Rol Valentin - St Emilion - 2005

My nice surprise of the year. I bought quite a lot of St.Emilion 2005s at release, not knowing much at the time about “the dark side”. After several disappointments, I sold the lot, somehow forgetting two bottles of Rol Valentin. I did come close to selling them two years ago, but realising I would be making a loss, decided to keep them, and I’m glad I did.

On opening, the wine was as I had feared: mocha, chocolate and oak dominating some Christmas cake aromas, with a big, thick mouthful of much the same. I then decanted it for several hours, which marginally improved it, but not enough, so I poured it back into the bottle, recorked it and put it back in the cellar for several days.

Coming back to it last night, it was transformed: all the mocha, chocolate and oak had gone, replaced by Morello cherries, blueberry, plum and violet aromas, so very promising. The first sip was just as good - dark cherries at first, then a wave of blueberry, not at all OTT, followed by waves of redcurrant, fresh blackcurrant and quite spicy plums, with a finish that was long but not at all hot, even quite crisp.

The wine had a well-rounded feel to it, but what surprised me the most was the freshness of the taste - it does have a sense of richness but no more than an Alliet Chinon, for example. Already very enjoyable with a long decant, it will be better still in another five years.

I had never tried Rol Valentin before, so this was quite a revelation. I wouldn’t say the style of the 2005 is a classic one, but neither is it made in the 00s style which I find so repellent. I won’t be rushing out to buy lots more, but at the right price I would certainly buy a few.

I might well find some at the right price - I suppose that Rol Valentin is an example of the rise and fall of certain Saint Emilions during and after the reign of RMP. In terms of price, the 2005 was the high water mark, at around 50€ EP. Subsequent vintages dropped to around 30€, with the 2016 and 2017 currently changing hands for around 20€. No older vintage shows any tendency to rise in price - for example the well-received 2009 came out at 30€ and sells today for the same price.

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Thanks Julian. I first tried this in 2017 and was pleasantly surprised enough to hunt down 3 more bottles. It definitely needs a couple hours in the decanter, but emerges elegant and medium bodied, very unexpected for a 2005 right bank, with appealing oyster shell minerals and good structure. I’m not sure that later years are as successfully balanced - you read in tasting notes of 2010 and beyond describing it as oaky, sweet, and hedonistic. So 2005 might have been an exception.

Thanks Julian! There you are: another turn in the BDX 2005 soap opera. Having auctioned off a good number of disappointing Right Bank 2005 wines over the years (the nauseating Valandraud 2005 being the absolute worst) I tend to think of the 2005 BDX vintage as “the grand rip-off” (sort of in the style of Marco Ferreri’s “La Grande Bouffe”). My best experience with Rol Valentin (haven’t they already changed owners a few times thence?) was actually the 2002, but I have a half dozen 2005s slumbering somewhere in my cellar, so I will have to put them to the same test. The recorking and reopening trick has worked for me for a few Right Bank 2005s (Clos de L’Oratoire and its pumpernickel bread dimensions upon reopening) and failed miserably with others. But we will see.

Thanks Vince, “oaky, sweet and hedonistic” are just the sort of thing I was expecting, so I shall avoid any other vintages, although I do have two 09s still to try.

Cheers James, yes, I’m not yet convinced by Bordeaux 2005 in general and Saint Emilion has always been the worst offender. I’ve never wanted to stump up the asking price of a Valandraud anyway, but I think my rock-bottom was reached with Monbousquet (what possessed me to buy it I really don’t know!). I would give the Rol Valentins another few years, because what did impress me also was the youthfulness of the fruit that emerged. I think it will be best ten years from now.

Thanks for the note. I seem to remember having older ones, but cannot find any notes on them. Nothing really stuck out as memorable for me though.

There’s a whole world of fairly interchangeable St Emilions to me, which is fine if one likes the style, and is not overly attached to particular estates/labels.

Rol Valentin is one of those right bank wines that shows up at bargain prices from my suppliers at times. When it does, I buy it. I have yet to be disappointed.

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Two bottles at K&L auction for $100:

https://m.klwines.com/Auction/BidDetail/1573459

You might actually like it. Just ignore those AG and RP descriptions of it as oaky and opulent. [wink.gif] I found none of those characteristics. To me, it has more in common with a decent entry-level Pomerol (say, Nenin) than it has with other St Emilion extraction monsters.

That’s what I expected but this one pleasantly surprised me! It was close to the sort of wines which made me love Saint Emilion in the past.

Thanks Steen for those kind words - you’re right, the jury is still out. I don’t have many of this sort of wine left, but when I open them, I just try and keep an open mind - usually to no avail, but this time, it turned out well.

I completely agree. This is the sort of wine I would throw into a comparative tasting of other wines I am more of a fan of! It’s totally unlike the usual OTT Rollandy suspects. I’m actually looking forward to trying it again in 2025 or so. $50 a bottle is about 43€ - I’d be happy with that.

I have consulted with the Central Committee on Berserker Orthodoxy and confirmed that the heresies contained in this thread are impermissible. The Moderators are hereby directed to obliterate the thread. Any further mention of it could lead to exile to the WS board.

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It is not for you my friend. https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/st-emilion/rol-valentin/

Why would you say that? You gave it a (relatively) low score of 90, and cited its “herbs and fennel” and “delicate, red berry personality”. Seems right up his alley!

As a guess, to start they use Stephane Derenoncourt, who while I think he does great work, that alone will make Alfret break out in hives! My next surmise is that the texture is too polished for him. I like the wine. Their terroir does not produce a wine of intensity and richness, which is why it does not get high scores from me, though they have been improving lately starting with the 2016. I do like the elegance and purity in the fruits, however.

Haha, but Vince has intuitively focused on the Leve-Alfert Inverse Scoring Phenomenon. If Leve scores it a 90, Alfert may like it; if Alfert scores it a 95, Leve may hate it! The exceptions are truly classic Bordeaux, which is the intersection of our Venn Diagram! Think, Montrose 2005. Then Leve gets all dreamy eyed and drools over 2009 as better, sigh…. :slight_smile:

My memory is slipping. I’m almost sure for the 2005 Michel Rolland was the consultant. OK Alfret, the bottle is in your court!

Love Julian’s palate, but yea, not for me. I’m not sure I’ve liked but maybe 2 St Ems from 2005.

Thanks - as you know we’re normally on the same page more or less! Once again this one stumped me precisely because it wasn’t one of the usual suspects - I’m pretty sure you’d like it.
Anyway I reverted to type tonight with a great bottle of Yannick Amirault’s Grand Clos 2010!

Actually I think Jeff would like it too!