Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, France
Alc. 14.5 %
Saint-Émilion is one of the most famous subregions of the most famous regions in all of France: Bordeaux. Located on the right bank of the Dordogne river, and centred on the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage-designated village of the same name, Saint-Émilion as a whole comprises only about 6% of the total vineyard land of Bordeaux. Though production is small compared to the Medoc on Bordeaux's left bank, its wines have long been thought to be some of France's best.
Like most wines from the region, Château Viramière is a blend of predominantly Merlot, with a small amount - around 15% - of Cabernet Franc. The estate's vines are approximately 35 years old, and once harvest is complete, the grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks before being aged in mostly neutral oak. It's a classically structured wine that will reward careful cellaring for upwards of a decade, but if you're as impatient as we often are, we recommend decanting and enjoying at a cool 18 C.
Château Viramière has deep and brooding aromas of black cherry, plum, cassis and leather, with intense spice notes, a hint of black pepper, and bitter dark chocolate. With some time in the glass, more floral aromatics emerge, and softer red fruit (think raspberry and strawberry) come to the forefront.
Full-bodied, rich, and structured on the palate, with grippy, mouth-puckering tannins that will make a convert of any Cab-loving Merlot doubters. There's plenty of fruit to support and round out the impressive structure. It's delicious now, but will continue to evolve over the next ten years or beyond.
In the short term, tame the tannic structure of this Bordeaux with rich proteins like roast lamb or braised beef served with root vegetables and buttery mashed potatoes. As it ages and softens, the earthiness in this wine would be an excellent match for umami-driven pork dishes, mushroom ravioli, or ratatouille.