Sourcing 'Classed Growth' claret for current drinking tends to involve shopping around and spending more time than seems justifiable on price comparison websites. We were therefore delighted to secure a parcel from Château Gombaud-Guillot in Pomerol last year and to offer the eminently approachable 2012 vintage for the first time in this list. This 8 hectare estate has been farmed organically since 2000 and boasts Château Trotanoy as a neighbour in the heart of the Pomerol plateau. Made from a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc it should be decanted at least an hour before drinking and will cellar well for a decade. James Molesworth contributed the following tasting note to the Wine Spectator: "Very solid, featuring a strong graphite note in the middle, while crushed plum, blueberry and blackberry fruit fill in the edges. A roasted alder element holds the finish, balanced by a loamy echo that lends a grippy feel. Should round into form with modest cellaring."
Another new acquisition is an unimpeachable Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux from Château La Brande in the celebrated 2016 vintage. It is made from a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and a dash of Petit Verdot grown on clay and limestone soils and raised in vat and traditional Bordeaux barrels. With a brambly bouquet and mid-weight black fruit palate supported by fine-grained tannins, it is already drinking well and will readily support a further 3-5 years bottle age. It is hard to believe that nine years have elapsed since we first shipped our popular 'house' claret from Château d'Abzac back in 2011. This pure Merlot, redolent of ripe red fruit with gentle hints of graphite and sandalwood and a couch of soft tannins has since gained a loyal following. It is not a wine that requires a fuss or decanting but every bottle is as enjoyable as the last. In 2014 Château d'Abzac's proprietor Baron D'Anglade purchased a 1.5 hectare parcel of vines in Lussac Saint-Émilion from which he makes his Château Milonblanc. Hailing from a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvingon that is racked and raised in French oak barrels it has an autumnal fruit bouquet and a core of dark cassis fruit supported by ripe tannins and a fresh acidity. It has more grip and ageing potential than the 'Abzac' and is well suited to roast meat or wild mushroom dishes.
We were pleased procure a substantial stash of 'Fifth Growth' Haut-Médoc from Château Cantemerle in the already accessible 2012 vintage. Made from a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, it has a wealth of sleek blueberry and dark cherry fruit over a background of silky tannins. No lesser critic than Robert Parker observed that: ...Cantemerle's ethereal elegance and racy, classy style are unmistakable in this understated yet pretty, dark ruby-colored 2012."