CHATEAU L'EVANGILE, Pomerol
Chateau L’Evangile, one of Pomerol’s finest estates, was purchased by Domaines de Rothschild, owners of Chateau Lafite, in 1999. New cellars were built in time for the 2005 vintage and an extensive replanting program was completed in 2018. Vineyard area totals 22 hectares, 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, farmed organically since 2007 and certified in 2015. At harvest the grapes from each plot are kept separate, enabling selection of only the best parcels for the Grand Vin.
Vinification takes place in 20, temperature-controlled cement vats ranging in size from 35 to 81 hectolitres. Chateau L’Evangile is aged in an average of 70% new, French oak barrels for around 18 months. Between 2000 and 3000 cases of the Grand Vin are made each year. There is a second wine, Blason de L’Evangile. L’Evangile is a full-bodied, rich, elegant, powerful, opulent, long-lived Pomerol style.
"The 2017 L'Évangile is a stunning wine. Frost wiped out half of the potential crop, including all of the Cabernet Franc, which means the Grand Vin is 100% Merlot. Rich, sumptuous and explosive, the 2017 possesses remarkable depth and stunning intensity in all of its dimensions. The purity, energy and textural resonance of the fruit is ravishing. The 2017 saw five days of cold soak followed by 30 days on the skins. Technical Director Jean Pascal Vazart opted for gentle pumpovers and longer extractions than normal. Malolactic fermentation was done in 100% new oak, where the wine is presently ageing. A massive, concentrated wine, L'Évangile is going to need a number of years to be at its very best, but it is magnificent, even in the early going. In a word: dazzling!"
94-97 points, Antonio Galloni
"The 2017 L'Evangile is deep garnet-purple in colour, featuring a profoundly scented nose of plum preserves, smoked meats, chargrill and cigar box with touches of licorice, tapenade, tar and truffles plus an earthy waft of underbrush. The palate is medium to full-bodied with a lovely purity of black and blue fruits, accented with baking spice notions and framed by plush tannins that offer just the right amount of provocative grip, finishing long and earthy.
Sadly, the old vine Cabernet Franc at L’Evangile was completely frosted this year. Unsurprisingly, it was the plots on the plateau that were relatively unscathed, but those near Cheval Blanc and Bon Pasteur were frosted. Thus, for the very first time this year, the wine is made with 100% Merlot. “We had to paint vines with different colours according to the amount of frost damage they received,” operations manager Jean Pascal Vazart informed me. “Overall yields were down to 20 hl/ha this year, which is a little misleading because the unscathed plots gave 40 hl/ha and some affected plots gave 3 hl/ha."
93-95 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
"Unusually, 100% Merlot because of frosted Cabernet Franc. At the time of tasting this wine en primeur, they had not decided if there would be a second wine (Blason), explained operations manager Jean Pascal Vazart.
Very dark crimson. Dark, savoury and a touch meaty – beefy. A hint of oak char. Very ripe and spicy fruit flavours, even a hint of dried fruit. Structured and muscular. Compact tannins – smooth but a touch chewy. Savoury, rather than fruity, and firmly dry on the finish. 14.6% Drink 2025-2035"
16.5 points, jancisrobinson.com
"The 2017 L’Evangile is picked from 4 September to 3 October. There is no Cabernet Franc since it was frosted over (50% of the vineyard) and so Jean-Pierre Vazart said it is missing some of its power. He marked all the vines with different colours to indicate those affected so that none of the second-generation fruit was used for the Grand Vin. Yields came in at 20hl/ha and it is matured in 100% new oak. It has a deep inky purple hue. The new wood comes over quite strongly as it often does, perhaps missing the Cabernet Franc component to support that level of wood? There are light floral scents: wilted iris and violet that spring up with aeration although I would still like to see more terroir expression. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, mocha and dark chocolate on the entry with a fine bead of acidity. But I have a nagging question of whether a more prudent approach to the new oak might have engendered a more endearing L’Evangile, I was a bit disturbed by the level of wood tannin on the finish. I will be more than happy to upgrade my score if the tannin will be absorbed during élevage and with bottle age and I will be more than happy to upgrade my score."
90-92 points, Neal Martin
"Very fine and velvety tannins in the mouth with juicy fruit that gives dark-berry, chocolate and spice character. Medium to full body. Bright acidity. Harmonious and very pretty. Pure merlot. Reminds me of the 2012, but shows a little more ripeness and suppleness."
94-95 points, James Suckling
Pomerol, on the Right Bank of Bordeaux’s Gironde River, produces some of the world’s most sought-after wines, including those from such storied properties as Chateau Petrus. Yet Pomerol, the smallest of the fine-wine-producing districts of Bordeaux, offers no Grand Cru or Premier Cru wines: It’s the most significant Bordeaux appellation not included in any quality ranking. At the time of the historic 1855 Classification of Bordeaux, Right Bank chateaux were considered remote and difficult to travel to, and so were ignored by the merchants who created the classification. (St. Émilion, a notable neighbour on the Right Bank, created its own classification system in 1954.)
Pomerol has managed to do quite well without this form of validation. Pomerol’s predominantly clay soil is ideally suited for Merlot, the primary grape used in the appellation. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are also included in Pomerol’s blended red wines. The wines of Pomerol are lush and rich, and generally not as tannic as the Cabernet-based wines of Bordeaux’s Left Bank. Although Pomerol’s very best wines are capable of aging for decades, most are made for immediate consumption. These Merlot-based wines are known for their lush texture, elegance and grace, as well as the softer tannins they offer in comparison to the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines made elsewhere in Bordeaux.