Château Bélair-Monange traces its origins back to Roman times. Situated at the highest point of Saint-Émilion’s famed limestone plateau, it has long been considered one of the region’s very best crus. By 1850 it was ranked by Cocks & Feret as the leading wine of Saint-Émilion, a position it held well into the twentieth century. Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix purchased the iconic Château in 2008. In 2012, Château Magdelaine was merged into Château Bélair-Monange. The name ‘Monange,’ in addition to its literal translation, ‘my angel,’ was the maiden name of Jean-Pierre Moueix’s mother, Anne-Adèle, the first Moueix woman to call Saint-Émilion her home. One of the few stars of this difficult vintage, Belair-Monange's 58 acres of incredibly well-placed vineyards (that includes all of the chateau formerly known as Magdelaine) produced only 950 cases from frightfully low yields. Thanks to the efforts made by the Moueix family, particularly Christian's son Edouard, this is one of the candidates for the wine of the vintage.
A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, it exhibits a dense ruby/purple color, and pure, flowery, black raspberry and black cherry fruit intermixed with a hint of chalky minerality. The wine is medium-bodied, beautifully concentrated, and appears to be an aberration in a vintage such as 2013. Kudos to Edouard Moueix and his team for this remarkable success. Drink it over the next 12-15+ years.
WA 95: The 2020 Belair Monange has also turned out nicely in bottle, wafting from the glass with aromas of rich cherries, plums, sweet spices, rose petals and creamy new oak. Full-bodied, rich and layered, it remains fresh despite its ripe, sun-kissed profile, and its generous payload of tannin helps to integrate its rather lofty level of alcohol. This is a success in its demonstrative, modern style.
JS 99: Intense aromas of wet earth, limestone cellars and dark fruits such as currants and blackberries. Then turns to flowers. Black truffles, too. Licorice. Gravel. Full-bodied with a solid palate of tannins that melt into the wine. It’s sleek and muscular with fantastic length and presence. Reminds me of great old Belairs from the 1950s. Cool wine. 98% merlot and 2% cabernet franc. Give it six to eight years of time. Best after 2028.
WA 92: The 2014 Belair-Monange was a slightly perplexing wine when I tasted it from barrel, so I was intrigued to discover how it would perform now in bottle. It has what you might describe as a "straight-laced" bouquet: very direct and nicely delineated, albeit without the frills and nuances of some of the best Saint Emilion wines this vintage. There is an attractive wilted rose petal aroma that emerges with aeration, but I was seeking more intensity. The palate is better than the aromatics: silky smooth in texture, well-judged acidity, genuine depth and gentle grip in the mouth. There is tangible mineralité here, great focus with a sense of tension and "bite" towards the finish. I was probably being parsimonious with my score in barrel, although that is partly vindicated by the nose that needs to get its act together and match the potential of the palate. Let's see how this develops over the next few years.
JS 96: Extremely perfumed with rose aromas that turn to strawberries and citrus. Some stones, too. Full-bodied, yet reserved and ultra-refined. It goes on for minutes. Power with finesse.