I’m at Chateau Jean Faure in St. Emilion. I feel like I’m home. The sunny disposition, soil, and general feeling of this place seem familiar and magical.
The chateau’s historic roots, its reference terroir, and a passionate owner: Olivier Decelle make it very special. Monsieur Decelle explains: “This is a historic terroir. There are two main parts to the terroir of Saint Emilion, limestone and clay. Here we are in the clay and iron dross part, and in fact it is more Pomerol, the plot touches Château l’Evangile in Pomerol, it neighbours Cheval Blanc, and this section over here is close to Petrus and Château Figeac, which is 50 % Cabernet Franc. This gives a lot of tension and structure to the wines. They may be difficult to understand when you first taste them, but they’ve received exceptional care and have a personality that delights me.”
We had a chance to get a tour of the wine cellars, vineyards, and the section of the chateau where you can stay.
Chateau Jean Faure is an 18 hectare estate in St. Emilion. They have old vines that are 40 years old. Vinification is in 80 hectoliter concrete vats that are shaped slightly differently than you find in many St. Emilion cellars. The vats are wider, similar to those in Burgundy.
Stephane Derenoncourt is consulting winemaker. The estate has one of the largest concentrations of Cabernet Franc and Malbec planted in the entire Bordeaux appellation. Production is close to 8,000 cases per year.
Grapes are carefully placed in small temperature-controlled vats without being crushed. Fermentation occurs with indigenous yeasts. The cap is punched four times per day with a minimum of pump overs. Maceration is about 21 days. Maturation is for 18 months in French Oak Barrels. The final blend is a combination of 50% new oak (with malolactic fermentation in barrels) and 50% in concrete vats.
The estate offers a single wine.
2010 Château Jean-Faure St. Émilion Grand Cru
The wine is a blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot and 6% Malbec. Deep garnet colour and a subtle nose of black raspberries, licorice and dusty earthy scents. The palate is elegant and fresh with a long finish. This is a balanced, complex, sweet, full bodied St. Emilion. And it was a grand year for Cabernet Franc in St. Emilion.
A rustic elegance dominates. The building was gutted and refurbished in 2006, with ample original beams and stone blocks. This is a beautiful place to stay; just a short drive or an easy walk into the historic and ridiculously gorgeous village of St. Emilion.