Chateau Rochebelle 2020, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
• Domaine: Château Rochebelle
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
A mere stone’s throw away from prestigious properties like Château Troplong Mondot and Tertre Roteboeuf rests the Saint-Émilion sleeper hit of a property, Château Rochebelle. In addition to producing extraordinary wines, this fascinating property has a series of stunning underground limestone caves and quarries that are well worth the visit. The geographical features of this property are so unique to the estate that the name, Château Rochebelle translates to, “beautiful stones,” which refer to the rocks pulled from the underground quarries in the 1700s at this estate. This Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé estate produces a versatile wine with plenty of soul that can be enjoyed in its youth and cellared for years to come.
The property has been owned and managed by the Faniest family since 1847. The estate was built the same year Thomas Edison was born. The Faniest family draws many parallels between the lifespan of this estate to this famous inventor. In their minds, Château Rochebelle radiates its own unique light, crafting luminous wines that captivate throughout the ages. The initial rows of vines belonged to Martial Musquin, who worked as a quarryman. After he passed on, the property was inherited by his granddaughter, Marie Marty. Marie was a widow who singlehandedly cultivated the vineyard and built the brand for Château Rochebelle. The most recent generations of the Faniest family are very committed to elevating the quality of the estate and keeping its 170 year legacy alive. In 2012, Château Rochebelle was given the honor of receiving the Grand Cru Classés status in Saint-Émilion, further cementing the excellence of this estate’s sterling reputation.
Château Rochebelle is a small 3-hectare property that is planted with 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. There are some old vines on the grounds, coming in at about 45 years on average. Château Rochebelle has extraordinary terroir that sits on a plateau of clay and limestone. Elevation is a bit higher here, coming in at 85-94 meters above river level on a gently sloping hill that allows water to trickle down and get absorbed in the heavily porous limestone rocks. In dry weather, the vines can draw water from the limestone rocks, so they remain healthy and never deprived of nutrients. This special terroir is perfect for water drainage and ensures that the vines are naturally irrigated.
The vines are harvested and then vinified in traditional, temperature controlled square concrete vats and then aged in French oak barrels for between 15 to 18 months. The talented Michel Rolland consults at Château Rochebelle and helps the Faniest family make important decisions depending on the vintage. The grand vin of Château Rochebelle shows its best after 3-4 years of bottle age, but that depends on the character of the vintage. It is generally recommended that one enjoy this elegant and luminous wine between the first 3 to 12 years of its life in bottle. Château Rochebelle produces a wine that is tremendously versatile, with aromas of black truffle, fallen leaves, and a subtle freshness.
"Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2020 Rochebelle is a little youthfully coy to begin, with subtle kirsch and black raspberry scents giving way to a core of baked black plums and boysenberries with wafts of fallen leaves, red roses and black truffles. The medium to full-bodied palate (14.5% alcohol) delivers bright, crunchy black and red berry flavors, framed by finely grained tannins and a racy backbone, finishing long and perfumed. Very pretty wine!" - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (5/20/2021), Rating: 90-92, Drink: 2024-2036
"The 2020 Château Rochebelle should be another outstanding wine from this estate, which has just recently brought on the talented Thomas Duclos as a consultant. One of those fresh, vibrant, yet also beautifully concentrated 2020s, it has a great nose of mulberries, black cherries, tobacco, sous bois, and damp earth. These all carry to a medium to full-bodied, pure, precise, lengthy Saint-Emilion with plenty of tannins as well as flawless integration in its fruit and acidity. This is an up-and-coming estate readers should put on their radar!" Jeb Dunnuck, Bordeaux 2020 En Primeur: Part 1, (05/23/2021) Rating: 93-95+
"Full of the sappy delicious understated juice that is so classic of this property. A recent vertical made me realise just how much understated value there is to be had here, and I strongly recommend it. The berry fruits are unfussy and juicy, delivering a ton of wet stone scraping minerality. A yield of 41hl/ha." Jane Anson, Decanter, Bordeaux En Primeur Week (04/30/2021) Rating: 93