance, ending on a rather long, generous and layered finish on black pepper and sweet spices. Oaky notes are obvious there too but well integrated to the fruity elements.
A complex, deep, ripe, and fascinating Bordeaux wine, that shines thanks to the liveliness of its red berry fruit character.
All the elements we love in a serious Bordeaux wine: spiciness, sweet/sour dryness, bright fruit concentration, and a solid tannic structure. But it’s all delivered in a refined, layered, and civilized way, always letting the fruity element speak through for itself.
A great example of controlled balance from a characterful terroir, and appropriate winemaking to back it up.
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