Lot 855 2020 Saint-Émilion Bordeaux

A Right Bank bottling that will leave you pondering; to cellar, or defend!?

Saint-Émilion, renowned for its incredible structures and beautiful landscapes, is globally recognized for its wine. Unlike the Left Bank wines of the Médoc, the Right Bank Saint-Émilion wines are dominated by Merlot, generally followed by Cabernet Franc, then maybe a little Cabernet Sauvignon or another permitted grape in the region as a winemaker sees fit. The cooler soils of the region make a great home for Merlot, but don’t always bring Cabernet Sauvignon to full ripeness, hence the Merlot dominated trend in the region – which makes these wine approachable much younger than the Médoc bottlings across the river, and subsequently a bit more popular in the marketplace.

Lot 855 comes to us from a long-established house in the region – the structures dating back a few centuries alone – and a winemaker with more notches in their belt than the average winemaker in the region. An extremely tight NDA restricts much of what we’d love to gush over regarding this wine, but we can tell you it’s grown in older vineyards (stateside, we’d call it “Old Vine,” “Reserve,” or something of the like), comprised of largely Merlot with a touch of Cab Franc rooted to sandy loams, and aged for 8 months before going to bottle. Extensive vine maintenance is observed including double Guyot pruning, bud maintenance, and leaf trimming. The result is a wine imbued with a fruited nose wrapped in all the earthy, leather terroir that makes for a fleshy and well-structured wine ready to nap in your cellar.

Much like its sister, Lot 854, Lot 855 is built to age, but excellent today with a very healthy decant, and getting a Bordeaux this young can only mean one thing: value alert!

Red fruits and leather open the nose on this elegantly extracted example from Bordeaux, underpinned by dried herb bouquets and blue fruit at the core. The entry is youthful and tightly wound at this stage – showing the need to decant for a good 3 hours+ before diving in, ultimately waking up a welcoming, terroir-laden palate with accents of fruit dancing around new leather over medium acidity and supple tannins. The finish is long and dry, begging for another sip, a slice of fatty ribeye, some duck confit, or all the aforementioned, because, why not?

Watch as Nicole Muscari, your Pocket Wine Advisor, walks us through a tasting and discusses this exciting French Bordeaux wine.

Wine Tasting Highlights:

00:00 Intro and Langhe
00:47 The Color
01:06 On the Nose
01:42 The Palate
02:28 Where in your cellar?

Tasting Video Transcript:

00:00:08:02 – 00:00:28:15
Nicole Muscari
Welcome to the CH Wine Tasting Room. I’m Nicole Muscari your pocket wine advisor and I am bringing you something truly exciting today. This is LOT 855. A wine from Saint-Émilion Bordeaux. Let’s get into it. So where is Saint-Émilion Bordeaux? Saint-Émilion Bordeaux is a designated area in the region of Bordeaux, located in the southwestern part of France.

00:00:28:17 – 00:00:48:09
Bordeaux is really divided into three areas. You have the left bank, the ultra, the in the middle, and then the right bank, which is where some 2 million lies. The real big difference is in the soil. The left bank has these gravelly soils more better suited to Cabernet Sauvignon, but the right bank has more clay, heavy soils better suited to merlo and Cabernet Franc.

00:00:48:10 – 00:01:06:12
Why is that? Well, Merlot can handle the water stored in those clay soils, so it can really take in that water to make those berries nice and big. Which is really a trait of Merlot. Now, don’t let Merlo scare you. I know the movie Sideways threw us all off a little bit, but this is the home of Merlo and really thrives.

00:01:06:12 – 00:01:27:13
And this is probably the most, if not my favorite expression of Merlot here. So we are blending it with a little bit of Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is going to add some structure, a little bit of spice and acidity. So I can’t wait to get into it. But first, let’s take a look at the color. So looking at this wine, it’s a nice rich, deep ruby color, really beautiful.

00:01:27:18 – 00:01:52:20
The rim goes a little bit brick, but definitely not showing any aging quite yet on the nose. Oh, that is delicious. Now, what’s so exciting about this is I can just tell the quality of the wine just by smelling it. And what’s super exciting is that wines from this region usually are going for 2 to 3 times more the price than this wine here.

00:01:52:20 – 00:02:27:06
So the value here is unmatched. Let’s get to the nose. Bright red, juicy plums. It’s not overripe. It’s definitely more juicy. A little bit of raspberry and sweet spice, maybe some cigar box and tobacco. I’m getting some capsicum or green pepper just a little bit from that cabernet franc and maybe some dried herbs as well, like dried sage or dried thyme.

00:02:27:08 – 00:02:56:17
Wow. That is fresh. That is lively. Sometimes we think of Merlo and we think of, you know, full, full bodied wines with a lot of alcohol. A little bit too plush, a little bit too lush. But not this wine. This wine is perfectly well balanced between that great mid palate texture that is a little bit softer. But that cabernet franc is really going to just make everything super lively, lift that fruit, add this spice, add that acidity, and it’s just so delicious.

00:02:56:18 – 00:03:19:08
So where does this fit in your cellar? Bordeaux is typically known to last a very, very long time. The structure of these wines are solid. I always tell people structure of a wine is like structure of a house. You need a great foundation so the house can last a long time. And this has that foundation. It has the fruit concentration, the acidity and the tannin to really go the long haul.

00:03:19:10 – 00:03:39:22
I would recommend buying a few cases if you like fruit-forward wines, drink it. Now it’s fall 2023. This is a 2020 red, if you like that fruit forwardness drink it now. But if you like to see those tertiary notes develop over time, get a few cases and open them as you go. If I were you, I would pair this with a big chateaubriand.

00:03:40:03 – 00:03:47:12
Share it with your loved ones. Special holidays and special occasions. You really can’t go wrong. From my glass to yours. Cheers.