1946 Figeac


During en primeur week, I attended a dinner at Château Figeac. Following a raft of wines in large formats that included the 1989 and 1975, the evening’s climax was a mystery wine that guests were invited to identify. A few brave souls raised their hands to give their tentative answer – all wildly off, not by years, but decades. 

It turned out to be a genuine surprise, a 1946, the “weak link” of post-war vintages and one hardly ever seen nowadays. To date, the only bottle I have encountered in 25 years is coincidentally its neighbour, Cheval Blanc, poured at a private dinner in Hong Kong. The Manoncourts had chanced upon a stash of 300 perfectly-stored bottles, and so what could be a better occasion? Smitten by the wine, I splashed it over social media only for a friend to later remind me that they were due to repeat the dinner with the same “mystery wine” that evening. This might explain why, according to first-hand accounts, half the guests immediately and quite miraculously nailed the vintage. So how did it taste?

The 1946 Figeac was made when Thierry Manoncourt was recovering from the war, during which he was imprisoned in a German camp. Showing moderate bricking on the rim, it is clear in colour with no turbidity. The bouquet is attractive, with hints of chlorine, vestiges of red cherries and strawberry, followed by cedar and sandalwood emanating from the Cabernets. The palate remains fresh and balanced. It is by no means a complex Saint-Émilion, but there is decent weight and lovely tart sour cherry mixed with brown sugar notes. Harmonious, though not persistent, it is simply a divine fully-mature Figeac, graceful and full of charm. It might be the best 1946 that I will ever drink. 92/Drink 2022-2030.

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