Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux
Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux is the smallest of the Bordeaux appellations, occupying the highest slopes of the Gironde, situated about a dozen miles East of Saint Emilion. The vineyards share the same argilo-calcaire soil of its illustrious Saint Emilion neighbour. For this reason, some of the most famous châteaux in Saint Emilion and Pomerol have been busy buying up properties in the Francs region. One of Pomerol’s most excusive châteaux – Vieux Château Certan – has done just this with Château Puygueraud near Francs. As a consequence the prices of these wines have been steadily rising, but still represent excellent value for money.
Village of Francs
Château Goddard-Bellevue is a 30-hectare vineyard, just outside Francs, and has been in the Arbo family for four generations. Bernadette and Joseph Arbo (shown above) took over the reins in 1988.
Joseph has gone to great lengths to improve the quality of grapes in the vineyard. He has planted grass down the centre of the rows of the vines. This idea is becoming more common in some parts of Bordeaux, the intention being to improve the natural content of organisms in the soil and reduce the need for fertilisers and chemical herbicides.
He has also invested a lot of money in new vinification equipment and a new chais. When we revisited the family in the Spring of 2015 we were delighted with the continuing excellent quality of their red and white wines, and we’ve shipped two more great examples
Château Puyanché Blanc sec 2012
AOC Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux
Joseph has employed the winemaker of the prestigious Graves property, Château Carbonnieux, to act as a consultant winemaker and the results are superb. The wine is made from 50 year old vines, using the classic Graves blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon. The vinification is started in stainless steel, and then the wine is transferred to oak barriques where it continues its fermentation. Battonage is used to maximise lees contact, enhancing the texture of the wine.
It is pale lemon in colour with a juicy, exotic-fruit nose and just a hint of oak. The palate has flavours of white peach, pineapple, grapefruit and marzipan. There is surprising complexity and it is the match for many a much more expensive White Graves. Perfect now, but will last and develop in complexity over the next five years.
We still have a small quantity of the delightful 2011 on the list.
Château Goddard-Bellevue 2011
AOC Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux
This made from 40 year old vines of 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. It spend 12 months in oak barriques of which 1/3 are new, 1/3 are one year old and 1/3 are two year old barrels – to ensure that the oak improves the texture of the wine without imparting obvious oak flavours.
The 2011 vintage was very good and the wine has a deep purple colour. On the nose there are beguiling aromas of ripe black fruits with hints of cedar and cigar box. On the palate, there is superb concentration of soft, rich dark fruits with a touch of liquorice at the finish, and soft ripe tannins. It is lovely now, but will become more complex and softer over the next five years.
We have a small amount of 2010 on the list, that has softened beautifully over the past 12 months.