Château de La Dauphine 2012
• Domaine: Château de La Dauphine
• A.O.C.: Fronsac
• Grape varietials: 90% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc
For modern day wine drinkers, Fronsac is not a household name as Pauillac, Margaux, Saint-Julien, or Saint-Emilion that define Bordeaux. But, once upon a time, Fronsac's vineyards were among the best in the Bordeaux area. In the 18th century, Fronsac’s wines enjoyed the best reputation in the Libourne area (i.e., the Right Bank of the Dordogne River), and sold at higher prices than those of Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
As the single largest property in Fronsac, Château de La Dauphine is mounting a major come-back, evoking its ties to Charlemagne (who built a fortress in Fronsac), Cardinal de Richelieu (who acquired the land and made its wine famous among the nobles), and its namesake title resulting from the visit of Louis XVI's mother, Mary Josepha of Saxany, who was known as La Dauphine (the French word for "The Princess"). She never became the French queen as her husband died from illness before being crowned. Her son married Marie Antoinette and ascended the throne as the last French king before the French Revolution. La Dauphine, Mary Josepha of Saxany, was hence the mother-in-law of the more famous Marie Antoinette, an ill-fated Austrian princess who was swept up in the tidal waves of the revolution.
While wine critics have sung the praises of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol from the Right Bank and the garagiste winemakers have made some wines beyond the reach of everyday Bordeaux drinkers ($1,000 - $10,000 per bottle, anyone?), the wine of Château de La Dauphine deserves serious attention by educated wine lovers.
"The acquisition of this well-known, beautiful estate in Fronsac by proprietor Jean Halley has raised the level of performance dramatically. The 2012, which tips the scales at a whopping 15% alcohol, is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. This is a major sleeper of the vintage. Dense ruby/plum/purple with sweet black cherry and blackcurrant fruits, underlying minerality, a plump, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel and lush, heady texture and length, this is one of the best La Dauphines I have tasted. Drink it over the next 10-15 years, although it is capable of lasting longer." - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate (4/29/2015, Issue 218), Ratings: 90, Drink: 2019-2032