Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Wine tasting in Bordeaux

I recently had a long weekend in Bordeaux, the main purpose of which was to relax and spend some quality time with my wife away from the kids (thanks Nanna & Grandad!), of course Bordeaux wasn't selected at random, that location facilitates two of my most favourite past-times namely, eating good food and tasting fine wine! We arrived Friday evening and departed the following Monday afternoon, a short but very enjoyable trip during which we visited a number of Châteaux in the Medoc and St. Emilion.

Here are the tasting notes for all the wines I tried (some at the château and some over dinner/lunch) - scoring using a "Parker" 50-100 point score.

Ch. Lafon Rochet 2001, St. Estephe

I have tried a couple of vintages Lafon Rochet and always found it to be a reliable and interesting wine. The quality of this estate seems to be steadily increasing, the 97 was above average, the 2000 is really good and this 2001 is also excellent VFM at around £22/bottle. Dark, complex and full bodied. Black fruits and earth on the nose, good mouth feel, reasonable finish, soft tannins with a slightly "dusky" feel to it, drinking OK now but plenty of life left in it yet 5+ years [89+]

Ch. Haut Bages Averous 2001, Pauillac

Pleasant nose of red berries, some “greenness”, lively in the mouth, fresh good finish; would appear to be good VFM at £20/bottle, 5+ years left probably with some improvement [87]

Ch. Lynch-Bages 2001, Pauillac

This was my fourth outing for the grand vin of this Pauillac 5th growth, although that classification is a bit of a joke, it should be more like 2nd these days, I've previously tried the 98 which I thought was good, and the 2000 which was great, this was somewhere in between. Cassis and red fruits on the nose, medium depth, not as lively as the 2nd wine of the same vintage and perhaps a little closed at present? Probably wise to wait 5 years or so for this one although I doubt it will ever become a blockbuster like some of their better years i.e. 1989, 1996, 2000 etc. but I'd be happy to own some never the less 10+ years [88]

Blanc de Lynch-Bages 2004, Pauillac

A wonderful discovery for me, unfortunately they only make 1500 cases a year. So refreshing, citrus fruits, well integrated oak, some sweetness (apparently there is some Muscadelle in the blend) Medium bodied, aromatic and went superbly with the langoustines in a rich sauce that I had with it. I imagine that this has some legs too; it seems to have plenty of body to last and improve over time 5+ years [91+]

Ch. Bernadotte 2001, Pauillac

Quite similar to the second wine of Lynch-Bages from the same vintage; fresh, up-front nose and taste, also quite tannic with a reasonable finish so I would imagine there is no rush to drink this. Value wise, at around £11 this seems ok but certainly not at the same QPR level as a lot of new-world Bordeaux look-a-likes, 5+ years [88]

Ch. Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2004, Pauillac

Bright red colour, fairly dull nose but there is fruit there, cherries, cassis and cocoa. Big disappointment in the mouth, chewy, slightly bland with strong dry tannins, clearly very young and potentially closed down at the moment? I’d give this plenty of time to come around, only because of the good name of the estate rather than any special tasting insight on my part, but at £55/bottle I won't be stocking up on this any time soon. 10+ years [88+]

Alter Ego du Palmer 2000, Margaux

Nice nose & deep colour, red fruits, tobacco, earth. Smooth accessible, drinking well now but will certainly improve. Around £35/bottle which I suppose is about right for a 2000 2nd wine from a top estate, went very well with the beef fillet I had with it, got better over the course of the meal (2+ hours) in the decanter. 10+ years [90+]

Ch. Houchat la Rose 2002, Fronsac

Tight upfront fruit on the nose, wood, resin, red berries, bright red in colour. I would imagine that this would be a splendid food wine for “lunching ladies”, not too heavy (12.5%), accessible but more serious than most roses. I’ve not tried too many wines from Fronsac, but this is a good one IMO, around 10 euros 5+ years [88]

Ch. Rozier 2004, St. Emilion

Blackcurrant and red fruits on the nose, wood & vanilla evident, good rich colour but a lighter style of Saint Emilion, well balanced for such a young wine, overall not too shabby for an average year. 5+ years [88+]

Ch. St. Andre Corbin 2004, St. Emilion (St. Georges)

Typical St. Emilion nose, dark colour, blueberries and vanilla with some more complex notes of chocolate and tobacco hiding underneath its youthful surface. Smooth and well balanced but surprisingly complex for this price point (£12), a very good wine. 5+ years [89+]

Ch. St. Andre Corbin 2005, St. Emilion (St. Georges)

Very nice nose, blueberry/vanilla, yum! Perhaps a little unbalanced at this stage but nothing unexpected, tannic but definitely good fruit under that, should improve and last for a good few years, great value at around 20 euros, but might be hard to find in the UK 5+ years [90+]

Les Cedres de Franc-Mayne 2004, St. Emilion

Tight, slightly green, nice fruit but difficult to get past the initial attack which is a bit harsh. It will probably settle down a bit with time 5+ years but not something I’d rush out to buy [86]

Ch. Franc Mayne 2001, St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe

“Dull” is my overriding impression of this wine, small nose and weak in the mouth, finish not bad but very tannic; at over £20/bottle I’m really not impressed [84]

Ch. Franc Mayne 1997, St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe

Tried this one 5 years ago and I thought it was very poor, perhaps this wine needs a long time to come around? This showing proved much better than the previous one, but still only an average wine in my view [82]

Ch. Le Bon Pasteur 1997, Pomerol

I was talked into buying this by our waiter at a restaurant in St. Emilion after my first choice wasn’t available, I wasn’t keen since it cost 90 Euro, I’d never tried it before and my impression of 97 right bank wines is not great, anyway, I caved and I’m glad I did, this was really nice. Good nose, smoky, cherry, black current, smooth, balanced and very well integrated oak. Full bodied and showing well, interestingly it improved over the course of the meal as well, suggesting it has legs left yet. 5+ years [91]

Fugue de Nenin 2006, Pomerol

Second wine of Chateau Nenin, first time I’d tried this in fact I hadn’t realized Nenin even had a 2nd label. Barrel sample, so pretty full on, bubble gum nose, plenty of fruit, strong tannin fabulous colour, I think this will be a very good wine, early drinking but complex enough, 10+ years [88]

Ch. de Nenin 2004, Pomerol

First sampling for me of Nenin, I like it. The 2004 is still very tannic, pretty much what you would imagine the owners of LLC would produce from Pomerol. Good dark colour, black fruits, plumy, fleshy, long finish. 10+ years [89+]

Chapelle de Pontensac 2004, Medoc

Second wine of Chateau Pontensac, my first sampling of this wine, superficially simple in colour and nose but actually some structure here, a “classic” claret style as you would expect from the LLC stable 5+ years [88]

Ch. Pontensac 2006, Medoc

Subtle nose (more so than the second wine), great colour, still very tannic as expected and very classic in style, quite austere but I like that; Opened out noticeably over the course of 10 minutes in the glass revealing cassis, earthy notes and some dark fruits, I suspect this will be a very nice wine in 5-10 years time [89+]

Clos du Marquis 2006, St. Julien

One of my favorites and certainly one of the best 2nd wines of the Medoc IMO, quite restrained on the nose at this stage but you get the impression that there is stuff going on with this wine. The 2006 CDM contains a high percentage of Cabernet Franc (13.2%) this year for the 1st time which came from a parcel in the Grand Vin vineyard, apparently it didn’t ripen fast enough for inclusion in the grand vin. The head of the chais at the château thought that this inclusion has revolutionized the CDM this year, he believes that it will add complexity and flavour to the wine which previously has not been there. I think its hard to tell at this early stage but it looks promising, I shall certainly be investing in a few cases. Still great value at around £25/bottle easily of 3rd or 4th growth quality, 15+ years [92]

Clos du Marquis 2004, St. Julien

Classic CDM, still way too young to drink, this needs at least 8 years to come around and gain the complexity that is evident in the raw materials now. Dark ruby in colour, red berries, earthy, tobacco on the nose, very fine for this price point but still a little “tough” and tannic for all but the most devoted of fans. 10+ years [90]

Ch. Leoville-Las Cases 2006, St. Julien

It was a real privilege for me to taste a barrel sample of the grand vin, particularly from such a good year, my absolute favorite Bordeaux wine (so far!). Very deep colour, not a huge nose at this stage but boy is it classy, the people at LLC are such professionals; Classic, powerful, amazingly tannic leaving my mouth feeling like it had been inverted, brooding fruit lurking under the surface, huge finish measured in days rather than seconds, is this better than the 2005, it may well be close. 20+ years [96]

Chevalier de Lascombes 2002, Margaux

The second wine of Chateau Lascombes, I was interested to try this since I visited this estate just after the take over and the 2000 vintage heralded a step change in quality at this 2nd growth Margaux. I liked it, not huge, fairly “international” in style but pleasant with a pork fillet for lunch. Light ruby in colour, red fruits and slightly spirity on the nose, smooth in the mouth, medium finish, altogether not too shabby. 5+ years [87+]

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