Left Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart

Ready-to-Drink Saint-Émilion with Pedigree: Château Fonbel's 2016

Stylized image of Château de Fonbel, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2016

The world of wine changes, sometimes incredibly quickly. As recently as 2010, Bordeaux was still enjoying its eminent position as the world’s best-known fine region, and it dominated auction markets and big-box retail shops. Since then, it’s been a precipitous dive in market share, as consumers have fallen in love with other regions, like Burgundy, Champagne and Piedmont. Natural wine, too, has had an impact on the perception of Bordeaux, which now seems a bit old-fashioned.

But there’s an interesting effect from all of this: every few days, someone will come in wanting to know about Bordeaux, with no real preconceived notions about it, except that it’s a classic wine region. They figure that, like Humphrey Bogart films, spaghetti and meatballs, or The Great Gatsby, the classics are probably classics for a reason.

If you, too, love the classics, we have just the wine for you: Château Fonbel's 2016 Saint-Émilion. It’s not expensive (a LOT of Bordeaux isn’t, in fact), but it’s superb for all the reasons that made Bordeaux so famous. Fonbel reminds us how few places in the world can produce wines so effortlessly classy and inarguably pleasurable. It’s rich in red and black fruits, but also boasts a through-line of minerality that surely has something to do with all that limestone feeding the vines.

Not all Saint-Émilion is like this, just like not every plate of spaghetti is not delicious, and not every performance of Macbeth is compelling. You need a sure hand to bring a classic to life. Fonbel isn’t made by just anyone. It’s produced by the Vauthier family, who also make the splendid but elusive Château Ausone, perennially ranked by critics as one of the greatest wines of the Right Bank (next to Pétrus and Cheval Blanc).

Ausone is also insanely expensive – the 2016 goes for almost $1000. In contrast, Fonbel is available today for considerably less. Still, the Vauthiers put a lot of love into Fonbel, which makes it a real sleeper. Check out the Vauthier website and you can see that the vines are awfully close to Ausone’s.

As we mentioned, if you’re a Bordeaux neophyte, this is a perfect introduction. But if you already love Bordeaux like we do, we think you’re going to want plenty of this around for the winter months (it’s simply too good), so there’s an extra discount on orders of 3+ bottles.

Château de Fonbel, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2016 $31.99
“2016 de Fonbel is a blend of 70% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, and 7% Carmenere and has a deep garnet-purple color. It is a little closed and broody to begin, opening out with profound blackberry pie, baked plums, and tar scents, plus wafts of tree bark and truffles. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is rich and plush, with fantastic freshness, and an earthy finish.” - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Independent, December 2022


This story was originally featured in our newsletter, where it was offered at a special subscribers-only discount. Subscribers get special offers, the first look at new discoveries, invites to events, and stories about wines and the artisans that make them.