94 Insider Points
92-93 points - James Suckling
Bordeaux lovers are about to flip for this earthy, cigar box laced, dark, inky, St-Emilion-like stunner! No wonder it's a favorite for the elite restaurants of France.
This wine is meant to age. We were fortunate enough to try the 2012, 2013 and the 2014, we even tried the 2014 magnums with incredible cellaring potential. I found that the 2014 had more character and more muscle. Needless to say it passed the test as fun, interesting and damn delish! I sit here tasting the Domaine de L'A as it takes me back into time, I would say hold this for another 2-3 years before drinking, it's reserved juice. Definitely DECANT and drink with rich foods if you choose to drink now. Forest floor is good, dirty mushroom, cigar box, 100% cocoa powder, it has brambly massive fruit that is being held back by the tight grip of the tannins and boosted by the 20% Cab Franc (the backbone & the muscle). There's a long lasting earthy finish and I feel like I just finished a fine steak!
The Domaine de L'A will have strong appeal to those who love the old world powerful muscle of an earthy cigar box loaded red. Those who have Bordeaux laced cellars and humidors must have this wine in stock at all times, promise! Adventurists who want to experience the TRUE Essence of Terroir expressive wine will call to thank me (talking to you Barolo and Grand Cru Burgundy drinkers also). Drink in 2022 or age for 15-20+ years easily, solid 94 points.
Lots of forest floor, berry and mineral character. Full body, velvety tannins and a long finish. Builds on the palate. The 30% cabernet franc really helps here. ~James Suckling, March 2015.
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet FRANC
oak casks 35hl to 60hl
16-18 months (new & used)
Situated in Castillon appellation, Domaine de L'A was created in 1999 by Christine & Stéphane Derenoncourt (both wine growers and Stéphane an internationally recognized consultant). Both free thinkers, Domaine de L'A is a life-size laboratory built to test their ideas on vine growing while revealing the identity of a place, a soil. Domaine de L'A has become one of the major reference sites of the Cotes de Bordeaux over the past few years.
Derenoncourt rose to prominence in the early 1990s from his work at Château Pavie Macquin and Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière, and his company, Derenoncourt Consultants which he set up with his wife Christine, now works with over 60 wineries – including Inglenook in the Napa Valley and Boxwood Winery in Virginia – in a dozen different countries.
The wines of this illustrious Chateau are featured at over 23 Michel-Star Rated Restuarants in France. You may recognize some of these 3-Star Gems:
Arpege (Paris), Epicure Au Bristol (Paris), Pavillon Le Doyen (Paris), Troisgros (Roanne), La Bouitte (St Martin-de-Belleville), L Assiette Champenoise (Tinqueux), Anne-Sophie Pic (Valence).
History of the Côtes de Bordeaux: The vine has been planted in this region since ancient times. The Romans had planted the first "Vitis Biturica" vines in the 2nd century, and according to the writings of Ausonius in the 4th century, the reputation of the wines they produced had spread as far as Rome.
The real rise in viticulture in the region started with the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England, which opened up the London market for the wines from the Côtes. The end of the English occupation of Aquitaine in 1453 with the Battle of Castillon put an end to that.
Cotes de Castillon is perhaps the best known and most consistent of the satellite appellations. Cotes de Castillon is located due east of St. Emilion and south of Fronsac. Cotes de Castillon is a large appellation with 2,832 hectares under vine.
The finest terroir of Cotes de Castillon is located on the plateau with large deposits of limestone and clay soils. Further down the slopes, you find more clay, gravel and sand. On the plateau, the soils are similar to that which you find in some of the best St. Emilion terroirs. Domaine de L'A comes from Sainte-Colombe and the Eastern slopes are adjacent to those of Saint-Emilion.
Loads of cigar box tobacco, earthy mushroom, 100% cocoa dust, black truffle, brambly cassis and blackberry compote mixed with roasted herbs. There's an intense bay leaf or what I call a minty fresh finish on this red. This will mellow out over time as the wine evolves.
Soils are both clayey and filled with friable limestone, others explore Fronsac's molasse. Vines avergae age is 40 years and there are only 10 hectares planted of this Merlot and Cab Franc in total.
In 1982, at the age of 19, Stéphane Derenoncourt hitchhiked to Bordeaux from his native Normandy, and found work as a vineyard laborer in Fronsac. For the next decade, Derenoncourt immersed himself in the vineyards of Bordeaux’s Right Bank.
Though a critical mass of his clients continue to be in Bordeaux, including Domaine de Chevalier, Clos Fourtet, Clos de l’Oratoire, Pavie-Macquin, Canon-la-Gaffelière,and Smith Haut Lafitte, Derenoncourt also makes wine in Austria, India, Italy, Lebanon, Spain, Syria, Turkey and the United States. In addition to his consultant work, he owns Domaine l’A, in the Côtes de Castillon, with his wife. In 2006, Stéphane and Christine started another of their own projects, Derenoncourt California. Released in 2009, Derenoncourt California’s initial 2006 vintage was the first wine he made in the United States. The Derenoncourt California project is based in the Napa Valley, and sources grapes from the Howell Mountain AVA, Coombsville AVA and Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa as well as Sonoma Valley AVA in Sonoma County to the west and the Red Hills Lake County AVA in Lake County to the north.