The largest estate in St Emillion, Laroque has been in the Beaumartin family since 1935, but has been completely revitalised and garnered a cult following in the last decade.
The vineyards were originally put down in the 18th Century, with the current vines planted in the 1960s. David Suire has taken in the mantle of winemaker with aplomb - his most recent releases being consistently excellent. The property also produces fruit for wines sold as Chateau Peymouton and the estate’s second wine Les Tours de Laroque.
"The 2017 Laroque is the best vintage so far at Laroque under the stewardship of David Suire. A rush of dark red cherry, blackberry, smoke, licorice, lavender and incense give the 2017 a distinctly dark, brooding personality. In 2017, Laroque is 99% Merlot and just 1% Cabernet Franc. Ample, broad and creamy, Laroque has a lot to offer. It may very well be the single most improved wine in Saint-Émilion over the last few years. The Grand Vin is a selection of the best parcels across the three terroirs – argillo/calcaire, red clay and blue clay – that run through the property."
91-94 points, Antonio Galloni
"45% of the crop, which comes mostly from limestone soils, went into this grand vin, which is composed of 99% Merlot with 1% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet-purple, the 2017 Laroque simply sings of crushed blueberries, black cherries and black raspberries with touches of lilacs, Indian spices, unsmoked cigars, iron ore and espresso. Medium to full-bodied with wonderful concentration, firm, very finely pixelated tannins and superb freshness lifting the densely packed fruit, it has very long mineral-laced finish.
One of Saint-Émilion’s largest estates, located in the beautiful commune/town of Saint-Christophe-des-Bardes, Château Laroque was founded as far back as the 12th century. So, it’s not exactly a new estate, although quality has been malingering somewhat into the 21st Century. In 2015, David Suire—winemaker at Beauséjour Duffau and Larcis Ducasse—was brought on board to breathe new life into the old place. Situated on the limestone plateau, not far from Pavie Macquin, the 61-hectare vineyard received only minimal damage to a few vines in 2017. If its performance this year is anything to go on, this is most certainly a property to watch!"
93-95+ points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
"The 2017 Laroque has a nicely defined bouquet with scents of blackberry and cranberry, lilting in style, nothing pretentious but gaining clarity in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with light tannin compared to the 2016 last year. But this feels balanced with a smooth texture, moderate in terms of depth with a slightly saline finish."
88-90 points, Neal Martin
"A tight and focused red with blueberry, stone and blackberry character. Medium body, lovely energy and fine tannins. Ends ever so precisely on the palate. 99% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc."
91-92 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.