While a fair share of Bordeaux vineyards can claim significant historical pedigree, few would be able to touch Chateau Figeac - it is one of a select few St Emilion vineyards to have been continuously occupied for over 2,000 years! The estate dates back to the second century when even the ancient Romans who occupied the area were aware of its outstanding terroir.
One figure dominates the Chateau’s modern era, and that is Thierry Manoncourt who ran the property from 1947 until his death in 2010, just shy of his 93rd birthday. Under his leadership, the Chateau was the first major Right Bank estate to embrace modern techniques such as temperature controlled, stainless steel vats.
The traditional-styled Bordeaux has, understandably, gone through a wide range of iterations in its 2,000-plus year history - yet it still manages to surprise and delight. The 2016 earned rave reviews from critics, with Jancis Robinson hailing it as a wine of which “...the Manoncourt family should be very proud.”
The 2015 Figeac is a blend of 29% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc and 43% Cabernet Sauvignon that was picked from 21 September with the Merlot until 15 October with the Cabernet Sauvignon at 41 hectoliters per hectare. The Cabernet comes through strongly on the nose - classic Figeac in many ways - black fruit, a touch of cassis, pencil and a touch of rose petal. The palate is drop-dead gorgeous, its foundation a lattice of filigree tannin and perfectly judged acidity. It is very fresh from its vivacious start to its pencil-lead finish imbued with effortless grace. It is almost comical that naysayers decried that Michel Rolland would turn Figeac into some kind of fruit bomb. Head winemaker Frédéric Faye has overseen a tip-top classic Figeac without any of the greenness that occasionally affected older vintages, now boasting a level of precision up there with the very best in the Right Bank. It was difficult to find fault with this quite astonishing Saint Emilion and who knows what could transpire once it is in bottle. 97-99 points, Neal Martin, eRobertParker.com
The 2015 Figeac is superb. A blast of tannin hits the palate first followed by waves of inky purplish fruit, exotic spices, new leather, lavender and mint. Beams of pulsating acidity and structure give the 2015 much of its super-distinctive personality. The 2015 is powerful and built to age, that much is clear. In 2015, Figeac brings together the generosity of the year with the classic sense of structure that is so unique to Figeac, with a touch greater polish that Michel Rolland has brought since he arrived. The 2015 is compelling. It's as simple as that. 93-96 points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous
"Fabulous aromas of blackberries, black licorice and lavender. Rose petals, too. Full-bodied, deep and powerful with a sexy tannin texture of plush velvet. Long and caressing. Muscular and poised. Needs until 2022 to come together but a modern and focused Figeac." 97 Points, James Suckling
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.