With new Bordeaux from the Union de Producteurs de St. Émilion, this is one of the best cooperatives I have ever seen. It has the highest rating for cleanliness and some of the most modern equipment in France. These are their certifications:
ISO 9001 version 2000, AgriConfiance, IFS (International Food Standard) and BRC (British Retail Consortium). More recently, in 2011, the cellar was a precursor in integrating an EMS (Environmental Management System) association in Bordeaux that was certified for the ISO 14001 standard. Finally, since July 2015, the Union de Producteurs de Saint-Émilion is certified AEO-Full by customs authorities.
The cooperative was founded in 1931 and has members in all eight of the communes that comprise the St. Émilion appellations and in the surrounding satellites. I met Sébastien Le Querec at Vin Expo and he insisted that I take part of day to visit the winery. He had me flown out in a helicopter. I was expecting a lot but was floored by the place. They had a gravity-flow vat room with stainless steel and concrete vats of various sizes built in 2003 and a laser sorting table that few of the classified growths have. The place was sparklingly clean. We created a wine soon after, Croix des Bardes, that has been a success and is in its third vintage. The wines below have just been added by ABC after an extensive tasting of wines from several suppliers.
Côtes Rocheuses 2014 – St. Émilion Grand Cru
Grown on clay and limestone soils, this is typical St. Émilion. The grapes are 83% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc averaging 50 years of age. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak. The wine opens with bright ruby color leading to spice, plum, blueberry and cedar notes on a solid structure. It’s one of the best values in a St. Émilion grand cru.
Château Labattut 2014 – Montagne St. Émilion
This small property in the satellite commune of Montagne St. Émilion between St. Émilion and Pomerol, has perfect sun exposure on a south-facing hill. The grape varieties are 63% Merlot and 37% Cabernet Sauvignon averaging 35-40 years of age. The wine shows solid structure and deep ruby color with spice and plum notes. It’s a good match for red meats.
Château Rouzerol 2014 – Castillon Côtes de Bordeau
Castillon lies just to the east of St. Émilion and shares some of the same soil types. Rouzerol is grown on clay and limestone soil and is 100% Merlot. Fermented in stainless steel, the wine has the bright plum, blueberry and spice notes of Merlot in an appealingly fresh style for immediate enjoyment.
Château St. Elme 2014 – Bordeaux Supérieur
A blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc grown on sandy soils near the eastern end of St. Émilion, the wine is stainless steel-fermented and shows the fresh blueberry, and spice notes of Merlot in an easy-to-drink style.
Vallon d’Arche 2014 – Montagne St. Émilion
Vallon d’Arche is a value composed of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It comes from sand and gravel soils and the grapes are fermented in stainless steel. It’s a solid entry wine with bright ruby color, blueberry and plum notes and a touch of spice.
Brad Lewis, Contributing Writer