92-94/100 Andrew Caillard MW. Deep colour. Perfumed roses/ red plum/ praline aromas. Well concentrated red plum/ roses/ vanilla flavours and loose-knit chalky tannins. Finishes slinky dry with lovely tannin plume.
88-90/100 Robert Parker Jr. This dark ruby-colored, mineral-laced, elegant, medium-bodied 2011 Belair-Monange offers distinctive aromas of licorice and crushed chalk. Under the administration of Christian Moueix’s son, Edouard, it continues to possess a classic, mid-weight, fresh, vibrant style. This tends to be one of the more intellectual wines of Bordeaux, but the Moueixs are building more flesh, texture and character into it. The 2011 should drink well for 10-15 years.
17/20 James Lawler MW, Decanter. Deep colour. A little more depth and complexity than stablemate Magdelaine. Attractive fruit, with refined texture and tannins. Balanced. Progress again underlined. Drink 2018-2030.
16.5/20 Julia Harding MW, Jancis Robinson. Vineyard encépagement: 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. Deep cherry red. Chocolate sweetness at first on the nose but there's sweet and fresh red fruit underneath. A little bit leafy on the palate, tannins very gentle. Not a great deal of depth but there's a soft richness to the tannins.
92-95/100 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator. Exhibits flavors of cassis, plum preserves and cherry pit, with spice notes that are focused and well-integrated. Underneath runs a beautiful chalky streak that lends a pleasant bitterness and extra length. A wine poised for some cellaring. Tasted non-blind.
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.
Chateau Belair-MonangePreviously known as Chateau Belair, the name was changed to Belair-Monange upon its full purchase by the Moueix family in 2008. The 12 ha vineyard is planted predominately to Merlot with some Cabernet Franc growing on limestone and clay soils. A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, the wine is fermented in stainless steel and lined concrete tanks prior to undergoing maturation in a mix of new and seasoned barriques for 18 months. A philosophy encompassing reduced yields, later harvesting and meticulous fruit selection have resulted in a richer more generous, concentrated style since 2008.