Wine of the Month

Figeac 1980

Apologies for the lack of postings recently.
In the meantime, Lucy, one of my very good friends and WSET Diploma Student has kindly stepped in. Enjoy her first post below.
What a treat to be starting with a deliciously old wine! As a mere mortal, its not often I have the opportunity to sample such a prestigious claret with a touch of fine age about it, but allow me to share a little information surrounding a Saturday evening delight.

Château Figeac dates back to Gallo-Roman times when it was a much larger estate, coming close to 200 hectares in the late 18th century. Since then, it has been split and sold off until it became the modern day estate of roughly 40 hectares. This is considered the largest estate in St Emilion, situated in the north west area of the appellation. St Emilion is made up of small properties unlike the Medoc and has a distinctive encépagement, or selection of grape varieties. Cabernet Franc is given an equal footing with Merlot on the gravelly soils of St Emilion, where it is locally known as Bouchet. The appellation itself missed out on the 1855 Classification of the Wines of the Gironde but has since proved its worth as a reputable contender for the top wines of Bordeaux.

January 1947 was the beginning of Thierry Manoncourt’s reign at Chateau Figeac, during which the estate rose to its prestigious position in St Emilion with encouragement from his background in engineering and science to pioneer new vinification techniques in Bordeaux. Although his son-in-law Comte Eric d’Aramon took charge of the running of the estate in the 1980s, Thierry was actively involved in the running of the estate until his death in 2010 and had completed sixty consecutive vintages in 2007. Thierry was the first of the family line to run and own the estate since 1892, when his great-grandfather Henri de Chevremont bought Château Figeac.

Robert Parker describes Figeac as having ‘an extraordinary terroir’ and one of the ‘most elegant’ wines of the region and I am certainly inclined to agree. It is known for having a good record in the unfortunate off vintages of Bordeaux, as well as producing stunners in the very best years. The so-called off vintages are due to the region’s temperate climate, where the weather comes in from the west, otherwise known as the Atlantic sea and can be unpredictable. 1980 is not known as an outstanding vintage across the board but luckily this bottle of Chateau Figeac 1980 stood the test of time.

The wine spends 21-25 days fermenting and macerating in temperature-controlled wooden vats. It is then aged in 100% new oak barrels with only fining before bottling.

My sources include Jancis Robertson, Robert Parker and David Peppercorn.

Tasting Note Fruit DayFruit Day
At the delicate age of 31, we decided against decanting the wine and poured straight from the bottle. It was a little closed at first, displaying a few aromas of bramble fruit with a touch of tobacco. As it opened up the wine showed its true complexity. An opaque, garnet liquid with just a hint of ruby colour gave off notes of blackberry and juicy blackcurrant – an atypical style of St Emilion, specific to the proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon used in Figeac’s blends. The fruits were met on the palate with a sweetness of blueberry, smokey tobacco and leather. The super soft, velvety tannins and barely-there alcohol was balanced with good acidity and few herbal notes towards the end of the mid-palate. Despite its age Chateau Figeac 1980 had great length and strangely enough, went very well with a touch of charcuterie, houmous and bread.

April 2012

Figeac 1980
Country: France
Region: Bordeaux
Vintage: 1980
Alcohol: Not on label
Grape Variety:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Where To Buy:
The Sampler,
Tags: Wine of the Month, France, Figeac, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Bordeaux, Red Wine, Lucy Bruton