A VERY FINE SAINT EMILION WINE ON THE RISE THANKS TO THE SOIL AND VERY GIFTED WINEMAKER
I have known Jean-Philippe Janoueix since May 1996, when I met him at his father office in Libourne. He was then 25 years old, already married and he already had an diploma from USA in property management. In 1993, while being in military service, he finished national degree in viticulture (BTAO).
I was then spending one month in Bordeaux collecting material for my book about Pomerol. We went to several Pomerol properties owned by his father to taste and then he drove me to Chateau de Chambrun in Lalande de Pomerol, a little property he bought in 1994. It was his first acquisition of a vineyard..
After de Chambrun, he acquired Chateau Croix Mouton (1997) just outside Fronsac appelation and close to Dordogne river, neighboring estate Chateau Le Conseiller (2002), planted 20.000 vines per ha and created vineyard called 20 Mille, then in 1999 he took over full responsibilty for winemaking and commercialisation at Chateau La Croix St. Georges in Pomerol. He created Sacre Coeur in Pomerol in 2010 and Chateau Cap St.Georges in St.Georges-Saint-Emilion (2014). He's also been doing harvest and vinification of Chateau La Croix since 2016 vintage, owned by his father. Busy guy indeed.
In 2001 he bought some hectares of vines opposite Taillefer and created Chateau La Confession. In 2007, after selling de Chambrun, he purchased Chateau Haut Pontet in secteur Grand Pontet, very close to village of Saint-Emilion. This new vineyard had overtaken the name of Chateau La Confession from the one opposite Taillefer, second wine got name Haut Pontet and incorporates Merlot grapes from first "version" of La Confession.
His style of winemaking is semi-modern, which means fair use of modern techniques combined with useful "old" ones and emphasis on keeping the character of the soil in the wine. His main aim is to maintain freshness and fruity character of the wine underpinned by sufficient dose of new oak. Jean-Philippe Janoueix's taking no prisoners with his approach to winemaking, for you never get tired, musty, unbalanced and edgy wines from him.
Jean-Philippe Janoueix has very nice portfolio of properties!
During harvest 2017, I presented Jean-Philippe Janoueix, that it would be a great idea to do a vertical of all vintages made at La Confession in April 2018 during primeur time. He did jump the idea and it was very interesting to taste vintages and contribution from winemaker, moving from one type of soil to another and how the vintages responded to their fame. It's obvious that moving to better soil, has meant a significant jump in quality for La Confession.
NB. Wines were tasted from oldest to youngest and not blind.
16 vintages ready to taste!!
LA CONFESSION MARK 1. 2.9 ha big vineyard opposite the one of Taillefer, clay and sand, 60% Merlot + 35% Cabernet Franc + 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tasted in April 2018. Debut vintage for La Confession and praised a lot by Robert Parker when released! Approaching full maturity now (2018), ripe fruit and tannin, spicy, well-composed and well-balanced. Nice complexity. Persistent fruity finish.
Tasted in April 2018. More acidity here than in 2001 and it seemed that this wine had a bit better structure and bigger depth too. However, 2001 had more length on the palate. Round, soft texture and fruity finish. Complex. Splendid effort for the vintage.
Tasted in April 2018. It was a year of extremely high temperatures and this wine had a significant flavor of plums (yellow ones, mirabelles) and was very attractive. Nice acidity. Round, tasty and enjoyable right now.
Tasted in April 2018. While compared to 2001 and 2002, it tasted a bit lighter and was more on the elegant side. Nice structure and length. Smooth finish.
Tasted in April 2018. Ripe fruit on the nose, grated chocolate and cocoa tones, ripe fruit on the palate and ripe tannin, very complex, great acidity and great length. Fine persistent and fruity finish. The winemaker here seemed to have got the max. out of the material Mother Nature gave him and he didn't overdone the vinification at all, meaning no overripeness and excessive maceration are to be found here. Big, big jump in quality compared with 2004 vintage. Impressive effort.
Tasted in April 2018. Last vintage from old vineyard. Merlot was not particulary successful on the Right Bank due to unfavourable weather condition and this wine reflected that. A bit dry on the palate, spicy fruit and not perfectly ripe. Anyway, this wine kept its balance and was round and simple.
LA CONFESSION MARK 2. This new vineyard was purchased in June 2007 and renamed from Haut Pontet to La Confession. Different soil here from Mark 1, mostly clay and limestones. 6.9 ha, 70% Merlot + 28% Cabernet Franc + 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 years old vines on average. There is no claryfying and no filtration of the wine.
Tasted in April 2018. Really good beginning in this difficult vintage! Short time to clean the vineyard and prepare for harvest. Clearly more minerality here, more precision and focus. Round and tasty. Yes light, but compared to 2006, it didn't have dryness on the palate and had better fruit
Tasted in April 2018. Splendid minerality and acidity here. First year, when Jean-Philippe Janoueix could exploit 100% the soil! Long palate with fine structure, length and complexity. Not a blockbuster but really well-made wine.
Tasted in April 2018. Powerful and strong backbone, fine minerality, great complexity, great structure and finish. Alcohol touch on the fruit, which hopefully will integrate in the near future. Excellent effort.
Tasted in April 2018. More of everything here compared with 2009. More sweetness, more grained and riper tannin. Dark cherries and black berries in vast quantities.on the nose and palate. Imho, the third best vintage of the winemaker.
Tasted in April 2018. Fine ripeness, clearly lighter than 2010, round and fruity. Clean, tidy and well-focused. Attractive and tasty.
Tasted in April 2018. Very fruity and aromatic, soft texture, very approachable, round and tasty, really fine minerality and acidity. Heartbreaker wine.
Tasted in April 2018. This vintage did provide winemakers with average quality of grapes because of the bad weather conditions. Anyway, this is uncomplicated wine on the light side. Soft, round and charming. All is set here for quick consumption.
Tasted in April 2018. Dark chocolate and black fruit on the nose with huge intensity, great complexity and length, remarkable acidity and character of the soil. So typical St.Emilion. Big surprise for me as it rivals 2015 vintage here!
Tasted in April 2018. Candy nose, sweet fruit and tannin, velvety texture, alcohol touch evident, big acidity and balance, great structure and fruity finish. Excellent effort.
Tasted in April 2018. Already 6 weeks in bottle, different than 2015, bigger everywhere . Flowery, stylish, silky fruit and tannin, excellent balance and complexity, delightful sweetness and persistently creamy finish. For me, the best vintage of La Confession, Jean-Philippe Janoueix has ever made.
2017 (barrel sample) 94+p
Tasted in April 2018. 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. Yield 29hl/ha. Tasted one week before the vertical.It displayed fine fruity nose, elegance, splendid concentration, meaty palate and fruity finish. Similar to 2014 with more charm.
2018 (barrel sample) 95+p
Tasted in April 2019. 73% Merlot + 27% Cabernet Franc. Fresh, dense and tight, powerful, plenty of fat fruit and tannin, vibrant, strong structure, striking complexity and length. Another badass wine. You can't really complain about alcohol level here, it would be ridiculous if you did, only 13.71%! Cabernet Franc contributed greatly to very high quality of this wine.