Château Trotte Vielle 1er grand cru classe (B), St-Emilion
The name literally translates to ‘trotting old lady’ and origin of this name somewhat contested. Some say it is a reference to an 18th-century lady who ‘trotted’ about the village in search of gossip while the winery says they can produce written evidence of the name some few hundred years before that. We can concern ourselves less with the origins of the name and more on what to expect from the wine.
The Left Bank winery has been owned by the négociant house Borie-Manoux (who also own Château Batailley in Pauillac and Château Beau Site in St-Estèphe) since 1949. Located east of St-Émilion, the walled vineyard is planted to (almost) half and half 95% Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with the former slight edging in the number of vines. The balance of the vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Form the 10-hectare walled vineyard, the grapes are harvested by hand, fermented in concrete vats before the wine is wine is matured in majority new oak, French of course.
Subtle and complex aromas of dried flowers, berries, blackberries and black olives. Minerals, limestone and rust to boot. Full-bodied, layered and tannic, yet the phenolic structure is all about strength with finesse. It lasts a very long time. The new classic from here... 1961 all over? Try in 2024 and behold.
99 points, jamessuckling.com (2/2018).
This is phenomenal. Greatest wine from here. Such class and power. It starts off slowly and then goes on for minutes. Full body. Yet racy. The new 1961 Trotte.
98-99 points, jamessuckling.com (3/2016).
The 2015 Trottevieille is blend of 49% Merlot, 49% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 28 September and 9 October, matured in 100% new oak. It has a very intense bouquet, tightly wound with red and black fruit, hints of truffle coming through with aeration and then it appears to calm down and achieve a wonderful level of definition. The palate is medium-bodied with superb clarity. It feels supple in the mouth, extremely pure and soaking up the new oak with ease. It has a lively orange sorbet and red fruit-driven finish that is silky-smooth in texture, thanks to the fineness of the tannin... revel in this ascendant Saint Emilion for the next three or four decades. Drink 2022-2050.
94-96 points, Wine Advocate (4/2016).
The 2015 Trottevieille has a crisp blackberry and raspberry-scented nose laced with pencil shavings and sous bois. I love the definition and brightness here. The palate is medium-bodied with a structured, chalky-textured opening. There is superb tension here, very focused with a complex and mineral-driven finish that is top drawer. This is an outstanding Trottevieille from Philippe and Frédéric Castèja that I bet will be underestimated by many. Not by me. Anticipated maturity: 2021-2050.
95 points (3/2018).
Deepish crimson. Lifted dark-red fruit, the Cabernet Franc adding its lovely scent, then more austere on the palate than I expected, though only relative to the vintage. Chocolatey tannins in both flavour and texture. Drink 2024-2036.
16.5/20 points, jancisrobinson.com
Deep colour. Inky aniseed, violet aromas with praline, cedar notes. Richly flavoured wine with deep set praline, dark plum fruits, fine chocolatey, al dente textures and excellent mineral length. Quite muscular and tight but will unravel with time. One for the long haul.
97 points, Andrew Caillard MW, Langton's.
This estate always produces serious wines, but with this vintage it has added a layer of sumptuous fruit that enhances the complex, dark profile. A strong texture and concentrated tannins are balanced by the juicy blackcurrant flavours and powerful aftertaste. Drink from 2026.
96 points, Roger Voss.
Notes of black raspberries, framboise, vanilla and lots of toasty oak emerge from the 2015 Château TrotteVieille, and it stays fresh and lively on the palate, with charming, sweet fruit, light tannin, and a good finish. Give it a few years to integrate its oak and enjoy over the following decade or more.
92+ points, jebdunnuck.com
Aromatically fresh and fragrant. Pure and concentrated with a depth of dark, brambly fruit. Tannic power but the tannins are round and defined. Impressive length and freshness. 100% new oak is completely absorbed. Harmonious; one of the best ever from this estate.
95 points, James Lawther MW.
Firm, toasty nose, very ripe but robust. The attack is splendid, with the Cabernet Franc contributing freshness and vigour to the palate, which is very concentrated but not overbearing. There’s fine tannic backbone and structure, and a long, spicy finish. This is classic St-Emilion, less flashy than some, with the new oak perfectly integrated.
94 points, Stephen Brook (11/2017).
At the riper end of the spectrum, it must be said (the Merlots came in at 15%, apparently) but the high percentage of Cabernet Franc gives the wine balanced, freshness and zip. Leafy, complex and built to last, this is a very impressive Trottevielle. Drink 2022-35.
94 points, timatkin.com (4/2016).
Solidly built, if a bit stolid, offering notes of singed juniper, cedar and tobacco and flavours of dried redcurrant, bitter plum and blood orange coulis. Best from 2023 through 2038.
93 points, James Molesworth (1/2018).
Licorice, sweet cherries, flowers and bitter chocolate open the nose. On the palate, this wine is plush, polished and fruity with freshness and character. The wine was produced from a blend of 49% Merlot, 49% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. If this puts on a bit more weight during the aging process, it could easily merit a higher score.
92 points, Wine Cellar Insider (8/2016).
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.