Château Fleur Cardinale 2018
• Domaine: Château Fleur Cardinale
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Château Fleur Cardinale is a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé that has been on the rise since the mid 2000s. The property was purchased in May 2001 by Dominique and Florence Decoster to fulfil their dream of becoming vignerons. The former business owners who made a name for themselves in the porcelain industry were strangers to the Bordeaux wine scene, but that wasn’t going to deter them from making the best wine possible. For the Decoster family, owning a property like Château Fleur Cardinale is a serious commitment that they devote themselves to in its entirety. The results speak for themselves, and the wine of this estate is dynamic, expressive and richly concentrated.
Château Fleur Cardinale has a history spanning a couple centuries. The first records of the property date back to 1819, when there were vineyard plots and buildings in a place called Thibeaud, where the current winery exists. Clearly, the enormous potential of the terroir at Château Fleur Cardinale impressed multiple vignerons. The estate began to produce wine in the 1920s and 1930s under the name of Clos Bel-Air and was owned by the Obessier family. The property’s current name stems from the names of the two beloved racehorses, “Fleur,” and “Cardinale,” that were purchased by the Obessier family in 1975. After the horses died, they gave the estate their names to honor their memory. Once the Decoster family got involved with Château Fleur Cardinale, serious changes were made. They made the intelligent decision to hire their neighbor and legendary vigneron Jean Luc Thunevin of Château Valandraud to be their consultant. Just five years after they purchased the estate, it received the high honor of being classified as a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé in 2006.
Château Fleur Cardinale has the gift of some special terroir. The property rests on a clay and limestone plateau, bordering Château Valandraud, a Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Crus Classé B estate. Château Fleur Cardinale grows Cabernet Sauvignon in addition to the more traditional Right Bank varietals, like Cabernet Franc and Merlot. In the vineyard, Château Fleur Cardinale uses no chemical weedkillers or insecticides. They use cover crops to reduce erosion and use natural fertilizers. Château Fleur Cardinale values sustainability and as of 2021 has made a commitment to convert to organic viticulture. The vines are all harvested and sorted by hand prior to being vinified in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. They are aged mostly in New French Oak barrels, and as of 2020 some percentages of Merlot and Cabernet Franc are aged in amphorae to preserve a mineral driven freshness.
Château Fleur Cardinale is also a property that takes care of its team and the environment as well. The property has a High Environmental Value Certification because of their commitment to prioritizing biodiversity. But the commitment to ethics is not just in the vineyard. Château Fleur Cardinale values its team by prioritizing good working conditions for its employees, which is always a bonus. Without a doubt, this producer is a rising star in Saint-Émilion.
"The 2018 Fleur Cardinale is gorgeous. Supple, racy and wonderfully persistent, the 2018 is shaping up to be a jewel of a wine. Blackberry jam, cloves, chocolate, new leather, licorice and sweet spice all build in a sumptuous, voluptuous Saint-Émilion loaded with class and potential. The question now is really how the 2018 will develop in élevage. Past vintages have been impressive en primeur but then suffered from too much oak during aging. Hopefully that won't be the case here, as the 2018 is really terrific. In the early going, the 2018 does feel a bit less extracted than in the past, and that is certainly a positive development. The blend is 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon." - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, (April, 2020), Rating: 91-94
"Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Fleur Cardinale features pronounced baked blueberries, stewed black plums and blackberry preserves scents with touches of bay leaves, moss-covered bark and forest floor. Full-bodied and laden with black fruit preserves sparked by earth and dried herbs, it has a solid backbone of ripe, rounded tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long. Barrel aging is expected to be for 12-14 months in 100% new oak barrels. The tentative blend is 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (4/23/2019, Bordeaux 2018 Issue), Rating: 91-93
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