Château Fleur Cardinale 2019
• 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.
"This is a wine that has a broad brush of tannins that give energy and subtle texture to the palate. Beautiful blue fruit and terracotta. Really fine-grained tannins. Beautiful, sweet fruit at the finish. One of the best I have had from here. Really want to drink it. 76% merlot, 20% cabernet franc and 4% cabernet sauvignon." - James Suckling, Rating: 95-96
Winemaker's Notes: How the end-of-September rain saved the vintage
"2019 was a year of extremes. While on May 4th we lost 1.5 hectares to spring frost, a few weeks later the vines were faced with very high temperatures, followed by several weeks without a drop of rain. And yet, the vines went through the summer without the slightest concern, staying in perfect health and with impeccable mineral balances. The main explanation for this was the capacity of our clay-limestone soils to retain water and redistribute it to the vines as and when necessary. But it was also due to the fact that rainfall in July and August was in the end satisfactory, with two wet spells that brought 58mm then 28mm of rain.
By mid-September, phenolic ripeness was not quite complete, and we needed another spell of rain to finish it off. Our prayers were answered on the 22nd and 25thSeptember, and then on the 1st October, with rainfall of 32mm, 13mm and 11m respectively. These downpours succeeded in kick-starting the completion of the ripening process.
As a result of the rains, phenolic ripeness in the grapes advanced quickly in several areas of the vineyard all at the same time. The harvesting began on 2nd October and required great reactivity on our behalf to pick the grapes and get the fruit into vat at the peak of its ripeness."
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