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Château La Grave Figeac

Château La Grave Figeac Saint-Émilion 2015

Bordeaux Collection by Philglas & Swiggot

  • Size: 750ml
  • Vintage: 2012
  • ABV: 12,5%
  • Origin: St-Emilion/Bordeaux/France
  • Grapes: 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc

Description

Château La Grave Figeac is a 6.5ha St-Emilion Grand Cru domaine located on the Figeac plateau in the north west of the appellation, right on the border with Pomerol. Surrounded on all sides by Cheval Blanc, Figeac and La Conseillante, the vineyards are extraordinarily well placed.

This sector of St-Emilion is very different from the rest of the appellation; its free-draining siliceous-clay gravelly soils are a direct continuation of the Pomerol plateau, and particularly well-suited to cabernet franc which accounts for 35% of all plantings at La Grave Figeac, and brings a degree of finesse and restraint seldom seen in St-Emilion. There is also a little ‘crasse de fer’ (iron oxide) in the soil, mostly found in Pomerol, bringing an irony element to the wine, mingled with the flavour of truffles that mark the unique identity of La Grave Figeac.

Now in the hands of Laurent Clauzel, the estate was bought by his father. An insurer by trade, Jean-Pierre Clauzel’s family used to own some of the best domaines in the area - including L’Évangile and Château Nénin in Pomerol - and he spent much of his free time helping out in the vineyards and the cellar. Saddened by the death of his uncle and the subsequent sale of L’Évangile, he bought La Grave Figeac in 1993 because he could clearly see its potential and it was also very close to the family’s other properties.

Laurent joined his father after completing his studies in 1996 and implemented a few changes right away, banning the use of herbicides and pesticides, and introducing ploughing. Laurent’s wife Caroline, whom he met on the classroom benches, became a full member of the team in 2005.

In order to extract as much potential of the spectacular terroir he is lucky to work with, Laurent decided to go a step further and switch to organic farming in the mid-2000s, obtaining certification for the 2012 vintage. The vines are about 45yo on average - this includes 1 ha of cabernet franc over 100yo - and yields are kept very low for the appellation (about 35hh on average) for a true expression of the Figeac terroir.

His approach in the cellar is gentle and carefully measured, sulphur is only added after the malos, he carries out a sensitive élevage (part-ageing in cement), and the wines are aged in bottle until they start to open up.

From the 2015 vintage they have added to their range an excellent St-Emilion Grand Cru called L’Essai. A rugby fanatic, the label in part attests to Laurent’s passion for the sport, but it is also the first ever wine that Laurent has made without sulphur. He opted to age the wine in cement rather than barrel, it is pure and balanced with the low alcohol typical of La Grave Figeac.

Laurent and Caroline’s wines are an absolute joy to drink, showing more class and finesse than many Grand Cru Classés. Their daring attitude in an appellation so avert to risk-taking and experimentation is a breath of fresh air.

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