L'If 2018

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• Domaine: L'IF
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Grand Cru
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France

L’if is yet another cult wine produced by Jaques Thienpont.  If the name rings a bell, that’s because it is associated with one of the most sought-after wines on the Right Bank – Le Pin.  The Thienponts have a profound respect for nature, especially trees, and have fittingly named all their properties after them.  Le Pin was named after the single, solitary pine tree growing in a place of prominence on the Pomerol property.  Their Castillon property L’Hêtre was named after the beech tree, and the small Saint-Émilion estate L’if takes its name from the Yew tree.  Yew trees are symbolically associated with regeneration.  It is the perfect symbol associated with the life-cycle of the vine – always changing, always growing, and getting stronger with age.

L’if is a fairly young estate and is still a considered by the Thienpont family to be a “work in progress.”  Given the high scores, it is clear the Thienponts are an exceptionally humble sort.  The estate was purchased in 2010 by Jaques Thienpont, who gave it the name L’if.  Like many of the Thienpont properties, L’if was a small plot situated on the Saint-Émilion plateau called Château Le Haut-Plantey.  It was just .5 hectares of vines.  Since then, the Thienponts have expanded the holdings of this estate steadily over time to 8 hectares.  The Thienponts are a powerful family in the Right Bank.  It is no small feat that the three properties they run – Le Pin, L’Hêtre and L’if have all achieved cult status, with Le Pin retailing for several thousands of dollars a bottle.  Fortunately, L’if and L’Hêtre both share a more accessible price tag, allowing oenophiles to discover the impressive winemaking skills of the Thienponts.  The estate is presently managed by Cyrille Thienpont – Jacques Thienpont’s cousin. 

The property is planted with 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc.  These vines thrive in the nutrient dense chalky limestone and clay soils.  The property has some excellent neighbors, like the estates Troplong Mondot and La Mondotte. When the estate was purchased in 2010, an extensive soil study was done to see which varietals and cover crops thrived in certain plots.  Cabernet Sauvignon was initially planted there, but the majority of it was removed because the soil was more compatible with Cabernet Franc.  The Thienponts are hoping to add more Cabernet Franc vines to the property in the future and steadily ramp up production at the estate.  The wine is vinified in stainless steel, and the wines are aged in 50% new French oak barrels.

L’if is an incredibly beguiling and stylish Saint-Émilion, with tremendous ageing potential.  During good vintages, the wine can age for 10 – 15 years.  Production at L’if is small, at under 1,000 cases per year, making this wine hard to find and cementing its cult status.  As the Thienponts continue to plant this fledgling vineyard, production will increase with time.  Till then, this gem of a wine is well worth the purchase – especially for those who appreciate the know-how of the Thienpont family. 

Tasting Notes

"The 2018 L'If is an exceptionally beautiful Saint-Émilion. Fragrant and light on its feet, the 2018 is all finesse. A rush of rose petal, lavender, mint, spice and blue/purplish berry fruit infuse this striking, mid-weight Saint-Émilion. This is one of the more polished, understated wines of the vintage. Silky tannins add to the wine's air of sophistication. I tasted the 2018 from six separate lots and then the final blend (two times), which once again shows how important blending is as the final wine is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Cyrille Thienpont told me the grapes did not have a lot of juice at crush, so he opted for gentler winemaking and fewer pumpovers during a cuvaison that lasted 25-28 days. The blend is 74% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc, a big increase over 2016, where the Franc was 9%." - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, (April, 2019), Ratings: 95-98

"The 2018 L'If is blended of 74% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc, to be aged 12-16 months in barriques, 50% new. The wine has a pH of 3.55 and 14.5% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it gives up a beautiful perfume of baked raspberries, mulberries and Black Forest cake with hints of fragrant soil, rose hip tea and dusty soil. Full-bodied, rich and jam-packed with generous red and black fruits framed by velvety tannins, it has wonderful savory chocolate and licorice accents and a long, spicy finish." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (4/23/2019, Bordeaux 2018 Issue), Rating: 93-95

More Information
LWIN 1191992
Stock Status Out of Stock
Appellation Saint-Emilion
Vintage 2018
Brand L'If
Shipping Weight 3.000000
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Saint-Émilion is one of the most prestigious wine appellations in the Bordeaux region of France, renowned for its exceptional red wines and rich viticultural history. Located on the Right Bank of the Dordogne River, Saint-Émilion is a place of great beauty and a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its remarkable blend of natural and cultural attributes. The Saint-Émilion appellation is characterized by a diverse terroir featuring a mix of limestone, clay, and sandy soils that provide the foundation for its distinctive wines. The unique microclimates and elevations within the appellation contribute to the variety of flavors and styles found in Saint-Émilion wines.

The primary grape varieties used in Saint-Émilion wines are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot often dominating the blends. These grapes thrive in the region's favorable climate, moderated by the proximity of the Dordogne River and the buffering effects of the limestone plateau.

Saint-Émilion is famous for its unique wine classification system, which divides the vineyards into four tiers: Premier Grand Cru Classé A, Premier Grand Cru Classé B, Grand Cru Classé, and Grand Cru. This classification reflects the quality and prestige of the individual vineyards and châteaux within the appellation, with only a select few achieving the highest ranking of Premier Grand Cru Classé A. Until the re-classification in 2022, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Ausone, Château Angelus, and Château Pavie were the only four members of the Premier Grand Cru Classé A tier. Out of disagreement with the standard-setting governing body, Cheval Blanc and Ausone voluntarily dropped out. Angelus followed suit shortly after. With Pavie remaining the only member, Premier Grand Cru Classé A saw the addition of Château Figeac following a long-expected and well-deserved promotion.

Saint-Émilion wines are known for their finesse, complex aromas, and beautiful balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity. While they share some similarities with wines from the neighboring Pomerol appellation, they often have a slightly more structured and tannic character due to the higher proportion of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon in the blends. With age, these wines develop a velvety texture and reveal an array of flavors, including dark fruits, floral notes, and hints of earthiness.

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