Château d'Issan 2014
• Domaine: Château d'Issan
• Appellation: Margaux
• Classification: Third Growth, 3ème Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
The historic grounds of Château d’Issan are unquestionably some of the most resplendent and breathtaking in the Médoc. With its gothic towers and moats, visiting Château d’Issan is a bit like traveling back in time. Château d’Issan is one of the oldest châteaux in Bordeaux, and its history is as rich and powerful as its wines. Though the wines were forgettable in the 1980s, they have skyrocketed in terms of quality in recent years. Robert Parker Jr, the famed wine critic has stated when Château d’Issan produces good vintages, their wines are undoubtedly some of the greatest in all of Bordeaux. It is no surprise that the motto of this estate engraved above the château door is, "Regum Mensis Aris Que Deorum“ which means - "for the tables of kings and altars of the gods.”
Records of Château d’Issan date as far back to 1152, when the wine was served at the wedding of Elenore of Aquitaine to King Henry II. At the time, the estate was known as Château Lamothe Cantenac. Starting in the year 1575, Château d’Issan was acquired by the Essenault family who named it Château d’Issan – a contraction of their surname. Stories of Château d’Issan and its legendary wines were told around the world and eventually Thomas Jefferson toured the estate and sang its praises during his trip to Bordeaux. The Château was ranked as a Third Growth during Napoleon’s 1855 Classification, and a little over ten years later it was acquired by Gustave Roy. Gustave Roy had the first gravity fed cellars built and began the tremendous undertaking of replanting the vineyards that had been ravaged by phylloxera. Eventually the estate was taken over by the Cruse family, who still supervise the Château d’Issan today.
When Emmanuel Issan took over the estate in the 1990s, the quality of these wines began to gradually improve. The estate introduced a Second Wine called Blason d’Issan in 1995, to improve the quality of the grand vin. The alluvial and gravel soils in the vineyards are planted with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. Weather is fairly mild here, due to the moderating influence of the Gironde Estuary, and this serves to the vines’ advantage. The 1999 and 2000 vintages were astounding. The vineyard is 59 hectares total – with 44 hectares in the Margaux appellation, 5 hectares in Haut Médoc and 10 hectares that are considered Bordeaux Supérieur. The grapes are harvested by hand every autumn by acquaintances, neighbors, family and friends. Château d’Issan also has a partnership with a school in Denmark, where several students come to work the harvest. The grapes are then sorted onto a vibrating table and then off they go into their gravity fed wine making facilities.
There is a specific freshness that is associated with the wines of Château d’Issan and the gorgeous, femininely floral traits synonymous with a Margaux. Their wines are elegant, and a bit more restrained with medium body and not too heavy tannins. Many critics often laud the wines of Château d’Issan for delivering great quality for value.
"The 2014 D'Issan has a crisp, pure bouquet, quite tight and reticent like the 2014 Marquis d'Alesme Becker, eventually offering blackberry, soy and cedar scents, almost Saint Julien in style. The palate is medium-bodied with a touch of herbaceousness on the entry, but there is plenty of fruit behind it. I like the classic style of this d'Issan, the pepperiness of the Cabernet driving the structured and quite masculine (for Margaux) finish. This is beginning to show the class that I thought it would and it may merit a higher score in the future." - Neal Martin, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (3/31/2017, Interim Issue), Rating: 91+, Drink: 2020-2040
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