Bottle Name: Arran 1999 St Emilion Grand Cru Classe Wine Cask
ABV: 50% Distillery: Arran Region: Islands
The St Emilion red wine that this Arran has been finished in was sourced from Chateau Fonplegade – one of the oldest Bordeaux vineyards complete an with imposing French castle. The Grand Cru Classe classification within the St Emilion region is quite broad, with 63 individual estates within the category, of which, Chateau Fonplegade is but one. Slightly older than many of the Arran wine cask finished, this bottling is 9 years of age, which includes a whole 12 months of finishing in Bordeaux wine casks. It was bottled in 2008 at 50% ABV.
Nose: An unusual marriage of red berries (strawberry and raspberry) with slate-like minerality. The sweetness vs. sharpness continues with apricot flans vs. balsamic, and chocolate vs. overt red wine tannic bitterness. Rather the contradiction in places – whilst the fruits are jammy, their brightness is continually restrained by tartness. Water softens this grudge-match up, adding vanilla, much more chocolate and ovaltine maltiness.
Taste: Pronounced wine influence from the get-go. The arrival is powerful with berry fruit, plums, raisins and liquorice coming together with tanned leather, dark chocolate and astringent vanilla-led oak. Reduced, this shows more integration with softer edges and a creamier mouthfeel. Some underlying earthiness and herbalness are also allowed to express themselves – light damp soils and fresh mint plans.
Finish: Medium, with bitter oak and some boozy rawness.
Whilst I have a lot of time for Bordeaux wines from this appellation, overall, I’d much rather appreciate them as is. This Arran hasn’t quite managed the level of integration of wine with spirit that one would hope for – despite the whole year finishing period. There’s tons of powerful flavour here – but the end result is rather middle of the road.
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