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Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle 2005

Bordeaux Red Blends from St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
  • CG90
14.5% ABV
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3.7 2 Ratings
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3.7 2 Ratings
14.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The wine is fermented the traditional way and aged in oak barrels, half of which are new each year. Balestard la Tonnelle is a full-bodied and exquisitely elegant wine, one of the finest grands crus in Saint-Émilion.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
CG 90
Connoisseurs' Guide
Big, ripe and rich in a way the reflects both the vintage and the new Bordeaux model, this bottling begins with a classic St. Emilion nose of ripe cherries, tobacco and roasted herbs and follows with like-minded flavors that show plenty of ripeness and extract. Supple in front and fairly tannic in back, it extends very well at finish...
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Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle

Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle

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Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle, St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
This magnificent estate of 10.6 hectares, ideally located on the edge of the village of Saint-Emilion, derives its name from a clergyman, Canon Balestard. The "Tonnelle" that stands in the heart of the vineyard was formerly an observation tower during the 15th century and has since become the symbol of this property.

François Villon mentions the wine of Balestard in his famous poem, written too in the 15th century, and as a testimonial of this historical acclaim the verse still appears on our labels.

Generous, exquisitely delicate, Balestard la Tonnelle is one of Saint-Emilion's finest Great Classified Growths.

St. Emilion

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Marked by its historic fortified village—perhaps the prettiest in all of Bordeaux, the St-Émilion appellation, along with its neighboring village of Pomerol, are leaders in quality on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. These Merlot-dominant red wines (complemented by various amounts of Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon) remain some of the most admired and collected wines of the world.

St-Émilion has the longest history in wine production in Bordeaux—longer than the Left Bank—dating back to an 8th century monk named Saint Émilion who became a hermit in one of the many limestone caves scattered throughout the area.

Today St-Émilion is made up of hundreds of independent farmers dedicated to the same thing: growing Merlot and Cabernet Franc (and tiny amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon). While always roughly the same blend, the wines of St-Émilion vary considerably depending on the soil upon which they are grown—and the soils do vary considerably throughout the region.

The chateaux with the highest classification (Premier Grand Cru Classés) are on gravel-rich soils or steep, clay-limestone hillsides. There are only four given the highest rank, called Premier Grand Cru Classés A (Chateau Cheval Blanc, Figeac, Angélus, Pavie) and 14 are Premier Grand Cru Classés B. Much of the rest of the vienyards in the appellation are on flatter land where the soils are a mix of gravel, sand and alluvial matter.

Great wines from St-Émilion will be deep in color, and might have characteristics of blackberry liqueur, black raspberry, licorice, chocolate, grilled meat, earth or truffles. They will be bold, layered and lush.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

VCJBWPII_1098_05_2005 Item# 102711