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Showing posts with label Bordeaux. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bordeaux. Show all posts

18 October 2016

Merlot pie

I've received many emails over the last couple of weeks with all the usual hyperbole, facts and figures, excitement and/or disappointment about this year's vintage in Europe, and France especially (a very general synopsis would be good but not that much of it). One very long (as is their style but with lots of nice photos too) newsletter did stand out though from Château la Tulipe de la Garde in Bordeaux, containing a tempting-looking recipe for Merlot pie (above, obviously) and several happy harvest workers chomping away. Read the full works and see all the pics here: www.slurp.nu/88/english.html (where I stole the image from).

18 August 2016

White grape varieties 'of the moment'

Updated 03.09.16 - see two wines added at the bottom (Oz Viognier and Chile Chardy)...

Workhorse Chenin Blanc 2015 Stellenbosch South Africa (13.5% abv): Made by Chenin maestro Ken Forrester for Marks & Spencer, this dry white shows a bit of class and character with honeyed melon vs yeasty tones, fairly rich yet has fresh finish too. £8.50

03 January 2015

Bordeaux mini-focus: Château La Tulipe de la Garde & Château Guiraud

These two châteaux don't actually have anything in common, as far as I know, apart from being loosely "in Bordeaux" albeit about 70 km from each other; one to the north-east of the city near the Dordogne river and the other a good trek south-east along the Garonne...

Château de la Garde was bought by Ilja Gort in 1994, a rather ramshackle wine estate dating from the 13th century apparently; and it took him 10 years to restore and re-equip the property, which is located on 20 hectares of vineyards in a little place called Saint Romain La Virvée (on the way to Libourne). In 2010, Ilja decided to change its name to Château la Tulipe de la Garde, presumably to give it a Dutch twist. I'm told "the vineyards are divided into 30 blocks, which are vinified separately... and made up of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc." Well-known consultant winemaker and Pomerol estate-owner Michel Rolland has been working with them since 2009, to refine the wine's style using less oak and bringing out the fruit, paraphrasing Ilja, who's obviously not publicity shy: in 2008, he had his nose insured by Lloyds of London for five million Euros!

Château La Tulipe de la Garde 2011 Bordeaux Supérieur (13.5%) - a touch more Cab Sauv and touch less Merlot than the 2012 below. Light cedar and herby red pepper notes vs darker cherry / damson fruit, quite powerful with a hint of grip and bitter chocolate tannins, black cherry, plum and blackcurrant flavours; nice freshness vs weight with a lush touch and some developing fruit vs dry structured bite on the finish. It was a little softer after being open for 24 hours with subtle ripe vs crunchy fruit finishing with dark chocolate bitter twist. Attractive modest modern claret, if you like, and fairly good value too.
Château La Tulipe de la Garde 2012 (13.5% abv) - 86% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc; aged for 12 months in new French oak. Much softer wine and 'lighter' (although still similar 13.5% weight) with nice plummy fruit and light cedar edges, crunchy fruit too vs soft and sweet mouth-feel vs a hint of dry grip and subtle cedar/coconut texture, rounded and full finish with more immediate fruit and drinking-now style.
UK: Sainsbury's £10. More info: www.tulipe.co.uk

Château Guiraud probably needs less of an introduction, which is one of the oldest and largest wine estates in sublime sweet wine country, found in Sauternes itself, and is ranked as a Premier Grand Cru Classé in the (in)famous 1855 classification. And apparently the only one belonging to this royal elite that's certified organic. Winemaker and estate manager Xavier Planty embarked on a subtle style change from the 2000 vintage, to give "grip and structure but... cleaner, lighter and more elegant..." In any case, here are a few words on three very different vintages, plus one of Petit Guiraud, the "second wine", and 'Le G' which is their new-ish dry white.

2013 Le G de Château Guiraud - produced from certain 15 ha plots with 70% Sauvignon blanc and 30% Semillon (no noble rot), half of it fermented in barrels used to make Sauternes. Lively citrus and gooseberry aromas vs a more exotic, rounder and creamier side; nice intense lively palate with yeast lees notes then richer finish, lovely dry white.
2011 Petit Guiraud - described as "a modern Sauternes... refined sweetness given extra freshness by a high proportion of Sauvignon." Gorgeous exotic nose with dried apricot and spiced honey, lighter and fresher on the palate with attractive concentrated vs crisp finish.
2008 Château Guiraud - beginning to get enticing marmalade aromas tinged with orange peel, lush yet very crisp mouth-feel with a touch of coconut oak, good balance of sweet exotic botrytis fruit vs that fresher side too.
2001 Château Guiraud - almost restrained for its age with subtle butterscotch notes, rich lush and exotic with lovely 'bite' underneath, beautiful balance of concentrated and long finish with spicy and still lively tones. Classic.
1996 Château Guiraud - orangey brown colour with caramel and marmalade on the nose, lush and concentrated with attractive honey flavours; probably already peaked but a lovely wine anyway.

18 July 2014

Bordeaux has moved...

You'll now find everything Bordeaux updated and neatly pruned - click on the title links below to read these two crammed pages:
Bordeaux 'retrospective': new page with archive features (2003-2001) on Pomerol (Vieux Château Certan, Le Pin, Gazin), Château Falfas & biodynamics and Bordeaux travel 'famous Châteaux spotting'...
"During the meanwhilst," just to prove I'm not entirely stuck in the past, I'm working on a big report on Portuguese wines from the Lisbon area (as well as a spot of decorating...): "watch this space" as they say...

Bordeaux retrospective

As well as updating my hearty Bordeaux page, I've resurrected some more archive features and created a second new Bordeaux page (follow the links below):

Pomerol "invasion of MW students" in two parts: featuring Vieux Château Certan, Le Pin, Gazin (2003).
Château Falfas: "biodynamic in Côtes de Bourg" (2002).
"Bordeaux travel, in brief..." (scroll down to bottom of page) - celebrity château-spotting with Beychevelle, Ferrière, Margaux, Lafon-Rochet, Cos d’Estournel, Lynch-Bages, Lagrange, Rauzan-Ségla, Saint-Émilion; and eating and tasting posh but not dear at Le Bistro du Sommelier... (2001).
I might add all the accompanying tasting notes at some point too, if I can be bothered and can find them in my 'digital archives'...

19 May 2014

Bordeaux: 2010

There's been more than enough verbal and written hot air generated about how great a vintage 2010 was/is in Bordeaux and how the top wines were blatantly priced for millionaire investors only. So I'm not going to add a single word more on the subject... Except to say here's a resurrected mini-retrospective of two dozen very tasty 2010 Grands Crus reds sampled in London last year, rather at random across a few well- and not-so-well-known appellations and properties.
Updated 28 May - new wine added at end.

From www.facebook.com/Chateau-de-France-Pessac-Leognan

Domaine de Chevalier – cedar, red pepper and 'inky' notes vs vibrant plum, cassis and cherry; quite soft tannins on a warming palate (13.5% abv), tasty now actually with nice fruit and light bitter twist on the finish.
Château de Fieuzal – richer and smokier with more coconut/cedar oak, quite concentrated and firm yet rounded too, nice sweet cassis vs light oak texture, a bit of weight too with good balance and style.
Château de France – quite opulent plummy and black cherry fruit vs cedar/coco edges, more extracted and firmer vs that vibrant fruit, structured vs rounded finish; quite seductive.
Château Malartic-Lagravière – smoky dark fruit with cassis and cherry and a vanilla coating, dry bitter chocolate bite but it's quite elegant and balanced with subtle concentration.


Château Beau-Séjour Bécot – quite oaky vs attractive lively damson fruit, dry yet silky tannins, nice underlying depth and elegance although again a touch chocolatey at first.
Château Figeac – herby plummy cassis notes, light bitter twist of dry tannin vs again attractive sweeter berry fruit underneath.
Château Franc Mayne – cedary coconut tones vs fairly lush black cherry and plum, nicer tannins with dry vs silky texture, good depth of fruit vs chocolatey finish with bite.
Château La Couspaude – quite smoky and ripe, fairly concentrated and chunky, firm vs sweet oak and fruit; nice style, should blossom.
Château La Tour Figeac – quite complex, ripe berry with herby edges; fairly lush and silky vs dry grip, nice texture with chocolatey touches vs lovely fruit. Yum.


Château Clarke – leafy berry touches, more 'claret' like, subtle depth of berry and cassis fruit, firm yet attractive tannins; not so in-your-face, elegant Médoc style.
Château Fourcas Hosten – plummier and richer, more chocolate/coconut too but has tasty ripe dark fruit with cedary undertones, firm and structured vs rounded tannins; quite concentrated, balanced in the end, good wine.


Château Angludet – rich cassis and black cherry, quite concentrated and firm vs an elegant touch, sweet fruit vs subtle oak texture. Good stuff.
Château Cantenac Brown – perfumed with cedar/vanilla notes and berry fruits, firm palate in a leaner style, quite good in that way.
Château Labégorce – nice dry vs ripe texture, structured vs sweet berry with tight long finish, bitter twist vs rounded; closes up, should be good.
Château Lascombes – chocolate and coconut oak vs fairly lush fruit, extracted and concentrated vs ripe berry and cassis, pretty solid mouth-feel with herby/cedary tones vs lovely fruit, quite big too yet well-balanced; very nice wine.
Château Marquis de Terme – enticing sweet berry, cassis and cherry vs cedary edges; soft tannins and quite elegant vs nice intense berry fruit and dusting of cedary oak; good.


Château Léoville Barton – leafy cedary tones vs coconut/vanilla vs quite rich cherry and cassis, dry vs sweet texture, freshness vs power, very nice balance and style. Yum.
Château Léoville Poyferré – 'inkier' and smokier vs attractive sweet cherry and blackcurrant, firm vs silky texture; again stylish and balanced, very nice wine.


Château Grand-Puy Ducasse – leafy cedary tones vs cherry and berry, structured in a leaner firmer style, freshness vs power; perhaps not as 'generous' as some of the others.
Château Pichon-Longueville – quite tight and firm vs ripe almost dried cassis, structured and powerful with tight cedary grain, nice fruit vs grip vs weight too.
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – ripe cherry fruit with floral and cedar/coco notes, grippy tight mouth-feel vs nice sweet cassis fruit and fine dry tannins. Yum.


Château Petit-Village – quite lush and seductive vs firm and cedary, nice texture with grip and oomph; fairly big style yet still tight and structured.


Château de Pez – fair amount of chocolate oak, rich extracted and firm but it works, attractive tannins in the end, powerful but balanced with nice depth of ripe fruit.
Château Lafon-Rochet – again quite a bit of oak vs lush and extracted, ripe almost dark fruit vs cedary texture, grip and punch vs concentrated and ripe. Chunky and tasty, like the yellow wedding cake chateau...

Lots more Bordeaux stuff HERE.

UPDATED 28 May. Not a 'Grand Cru' Bordeaux but an equally good 2010 and considerably more affordable too:
Chateau Le Bonnat Jeansotte Graves (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% abv) - a new one I think from Marks & Spencer at £12.99: pretty "classic" Merlot dominated style although riper and fleshier vs quite firm / structured still with underlying cedar oak hints, fairly concentrated and classy for the price (still not exactly inexpensive though for sure).

Bordeaux: 2010

This post has been moved here for 'technical reasons' (apologies for sending you around in circles)...

From www.facebook.com/Chateau-de-France-Pessac-Leognan

16 April 2013

Bordeaux: "under a tenner... mostly."

With the prices of top Bordeaux reds spiralling ever upwards (except for the 2012 vintage perhaps, which the trade and critics are expressing misgivings about quality-wise) making these wines for well-off investors only, it's nice to find a few tasty bottles for under a tenner - and one, the last red featured below, for £15 from M&S though it's very good. The first three tasting-noted here, a red white and rosé trio, are available from the fairly new on-line specialist www.bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk, picked pretty much at random off their website which looks like it deserves closer inspection. The second two reds are part of Lidl's new upmarket "wine cellar" range (more of those to follow in a separate piece).

Château Ballan-Larquette 2011 Bordeaux blanc (50-50 Sauvignon blanc - Sémillon, 12.5% abv) - intense zesty green fruit, citrus and gooseberry vs oily honeyed rounded texture, quite concentrated with crisp and tasty fruity finish. Lovely dry white. £8.65 Bordeaux Undiscovered.
Château Ballan-Larquette 2011 Bordeaux Clairet (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot; 13% abv) - rich vibrant colour and red fruit cocktail on the nose / palate vs oily creamy flavours and texture, fairly full-bodied with 'sweet' cherry / berry fruit vs crisp fresh bite on the finish. Serious foodie rosé. £8.45 Bordeaux Undiscovered.
Château Puyanché 2005 Cotes de Castillon (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc; 13.5% abv) - deep colour still for its age, fairly complex nose with developing savoury notes vs 'earthy' cassis and smoky peppery edges even; quite concentrated and lush vs herbal cedary undertones vs fairly meaty and dark, nice firm dry vs ripe tannin combo, thick textured with a bitter twist yet well-balanced. Tasty red with dried cassis fruit and maturing savoury flavours vs funkier 'inky' side; started to oxidize quite quickly a day after opening, so drink now I'd say. Good value at £9.40.
Puisseguin - Saint Emilion 2011, Leroy Chevalier (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc; 13% abv) - a tad mean and firm perhaps (probably a symptom of this not spectacular vintage in the region), but otherwise not a bad example of a Merlot based 'Bordeaux right bank' red at a reasonable price, I suppose. £6.99 Lidl ("Wine Cellar" range so not all stores).
Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010, Union de Producteurs de Saint Emilion (mostly Merlot, 14% abv) - quite big and blowsy actually showing ripe damson and black cherry/currant fruit layered with toasted coconut and vanilla oak, wilder smoky rustic notes too; chunky tannins and palate weight, quite extracted and dry yet has good depth of fruit vs lightly charred and 'rubbery' oak. The tannins and oak are a little clunky right now, but underneath it's surprisingly lush (2010 was a warm ripe vintage) with dark fruit and that wilder smoky side too. It did actually soften up a little after being open for two days, so 6-12 months in bottle certainly wouldn't do it any harm (if you can keep it that long). £9.99 Lidl ("Wine Cellar" range so not all stores).
Château Saint Paul 2010 Haut-Médoc (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot; 14% abv) - rich dark colour and full-on nose of cedary coconut oak vs ripe cassis and plum fruit, pretty serious structured wine with a subtle oak coating adding nice texture to its quite firm dry yet rounded tannins; concentrated and dense with lovely fruit actually, closes up on the finish. Sumptuous wine, drinking ok now (with steak or duck at least) but should keep and improve over a few years. The label's reminiscent of a top estate but I can't remember which one... Marks & Spencer £14.99.

Bordeaux: "under a tenner... mostly."

25 June 2012

France: the Southwest has moved...

Southwest France (Cahors, Madiran, Gascony & Armagnac, Bergerac etc.) has been teleported across to my other blog frenchmediterraneanwine.com (goes to SW archive page on that site) lock stock and barrels; and Bordeaux has now been too. Not very "Mediterranean" I know, but these wines, winemakers and wine-lands arguably have something in common with the broader South (sunshine? Doh.) than with genteel Bordeaux, although I've moved that region over there too to refocus everything French in one place (eventually)...

03 February 2012

Bordeaux: Château Fougas, Côtes de Bourg

I 'met' the owner-growers of Ch. Fougas, Jean-Yves and Michele Bechet, across the other side of a nevertheless cosy round table (knights of Côtes de Bourg perhaps, ho ho) at lunch at the recent Millésime Bio wine show in Montpellier (Languedoc). Their 17.5 hectare (43 acre) property, "one of the oldest in the area" (as it says on their site) and lying in Lansac just inland from the town of Bourg and hence the Dordogne River (for more info on the appellation, see link to feature below), is another recent convert over to organics (not many round these parts, I don't think by the way). 2010 was their first "officially certified" organic vintage, hence it was the only one they were allowed to have on tasting at the fair. And hence, being a recent vintage red, had just been bottled in time to bring along and was a little closed up although promising I'd say:

2010 Château Fougas 'Maldoror' (75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon) - quite new-oaky on the nose (but was just bottled and a little awkward because of this, I think) although showing good depth of fairly dark cassis fruit; firm tight and structured palate, concentrated with attractive tannin texture. Needs a year or two to begin to blossom, very good though. www.fougas.com

And here's a snippet from a tasting & touring piece I penned on the Côtes de Bourg region following a great trip back in autumn 2009, including a nice note on the Fougas 2005:
"Côtes de where? Not the favourite coastal or riverbank hang-out for Jean-Luc Picard's scariest enemy, but a lesser-known "Right Bank" appellation... it's surprisingly easy to get your geography in a twist on this side of the river and forget you're actually opposite Margaux..." Notes on 40 wines including these favourites: Fougas, Clos du Piat, Relais de la Poste, Coulée de Bayon, Améthyste de Génibon, Haut-Guiraud, Labadie... plus thoughts on image, tasting grapes, Malbec and wine travel tips..." And "...challenge yourself while savouring the imperial grandeur and wines of these handsome properties in Listrac-Médoc: Fourcas-Dupré, Fonréaud, Lestage, Fourcas-Hosten..." Read on here (goes to "wine words" archive)!

Bordeaux: Château Fougas, Côtes de Bourg

I've moved this post here... (just to annoy you - click again there please).

01 September 2011

Bordeaux: Château de la Ligne

"Chateau de la Ligne is owned by Northern Ireland businessman Terry Cross..."
Full post is HERE (scroll down a little)...

24 June 2011

Montpellier / Béziers area restaurants & wine bars

(Read on for listings at the bottom)

1. Les Caves de Trinque Fougasse
Trinque Fougasse is a lively Montpellier wine bar and restaurant institution, and I finally  went there not so long ago having tried at least once in the past but couldn't find it! Montpellier isn't the easiest of cities to navigate your way around, for the uninitiated non-local (well, I did live nearby for six months going back a few years) - especially with yet more serious roadworks currently underway thanks to the latest ambitious tram-line extensions (a good thing of course, when all completed...) - and Trinque Fougasse is found a bit of a way north of the centre lurking among university buildings etc. Anyway, it's worth the trek for its usually buzzing atmosphere, fairly huge wine selection from the Languedoc & Roussillon and no-nonsense hearty Med food.

Click to view YouTube video of new summer platter

They describe their cuisine as "ni gastronomique ni cantine" meaning it's somewhere inbetween: not trying to be fancy or pretentious but certainly not school dinners and still good quality. Set menu options include: at lunchtime, the day's special for 12€ or for 14€  combine it with a starter or dessert; or go the whole hog and have 3 dishes for 16€. The kind of thing they're good at is tasty charcuterie - cured hams and sausage - mussels, tapenade and brandade (olive paste, very garlicky mashed salt cod and spud), sizzling squid on a hotplate, beef tartare and steaks, "Emincé de magret," a kind of cottage pie but with duck, cheeses from the south etc. They do a large combo-platter including some of these dishes plus homemade orange gâteau for 20 euros at lunchtime and 25 euros for dinner.
As you go in, you pass through their wine shop so can browse the wine list on the shelf (not actually a huge difference in price between drinking it in or carry out, from memory), and they have a bigger range available for sale on-line. TF also organizes regular tasting events with winegrowers showing and talking about their own wines, run a mini wine school and hold jazz evenings etc.
1581 route de Mende, 34090 Montpellier. Tel: 04 99 23 27 00, and lots more info @ trinquefougasse.com.

More restaurants & wine bars reviewed or mentioned on this blog:

2. Folia restaurant @ Ch de Flaugergues - Montpellier
3. chez Paul[e] - Montpellier
4. Chez Boris - Montpellier
5. La Raffinerie - Béziers
6. Le Chameau Ivre - Béziers
7. La Distillerie - Saint Marcel sur Aude

8. Marie-Jean - Sète

9. Le Plaisance - Bourg, Bordeaux.

01 June 2011

Bordeaux: “Roederer Masterclass” - de Pez & Pichon-Lalande

No, they don’t just do Champagne (Port, California…): this was the slightly serious title coined for a special tasting of Louis Roederer’s Bordeaux estates organised by the Circle of Wine Writers on 17 May 2011. We were served two flights: one of the 2007 vintage across five labels and the second an enlightening vertical of Château de Pez. The latter is considered a rising star of Saint-Estephe in the northern Haut-Médoc region and sits alongside their other Château here, Haut-Beauséjour (they’re both located on the western side of the S-E appellation). And heading south, there’s Château Bernadotte, which lies just within the Haut-Médoc AOC bordering Pauillac and a few kilometres west of Roederer’s star estate, Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (to give it its full name) purchased in 2006. Found just up the road from comparatively dour looking Latour, Pichon Lalande really does look the part as the full monty ‘f-o’ Château with its glorious pointy tours and imperial splendour (pic.).
The odd titbit of info on vintage conditions or winemaking has been included in my notes on the wines, paraphrased from what Sylvie Cazes or Mark Bingley MW told us: MDs of Roederer’s properties in Bordeaux and UK agent MMD respectively, who led the tasting. I’ve again used my ‘new-fangled’ simplified scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 for the wines below.

2007 vintage

The Roederer team ended up taking four weeks to pick everything at all their estates in 2007, as September turned on the sunshine again after a wet August and generally cool summer. So it paid to wait this year, as it often does in Bordeaux. The problem was the top châteaux were on such a roll of good vintages, high demand and hence corresponding prices; that a lot of people had to pay through the nose for these wines, if they wanted to secure some on release. The traditional trade is now backing them as a pleasant surprise and an attractive elegant vintage for drinking now or within a couple of years or so. Well, they’re probably right, but this doesn’t really stack up against the kind of prices that suggest all the wines should be nothing but sublime (call me old-fashioned)…

Château Bernadotte 2007 (55% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot) – unusually high proportion of Merlot this vintage. Perfumed cedar-y aromas with light damson, morello cherry and dried blackcurrants, maturing savoury notes too vs leafy edges; similar palate with subtle grainy tannins, turning meatier vs underlying berry fruit, medium weight; attractive enough mature fruit vs light grip vs a touch of freshness and elegance, a tad stalky perhaps and fairly short although nice now; ages quite quickly in the glass. 1. About £20.
Château Haut-Beauséjour 2007 (59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot) – showing more toasted coconut oak vs richer cassis fruit, again it’s aromatic and forward with leafy vs savoury notes; has more weight and power with firmer texture vs more substance, a bit longer too and again quite mature now. 1+. £20-£25.
Château de Pez 2007 (60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc) – 40% new oak. Deeper more purple colour, coconut tones; quite concentrated, firm and structured vs riper plum characters; a little more closed up too with coated tannins vs nice fruit, power vs elegance meaning fairly good balance; needs a couple of years still. 1-2. About £35.
Reserve de la Comtesse 2007 (46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc) – 30% new oak for 12 months. Vanilla and coconut dominate the nose/palate then turning a bit leafy, grainy texture with the oak rather carrying the wine while adding texture; over-extracted and a tad hard on the finish. Hmm. This is the only ‘second wine’ from Pichon, which is sometimes sold off if they’re not happy. I’ll say no more. At least £35.
Château Pichon Lalande 2007 (58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc) – 60% new oak for 18 months. Richer colour and nose, leafy edges vs fairly dense blackcurrant fruit, still firm and quite tight actually with oak and extraction much better integrated; yet there are still hints of not-so-ripe vs underlying maturing towards ‘sweet’ fruit, solid but not hard tannins; fair length, classier and attractive now although probably needs 3+ years. 2. About £80.

Château de Pez vertical

2006 (46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot) – delicious maturing cassis plum and liquorice even vs lightly leafy tones, quite dense actually and fairly structured, firm yet attractive coating of tannins; tightens up with well-integrated oak texture and good balance in the end, has much more substance than the 07 although not a ‘huge’ wine, just pretty classic. 2+
2005 (45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot) – more savoury vs herbal red pepper notes vs meatier with quite rich fruit, broodier than the 06 in a way although smokier and more rustic/wilder too, showing a fair bit of development considering it’s only a year older; still dense yet with quite rounded tannins although does have a slight biter twist, concentrated with complex maturing flavours; ‘bigger’ wine than the 06 but less classy perhaps, drinking quite well now. 2
2004 (43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot) – a dry but not very hot vintage, picking took place from 25 September to 10 October. More savoury still and ‘sweeter’ vs intriguing herby berry notes, leafier too with cedary oak notes in the background; has fair power although less substance, tannins are less attractive too although not harsh with nice acidity underneath lending a touch of elegance; it’s longer than you first think, but the oak and alcohol do perhaps rather carry it through. 1(+)
2001 (47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot) – a small crop this year and a vintage initially overshadowed by 2000. Intense depth of colour, blacker even yet with browner rim; enticing smoky maturing nose with ‘sweet/savoury’ fruit, still firm with attractive fresh side too vs subtle lush fruit and nice tannins; drinking quite well although has a firmer drier finish well-balanced by complex sweet vs savoury development. 2-3
2000 (45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot) – picked from 22/09 to 8/10. Similar colour, a touch older looking and much older on the nose and palate; pretty meaty savoury and ageing fast, dry vs sweet tannins, almost beginning to dry out although it’s complex on the finish, punchier too and less well balanced. Drink now. 1-2

‘Mystery’ vintage of Pichon Lalande (revealed afterwards as 1986) – complex herbal vs liquorice vs smoky leather, still alive with very appealing nose; quite mature and meaty vs leafy side vs chocolate, dry tannins with a bit of oomph vs some fresh acidity still; a touch out of balance now but very attractive and looks very interesting alongside the 2000! Quite chuffed with myself as I guessed 1988. 2-3

UK stockists include: Villeneuve Wine (Scotland), Amps Fine Wine (Peterborough), Wholefoods Market (London, Glasgow), the Good Wine Shop (London), Henderson Wines (Edinburgh), Portland Wine Company (Manchester/Macclesfield), Penistone Court Wine Cellars (S. Yorks), Aitken Wines (Dundee), the Wine Cellars (Isle of Man), Harvey Nichols (London), Noble Green Wines (London), Partridges of Sloane Square, Laytons (London), Goedhuis & Co. (London, Suffolk), Selfridges, Four Vintners (London), Upton Wines (Worcester), Francis Fine Wines (Leicester), Planet of the Grapes (London). See their websites (links at the top) for US importers.

More Bordeaux hereCôtes de Bourg and Listrac-Médoc

04 November 2010

2009 Château Cazeaux, "red of the moment"

This not exactly "classic" Bordeaux red, although probably a typical 2009 and certainly none the worse for it, is surprisingly lush and full-bodied (14%) with enticing black cherry, damson and cassis - and liquorice notes even - yet still underpinned by lightly cedar-y and "inky" edges. Nice fruity and rounded mouth-feel vs quite thick and firm tannins, which are also ripe and attractively textured; it's drinking OK now although best left for a year or two to let it open up. From this property in the Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, and a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. About €6 from memory in Carrefour's recent "wine fair" promotion. Photo = Château Cazeaux from chateau-cazeaux.com.

31 July 2010

Some posh old Bordeaux

Tasted, savoured and gently quaffed at the Circle of Wine Writers' 50th anniversary dinner at the National Café, London WC2, on May 17th 2010 ("Flaunt it baby, flaunt it," as Zero Mostel said in "The Producers"): my notes got a bit lost in a pile of paper until now...

These three reds served with rack of spring lamb or wild mushroom risotto:
1996 Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac Grand Cru Classé - smoky maturing nose with savoury tobacco vs liquorice even; rich mouth-feel and depth vs still quite firm tannins, although I like its seductive chewy roundness; complex maturing finish with "sweet/savoury" and tobacco tones again vs underlying grip indicating there's still life in it yet. 92-94
1998 Château Branaire-Ducru Saint-Julien Grand Cru Classé - leafy cedary blackcurrant aromas vs maturing savoury edges; lighter palate with fresher acidity, attractive crunchy cassis fruit vs sweeter/savoury texture; gets richer and more open with air, probably very good for this tricky vintage. 88-90
2001 Château Canon La Gaffeliere Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé - ripe black fruits even with quite rustic smoky profile, intricate and "cheesy" (like old Rioja) too; still showing a touch of dry grip vs "sweet" texture and oomph (13.5% ?); lush, seductive and soupier too (bretty even?) but difficult not to like it! Tastes older than the other two. 90-92
With apple tarte tatin:
2002 Château Guiraud Sauternes Premier Cru Classé - delicious actually, even if not very rich and exotic; shows classy spicy nose with dried fruits, honey and marmalade; fine cut and bite vs oily texture, lovely balance. 88-90
Oh, we also enjoyed a wee glass of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champers with nibbles beforehand to set the scene nicely. Afterwards, back to reality to catch a late tube. Ho hum. Picture from www.lynchbages.com

01 November 2009

Bordeaux: Côtes de Bourg and Listrac-Médoc

"Côtes de where? Not the favourite coastal or riverbank hang-out for Jean-Luc Picard's scariest enemy, but a lesser-known 'Right Bank' Bordeaux appellation. Somehow, it's surprisingly easy to get your geography in a twist on this side of the river and forget you're actually opposite Margaux 'just across' the water..."
Read it here.

11 November 2005

A breath of fresh air in Bordeaux?

Jean-Christophe Mau, fussy sorter
Eighteen bright ‘young guns’ have formed a new producers’ association and launched their promotional campaign for the UK, called Bordeaux Oxygène. What is particularly noticeable and novel for Bordeaux is that it’s not obviously based on an elitist hierarchy or specific appellations. It does include top-ranked Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé estates such as Angélus and Beau-Séjour Bécot, but there are also Châteaux from Côtes de Francs – Marsau owned by Dourthe – Thibault Despagne’s Tour de Mirambeau Bordeaux Supérieur and Ch. Preuillac (Médoc) and Ch. Brown (Pessac-Léognan), both represented by Jean-Christophe Mau. They are all youthful and enthusiastic – Mau joked he is the oldest (I don't know how old he is but younger than me probably!) – although perhaps not lacking in funds. The group also includes the daughters of Michel Rolland (Stéphanie Rolland-Lesage at Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol) and the owners of Smith Haut-Lafitte (Alice Cathiard-Tourbier); and Mathieu Chadronnier, son of Dourthe boss Jean-Marie. Bordeaux Oxygène’s president Benoit Trocard, of Clos Dubreuil in Saint-Emilion, commented: “A revolution in Bordeaux isn’t possible. Our parents and ancestors worked and achieved things for Bordeaux; it’s our turn to get out there, head on with the competition from top wines that aren’t necessarily from Bordeaux.” Their initial focus is Europe and in particular the UK, Switzerland and Belgium with plans to hold targeted tastings this winter and next spring - “to get moving, keep moving, not wait,” as vice-president Jean-Christophe Mau put it.

For further details try contacting the elected secretary Sylvie Courselle at Château Thieuley (Bordeaux Supérieur). The other producers involved are: Malartic-Lagravière (Pessac-Léognan); Clos du Clocher, Château Rouget (Pomerol); Clos Fourtet, Grand Mayne (Saint-Emilion); Château Brillette (Moulis); La Lagune, Loudenne (Médoc); and Ch. Nairac (Sauternes). Let’s hope they don’t shorten Bordeaux Oxygène to its initials for English speaking countries, as they had in the original press file…
A version of this story appeared in the UK trade paper Off Licence News, 11th November 2005. Tasting feature from the same trip here: Pessac-Léognan, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol


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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.