I first met Francois Thienpont in 2005 at the Vinexpo trade show on my third reporting trip to Bordeaux– almost 17 years ago. Although not much younger than me, Francois showed a youthful exuberance and was keen to introduce me to his insiders’ Bordeaux and wines being made in the affordable vineyard suburbs of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol.
Of Belgian origin, the Thienponts are one the more-famous Bordeaux winemaking clans, and Francois quickly connected me to cousins and brothers who own or make wine at some of the Right Bank’s prime properties, among them Le Pin, L’If, Vieux Château Certan, and Pavie Macquin.
Francois himself has been more attracted to the negociant side of the business, marketing wines first under the Burdigala label and more recently under F. Thienpont or F. & G. Thienpont. His wines are imported in the U.S., and although they may be a bit hard to find, they are well worth looking up for their tastes and affordability. Five of them are in this edition of The Dozen.
2018 F. Thienpont Château Roques de Jeanlice Bordeaux Supérieur ($12). An appetite inducer – lively and tart berry flavors with good savory trappings.
2016 F. Thienpont “La Violette” Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux ($19). Nice, mellow flavors of cherry and ripe apple with old barrel seasoning. There are also hints of violet – or is that just the power of suggestion?
2018 F. Thienpont “La Parcelle du Rocher” Saint-Émilion Grand Cru ($30). Very well structured, with lightly tart berry flavors and a garrigue-like savory finish.
2016 Francois & Guillaume Thienpont “L’Etoile” Lalande de Pomerol ($40). Tart and tangy black fruits, yet full-bodied with lots of good barrel notes.
2016 Francois & Guillaume Thienpont “Les Fillottes” Pomerol ($111). Lots of dusty tannins to go with lovely barrel-cellar flavors and aromas, but still with robust fruits.
2019 Vietti “Tre Vigne” Barbera d’Asti ($21). There are some sharp notes to go along with tart cherry flavors – definitely a food wine.
2016 Esporão Alentejo Reserva Red Wine ($21). Lean fruitiness with leathery and savory barrel notes.
2019 The Prisoner “Saldo” California Zinfandel ($32). Creamy and rich blackberries with a bit of powdery whiff, mellow oak, and a hint of chocolate.
2018 Ram’s Gate “Cellar Note” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($58). Bright yet rich and lengthy cherry flavors – a very lively and refreshing Pinot.
2018 Ram’s Gate “Cellar Note” Moon Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($68). Delicious warm and rich berry flavors with great depth of taste and a hint of pleasant bitters in the finish – a sipping wine for when you need to be comforted.
NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Première Cuvée (56). Lovely bouquet of dried fruits and bready yeast, very satisfying and tightly wound.
2016 Quinta de Roriz Vintage Port ($75). Very smooth and rich with excellent persistence of flavors – ripe plums and figs to begin – lightened by refreshing acidity. Pair with a cigar or a round of Stilton – or both.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.
Feature photo: Bordeaux City, photo credit: Roger Morris
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