Chateau Belgrave is located very close to Saint-Julien and has no clear terroir limit that can be detect even by an attentive wine traveller. However, the limit was already fixed in 1855 and the property has since been classified as a fifth cru in the Médoc, not in St. Julien. The current owner, Dourthe, bought the property in 1979 and is happy to point out just how close to Saint-Julien it is. So at a vertical tasting of Belgrave this question naturally arises.
The wines I tasted were Chateau Belgrave of the following vintages
2012 Chateau Belgrave
65% cabernet sauvignon, 35% merlot
2011 Chateau Belgrave
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Both vintages are still in their infancy, quite closed, but with hope for a bright future. Typical Bordeaux tones from the left bank, both are fine wines which can be aged for a long time yet. 2011 is perhaps a bit better than 2012, but the difference is only noticeable when you have them next to each other.
2010 Chateau Belgrave
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot
A classic Bordeaux, just over medium bodied with balanced notes of black currant, plum, cedar and chocolate. Elegant tannins that will keep many years. Best for those who like classic Bordeaux wines.
2009 Chateau Belgrave
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot
The wine surprises with more generosity in both aroma and taste, a hint of New World style. Fine fruit and soft tannins more so than the 2010, although the main characteristics can be recognized. My favourite. Feels like a modernisation of classic Bordeaux.
2008 Chateau Belgrave
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Harmonious wine, medium-bodied with elegant finish. Pure black currant tones, and coffee and chocolate notes. Has the aroma of a Saint-Julien and the power of a Pauillac. Both areas are as you know not far away.
2005 Chateau Belgrave
53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot
A higher proportion of Merlot gives more ripe fruit and a hint of mint points towards the New World. Classic structure and integrated tannins brings us back to Bordeaux, some hints of tar in the finish.
With careful use of oak and with its concentration and its quality Chateau Belgrave definitely feel like a Saint-Julien but at a more than reasonable price. Moreover Dourthe has made great efforts in recent years to make an even better wine.
Mikael Karlin writes för BKWine Magazine on wine tastings and wine events in Sweden.
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