Harvest 2013

 

I visited Bordeaux between 12th September and 26th September 2013. The large part of my stay was visiting properties at Left and Right Bank. The last three days (23rd-25th September) were devoted to Voyage de Presse 2013 – Graves & Pessac-Leognan. As in September 2010 and September 2012, when I attented these Voyage de Presse events, properties chosen for me this time weren’t ones I heard so much before. I really like this kind of event where you are completely down to earth and refresh/widen your wine horisont. This was very much opposite of what I normally do during primeur time, running from one high-esteemed property to another. I've had great time and the organization of this third Voyage de Presse was excellent.

During my stay in Bordeaux, only 2013 white grapes were picked and potential of these is expected to be excellent in terms of fruit intensity and acidity, despite very bad conditions in Spring and early summer. Some places they started harvesting Merlot but not grapes for sweet whites. It'll be interesting to see, what Bordeaux will be capable of this time. Because of rain in beginninig of September and beginning of October, there's a risk of botrytis, which  forces properties to harvest early and grapes grapes with higher acidity and not 100% fully ripe skins (phenolic ripeness), but it seems now (9th October) that botrytis did very little damage as dry wind and cooler temperatures from north/north east prevented spreading of it.

Here are my impressions:

VOYAGE DE PRESSE 2013 - GRAVES & PÉSSAC-LÉOGNAN

Monday the 23rd September 2013

Château Lusseau

129

Berengere Quellien makes splendid wines at Lusseau. September 2013.

I already visited this property in September 2012 but it was a short one, however quite interesting. It's situated in part of Graves, Ayguemorte les Graves, only 1 km from Pessac-Leognan district's border. There are 7 ha of wines, 1 ha white planted with 50% Semillon and 50% Sauvignon, while red is 6 ha planted with 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. Bérengère Quellien, daughter of present owners, has been making wine here since 1997. She's graduate from agricultural high school in Blanquefort.

Wines (both red and white) here are made in two versions - Cuvée Berengere (more Merlot in the blend) which is matured in vats and "normal" version (cuvée barrique) which is barrel fermented in new and 1 year old barrels, kept for different amount of time in same barrels, all according of potential of the vintage. Despite wine facilities at Lusseau perhaps needing some upgrading, renovation and modernisation, one can't really complain about quality of Lusseau wines, because they represent splendid value for the money.

I was very impressed by white 2012, matured in 50% new oak for 8 months, which had splendid nose of acacia flower and apple, splendid complexity, acidity and balance and very fine smooth finish. 91p. Red 2006 (cuvée barrique), fermented in 1 year old barrels and kept in these for 1 year, was potent with very good minerality and acidity, structure and concentration. Well-balanced and with meaty finish. 88p. Red 2010 (Cuvée Berengere - 30% C.S + 70% Merlot) displayed some power, ripe berries, good concentration, roundness, nice balance and soft finish. Very attractive wine. 88p. Red 2010 (cuvée barrique - 10% new barrels) was splendid with perfectly ripe fruit, fine complexity, balance and structure. Splendid complexity and intensity. 90p.

Berengere completed harvest of white grapes on 25th September and was very satisfied with quality of these.

Tuesday, the 24th September 2013

Graves

Chateau Haut Reys

Gabin family bought this property situated in La Brede commune in 1998. There are 6 ha of red vines and 14 ha of white vines. Red wine is made in three versions - Haut-Reys (no barrels), Haut-Reys Vieilles Vignes (usually matured 1 year in 1/3 new, 1/3 2 years old and 1/3 3 years old barrels) and Haut-Reys Cuvée Paumarel (100% Merlot matured in new barrels, how many depending of vintage's potential). White wine is made in two versions - Haut-Rey (no oak - 30% Semillon, 30% Muscadelle and 40% Sauvignon Blanc) and Haut-Reys Vieilles Vignes (40 years old vines, 100% Sauvignon, 4 months in 100% new barrels).

Haut-Reys 2011 red (20% CS + 80% Merlot) had fruity nose, good minerality, some dryness coming from CS. Nicely made, good structure and balance. 87p.  Haut Reys 2010 VV red displayed fine fruity nose and palate, good complexity, structure and meaty finish. 88p. Haut-Reys 2010 Cuvee Paumarel (matured 1 year in 100% new oak) had more intensity of cherry flavour on the nose, bigger concentration and more complexity than VV version. Fine long fruity finish. Very well-made wine. 89p.

Haut-Reys 2012 white had very good aromatic nose (acacia flower), very good acidity, freshness, nice balance and soft finish. Charming wine. 87p. Haut-Reys 2010 VV white had fine nose of acacia flower and lemon grass, fine acidity, touch of new oak obvious on the palate, fine finish. 89p. I found VV version of red and white together with Cuvée Paumarel to be the ones to search for.

Tasting of 2010 red Graves and 2012 white Graves at Chateau de Cerons

When you are in Bordeaux, you should always taste red wines before whites, as tannin in red wines makes your tasting senses more affected to acidity in whites (feels stronger). This is the rule I've been asked to follow by many chateau owners since my first visit to Bordeaux almost 30 years ago. So I did this time too :-)

2010 reds offered many wines of very good to splendid quality. My cherry picks were: Clos Floridene was splendid, packed with cherry fruit, fine structure, length and long fruity finish. 91p. Lusseau was as fine as at property. 90p. Cuvee Paumarel (Haut Reys), Magneau, Rahoul and Respide had pretty cherry nose, concentrated palate, fine balance and finish. All worth every single point of 89p. De Cerons, Crabitey, Doms Cuvée Amelie, Ferrande,  Grand Abord, Haut Maray, Magence, des Places, Roquetaillade La Grange and Vimont were all well-made wine with ripe fruit, very nice, balance, very good structure, and fruity aftertaste. All wines rated 88p.

Among 2012 whites I liked very much Chantegrive Cuvee Caroline, Clos Floridene, Lusseau and Rahoul, very fresh and complex wines, intense with splendid acidity, well-constructed and with long finish. 91p. Other wines which caught my attention were: Grand Abord, Haut-Reys, Magneau, de Respide, Roquetaillade La Grange and Vimont. All deserving 87-88p.

Chateau de Respide

This property is situated in Roaillan village near Langon and has 33 ha of red vines (27-30 years old on average) + 17 ha of white vines (35 years old on average). Both red and white wine is made in two versions - normal one (old barrels for red, stainless steel vats for white) and Callipyge (stainless steel/oak treatment for red, new oak and old barrels treatment for white). I tasted 2011 de Respide Callipyge (white), 50% S.Blanc and 50% Semillon, 30% new oak, kept seven months in same barrels. Nice wine with good flower aroma (acacia), round and charming, easygoing with reasonable structure and length. 86p. 2009 Respide Callipyge red, 50% CS, 45% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, 1 year old barrels, had nice sweetness of fruit, very good ripeness, was quite tannic and strongly structured and some dryness coming from oak. Good potential here when tannin softens and merges with fruit into balanced blend. 87p. Good wines but a bit too anonymous for my taste.

Chateau Magence

You will find this property in Sant Pierre de Mons, close to Langon, in quite picturesque surroundings. There are 36 ha of red (46% CS, 18% CF and 36% Merlot, 20 years old vines on average) and 9 ha of white (50% of Sauvignon Blanc and 50% of Semillon, 23 years old vines on average). Grapes are harvested 100% by hand. Red and white wine is made in two versions - normal cuvée and an oak fermented/aged one. I was guided around by a very enthusiastic son of present proprietor and he offered me to taste following wines:

2011 white vinified in barrel (40% Semillon in new oak and 60% S. Blanc in one year old barrels, 12 months) had fine freshness and acidity, fine complexity, structure and balance as well. New oak gives a discrete touch here, giving this wine more complexity and nuances. Long aftertaste and fine future. 89p. Really well-made and promising wine. 2001 red aged in oak barrels (33% new, 33% 1 year old and 33% 2 years old) was powerful, potent and strongly structured, full of ripe blackcurants and fat tannin, meaty finish. Not quite ready to drink yet but future is very promising. 89p. 2009 red aged in oak had same style as 2001, but sweeter tannin and fruit, more complexity and longer finish. 90p. Wines here have a good deal of character and are imho worth searching for.

Wednesday the 25th September 2013

Pessac-Leognan

Chateau Haut Bacalan

This property is situated in industrial area of Pessac. It was quite entertaining visit as I found out during conversation with the owner, Michel Gonet, that he's cousin of Xavier Gonet. Xavier Gonet is married with Julie Medeville and makes wine at Medeville properties, Gilette, Les Justices and Respide Medeville (Graves). Michel Gonet owns several properties in Bordeaux, among these another property with AOC Pessac-Leognan, Chateau d'Eck in Cadaujac.

I tasted red Haut Bacalan and d'Eck. Haut Bacalan is 7 ha planted with 55% Merlot + 40% C.Sauvignon + 5% Petit Verdot, vines are 14 years old on average and d'Eck is 5 ha planted with 70% Merlot + 25% C.Sauvignon + 5% Petit Verdot vines are on average 13 years old. Vinification for both wines is in stainless steel vats and aging in new oak barrels for 14 months.

2009 Haut Bacalan had sweet fruit and tannin, intense aroma of grated chocolate on the nose, fine structure, velvety texture, fine balance and a lot of charm. Fine effort indeed. 90p. 2010 d'Eck displayed lot of fat cherry fruit and tannin, silky texture, splendid structure and length, catching elegance and fine meaty finish. Splendid effort worth 91p. Interesting wines with character and with clear indication of thoughtful vinification. Both wines will surely get better in the future as both vineyards get older.

I 136did also taste his Champagne, Brut Nature 2004 (100% Chardonnay), which was very creamy and complex.

Property's sign - Haut Bacalan in September 2013

Tasting of 2010 red Pessac-Leognan and 2012 white Pessac-Leognan (classified and not classified properties) at Chateau Gazin-Rocquefort

There were many goodies among reds. Domaine de Chevalier (94p), Haut Bergey, Latour Martillac, Malartic Lagraviere and Smith Haut Lafitte (93-94p), Carbonnieux and La Louviere and Le Sartre (92p), Bardins, Brown, Bouscaut, d'Eck, de Fieuzal, Larrivet Haut Brion, Olivier, Picque Caillou and Rochemorin (91p), plus Ferran, de France, La Garde, Haut Bacalan and Gazin Rocquenfort (90p).  Really fine performances but 2010 vintage made things quite easy for proprietors.

Whites were generally of really splendid quality. My cherry picks - Smith Haut Lafitte (94p), Latour Martillac (93p), Carbonnieux, de Fieuzal, La Louviere and Picque Caillou (92p), Bouscaut and Couhins Lurton (91p). Brown, Cruzeau, Ferran, de France, Rochemorin and Le Sartre meritted all 90p rating. Sample of Larrivet Haut Brion was flawed/too old.

Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion

137

This property situated in Leognan I know very well, as its wines appear every year in UGCB tastings during primeur week and also appear when negociant firm Beyerman visit Copenhagen every year in the beginning of September. There are 72.5 ha planted with vines - 61 ha red (55% Merlot, 40% C.Sauvignon and 5% C.Franc, average age of vines is 25 years) and 11 ha white (60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon, average age of vines is 20 years). Gervoson family bought this property in 1987 and in 2007 they hired Bruno Lemoine (who worked at Montrose as winemaker before joining Larrivet Haut Brion) to improve quality of wines.

Red wine is aged in 50% new barrels for 16-18 months and white in new oak barrels for 12 months. I find red and white wine here not among top wines in the district but very interesting and very reliable. Especially red has been in very fine form since 2010 vintage and white in splendid form since 2008. And both wines are still improving. I was particulary impressed with red and white in 2011 vintage.

Wooden vat with rotor (to perform batonnage de lie?) to use for vinification of white wine - at Larrivet Haut Brion. September 2013.

It was very well-organized trip this Voyage de Presse and great possibility to learn about less-known properties from Graves/Pessac-Léognan. Thanks!

Almost all the mentioned properties have their own website, so if someone needs more detailed information, Google it or ask Syndicat Viticole de Pessac-Leognan/Syndicat Viticole des Graves for more info.

IMPRESSIONS/TASTING NOTES FROM VISITS AT OTHER PROPERTIES IN SEPTEMBER 2013 (in chronological order):

All these visits took place before Voyage de Presse described above.

Seguin

The owner, Dennis Darriet told me they still waited with harvest at Seguin as grapes haven't approached the full phenolic ripeness and that was a lot of work in the vineyard due to very difficult weather condition. Tasted last four vintages - 2012, 2011 and 2010 and 2009. For me, this property has emerged as one of the greatest values for the money not only in the district but also in whole Bordeaux. And Seguin isn't even a classified growth!! 

2012 was elegant, fruity, with tasty cherries, well-balanced, round and soft. This vintage shows lighter style of Seguin. 91+p. 2011 offered splendid nose of ripe cherries, remarkable depth and intensity. Silky on the palate with strong structure, fine length and smooth aftertaste. Now in bottle it shows, that promises from the barrel are more than fulfilled. Excellent effort for the vintage. 93p. 2010 (50% C.Sauvignon + 50% Merlot) was a masterclass wine with more intensity, concentration, fatter and silkier tannin, stronger structure and longer finish than 2009. 96p. 2009 (same cepage as 2010) was a tad less intense than 2010, with lot of blackberries, black cherries, stunning balance, finesse and elegance, and sophisticated touch. Beautiful classy wine and great effort indeed. 95p.

Malartic Lagraviere

I stayed at the property for few days before and after Ban des Vendanges at Domaine de Chevalier. The owner, Jean-Jacques Bonnie and his wife, were wonderful hosts, kind and generous. Me and several other people who also stayed at ML and were scheduled to attend Ban des Vendanges, greatly enjoyed red and white wines served.

2010 red was powerful, packed with black cherries, fresh, with fine depth and structure, superb balance between sweet fruit and fat tannins, and firm aftertaste. 93p. 2010 white displayed splendid intensity on the nose with pineapple and lemon grass, great acidity on the palate. Very stylish wine with finesse and elegance. Well-deserved 92p. 2005 red had same splendid black cherries as 2010 but less intense. In terms of style it was close to 2010. 92+p. 2005 white reminded a lot of 2010, very elegant with fine structure and length. Great stuff. 92p. 2004 red was very aromatic on the nose, elegant and well-balanced. 91p. 2002 white was revelation - even more intense and concentrated than 2010 and 2005, tighter, longer and more complex. Fabulous effort for the vintage, which btw is considered as one of the best vintage for white in the last 20 years. We did also taste 1990 red to see how ML was before Bonnie family's arrival in 1997. This wine was result of yield 100hl/ha(!) and therefore diluted all over. Tannin and fruit escaped somehow full ripeness.

Smith Haut Lafitte

Few hours before Ban des Vendanges event I made a visit to this highly regarded property in pretty good weather. After being driven by car to the office, all traffic around the property then was on bicycle, not only for me but also for Florence and Daniel Cathiard. They told me they hate to use car at the property and they they moved around property by bicycle, because it's more healty and doesn't produce CO2 at all.

It was very funny and interesting visit thanks to Florence and Daniel Cathiard bicycle tour around property with several stops to explan what's going on SHL. They have f.i. big project of genusing CO2 at one of property's cellars. During lunch with Cathiards and a group of Canadian journalists at L.S.d.Caudalie, I tasted 2010 SHL white, 2009 SHL red and 2005 SHL red. 2010 white was intense and flavourful on the nose,  with apple and lemon grass. Great acidity, concentration, balance and length. Long finish. Great effort. 94p. 2009 red was very tannic and strong with black fruit, excellent depth and length, strong structure and fleshy aftertaste. Terrific effort for the vintage. 95p. 2005 red displayed thick texture, spicy black cherries, fat strong tannin, was powerful with strong structure and very long on the palate. Every inch as excellent as 2009. 95p. 

138Daniel Cathiard, owner of Smith Haut Lafitte, in his bicycle park.

Domaine de Chevalier

More than 1.000 people gathered at this property to celebrate three anniversaries during Ban des Vendanges - 30 years of Bernard family's regime at Domaine de Chevalier, 40 years of Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and 60 years of Classement de Graves. Unfortunately rain and strong wind for app. 2 hours forced people to move inside and it was therefore very difficult to taste wines (2010 vintage of red and white) due too many people at little space. Nevertheless, I manage to taste several fabulous reds - 2010 H.Brion (99p), 2010 LMHB (100p), 2010 Domaine de Chevalier (95p) and 2010 Haut Bailly (94p). During dinner, I enjoyed red 1983 Domaine de Chevalier (first vintage for Olivier Bernard made together with Claude Ricard), still very drinkable and rated 90p and fabulous red 1998 La Mission Haut Brion, beautifully crafted wine with excellent balance and long aftertaste. 96p. After dinner, there was many excellent desserts to enjoy, accompanied by 30, 40 and 60 years Armagnac from famous producer Claude Darroze and following fireworks.

All in all great experience to be at this Ban des Vendanges, but weather could have been much better.

Palmer

I visited this property on quite rainy and cold day of 16th September and Thomas Duroux, who welcomed me and my friend, was a bit worried about the risk of botrytis if this weather pattern continued, which happily didn't as we know today (middle of October).

139

Thomas Duroux, Palmer's technical directeur - September 2013

I tasted 2012-2011-2010 of both Alter Ego and Palmer. 2012 Alter Ego displayed fresh cherries, fine ripeness of fruit and tannin, fine concentration, minerality and length. Well-crafted wine and fine effort for the vintage. 91p. 2012 Palmer showed great class and style with excellent aromatic nose of black cherries, richness, velvety palate, excellent structure, balance and very long finish. Classy and sophisticated wine. 95+p. 2011 Alter Ego was a bit less concentrated with more tannic approach and less charming than 2012 version. Still, fine quality here. 90p. 2011 Palmer was too a tad less concentrated and less deep than 2012 version but still an excellent wine. 94+p. 2010 Alter Ego displayed big concentration, fat and perfectly ripe black fruit and tannin, refined, vell-structured and very long. Impressive stuff. 93p. 2010 Palmer was almost as sensational as in May 2013 in Copenhagen. Maybe a bit less scaled and not giving everything, which maybe is a sign of closing down. Sheer class, sophisticated, stunning purity and complexity, excellent structure and length. Exceptional wine. 98p.  

Giscours

This property has always been an excellent quality for money and very true to Margaux style. In 2009, Giscours replaced consultant (Boissenot) with Denis Dubordieu. For me the change of consultant is quite obvious to taste if you compare 2010 and 2009 vintages.

I tasted 2012-2011-2010-2009 of both Giscours and sister property du Tertre. 2012 du Tertre was on the light side, fruity, elegant, round and charming. Stylish and with reasonable depth. 88p. 2012 Giscours displayed very aromatic touch, was harmonious and smooth on palate with silky fruit and tannin, elegant and refined. Splendid effort for the vintage. 92+p. 2011 du Tertre had more mineral touch than 2012, was more tannic and less concentrated, but it seemed that it had more complexity and depth than 2012. 90p. 2011 Giscours was almost an identical clon of 2012 with slightly more ripe fruit and tannin, and with longer finish. Yet again splendid wine for the vintage. 93p. 2010 du Tertre displayed great composition, great balance and longer finish. Perfectly ripe fruit and tannin. Sheer elegance and finesse. Impressive stuff. 92+p. 2010 Giscours was as stunning as its appearance in May this year during 2010 tasting in Copenhagen. Very intense nose of black cherries and chocolate, fabulous sweetness of fruit, complexity, structure and balance, sophisticated and refined. Awesome wine. 96p. 2009 du Tertre had more rustic style than 2010, was still well-made, however ripeness of fruit didn't reach the level seen in 2010. 89p. 2009 Giscours had same indication of different state of fruit and tannin as tasted in 2009 du Tertre and was more mineral than 2010. Fine quality anyway. 92p.

Rauzan Gassies

This property hasn't receive much wine press accolade in recent vintages, so the main purpose with my visit was to see if it was deserved or not. I was welcomed by daugter of the present owner, Anne-Francoise Quie. She's qualified oenologist and manages Rauzan Gassies, while her brother Jean-Philippe manages Croizet Bages. Imho, Anne Francoise Quie has better luck at Rauzan Gassies as this property continues to improve. When she gaines 100% control of this property and makes decisions on her own, I think there will be further improvements. Harvest at RG is done 50% by hand and 50% by machine, selection is already done in the vineyard. 

I tasted three vintages of Rauzan Gassies, 2012-2011-2010 after unconvincing peformance of Croizet Bages with short, diluted and bitter aftertaste marked 2012 (82p), better 2011 which had nice fruit and length and some complexity (84p) and correct 2010 which was light, aromatic with nice minerality and acidity, seductive yes but lacked depth and complexity. 86p. I tasted this wine the day after visiting Rauzan Gassies because the bottle during visit was corked. 2012 Rauzan Gassies (71% CS + 29% Merlot) had lovely nose of black berries, fine acidity and minerality, fine structure, freshness and seductive touch. Fine effort for the vintage 91p. 2011 Rauzan Gassies showed less charm and more tannic approach, but also fine complexity, concentration and length. Slightly different in style than 2012 and maybe it'll surpass 2012. 91p. 2010 Rauzan Gassies impressed all the way with very intense nose of black cherries, fatness of fruit and tannin. Elegant wine with fine distinction and great style of Margaux, silky texture. Excellent stuff and great to see Rauzan Gassies making such a well-crafted wine. 93p.

140a

Anne-Francoise Quie does a great job at Rauzan Gassies - September 2013

Camensac

This property has same owner as Chasse Spleen (Celine Villars since 2005) and produces wines in adorable quality. There are 65 ha big vineyard planted with 60% C.Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. I tasted 2012 Camensac and 2012 Chasse Spleen + 2011 and 2010 Camensac. 2010 Camensac was crispy, very aromatic (ripe dark berries) on the nose, seductive, intense and delightfully balanced. Terrific length and gracious aftertaste. Splendid effort for the vintage. 91p. 2011 Camensac had less of intensity, complexity and length than 2010, but was still a well-made wine and fine effort for the vintage. 89p. Both 2012 Camensac and Chasse Spleen displayed light body and texture, nice aroma of black fruit, nice minerality and nice finish. Not for long time keeping. 87p.

Haut Brion & La Mission Haut Brion

On the day of my visit (17th September 2013), harvest of S.Blanc at Haut Brion has just started. After tasting highly heralded 2009 vintage last year in September, I did taste even more heralded wines here in 2010 vintage. And they didn't disappointed!

La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion, second wine of La Mission, presented itself very well with sweet and aromatic fruit, fine ripe tannin, fine structure and concentration, and finished with smooth fruity finish. 91p. Le Clarence de Haut Brion, second wine of Haut Brion had more of everything than Chapelle with firmer and longer finish. 92p. La Mission Haut Brion had fabulous nose of black cherries/blueberries, excellent concentration on the palate, great depth and structure, sophisticated touch and long finish. All in velvet and silk. Fantastic wine but not 100% as hedonistic as 4 months ago, which could mean that this wine is going into deep sleep. 100p. Haut Brion had darker fruit and more power than LMHB, great depth on the palate with stunning complexity. Very long aftertaste, fruity and firm. Stunning performance. 99p.

La Clarte de Haut Brion (white wine) had very aromatic nose of acacia, lemon grass, apple and same flavours on palate, fine acidity, balance and fruity aftertaste. 88p. La Mission Haut Brion white (80% Semillon + 20% S. Blanc) displayed fabulous intensity of acacia flower, exquisite balance, complexity and acidity, stunning concentration and aftertaste. Simply beautiful stuff. 97p. Haut Brion white (50% Semillon + 50% S.Blanc) had more intensity and concentration than LMHB. Exceptional complexity and length. Less elegant and less finesse here than in LMHB, but has more more richness and depth. 99p.

Lafleur

It was a cold and rainy morning when I arrived at Lafleur (18th September). Harvest there was 10-14 days away. I tasted 2012 Grand Village, 2012 G de Guinaudeau, 2012 Pensées de Lafleur and 2012-2011-2010 Lafleur.

2012 Grand Village red was fresh, fruity, aromatic, had very good structure and length, nice tannin and nice finish. Successful for the vintage. 88p. 2012 G de Guidauneau had more meaty and concentrated palate than Grand Village was deeper and ripeness of both fruit and tannin was slightly better. Well-made wine. 89p. 2012 Pensées de Lafleur was strong, potent, quite tannic, black berries on the nose, aromatic, long and meaty finish. Splendid effort. 90-91p. 2012 Lafleur did put on weight and intensity like Pénsees since primeur tasting in April 2013. Chocolate/cocoa on the nose, aromatic, very friendly, silky fruit and tannin, great structure and length. More elegance and finesse here than power and muscles. 95p. 2011 Lafleur, which was bottled in April, didn't show its full potential as it seemed not in balance and closed. I think this wine was still suffering from bottling. 95+p. 2010 Lafleur blossomed and blossomed! Thick black cherry fruit and fat tannin at perfect level of ripeness, chocolate/cacao powder on the nose, wonderful structure, deeply structured and sophisticated, silky tannin and fruit on palate, fabulous finish. Wonderful stuff. 99+p.

141Jacques Guinaudeau explains difference between vines growing on left and right side (soil is different on the left and right side!) - September 2013

Clinet

At the time of my visit (20th September), harvest wasn't started yet. 2012 (90% CS + 10% CF) was sappy, aromatic, medium body, fine structure and smooth finish. Certainly on the light side. 91p. Will ageing in oak give some more weight to this wine?  2011 offered more concentration and length than 2012, and ripeness of dark fruit and tannin seemed better too.  2010 Clinet and this wine like many 2010s showed great aromas of black fruits, fat fruit and fat tannin with perfect ripeness, tight with strong backbone and extremely long finish. 96p.

Bourgneuf

At the time of my visit (20th September), harvest wasn't started yet. I had the possibility of retasting vintages 2012-2011-2010-2009.

2012 displayed elegant style, seductive, aromatic nose of blueberries, silky fruit, velvety tannin and smooth finish. 91p. 2011 (now in bottle) was imho a head in front of 2012 and I believe it will even improve. It had more intensity and concentration, stronger structure and fatter tannin. Longer on palate. Black cherries and raspberries seem more ripe too than in 2012. 93p. 2010 is imho still the best vintage made by winemaker since 2008, Frederique Vayron. Thick aroma of black fruit on the nose, alcohol evident on the nose but not abusive or interferring, well-crafted, strong structure, beautiful balance, powerful tannin which needs to age. Excellent wine. 95+p. 2009 was almost a copy of 2010 with same quality and style. Alcohol wasn't that evident but tannin seemed at the time of tasting a tad less ripe than in 2010. Great future here. 94+p.

Jean-Luc Thunevin

As many places in Bordeaux, Murielle and Jean-Luc Thunevin were still waiting for grapes to obtain maximum ripeness (20th September). I was treated by 18 wines in all, 9 2012 reds, 6 2010 reds, 1 2012 white and 2 2010 whites.

2012 Bellevue de Tayac had very nice fruit and tannin, good concentration, balance and length. Light but very adorable wine. 87p. 2010 Bellevue de Tayac was of course more concentrated and with better structure, ripeness and length. Spicy black fruit. Long meaty finish. 90p. 2012 Virginie Thunevin was pleasant and round with seductive aroma of cherries and blackberries, and soft fruity finish. 87p.

2012 Bad Boy had very seductive nose of black fruit, more fruit sweetness than BdT and VT, splendid acidity and delightful fruity finish. Big charmeur. 88p. 2010 Bad Boy was full of ripe black fruit and ripe tannin, strong well-crafted and with long finish. Uncomplicated but hedonistic for all the money. 90p. 2012 Domaine des Sabines had spicy ripe fruit, soft texture, nice balance and a lot of charm. 87p. 2010 Domaine des Sabines displayed great ripeness of fruit and tannin, black cherries everywhere, strong structure and very long finish. 91p.

2012 Les Clos de Beau Pere was a big surprise with fine aroma of black cherries and fine sweetness, well-packed with sweet fruit and sweet tannin, splendid structure with long finish. Splendid for the vintage. 91p. 2010 Les Clos de Beau Pere was tight, well-crafted, strongly structured, long and with meaty finish. Superb wine 92p. 2012 Bel-Air-Ouÿ had spicy fruit, good structure and reasonable length. Soft and round tannin and soft aftertaste. 87p.

2012 Clos Badon was very nicely put together with nice structure, good concentration, nice acidity and nice tannin. 87-88p. 2010 Clos Badon had far more intensity and concentration than 2012 version, better structure, fat fruit and tannin, and had longer aftertaste. 90p. 2012 Virginie de Valandraud was very potent and concentrated wine with strong aroma of black cherries. Fine minerality, splendid structure and firm long finish. Very impressive effort. 91p.

2012 Valandraud was very powerful with strong structure, gobs of cherry fruit, great minerality, excellent depth, concentration and length. Simply excellent wine for the vintage. 95p. 2010 Valandraud had all the excellent things of 2012 version but in fatter, more ripe, richer and more complex display. Impeccable winemaking! 97+p.

2010 Virginie de Valadraud blanc offered very aromatic display of acacia flower, pear and lemon grass, splendid acidity, fine complexity and long fruity finish. 91p. 2012 Virginie de Valandraud blanc was leaner and had less of everything than 2010 version. 87p. 2010 Valandraud blanc had freat intensity of flavours, excellent acidity, excellent depth and complexity and long well-balanced finish. Very impressive effort. 92p.

Tertre Roteboeuf

No harvest activity here on the day of my visit (20th September) - harvest was 2-3 weeks away. I did taste the usual stuff - 2012-2011-2010. vintages + one wine from 2005 vintage and one from 1991 vintage

2012 Tertre Roteboeuf had fabulous nose of black cherries and blueberries, great freshness, beautiful balance, velvety fruit and tannin. Fabulously constructed wine which shows incredible class and style. Among the best wines of the vintage. 95+p. 2012 Roc de Cambes followed in same track as TR with beautiful cherry nose, perfectly ripe fruit (!), excellent complexity and velvety finish. Very impressive effort. 92p. 2011 Tertre Roteboeuf and 2011 Roc de Cambes mirrored perfectly their 2012 version, but had slightly more intensity and concentration. Utterly exciting stuff. 96+p for Tertre Roteboeuf and 92+p for Roc de Cambes. 2010 Domaine de Cambes (part of Roc de Cambes vineyard boarding Dordogne river and therefore not entitled to have same appelation as RdC) displayed aromatic black fruit, freshness and seductive approach. Nice structure and balance. Tasty. 88p. Before lunch, Francois Mitjavile served 1991 Roc de Cambes, which was still going well on its "legs", well-preserved but a bit jammy, nicely balanced and charming. 87p.

142

Excellent dish - carpaccio of maigre (seabass) with black truffles for lunch prepared by Francois Mitjavile's wife - went extremely well with TR 2005 and RdC 2010. September 2013.

For lunch Francois Mitjavile served 2005 Tertre Roteboeuf and 2010 Roc de Cambes. 2005 TR was simply fabulous all-over with chocolate, dark cherries, extemely sophisticated and refined. Fantastic intensity of aromas on the nose and richness on the palate, stunning complexity and thrilling aftertaste. This is wonderful stuff at highest level and imho the best wine together with 2010 TR ever made here. 99p. Then 2010 Roc de Cambes. What can I say? It was beautifully crafted wine, creamy, with incredible aromatic touch and complexity. Well-deserved 94p here!

Nairac

At time of my visit (23rd September) harvest didn't start yet, but first pickings were expected in few day's time. I tasted vintages from 2005 to 2011.

2005 displayed deep and intense nose of apricots, lot of botrytized flavours on the palate like pineapple, guava and honey melon, sublime richness, sophisticated touch and long lingering aftertaste. Extraordinary stuff. 95p.

2006 offered spicy botrytised flavours of grapefruit and apricot on the palate, crème brulée on the nose. Splendid balance and plenty of finesse. Honeyed aftertaste. Fine effort. 92p.

2007 had more of everything than 2005, was fatter, deeper and with longer finish. More flavourful. Fabulous balance acidity and depth. 95+p.

2008 was more precise than 2006, acidity seemed better intermixed with fruit, more intensity and longer finish. 93p.

2009 had very impressive nose of sweet pineapple, peach and apricot, stunning richness, acidity, balance and length. Very long honeyed aftertaste which went on and on. Exceptional wine. 97p.

2010 seemed to be slightly less intense and less rich than 2009. Stunning wine anyway. 96p

2011 (just bottled) had petrol on the nose, big range of botrytised flavours like grapefruit, lemon peel, pineapple and pear. Distinguished, rich and long on the palate with great sweetness, acidity and graceful aftertaste. Silky texture. Extremely impressive wine. 95+p.

Raymond Lafon

At time of my visit (23rd September), harvest wasn't yet started. Jean-Pierre Meslier told me, that grapes looked extremely promising. I tasted vintages 2006-2007-2008-2009-2010.

2006 - very good intensity of botrytised flavours, very good acidity and length, sweetness and aftertaste. Elegant style. 92p.

2007 - sophisticated, long, great intensity of aromas (mango, peach, honey melon) and striking acidity. Very long honeyed adtertaste. Great effort for the vintage. 95p.

2008 - reminiscent of 2006 but seemed a bit lighter on tasting day than 2006. However it seemed to have longer finish and better acidity. 92p.

2009 - petrol, elegance, refined, great intensity of botrytised flavours, excellent balance and finish. Excellent stuff. 95+p.

2010 - showed considerably more of everything than 2009. Fabulous acidity and sweetness, fabulous complexity, balance and length. Exceptional wine. 96+p.

Latest news

NEW! PROFILE OF LA CABANNE FROM POMEROL WITH TNS ON 21 VINTAGES HAS BEEN PUBLISHED - CHECK OUT "CHATEAU PROFILES"

-----

DURING TWO WEEKS FROM END OF MARCH TO MID-APRIL 2017, I TASTED APP. 420 BARREL SAMPLES OF 2016 VINTAGE. PLEASE READ MY REPORT WITH A LOT OF TASTING NOTES AND CONCLUSIONS IN CHAPTER "VINTAGES".

-----

HERE ARE MY TOP TEN WINES OF 2016

1. Montrose 1990 100p 2. Latour 2000 100p 3. Lafleur 2000 100p 4. Le Pin 1990 99p 5. Cheval Blanc 1990 99p 6. Lafite 2000 99p 7. Montrose 2010 99p 8. Yquem 1986 98p 9. Tertre Roteboeuf 2000 98p 10. Certan de May 1982 98p

-----

THAT'S THE WAY TO CELEBRATE 70TH BIRTHDAY - CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE WITH SAME TITLE IN THE CHAPTER "HORISONTAL AND VERTICAL TASTINGS"

-----

CHECK OUT "Grand Cercle tasting of 85 red vines in 2014 vintage and 20 white dry wines in 2015 vintage" IN THE CHAPTER "HORISONTAL AND VERTICAL TASTINGS"