Favorite Right Bank Bordeaux
In this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/480608 which was revived a couple of days ago, Zin1953 suggested that the subject of Right Bank Bordeaux be treated as its own thread. I tend to agree, so this is my response, that I will link to on that thread.
I have never had Petrus. The Le Pin and LeFleur I've had have been underwhelming. I've had historic vintages of Cheval Blanc (lots of Cab Franc in there) without loving it. The one right bank Bordeaux which always springs to mind when I'm asked this question is Angelus. I don't know the typical blend, though I think this is a wine heavy in Cab Franc. There simply is no 75%+ Merlot from Bordeaux that stands out to me as a clear favorite.
Interestingly enough, one of the more notable things about Chateau Palmer (Margaux) is that it is famously high in Merlot. It also happens to be one of my very favorite left bank wineries.
Q: So what's the problem with "Sideways"?
A: Cheval Blanc is *NOT* predominantly Merlot. It's (99.9999%) unique among the châteaux of Bordeaux in that it is predominantly Cabernet Franc. The vineyard itself is planted to 60 percent Cabernet Franc (CF), 37 percent Merlot (M), 2 percent Malbec (Mal), and 1 percent Cabernet Sauvignon (CS). There is no Petit Verdot (PV) or Carmenère (C), to the best of my knowledge.
* * * * *
Broad Generalization #1: Right Bank (St.-Émilion and Pomerol) Bordeaux are predominantly Merlot, while those on the Left Bank (Médoc) and in Graves are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon. That said, remember that nothing is etched in stone (i.e.: nothing in the appellation d'origine contrôlée regulations demand that predominance), and there are specific exceptions.
Broad Generalization #2: The farther north one travels within the Haut-Médoc, the higher percentage Cabernet Sauvignon one finds in the blend. That is, *generally* a St.-Éstephe or Paulliac will typically have more CS than will a St.-Julien or Margaux. Again, there are specific exceptions.
And in the Useless Trivia Dept., no château (that I can recall) uses ZERO percent Merlot, while many use no Cabernet Sauvignon at all.
* * * * *
Château Palmer was unique for its relatively high percentage of PV, some 15 percent, although that was lowered relatively recently and the vineyard is today planted to 55 CS, 40 M, and only 5 PV. That said, 40 percent M in the Haut-Médoc is NOT all that unusual. Château Lascombes, for example, has 40 M; Prieuré-Lichine is planted to 39 M; even Cos d'Estournel in St.-Éstephe has 38 M . . .
Château (l')Angelus is planted to 50 M, ***45 CF ***, and 5 CS.
In the FWIW Dept., the vineyards of Château Lafleur are planted to 50/50 M/CF, while Le Pin is planted to 100 M. Château Pétrus is planted to 95 M and 5 CF, although the wine itself may be 100 M, depending upon vintage. IIRC, prior to the devastating freeze of 1956, Pétrus was only 70-75 M.