MS Tasting –Bordeaux 2008


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There does not arise many opportunities where I can taste a first growth.

This Magnum tasting traversed six Bordeaux’s from the ’08 vintage, and included a Mouton Rothschild. Its rarity in the Society’s cellar will only increase as the en primeur price climbs for it and its like.

JC led the tasting, and produced the following notes to accompany the flight:

 “This was a challenging year for Bordeaux. The world economic crisis was imminent. China had become the principal buyer of premium Bordeaux following disenchantment in USA and Europe with the quality and price escalation of the 2006 and 2007 vintages. The overall weather pattern was cool and damp throughout the growing cycles. Early expectations for the wines were reserved. Robert Parker elected not to participate in the scheduled en primeur tastings. Without his endorsement the Chateaux offered the wines at lower prices but sales still languished despite being the “last affordable vintage”. (Robinson)

Climatically the winter was mild, spring was wet and early summer was cool and damp, only to be miraculously saved by a late Indian summer. Budburst was late, setting a pattern for the season. Protracted and uneven flowering followed leading to poor fruit set while the cool temperatures and rain produced mould and mildew infestations. Fortunately July was warm and dry, curtailing vegetative growth and allowing the vines to ripen tannins. More rain ensued during August and early September until a radical change in the high pressure systems brought cool, dry air into Bordeaux with warm days and cool nights extending through to late October.

Why then is the vintage rated very good, or (Parker) “excellent with a number of superb wines that are close to, if not equal to, the prodigious 2005 or 2000 vintages”? The benign harvest was a critical factor. More significant were the long, slow growth cycles and the low production. Seasons usually average 100 days between flowering and harvest in Bordeaux; in 2008 the hangtime extended from 120 to 160 days. “The slow vegetative cycles allowed the grapes to ripen effectively, gradually and inconspicuously” (Blatch) providing “far more nuance of flavour intensity than anyone expected” (Parker). This was also a low yielding vintage due to an imperfect flowering and mildew (and consequent necessity to green harvest over summer) and the dehydration leading up to harvest, enabling the vines to fully ripen the residual fruit.

The wines are typically dark and opaque in colour with fragrant red fruit aromatics, fresh acidity, pristine, nuanced fruit and sweet, supple tannins. The extended hangtime favoured the Cabernet Sauvignon in the Northern Medoc producing dense and vibrant wines combining both flesh and firmness. On the Right Bank the low yields have endowed the wines with intense aromas and opulent flavours. “The best are beautifully balanced, effortless, mid-weight clarets, ripe in core fruit with a splendid aromatic complexity that fills the mouth and then coats the throat on the finish. Their individuality and quality stem from an aromatic intensity and tenacity of flavour rather than a fruit concentration”. (Schuster).

The vintage was particularly successful in Pauillac, St Julien and Pomerol and it is from these communes that our cellar master has selected the wines for this tasting:

  1. Chateau Mouton Rothschild (83% cs 17% m) (Parker score: 94)
  2. Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande (63% cs, 29% m, 5% pv, 3% cf) (Parker 96)
  3. Chateau Pontet Canet (65% cs, 30% m, 4% cf, 1% pv) (Parker 96-98)
  4. Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (85% cs, 15% m) (Parker 96-98)
  5. Chateau Hosanna (80% m, 20% cf) (Parker 95)
  6. Chateau La Fleur Petrus (90% m, 10% cf) (Parker 92-94)

Pauillac

Pauillac is the most prestigious commune of Bordeaux with three first growths. It comprises two distinct plateaus of deep gravels over sand, marl and limestone with a greater concentration of clay in the southern plateau. Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant variety followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wines are quintessential claret in style; dry, intensely aromatic and flavoured, and renowned for their vigour and longevity. Flavours include blackcurrant and berry, earth, spice, lead pencil and the oak derived cedar and cigarbox.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Owned by generations of the Rothschild family since 1853. Baron Phillippe Rothschild’s enterprise elevated the Chateau to first growth classification in 1973. The 75 hectares vineyard is located on the higher plateau consisting of deep (up to 5 metres) gravels over sand and limestone and is planted 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, vines averaging 45 years. The grapes are fermented in oak (predominantly) and stainless steel vats and then matured in 100% new French oak for 19 to 22 months.

Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande

Now owned by the Rouzard family (Roderer champagne) following the sale by the formidable ambassadress of Bordeaux, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing in 2007. The Chateau has since undergone a complete renovation. The vineyard comprises 89 hectares of which 74 hectares are in production and is planted 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot with an average vine age of 45 years. Soils are deep gravels over clay and limestone. Vinification takes place in concrete and wood vats and the wine is then matured for between 16 and 20 months in 60% new French oak.

Chateau Pontet Canet

Owned by Cognac merchant Guy Tresseron since the wine scandal forced the sale of the chateau by the Cruse family in 1975. Michel Rolland was appointed consultant in 1999. Viticulture is organic/biodynamic. The vineyard comprises 81 hectares of deep gravels over clay and limestone and is planted 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot averaging 45 years in vine age. The grapes are fermented in wood vats followed by 16 to 20 months maturation in 60% new French oak.

St Julien

Smallest commune of the Medoc but with the highest ratio of classified terroir of any region in Bordeaux. Soils are a mixture of gravel, (but with less depth than in Pauillac), sand, limestone and clay. Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant variety followed by Merlot and lesser plantings of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The wines exemplify subtlety and balance. Aromas and flavours are similar to Pauillac, perhaps more floral, and not as intense nor as concentrated.

Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou

This Chateau has been owned by the Brest-Borie family since 1941. The family also owns Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste in Pauillac. The vineyard comprises 75 hectares of well drained gravels covered with substantial stones. The vineyards are planted 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot with an average vine age of 50 years. Vinification takes place in stainless steel vats with malolactic fermentation transferred to concrete vats. The wine is then aged in 75% to 90% new French oak for between 18 and 20 months.

Pomerol

This is the smallest region of Bordeaux situated west of St Emilion. The prime estates are located on the plateau which consists of a complex amalgam of clay, gravel, sand and iron ore deposits. Merlot is the predominant variety followed by Cabernet Franc and the occasional Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Wine style is determined by site and producer but in general tends to be rich and sensual with aromas and flavours of plum, chocolate and exotic spices.

Chateau Hosanna

This Chateau was originally part of the Certan property (then Chateaux Certan-Giraud), acquired by the Giraud family in 1956 (renamed Chateaux Grand) and then sold to Jean-Pierre Moueix in 1999. Renamed Chateau Hosanna, the vineyard is a mere 4.5 hectares and is planted 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard, located at the top of the plateau, has gravel and red clay soils. The grapes are vinified in stainless steel tanks and then aged for 12 to 14 months in 50% new French oak.

Chateau La Fleur Petrus

This Chateau is also owned by the Moueix family. The vineyard is situated on the northern edge of the plateau adjacent to La Fleur and Petrus. The vineyard comprises 18.7 hectares and is planted with 91% Merlot, 6% Cabernet France and 3% Petit Verdot on gravelly, clay soils. Stainless steel vats are used for fermentation/maceration. The wine is aged for 16 to 18 months in 50% new French oak.”

Other points to note from the opening discussion – Mouton used 100% new oak; the Pontet was Parker’s wine of the vintage on the Left bank; while Hosanna was the superstar from the Right Bank.

And then on to the tasting itself, with all the wines customarily served blind in 60ml pours:

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2008 Chateau La Fleur Petrus  – Deep dark carmine. There was some bottle variation across the group, but I saw a lightly scented, somewhat reticent wine. Aromas of purple fruit, cedar shavings, spice and vanilla. The longer it sat, the more of a late bloomer it was. In the mouth, a sweet and crisp attack, mouthcoating, with a fresh finish. Bright fruit flavours through the mid-palate, densely-packed. Vibrant and primary.  I scored this Gold. I liked this wine. Who could not?

2008 Chateau Hosanna – Deep dark carmine. A beguiling scent on this wine. Rich, layered and complx. Dark fruit, ripe smoky and opulent, dense. Savouryness and spice. Touch of sous bois. Sweet attack in the mouth, smokey, spicy and long. Heat on the back palate. Meaty. Some cocoa and tobacco. The sweetest wine of the flight.  I scored this Gold.

2008 Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande – Deep dark carmine. A lean and metallic note on the nose. Bright red fruit. Pink roses, sweet floral. Shows prominent oak and quite lifted. Lean on the palate too. Red fruits, quite short. Floral. Leafy. Some cassis, and pencil-lead. Others saw green olives, which was interesting, if somewhat unappealing.  I scored this Silver. I kinda disliked this.

2008 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou – Deep dark carmine. I saw cardboard box, elegenat spice and warming characters, then some fellow tasters declared the bottle faulty so we swapped to another. The wine I had a second look at was sweet, perfumed, with vanilla and sweet red fruits and lanoline. Quite delightful and fine. Youthful and exuberant to taste, with crisp red fruits. An crisp finish, quite long. Violets.  I scored this Gold, and it was my second wine of the night.

2008 Chateau Mouton Rothschild – Deep dark carmine. Forward, rich and developed on the nose. Unique. Complex, with oak, pencil lead and dark fruit. Structured, dense and brooding. Some forest floor characters, cassis and cocoa. To taste the wine was lean and long, with a fresh acid profile, quite developed, with the softest texture of the flight. Additional flavours of charred oak, sous bois, olives, plums and smoke. Twenty two tasters rated this as their favourite wine. But not me, to my embarrassment.  I just scored it Gold.

2008 Chateau Pontet Canet – Deep dark carmine. This was why I came, it seemed. Rich dense fruit on nose. Quite tight. I smelled currants. There was oak. Very powerful. Some blood and road dust, as you do, and firm. On drinking, there was richness and density up front, and well structured fruit throughout.  Fantastically integrated tannins with the fruit. Primary still. Poised and absolutely delicious. I scored this wine Gold and it was my Wine Of The Night (WOTN)

On review, there was so much elegance across the lineup. More impressive that the ‘05’s tasted last year.

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I took the wines home to have another look at the kitchen table, along with some of the empty bottles. Some faded on the trip across town, but the La Fleur, Pontet and Mouton stayed the course for deliciousness and engagement.

A fantastic education in fine wine!

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Straight to the Pool Room – March 2017


Pool Room Feb 2017

Not much to say about these wines. Being devoid of inspiration, and short of $$, I thought I had better get a few random cheap Bordeaux for the cellar, in the absence of any better idea. I really should just buy more Rieslings, hmm. But however…

They are all Cotés de Bordeaux, and had a good write-up in the shop. Let’s see in 5, eh?

Ch. Fongaban 2013 – $$ – drink 2018-2021

Ch. Mayne-Vallet 2009 – $$ – let it rest a bit and drink later this winter I guess.

Bordeaux 2015, in anticipation


Bordeaux 2015

The wine society I belong to buys wines and cellars them until the date that our Cellarmaster think the wines will be drinking at their peak, at which point they then get hauled out blinking in the lamplight for our tasting and appreciation and discourse.

I was looking through the latest newsletter, and idly noting the latest acquisitions to our cellar, when I noticed a few of the wines had got a write-up in my latest copy of Decanter….

The June issue (a bit late arriving down these parts, something about shipping delays etc) covered the 2015 vintage of Bordeaux. Steven Spurrier was quoted as declaring that “Bordeaux is back” in 2015, with “a sure-bet vintage that ticks all the boxes, producing great wines across the region”. He said, “Some great wines have been made, and I feel that 2015’s reputation will grow”.

He and his crack team of drinkers were sent forth to wrap their laughing gear around a whole bunch of classy wines, and report back their findings. And I must say some of the wines looked rather good. And I think we bought some. So I checked.

We bought:

2015 Ch. Rauzan Segla Margaux 2CC, $103.00ea – Decanter sez 95 points

2015 Ch. Belair Monange St Emilion 1GCCB at $152.00ea – Decanter sez 94 points

2015 Ch. La Fleur Petrus Pomerol at $205.00ea – Decanter sez 93 points

2015 Ch. Trotanoy Pomerol at $225.00ea – Decanter sez 96 points!

2015 Ch. Haut Bailly Graves at $133.00 – Decanter sez 97 points, and Graves Wine of the Vintage!!

2015 Ch. Vieux Chateau Certan Pomerol at $310.00ea – Decanter sez 97 points!

Good news! We bought enough to go around.

Bad News! We won’t be tasting these bad bois until 2028.

F**n hell. Best keep passing those open windows, then.

MS Bordeaux 2005 Tasting – Pessac-Leognan, St Emilion and Pomerol


MS Bordeaux 2015 1

The 2005 vintage in Bordeaux is considered a contender for the finest vintage there since 1982. Steven Spurrier wrote in the May 2016 edition of Decanter about a 2012 Claret tasting where the participants ranked the 2005 vintage above all the vintages post-2000, and ahead of 2009 and 2010.

This month the Magnum Society offered me an opportunity to taste a horizontal of 2005’s from famous Bordeaux chateaux that I would never ordinarily have the chance to try due to their relative scarcity and cost. And this included a couple of Robert Parker 100-pointers! Wow, another first.

  1. Chateau Haut-Bailly: Pesac-Leognan 2005 (58% CS, 36% M, 6% CF). RP 96 points
  2. Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte: Pessac-Leognan 2005 (64% CS, 30% M, 5% CF, 1% PV). RP 98 points
  3. Chateau Angelus: St Emilion 2005 (62% M, 38% CF). RP 100 points
  4. Chateau Troplong Mondot: St Emilion 2005 (90% M, 5% CF, 5% CS). RP 100 points
  5. Chateau La Fleur Petrus: Pomerol 2005 (80% M, 20% CF). RP 92 points
  6. Chateau L’Evangile: Pomerol 2005 (85% M, 15% CF). RP 96 points

I was looking forward to this evening very much.  It would be my first look at quality Clarets…

JC from the Society presented the wines to us, and here is a summary of his excellent notes accompanying the tasting:

“The dry growing 2005 season produced grapes of exceptional maturity and concentration with the (then) highest recorded levels of tannin, dry extract and natural alcohol. The wine media was quick to acclaim the overall consistency, balance and harmony of the wines following the Union de Grands Crus tastings.

Bill Blatch, the internationally renowned commentator on Bordeaux vintages, described 2005 as “a truly extraordinary year, easy to manage, and without complications.” “The sun shone almost permanently … and what little rain there was fell just before all the vital sequences of the vine’s cycle.” Bordeaux did experience relatively severe, even drought, conditions with rainfall barely half of average, but there were no periods of the torrid heat that beset 2003. The grapes were harvested under warm, sunny skies; the cool nights preserving acidity. Crop levels were modest. The grapes were small in size with a high ratio of solids to juice, and generously endowed with sugar. Few chateaux needed to resort to chaptalization, reverse osmosis or other techniques to concentrate the must.

This tasting focused on the earlier-maturing wines of Pessac-Leognan, St Emilion and Pomerol.

Pessac-Leognan

Sub-appellation of Graves producing red and white wine. The well drained soils consist of gravel terraces over limestone and marl. Extensive forest plantations have created a warm microclimate protecting the vines from humidity and wind. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the predominant red grape varieties with minor plantings of Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. The wines are similar in weight to the Margaux commune; perhaps rounder and less tensile, and are typically characterised by scorched earth, tobacco and smoky aromas and flavours.

  1. Chateau Haut-Bailly: Grands Cru Classe

USA banker ownership currently managed by Veronique Sanders, granddaughter of a former owner. The property is sited on an elevated ridge of sandy gravels over layers of petrified sandstone, near Leognan. The 33 hectare vineyard is planted with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petite Verlot. Fermentation/maceration takes 4 to 5 weeks in concrete vats followed by maturation in oak for 18 months (50% new).

  1. Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte: Grands Cru Classe

 Daniel and Florence Cathiard acquired the Chateau in 1990 following disposal of substantial supermarket businesses. Situated in the Martillac commune the vineyard comprises 78hectares with 67 hectares devoted to red varieties and 11 to white varieties. The soils are predominantly gravels with a high iron oxide content. Grape plantings are 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet France and 1% Petite Verdot. The fruit is fermented/macerated 4 to 7 weeks in wooden vats and then matured in oak for 18 to 20months (60% new).

 St Emilion

The oldest wine producing region in Bordeaux with three distinctive subregions; the limestone plateau (Cotes) surrounding the township of St Emilion, the alluvial sandy plain sloping down to the Dordogne River and the clay and gravel terraces of the north west adjacent to Pomerol. Merlot and Cabernet Franc are the dominant varieties reflecting their ability to ripen on the cooler soils.They produce plum, black cherry and liquorice aromas with flavours of fruitcake, tobacco and spice.Wine style varies according to producer but overall tends to be softer, more opulent and voluptuous than the Medocs.

  1. Chateau Angelus: Premier Grands Cru Classe A

 This Chateaux is owned by the eighth generation of the Bouard de Laforest family. The former manager, Herbert de Bouard, has been described by Robert Parker as “The poster child and catalyst for the quantitative revolution in St Emilion” following the introduction of reduced yields, whole cluster ferments in open vats, malo in barrels and new oak maturation. The vineyard is 39 hectares in area and is situated on the south facing Cotes where the soils consist of clay and limestone. Grape variety percentages are 51% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vinification is undertaken in stainless, concrete and oak vats and the wine is matured for 18 to 24 months in 100% new oak.

  1. Chateau Troplong Mondot: Premier Grands Cru Classe B

This Chateau has belonged to the Valette family since 1936. It was (until 2014) managed by the late Christine Valette who engaged Michel Rolland as a consultant in the early 1980s. The 33 hectares vineyard is also sited on the Cotes and is planted with 90% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. The grapes are fermented and macerated in stainless steel vats over 3 to 4 weeks followed by 16 to 24 months oak maturation (75% new).

 Pomerol

This is the smallest region of Bordeaux situated west of St Emilion. The prime estates are located on the plateau which consists of a complex amalgam of clay, gravel, sand and iron ore deposits. Merlot is the predominant variety followed by Cabernet Franc and the occasional Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Wine style is determined by site and producer but in general tends to be rich and sensual with aromas and flavours of plum, chocolate and exotic spices.

  1. Chateau La Fleur Petrus: Unclassified

Part of the portfolio of Chateaux belonging to the Moueix family. The vineyard is situated on the northern edge of the plateau adjacent to La Fleur and Petrus. The vineyard comprises 18.7 hectares and is planted with 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc on gravelly, clay soils. Both concrete and stainless steel vats are used for fermentation/maceration. The wine is aged for 18 months in 33% to 50% new oak.

  1. Chateau L’Evangile: Unclassified

Acquired by the owners of Chateau Lafite Rothschild from the Ducasse family in 1990 the vineyard has since been extensively replanted and the winery and cellars completely renovated prior to the 2005 vintage. The vineyard area is 22 hectares and is situated on the south east section of the plateau where sandy clay soils prevail. The grape variety percentages are 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The wine is matured in oak for 18 months (70% new) following vinification in concrete vats.”

 

But before we could wrap our laughing gear around this lot, there was the serious matter of attending to this year’s Annual General Meeting first. Lubricating the meeting were a small selection of ‘conversation wines’ from the Society’s cellar:

 

Joh Jos Prum Wehlener Sonnemuhr Spatlese 2001 – 7.5% alc – Brilliant pale gold. Sweet, rich. Honey. Phenols. Gorgeous apples and primary lime still. Harmonious. Splendid.

Keller Dalsheimer Hubacker Riesling Spatlese Rheinhessen 2001 – 8% alc – Sweet, lovely acidity, ripeness and balance. Primary lime again, and also harmonious.

Ruchottes Chambertin Grand Cru 2001 – Floral, aromatic and sweet on the nose. Warm vanilla notes, light, slight medicinal. Lovely.

Gevry-Chambertin Combe aux-Moines 1er Cru 2001 – Light red fruit, secondary characters showing through, with generosity.

 

What a great selection of wines to get the palate whetted!

 

MS Bordeaux 2015 2

Then on to the featured selection…I discovered that I was somewhat at sea and so inexperienced in describing these wines that I bolstered my notes with the observations of my better-educated table-mates! Still fun learning tho…

 

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte: Pessac-Leognan 2005 – $118 – Deep dark blood red, tending brick. Caramel, licorice, spice and vanilla. Floral characters, some Cabernet Franc aromas. Mealy, with tobacco, cassis and currants. Sweet entry with bright black fruit. Very drinkable, crunchy acid. Hot finish. A classical expression, and improved with food. Some leafiness on palate. Long. 96 points.

 

Chateau Haut-Bailly: Pesac-Leognan 2005 – $134 – Deep dark blood red. Warm, earthy and savoury on the nose. Dense and earthy on palate too, with rich angular fruit textures. Took a while to open up. Muscular, tensile. Tar and chocolate, with mint.  A hot, dry and powerful finish. 93 points.

 

Chateau L’Evangile: Pomerol 2005 – $346 – Deep dark blood red. A swirling bouquet to chase of sweet vanilla, deep fruit, caramel and blossom, smoky notes. Layers of deep sweet velvet fruit to taste, with more caramel and the warm of licorice, approaching chocolate. Fine, harmony and balance. A lovely wine with a long and dusty finish. A hard wine not to love – it elevated us to another plateau. One of my two favourites of the flight! 97 points

 

Chateau La Fleur Petrus: Pomerol 2005 – $134 – Deep dark blood red. I tried two bottles here. The first showed very dumb and lifeless. It was working hard to be anything. My fellow tasters identified a fault, so we had a third bottle opened and discovered a wine that was fresher, aromatic, richer and fruitier. This was probably a case of a better bottle, combined with zero decanting time (the previous wine had been double-decanted since the afternoon). The ‘B’ bottle was distinctive and multi-dimensional – evolved fruit, savoury, earthy, and saline characters all combined. Slightly short in the company,  pleasant though. 89 points

 

Chateau Troplong Mondot: St Emilion 2005 – $261 – Deep dark blood red. This was drying, and the least evolved. A curious bouquet of brown paper mingling with the usual blackberry and spice. There was power and viscosity on the nose and on palate. Brooding, difficult, unreadable. Chewy tannins, not too joined-up. A classy monumental wine, highly extracted, very modern. 96 points.

 

Chateau Angelus: St Emilion 2005 – $446 – Deep dark blood red. An ethereal, fabulous wine. An explosion of perfume aromas of sleek red fruit, vanilla and tobacco. Cassis leaf. Dense and elegant and powerful  to taste with sandalwood, oak, & harmonious tannin. It showed sweet and resinous and dusty. A superb wine, refined and opulent. It finished on glorious sweet tannins. My wine of the night. 98 points.

 

 

 

My ‘takeaway’ about these wines would be  several  things – the finesse, depth and persistence of the wines; their age-ability; their ‘sweetness’ on entry; their heat and depth; that they were so dense and youthful after 10 years in bottle. It was just remarkable. I can see now why so many wine lovers are entranced by the wines of this region.

 

However, I do hope it is more down to the quality and expression of the terroir than just the superlative vintage that makes these wines so delicious.  Bring on the Tranche 2 Bordeaux tasting so I can learn more!

 

 

What’s in the glass tonight May 30th – St-Julien


Sarget 2010

Off Topic: Sarget de Gruard Larose St-Emilion 2010

The night before I was fortunate to enjoy a superlative tasting of 2005 Bordeaux’s. My nose and head was still full of sense-memories of the wonderful wines I had experienced from that part of the world*.  I had to keep the feeling going…

So then, this is the second wine of the Second Growth property Ch. Gruard Larose from the appellation of St-Julien in Bordeaux. 70% of the growers grape crop goes into the Sarget.  I bought this bottle en primeur in 2011 from Glengarry, solely on the glowing tasting notes accompanying the offer.

Dark garnet colour. 14% alcohol

Big expressive nose of black cherry, plum, spice and cassis. It smelt perfect.

Sweet entry. Black cherry and pepper  showing on the mid-palate. Firm and tannic, this wine is a hefty delight in the mouth. Young too, probably opened 2-3 years too early. Supple and chewy. Showing some tar and tobacco notes also. Drying finish.

This hit the sweet-spot alright!  92 Points

*Tasting notes to come

What’s in the glass tonight May 11th – St. Emilion.


Ch. Teyssier 2010

Ch. Teyssier St. Emilion Grand Cru 2010

Deep dark red. 14% alc. A house-warming gift from GC and CM.

Lovely nose of red fruits, cedar, vanilla, tending secondary now. A bit brambly. Warmth and spice.  Enticing bouquet.

Sweet red fruit to taste, bright acid line, medium body, medium acid, hot finish. Very engaging wine, showing well now.  90 points.

What’s in the glass tonight Aug 7th


Ch. Bellevue

Off Topic: Ch. Bellevue Bordeaux Supérieur Sauveterre de Guyenne 2012 – $$

Stephen Brook writing recently in Decanter said of the 2012 Bordeaux vintage, “ Extreme weather made 2012 a tricky vintage to handle in Bordeaux, but a selective buyer can find quality”.

We don’t get much selection down in this part of the world, if we choose to select from the levels below grand cru, but my local wine store rated this wine quite highly.

Dark crimson. 12.5%. Savoury, muscular, almost meaty nose. I smell warm bread, dark fruit, figs.

It is lively in the glass, with structure and supple tannins, and a good level of fruit flavour and intensity. A good drop for less that a twenty. Would look even better in a couple of years.

BTG 3+

What’s in the glass tonight May 16th


Man O War Ironclad 2008

Man O’ War Ironclad Waiheke 2008

Waiheke Island is rich in history; Captain James Cook anchored there during his first voyage around New Zealand in 1769 and taking note of the magnificent stands of Kauri trees, wrote in the his journals that they would make ideal masts for the “Man O’ War” warships for the Royal Navy. On a trip to the island I once found a shard splintered from a stone Maori adze that must have been worked on the very beach I was standing on over a century earlier.

This is a Bordeaux varietal wine made from a family owned wine estate situated in the iron rich clay hills of Waiheke Island off the coast of Aukland in the Hauraki Gulf. Man O’ War is owned by one of NZ’s richest families, the Spencers. They made their money from making a variety of things, including loo roll.

The wine is produced from 45 different parcels of grapes. This vintage comprises 52% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 10.5% Melbec, 9.1% Petit Verdot, and 1.4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Not sure why they bothered with the last component, no more than a margin of error in quantity…

Anyway, this wine was bloody marvellous. 14.5%. Inky black magenta. Dense rich nose. Vanilla.

Deep and aromatic with an intense attack and soft smooth texture following on, and with nicely concentrated black fruit flavours and cedar and spice. Firm tannins and a fantastic finish. Age, grace and power.

Supercalifragidelicious.

Outstanding 5

What’s in the glass tonight December 5th


Mouton Cadet 2011

Off Topic: Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2011 – $$

I have never seen this wine for sale here before, at least not where I shop. A historical wine created by Baron Philippe de Rothschild in the 1930s, I understand it is produced by the brimming lake-full as a second second wine blend from grapes sourced from all over Bordeaux – from the limestone soils of the Entre-Deux-Mers and Côtes de Bordeaux to the clay soils around Blaye and the gravels of  Côtes de Bourg.

It was an odd coincidence but I had just read the Baroness Phillipine’s obit in the latest Decanter, so when I saw this bottle in Central City Wines I thought I had better give it a try. For the record, I am very unlikely to ever spare the readies to try any other wine that bears the Baroness Philippine’s signature…

A deep ruby colour. 13.5%. Euro aroma of fruit and savoury notes, spice and oak.

Quite strong acidity, ok fruit – mostly blackcurrants. Not a big wine.  Simplicity concealed by assertive tannins. Would like to see this in a couple of years to see if the wine balances out, but will settle for re-corking the bottle and leaving it a couple of days instead. Will continue this later…

…which I did. The wine didn’t improve any. Fell over more like. Not much depth. Semi vege. Shows at that bargain price the Baroness is not giving anything away. The gushing hype on the website is overrated. I can find better wine elsewhere for less.

 Ok 2+

 

Straight to the Pool Room – November 2014


Pool Room Nov 2014

A small selection of leftovers from the big party, and a couple of gifts:

Moët & Chandon NV – drink 2015-2017. Gift. Not sure of the disgorgement date. Going to hold on to it until Christmas Day I expect and share it with L and our parents. I don’t drink enough good bubbles!

Chateau Teyssier St Emilion Grand Cru 2010 – drink 2015-2020. A gift from a good friend. High 80s points I think.

Thistle Ridge Pinot Noir Waipara 2013 – drink 2016-2017. Not built for that long a hibernation I think but worth a punt.

Framingham Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 – drink 2015-2017.

I have a short list of value NZ 2013s I still want to collect before the year is out, so may add to the Pool Room shortly.