Figeac’s Faye Is ‘Very Happy’ With 2016 Vintage After Wet June

  • Bordeaux market recovering after 40% price declines since 2011
  • Neighbor Michel Rolland is a consultant on wine blending

Chateau Figeac, a large Saint-Emilion wine estate that has been owned by the Manoncourt family for more than a century, says prospects for its 2016 wines are looking good after cold, wet spring weather threatened to undermine the vintage.

“We are very happy,” Figeac Director Frederic Faye told participants of a wine tasting organized in London by Decanter magazine this month. “It was very difficult until the middle of June. Fortunately we had a very good flowering,” with conditions after that “hot and dry.” His assessment echoed comments from other wine producers over the past two months on both banks of Bordeaux’s Gironde estuary.

The Bordeaux 2016 vintage follows a much improved crop in 2015, which snapped four years of challenging harvests. That period also coincided with a slump in the wine market, sparked by a drop in demand from China, which led to declines of 40 percent in prices of first growths from their 2011 peak. The top-end Bordeaux market is now starting to recover.

Figeac, owned by the Manoncourt family since 1892, comprises 40 hectares (99 acres) of vines in a single block, according to data from producer association Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. Its vineyards are situated on gravelly rises northwest of the town of Saint-Emilion, close to Chateau Cheval Blanc, one of the area’s highest-ranked producers.

Figeac is one of the largest estates in Saint Emilion, with an average vine age of 40 years and the oldest one was planted in 1921. The vineyard consists of 35 percent cabernet sauvignon, 35 percent cabernet franc and 30 percent merlot. It produces about 100,000 bottles a year of its main wine and 40,000 bottles of its second wine, Petit Figeac, which is designed to be drunk earlier. Michel Rolland is now a consultant on the blend.

The 2015 vintage of Chateau Figeac has a market price of 1,400 pounds ($1,750) per 12-bottle case in bond, according to the London-based Liv-ex wine market, the most expensive vintage since 2010, which is priced at 1,742 pounds. The cheapest vintage of the past 10 years is the 2013, priced at 597 pounds a case.

Hortense Idoine Manoncourt, president of the Chateau Figeac holding company and daughter of Thierry Manoncourt, who shaped the estate for more than half a century, said at the tasting that the 2013 vintage, which was difficult throughout the region because of cool, wet weather, was one she appreciated in adversity.

“I like very much the 2013,” she said. “It was so difficult that year.” The vineyard team “managed to work well and to think in advance for the harvest.”

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