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Wine Reviews

Blason d'Issan, Château d'Issan Margaux


Chateau d'Issan is one of the oldest estates in Bordeaux, often said to be one of the most charming estates in the French region as well, and is one of fourteen Third Growths (according to the 1855 Bordeaux Classification). It is a Margaux estate, and therefore shares the area with some incredibly well-known (and pricey) neighbours.



The Chateau traces its history as far as 1152, and has been a feature of numerous historical events - from being served at the wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II, to having been said to be the site of the final stand of the English army in their defeat at the Battle of Castillon, which marked the end of the Hundred Years' War. The Chateau has many prominent fans, from US President Thomas Jefferson, who included d'Issan in a personal list of favourites, to the Emperor Franz-Joseph of Austria, who would give the Chateau its motto "For the table of Kings and the altar of Gods" which is engraved on the Chateau's door in latin.

Even in WWII, the estate was used by various parties as a fort - which is probably why it is one of the exceptionally few Bordeaux vineyards to feature a moat (along with a drawbridge and courtyard that is often said to look like a fairytale castle)! Today that just adds to the charm.



Once known as Chateau La Mothe Cantenac, not much is known about its earliest people, but what is known is that its name "d'Issan" comes from its owner in the more recent 17th Century, the d'Essenault family. By way of phonetic spelling, the estate became Chateau d'Issan. The d'Essenault family were one of knights and folks in Parliament, and they were making pretty good headway in rebuilding the estate until that all went out the door with the French Revolution.

Fast tracking all the way to modernity, the estate has been in the hands of the Cruse family since their purchase of it in 1945, right after the war. As you might expect, the place was in great shape and lots had to be done. The Cruse family are pretty prolific in the region, having owned and continuing to manage numerous prominent Bordeaux estates. More specifically, since 1998 the estate has been under the helm of Emmanuel Cruse, who is often touted as having brought the vineyards in the right direction, increasing the estate's size substantially and modernising its winemaking infrastructure, as well as putting out a second wine to make it more accessible (which we'll be trying today!). He also brought in his collaborator Jacky Lorenzetti, who too brings with him quite an experience in managing other Bordeaux estates as well.



Today d'Issan's vineyards looks very much like a quintessential Bordeaux winemaking estate, with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec planted. Since Emmanuel took over, the proportion of Merlot has increased quite abit to give the wine more plushness. Unfortunately not all of d'Issan is classified Margaux, with about a quarter area of the soils not being suitable for vine growing. The soils are primarily clay and limestone, with vines of an average age of 35 years old, from which only a red is produced.

Today we'll be trying d'Issan's second wine as mentioned - the 2017 Blason d'Issan, which makes use of fruit from the estate's younger vines. Let's go! 

2017 Blason d'Issan, Château d'Issan Margaux - Review



Tasting Notes

Colour: Light Garnet

Aroma: Opens to a light earthiness of soil, top notes of fresh cedar wood, with a more concentrated core of cassis.

Taste: Fuller in flavour, medium intensity with a medium body. It's giving blackcurrant jam, blackcurrant cordials, wrapped up in tobacco leaves, with a tingle of clove spices. There's a moderately prominence of tannins here, firm, whilst the flavours leans alittle darker. Good structure on this.

Finish: More firmness of the tannins, it's showcasing really good tension, light dryness. More of that blackcurrant jam.


My Thoughts

This was pretty tasty! I really liked how firm and focused the body was, the tannins did a good job here in giving it that tension that made it pretty exciting. I would nevertheless have preferred to see more flavour development from the fruits which surprisingly stayed pretty shy. The potential was certainly there as the blackcurrant flavours held a good concentration and richness but seemed to stop short of totally opening up. Another lovely feature on this was the clove spices that gave it a little bit of that warmth that was just oof! so wonderful and exciting.