Andrew Jefford holds a magnifying glass to Languedoc-Roussillon in France and finds Le Prieuré Saint Jean de Bébian in particular that deserves to be counted among the region’s best.
Despite this splendor, the Pumpyanskys seemed engagingly modest about their role, but promisingly committed, too. “In 2008, we started an adventure,” Alexander Pumpyansky told me. “We didn t know where it was going. We didn t want to change things too much.” Dmitry had become interested in wine (“because he is interested in everything,” says his son) and they d looked for a property in Bordeaux ““ then heard about this sale, and fallen in love with Bébian and its twelfth-century chapel. The new cellar marks their commitment to the property. “It s a step but we ll need another ten years.” Well, at least.
The best taste of Bébian from Andrew Jefford
La Chapelle de Bébian Blanc 2014
The second white of the estate is based on Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, with a little Clairette. Subtle, teasing notes of freesia and honeysuckle in both the aroma and on the palate, and a plump yet sappy flavour: delicious. 90
Prieuré de St Jean de Bébian Blanc 2014
The blend of this barrel-fermented white is principally Roussanne, with 10 per cent of less of Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul. Quietly creamy on the nose at present, with incipient palate complexities: pine, wild flowers, almond, stone. 91+
Prieuré de St Jean de Bébian Rouge 2010
Dark, and packed with rich, fleshy fruits. Textured, long and powerful on the palate, with ample yet succulent tannins. Needs more time for maximum Languedoc character to emerge, but this is a hugely promising Bébian which could be aged with confidence. 93
Prieuré de St Jean de Bébian Rouge 2006
The first wine in the set showing comprehensive maturity, with splendid aromatic complexity: underbrush, dry leaves, dry grasses, sweet herbs and warm stones. On the palate, this is firm, chunky and solidly constituted; its splendidly resonant tannins look set to see out another decade. 93
Prieuré de St Jean de Bébian Rouge 2001
A grand classic, and an even better bottle than the already impressive example of the 01 Bébian I tasted in May this year, this is still a dark and youthful-looking wine with impressive earth, pine and thyme complexities, a fresh, elegant mid-palate, and a finish packed with liquorice and other root spices. 93