Chateau Les Gravieres 2020
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• Domaine: Château Les Gravières
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Grand Cru
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
Château Les Gravières is a wonderful sleeper hit of a Right Bank producer. This Saint-Émilion Grand Cru started picking up steam after an impressive 2018 vintage, causing critics around the world to take notice. For oenophiles who love to discover new properties off the beaten path, Château Les Gravières is the perfect choice that overdelivers in terms of quality and value. This wine is still a bit obscure and that very much serves to a buyer’s advantage in terms of price. Given the mounting press and influx of positive reception, it’s very clear that Château Les Gravières is making its mark as a force to be reckoned with on the Right Bank.
Château Les Gravières is a family run estate, and it has always been that way for this diminutively sized vineyard. Château Les Gravières originated with the Barraud family in the 19th Century and has been in the possession of the Barraud dynasty in its entirety. Generations of Barrauds have been tending to the 4.5-hectare estate that sits in the small hamlet of Génnisac and are intimately acquainted with the vineyard’s unique qualities. All operations in the vineyard are currently supervised by the talented vigneron Denis Barraud, who is responsible for the property’s recent success in terms of skyrocketing quality. Denis is no stranger to crafting excellent wines, for he is also associated with another insider’s wine, Lynsolence.
The terroir at Château Les Gravières is a combination of sandy gravel, with the signature Saint-Émilion limestone intermingled underneath. This limestone is combined with chalk which captures a distinctively fresh and high-key mineral driven tone to the wines from this estate. The vines are 38-45 years old on average and exclusively Merlot, which is the star varietal in the Right Bank. In the vineyard, Denis uses organic fertilizers and materials to help the grapes reach optimum ripeness. He also practices green harvesting by hand, which is the practice of removing extra grape bunches from a vine to balance the leaf and fruit weight. When a vigneron green harvests, this helps them achieve greater ripeness and more concentrated fruit flavors.
At Château Les Gravières, lowering yields is another key component to the viticultural philosophy. With these lower yields and riper fruit, the wine possesses an unparalleled lusciousness. Critics have described the grand vin from Château Les Graviéres as a fruity, hedonistic dream with beguiling concentration yet soft and supple tannins. The wine is complex, layered and dense and Denis vinifies his wines for as long as possible, with extended maceration periods and extended lees contact so they show their unique characteristics. Château Les Gravières demonstrates its furthest potential after a couple of years in bottle. It is a highly versatile and food friendly wine, playing beautifully with both heartier and lighter fare. The wine of Château Les Gravières also has a supple, spicy quality that pairs beautifully with Asian and Indian cuisine. Without a doubt, Château Les Gravières is a fabulous, affordable option for any savvy connoisseur -- a true hidden gem.
"Made from 100% Merlot, the 2020 Les Gravieres has a deep purple-black color, rolling out of the glass with ready-for-business scents of plum preserves, baked black cherries and blueberry pie, plus hints of violets, clove oil and camphor, with a waft of tree bark. The medium to full-bodied palate delivers velvety tannins and a lively backbone to support the generous black and blue fruits, finishing long and spicy." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (5/20/2020), Rating: 93-95, Drink: 2025-2045
"Emerging from under the Denis Barraud umbrella, the 2020 Château Les Gravières checks in as 100% Merlot that’s still resting in 70% new French oak. It offers wonderful purity of fruit as well as classy oak, notes of violets and licorice, medium to full-bodied richness, and both richness and freshness. It’s certainly in the same ballpark as the 2018 and 2019 and is a terrific bottle of wine in the making. Tasted twice with consistent results." Jeb Dunnuck, Bordeaux 2020: En Primeur (05/20/2021) Rating: 91-93
"The 2020 Les Gravières is a powerful, bold Saint-Émilion loaded with intense mineral and savory notes that play off a core of inky dark fruit. Blueberry jam, gravel, smoke, lavender, licorice and cloves add gravitas. Les Gravières is another impressive wine in the trio of 2020s I tasted from proprietor Denis Barraud. I very much like the vibrancy and tension here. Tasted two times." Antonio Galloni, Vinous (June, 2021) Rating: 92-94
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