Chateau Figeac Premier Grand Cru Classe (B) Saint-Emilion 1993
Figeac is a very ancient property. In the 2nd century, the Figeacus family gave its name to the estate. Traces of this Gallo-Roman villa still exist today. In the 15th century, FIGEAC was one of five noble houses in Saint-Emilion and passed from the Lescours family, who at that time also owned Ausone, into the hands of the Cazes family, who transmitted it through marriage to the Carles in the 17th century. After the Manoncourt family acquired the property in 1892, FIGEAC was mainly managed by agricultural engineers. However, in 1943, the year in which Thierry Manoncourt made his first vintage, a period of resurgencebegan for Figeac. Thierry Manoncourt realised in that year the huge potential of FIGEAC’s terroir and urged his mother, a Parisian, to hold on to the estate. In 1955 CHATEAU-FIGEAC became a First Great Classified Growth. Today, Madame Manoncourt and her daughters are ably supported by highly skilled wine-growing teams and are as eager as ever to guarantee the long-term continuity of FIGEAC.
Figeac is the largest estate of Saint-Emilion, covering 54 hectares (133 acres). Besides its 40 hectares (99 acres) of vines, a variety of landscapes combine to form a balance in nature, today known as biodiversity. Figeac has large areas of space which add to the majesty of the place and allow the flora and fauna to flourish. Figeac has an outstanding terroir consisting of three gravelly rises. In keeping with the nature of this soil, Figeac is the Right Bank estate with the highest percentage of Cabernet. This atypical combination accounts for wines that are elegant, long-lived and extremely well-reputed.
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, Ausone, Angélus, Pavie) and 14 are Premier Grand Cru Classés B. Much of the rest of the vineyards 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.
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 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.
Tasting Notes for Bordeaux Blends
Bordeaux Blends are dry, red wines and generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, black cherry plum, graphite, cedar and violet. 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.
Perfect Food Pairings for Bordeaux Blends
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 Secrets for Bordeaux Blends
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.