By: The Wine Spies
Mission Codename: Holy Vines
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure a delicious and exclusive Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Bordeaux for our operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Château La Bienfaisance
Wine Subject: 2004 ‘Sanctus’ Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
Winemaker: Didr Peytour
Backgrounder: The movie Sideways may have tried to kill Merlot, but real wine lovers know that the joke is on the character Miles. He boldly proclaims: ”If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any [censored] Merlot!”, Really, and his favorite wine is Chateau Cheval Blanc? Chateau Cheval Blanc, like today’s selection from Château La Bienfaisance is a Saint-Émilion, a Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend. (For those not lucky enough to have enjoyed a Cheval Blanc, it is about 60% Cab Franc 37% Merlot and the remainder other varietals)
Fellow Wine Spies know that the wines from Saint-Émilion Grand Cru have been treasured since the times that the Romans initially cultivated Bordeaux’s vineyards of the Rive Droite. Each Grand Cru vineyard has its own varietal composition and this selection is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, and is heavily influenced by the region’s famed Terroir of Graves and ancient sand.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense garnet and purple with a barely clear core that is nearly inky in character. Along the edges, the color shows ruby red highlights and when swirled fast thin evenly spaced legs ring the glass.
Smell – Well developed and balanced aromas of dark fruit including black cherry and blackberry are layered over sweet vanilla oak notes, smokey spice, hints of black licorice and earthy undertones.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this supple full-bodied wine is classic ‘right-bank’ in character with finely textured tannins that are supported by its lively but balanced acidity and Terrior driven minerality.
Taste – Classically old-world with reserved flavors of blackberry, cassis and black cherry meld perfectly with sweet oak flavors, spice and cigar tobacco. The licorice, herbal and earthy aromas found on the nose also make an appearance on the palate and add complexity to this lovely mature wine.
Finish – Medium long in length with this wine’s restrained fruit fading away softly as the classic supple and fine textured structure lingers on.
Conclusion – The 2004 Château La Bienfaisance ’ Sanctus’ Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is a delicious example of with the right bank still rules with lovers of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Exceptional balance, great old world complexity and finesse, a lovely wine that will continue to age well for the next 5 to 10 years, perhaps longer!
Château La Bienfaisance winemaker Didr Peytour is very busy and was quite hard to catch, we did get a brief opportunity to ask him a few questions and below is a transcript of our conversation.
SUBJECT: Didr Peytour
AGENT WHITE: Bonjour Didr, We are thrilled to be showing your 2004 ‘Sanctus’ Saint-Émilion Grand Cru today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
DIDR: You’re welcome – I’m excited to have our 2004 Sanctus, our flagship wine featured on The Wine Spies.
WHITE: What is your background in wine or grapes?
DIDR: I have a higher technician certificate in Viticulture and Enology.
WHITE: Is there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
DIDR: I’ve loved wine since my childhood.
WHITE: How long have you been making wine?
DIDR: I’ve been making wine for 23 years.
WHITE: What is your philosophy of winemaking?
DIDR: The gentle extraction of tannins to reveal the wine’s true character.
WHITE: What is your favorite grape variety?
DIDR: I love Cabernet Franc, one of the two varietals represented in this delicious wine.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
DIDR: It’s a wine that is fully characteristic of the region. Its rich and opulent but has good acidity due to the moderating influence of ocean climate in Bordeaux. WHITE: In your opinion, what makes your ‘Sanctus’ so special?
DIDR: The Terroir of Saint-Émilion is among the best in France
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
DIDR: We are currently working on the 2009 vintage.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Saint-Émilion along the rive droite of the Dordogne (and the Gironde) can be seen in this satellite photo.