2013 Bordeaux

 

6AN AVERAGE VINTAGE SERIOUSLY TROUBLED BY UNRELIABLE WEATHER CONDITIONS. IT'S TRULY A WINEMAKER'S VINTAGE. DRY WHITES AND SWEET WHITES DID SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER THAN REDS

Me watching interesting conversation between Francois Mitjavile (Tertre Roteboeuf) and Anne Bjurner

Weather conditions

I spent two weeks in Bordeaux in March/April 2014 tasting app. 300 2013s and additional app. 50 wines, divided in several verticals and several wines in 2010, 2011 and 2012 vintages. Here is short summary of what I've experienced during my stay in Bordeaux, tasting 2013 primeur and other vintages. Visits are described chronologically, not alphabetically. This year as last year I've chosen not to describe every wine district by district as usual, but as visit by visit, summarize wines from UGCB tastings and also write my impressions about other vintages tasted. During first week of tastings I was accompanied by Niko Dukan, wine journalist from Croatia and for the second week was accompanied by my Danish friends, Anne and Ivar Bjurner, Anne = wine sommelier and Ivar = wine collector. All my TNs and impressions are my own, therefore I'm reviewing wines as "I tasted...." and not "We tasted..." etc.

2013 had an awful start the vintage with wet and cold weather during first three months, slightly better April and again rainy and cold May. June offered some violent storms and no warm weather. Vinexpo in June took place in very rainy and cold weather, very wet by the way. As a result of this flowering was late and especially Merlot suffered lack of fruit setting and millerandage. July brought some warm spells of weather but ended with extremely violent storm, which poured a lot of water down in short time, causing extensive flooding. On Left Bank this storm gale winds uprooted many trees from Margaux to St.Estephe. August started with hail storm, which avoided the most important areas in Bordeaux, affecting only Entre-deux-Mers and some parts of Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux.

Happily, warm weather came back and stayed until end of the month. Nevertheless, grapes on vines were in different stages of ripeness and it was sure that harvest would be late and very small in quantity. Some indifferent weather lasted until mid-September, then warm weather returned once again. In the end of September another violent storm struck Bordeaux and on the 4th October major rainfall followed. There were big problems with rot, which would spread itself over many hectares during one night! Surprisingly enough, this rot (white one) didn't affect all Bordeaux, hitting vineyards randomly. During the harvest, Merlot cuvees looked diluted and weak, Cabernet Franc needed more time and so did Cabernet Sauvignon. Some properties brought in however some pretty nice Petit Verdot. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon succeeded pretty well, both for dry white and sweet white wines and 2013 vintage for these wines is better than 2012 vintage. Whites dominate over reds in 2013 vintage.

Optical machines stayed unused in "garages" and collected a lot of dust in 2013 vintage!

RATINGS

20 Mille Bordeaux Supérieur 88 3 de Valandraud St-Emilion 86 d'Aiguilhe Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 86 Aile d'Argent 89p Alter Ego de Palmer Margaux 88 L'Ambroisie du Chateau La Croix des Moines Lalande de Pomerol 85 Amélisse/Saintayme St-Emilion 88 d'Angludet Margaux 87 d'Arche Sauternes 91 d'Armailhac Pauillac 87 Ausone St-Emilion GC 93 Balestard La Tonnelle St-Emilion GC 86 Barde-Haut St-Emilion GC 89 Barrabaque Canon-Fronsac 90 Bastor Lamontagne Sauternes 92 Batailley Pauillac 87 Beaulieu Bordeaux Superieur 87 Beaumont Haut-Médoc 87 Beauregard Pomerol 87

Beau-Séjour Bécot St-Emilion GC 85 Beausejour Duffau St-Emilion 89 Belgrave Haut-Médoc 88-89 Belle Brise Pomerol 93 Bellefont Belcier St-Emilion 87 Berliquet St-Emilion GC 87-88 Beychevelle St-Julien 90 Bon Pasteur Pomerol 87 Bourgneuf Pomerol 91 Bouscaut red Pessac-Léognan 87 Bouscaut white Pessac-Léognan 92 Boutisse St-Emilion 85 Branaire St-Julien 87 Brane-Cantenac Margaux 87-88 Broustet Barsac 92 La Cabanne Pomerol 88 Caillou Barsac 91 Calon Montagne-Saint-Emilion 87 Calon Segur St-Estèphe 92 de Camensac Haut-Médoc 87 Canon St-Emilion GC 90-91

Canon-La-Gaffelière St-Emilion GC 87 Cantemerle Haut-Médoc 87-88 Cantenac-Brown Margaux 87-88 Capbern Gasqueton St-Estèphe 86 Cap de Mourlin St-Emilion GC 88-89 Carbonnieux red Pessac-Léognan 86 Carbonnieux white Pessac-Léognan 92 CarlMagnus Fronsac 91 Les Carmes Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 85-86 Carruades de Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 88 Carteau Cotes Daugay St-Emilion 85 Chantegrive red Graves 85-86 Chantegrive Cuvée Caroline white Graves 91-92 Les Champs Libres Bordeaux 91 Chapelle d'Ausone St-Emilion GC 88 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 86

Charmes Godard blanc Francs Cotes de Bordeaux 88 Chasse Spleen Moulis 85-86 Cheval Blanc St-Emilion GC 92+ Citran Haut-Médoc 87 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 87 Clarke Listrac 87 La Clarte de Haut Brion Pessac-Leognan (white) 88 Clement Pichon Haut Medoc 85 Clerc Milon Pauillac 88 Climens Barsac 94-95 Clinet Pomerol 90 Clos Badon Thunevin St-Emilion GC 88 Le Clos de Beau Pere Pomerol 89 Clos Dubreil St-Emilion 86 Clos l'Eglise Pomerol 87 Clos Fourtet St-Emilion 90 Clos de l'Oratoire St-Emilion GC 87 Clos de la Vieille Eglise Pomerol 86 Clos des Lunes Lunes Blanche Bordeaux 87

Clos des Lunes Lunes d'Argent Bordeaux 88 Clos des Lunes Lunes d'Or Bordeaux 90 Clos Haut Peyraguey Sauternes 93 Clos Marsalette Pessac-Léognan 85 Clos Marsalette Pessac-Léognan white 87 La Confession St-Emilion GC 92 La Conseillante Pomerol 94 Le Conseiller Bordeaux Superieur 88 Corbin St-Emilion GC 89 Corbin Michotte St-Emilion GC 91 Cos d'Estournel St-Estèphe 91-92 Cos d'Estournel St-Estèphe white 91 Cos-Labory St-Estèphe 88 Coufran Haut-Médoc 87-88 La Couspaude St-Emilion GC 87 Coutet Barsac 93 La Croix de Gay Pomerol 86 Croix de Labrie St-Emilion 85-86

Croix Mouton Bordeaux Superieur 87 La Croix Saint-Georges Pomerol 92 Croizet-Bages Pauillac 88 Les Cruzelles Lalande de Pomerol 90 La Dame de Montrose St-Estèphe 86 Dassault St-Emilion GC 89 Dauzac Margaux 92+ Desmirail Margaux 85 Doisy Daene Barsac 93+ Doisy Vedrines Barsac 93+ Domaine de Chevalier red Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Domaine de Chevalier white Pessac-Léognan 94-95 Domaine de Gachet Lalande de Pomerol 85-86 Domaine de Cambes Bordeaux 87 Domaine des Gourdins St-Emilion 86 Domaine des Sabines Lalande de Pomerol 88+ Domaine Virginie Thunevin Bordeaux 85

La Dominique St-Emilion GC 87-88 Le Dragon de Quintus St-Emilion GC 85 Duhart-Milon-Rothschild Pauillac 88 Duo de Conseillante 87 L'Eglise Clinet Pomerol 94 de Fargues Sauternes 94+ Fayat Pomerol 85 Ferrande Graves 86 Ferrande white Graves 91-92 Ferrand Lartique St-Emilion 86 Ferrière Margaux 88 de Fieuzal red Pessac-Léognan 88 de Fieuzal white Pessac-Léognan 92 Figeac St-Emilion GC 88 Filhot Sauternes 92 Fombrauge St-Emilion 86-87 de Fonbel St-Emilion GC 86 Fonreaud Listrac 85 Fontenil Fronsac 90 Fourcas Dupre Listrac 85 Forcas Hosten Listrac 86

Les Forts de Latour Pauillac 88 de France red Pessac-Léognan 88 de France white 91 de Francs Francs Cotes de Bordeaux 85-86 Franc-Mayne St-Emilion GC 85 G Acte 5 Bordeaux Superieur 89 La Gaffelière St-Emilion GC 86 Le Gay 94-95 Gazin Pomerol 86 Giscours Margaux 92 Gloria St-Julien 87 Goulée Médoc 85 Grand Mayne St-Emilion GC 88-89 Grand-Puy-Ducasse Pauillac 85 Grand Puy Lacoste 87 Grand Village Bordeaux Superieur 88 Grand Village white Bordeaux Superieur 90 La Graviere Lalande de Pomerol 87 Gruaud-Larose St-Julien 91 Guiraud Sauternes 92 Haut Bages Liberal 87 Haut-Bailly Pessac-Léognan 90

Haut-Bergey Pessac-Léognan 88-89 Haut-Bergey white Pessac-Léognan 90 Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 93 Haut-Brion white Pessac-Léognan 95-96 Haut Maillet Pomerol 86 Le Jardin de Petit Village Pomerol 84 Joanin Becot Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 86 Kirwan Margaux 88 Labégorce Margaux 88 Lafaurie Peyraguey Sauternes 93 Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac 94 Lafleur Pomerol 95 Lafon-Rochet St-Estèphe 87-88 Lagrange St-Julien 90 La Lagune Haut Medoc 91 Lamarque Haut-Médoc 84 Lamothe Sauternes 88p Lamothe Guignard Sauternes 88 Langoa-Barton St-Julien 88 Larcis Ducasse St-Emilion GC 90

Larmande St-Emilion GC 87-88 Laroze St-Emilion 85 Larrivet-Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 88 Larrivet Haut Brion white Pessac-Léognan 92 Lascombes Margaux 88 Latour Pauillac 94+ Latour-Martillac red Pessac-Léognan 88 Latour-Martillac white Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Léoville-Barton St-Julien 90-91 Léoville-Poyferré St-Julien 91 Lespault Martillac Pessac-Leognan 85 Lespault Martillac Pessac-Leognan white 88 La Louvière Pessac-Léognan 87 La Louvière white Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Lynch Bages Pauillac 87 Lynch-Moussas Pauillac 85 Magrez Fombrauge St-Emilion 88 Malartic-Lagravière red Pessac-Léognan 88 Malartic-Lagravière white Pessac-Léognan 92

Malescot Saint-Exupéry Margaux 88 de Malle Sauternes 91 Manoir de Gay 86 Margaux Margaux 93 Marquis d'Alesme Margaux 89 Marquis de Calon Saint-Estéphe 87 Marquis de Terme Margaux 85 Maucaillou Moulis 85 Mazeyres St-Emilion 85 La Mission Haut-Brion red Pessac-Léognan 93 La Mission Haut-Brion white Pessac-Léognan 94 Monbrison Margaux 86 La Mondotte St-Emilion GC 91-92 Montlandrie Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 88 Montrose St-Estèphe 92 Montviel Pomerol 87-88 Le Moulin Pomerol 86 Moulin Saint-Georges St-Emilion GC 87 Mouton-Rothschild Pauillac 93 Myrat Sauternes 91

Nairac Barsac 93 Olivier Pessac-Léognan 87 Olivier blanc Pessac-Léognan 92 Les Ormes de Pez St-Estèphe 87-88 Pagodes de Cos Saint-Estéphe 86-87 Palmer Margaux 92-93 Pape Clément Pessac-Léognan 89 Pape Clément blanc Pessac-Léognan 92-93 La Papeterie Montagne St-Emilion 85 Pauillac de Château Latour Pauillac 85-86 Pavie-Macquin St-Emilion GC 90 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux Margaux 88 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Bordeaux 92 Pensées de Lafleur Pomerol 89-90 La Petite Eglise Pomerol 90 Le Petit Cheval St-Emilion GC 86 Le Petit Mouton de Mouton-Rothschild Pauillac 88 Petit Village Pomerol 90 Petrus 93-94

de Pez St-Estephe 88 Phélan-Ségur St-Estèphe 87-88 Pibran Pauillac 86 Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac 92 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac 88 Picque Caillou red Pessac-Léognan 87 Picque Caillou white Pessac-Léognan 90 Plincette Pomerol 86 La Pointe Pomerol 87 Pontet-Canet Pauillac 92-93 Poujeaux Moulis 84 Puygureaud Francs Cotes de Bordeaux 85 Puygureaud Francs Cotes de Bordeaux white 88 Prieure Lichine Margaux 85-86 Quintus St-Emilion GC 88 Rabaud Promis Sauternes 91 Rahoul Péssac Léognan 86 Rahoul Péssac Léognan white 90 Rauzan-Gassies Margaux 91 Rauzan-Ségla Margaux 92 Raymond Lafon Sauternes 93+p

Rayne Vigneau Sauternes 93 Reynon Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux 86 Rieussec Sauternes 93 Roc de Cambes Côtes de Bourg 89 Romer Sauternes 91 Romer du Hayot Sauternes 89-90 Rouget Pomerol 87 Sacre Saeur 91-92 Sainte Barbe Bordeaux Supérieur 86 Saint Jean de Lavaud Lalande de Pomerol 86 Saint-Pierre St-Julien 91 Seguin Pessac-Léognan 91 La Sergue Lalande de Pomerol 86 Siaurac Lalande de Pomerol 86 Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes 91 Simard St-Emilion GC 85 Siran Margaux 88 Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 88 Smith Haut Lafitte white Pessac-Léognan 92-93 Soutard St-Emilion GC 85 Suau Sauternes 91

Suduiraut Sauternes 92 Taillefer Pomerol 87 Talbot St-Julien 90-91 du Tertre Margaux 91+ Tertre-Roteboeuf St-Emilion GC 93-94 La Tour de By Médoc 86 La Tour-Carnet Haut-Médoc 87 La Tour Blanche Sauternes 93 La Tour de By Médoc 86 Les Tourelles de Longueville Pauillac 87 Trimoulet St-Emilion GC 85-86 Tronquoy-Lalande St-Estèphe 86-87 Troplong-Mondot St-Emilion GC 91 Valandraud St-Emilion GC 91-93 Veyry Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 85 Vieux Château Certan Pomerol 92 Vieux Maillet Pomerol 85 Villemaurine St-Emilion GC 85 La Violette Pomerol 93+ Virginie de Valandraud St-Emilion GC 89 Y dry white 89 Yquem 95+

VISITS

8

Seguin

Its owner Denis Darriet and his very talented winemaker, Xavier, made very nice 2013, taking this troubled vintage in consideration, it was similar to 2012 in style but lighter. 91p. 2012 was very attractive with violets and crushed blueberries, finely grained fresh tannin and silky texture, velvety finish. 91+p. 2011 which has been bottled in spring last year displayed chocolate flavor, fine minerality and acidity, freshness, soft tannin, refinement, finesse and meaty finish. 92p+. 2010 was for some reason not fit to taste at the day of my visit, tannic and disturbed. NR. 2009 has also chosen to not display all its goodies, but it has great potential. 93p. 2004 Confidence(s) du Chateau Seguin, luxury cuvee made from old vines, tasted tight, concentrated, very complex, well-structured and with splendid long finish. 92p.

Haut Brion/La Mission Haut Brion

2013 reds are more or less on the level with 2012 reds. "Red" harvest finished on the 11 October, a week after big rains, and production was only 28 hl/ha. "White" one finished on the 1 October and resulted in 46 hl/ha.

2013 La Mission was elegant, soft, round and with silky finish. Soft tannins too but fine complexity and finesse. 93p.

2013 Haut Brion was similar to 2013 LMHB, spicy fruit and slightly more tannic. 93p.

Second wine of La Mission, 2013 La Chapelle de LMHB had violets on the nose and very nice acidity on palate, soft fruit and tannin, good structure and length. Light wine. 86p.

Second wine of Haut Brion, 2013 Le Clarence de HB was a bit better overall than La Chapelle de LMHB, with more flesh and concentration here. 87p.

2013 white versions of La Mission Haut Brion and Haut Brion were imho slightly under 2012 versions.

2013 La Mission Haut Brion white was intense with fine aroma of apple, citrus and lemon grass, great complexity, balance, structure and length. Impressive effort. 94p.

2013 Haut Brion white showed as splendidly as LMHB and the only thing which put HB in the front of LMHB, was more intensity, more depth and longer finish. 95-96p.

2013 La Carte de Haut Brion, second wine from blend of LMHB and HB "leftovers", had nice fruit and acidity, fine aroma of apple and pear, and mellow finish. 88p.

2013 Quintus was aromatic with black cherries, elegant and soft, fine complexity and soft fruit on palate. Already drinkable. 88p.

Second wine of Quintus, 2013 Le Dragon de Quintus showed good aromas, roundness and softness. Nice light wine. 85p.

Jean-Luc Thunevin

This year I didn't taste the full range of Thunevin wines. This time only 7 wines were on the menu, all 2013 and all reds. More or less similar in quality to their 2012 counterparts. Domaine Virginie Thunevin was juicy, fresh, aromatic, quite light, with soft fruit and tannin. Very approachable already. 85p. 3 de Valandraud (St.E) did also follow in same track as DVT, had slightly bitter aftertaste but longer. 86p. Domaine des Sabines (LdP) displayed fine intensity of black fruit on the nose and palate, some power, earthy flavors, a heavy dose of oak and strong structure. Not bad, needs time to soften. 88+p. Virginie de Valandraud (St.E) had fine concentration of sweet silky fruit and fine tannin. Aromatic with cherries, complex and with splendid fruity finish. 89p. Le Clos de Beau Pere (Pomerol) was aromatic with black cherries, tight, fresh and complex. Fine long aftertaste. 89p. Clos Badon (St.E) looked quite similar to LCdBP but slightly green flavors and bitterness in the aftertaste lowered rating a little. 88p. Valandraud (St.E) was well made with splendid complexity, ripe fruit and ripe tannin, silky texture and long smooth finish. On the light side. 91-93p.

Clinet

Clinet in vintages 2013, 2012 and 2011 and other wines in 2011 vintage were on the tasting menu. 2011 Ronan, 100% Merlot was pleasant. soft and easygoing wine, which already drinks well. 83p. 2011 Fleur de Clinet did also go easy with soft and tasty fruit and very drinkable. 85p. 2013 Clinet displayed very nice aroma of black fruit, soft fruit and tannin, silky texture and fruity finish. Not bad, but mid palate was somewhat weak, however this vintage's weather behavior didn't allow to make better wine. here. Light end elegant style. 91p. 2012 Clinet didn't differ too much from 2013, both wines were almost identical. 91p. 2011 Clinet had far more stuffing, depth, bigger structure, complexity and concentration, fruit and tannin were riper, compared with 2012 and 2013. 93p.

L'Eglise Clinet

Meeting Denis Durantou is always a great pleasure, not only because he's magician winemaker, but also because of his way to do things. F.i. he doesn't use malolactic fermentation in barrels - he says he will get same flavors every year by using this vinification method. He uses short fermentation period (15 days) at 26 degrees C. His wines in 2013 are quite similar to 2012, but a bit lighter in 2013 in my honest opinion.

2013 Saintayme (St-Emilion GC) was very flowery on the nose (roses and violets) and tasted of crushed cherries, showed freshness, light and tasty fruit on palate, good structure and soft finish. Well-made. 88p. 2013 Montlandrie (Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux),was similar to Saintayme, with spicier fruit.88p. 2013 La Chenade and 2013 Les Cruzelles (both from Lalande de Pomerol) had fine cherries on the nose and palate, fine grip, light structure, fine ripe tannin and fruity aftertaste. 89p for La Chenade and 90p for Les Cruzelles. 2013 La Petite Eglise (Pomerol), second wine of L'Eglise Clinet, had pretty nose of cherry/chocolate mix, reasonably strong on the palate, chewy and with meaty aftertaste. 90p. 2013 L'Eglise Clinet was very distinct, classy, stylish and rich wine with black cherries mixed with chocolate/cocoa powder, complex, potent, tight and with strong structure and long aftertaste. Great effort for the vintage. 94p.

I did also taste red and white wine from Chateau Thenac in Bergerac, for which he's consultant. Red is 55% Merlot, 23% C.Sauvignon, 11% Malbec and 11% C.Franc. White ís 68% S.Blanc, 21% Semillon and 11% Muscadelle. 2013 red was tannic, spicy, earthy, well-knitted, with fine depth and structure, needs time to mature. Very good effort. 2012 with 59% Merlot, 26% C.Sauvignon and 15% Malbec showed more fruit, was spicier and had also riper fruit. Very good effort too. 2013 white displayed acacia flavor, very good intensity and acidity, freshness, nice balance and honeyed aftertaste. Well-made wine.

5Very pretty drop-free foils illustrated by Denis Durantou's wife, Marie Reilhac. L'Eglise Clinet in March 2014

VCC

At VCC, Alexandre Thienpont managed to only obtain 1/5 of normal yield per hectare! 92% Merlot + 8% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol barely reached 13% 2013 here is very fine - elegant, sweet fruit and tannin, silky texture, attractive and seductive. Finesse and refinement. I guess it will peak quite early. 92p.

Father and son, Alexandre and Thibault Thienpont - VCC in March 2014

Tertre Roteboeuf

Francois Mitjavile told me that in 2013 he chose to wait a bit longer to harvest, in order to obtain very ripe flavors and lose a bit of freshness. He used btw a special bacteria spray against grey rot in 2013 and was very happy with result. 2013 Domaine de Cambes had very ripe fruit (confit), was soft and with good balance, no significant freshness. Chocolate flavors. Good effort for the vintage. 87p. 2013 Roc de Cambes had also very ripe fruit, different style than usual, soft and with mellow structure. Lighter structure. 89p. 2013 Tertre Roteboeuf was gracious and aromatic, sublime, dense, very ripe fruit and somewhat fresh. Impeccable winemaking. 94p.

I also tasted 2011 Tertre Roteboeuf - rich and sophisticated on the nose, lots of black cherries and blueberries, velvety texture, intense mid-palate, silky fruit with excellent support of ripe tannin, excellent balance and long finish. Another bull's eye effort from this magician winemaker. 96+p. One of the best wines of the vintage in Bordeaux. 2011 Roc de Cambes was also tasted - extremely aromatic, black cherries everywhere, grilled flavors, perfect balance, mineral, sappy, persistent and meaty aftertaste. Impressive. 92p.

Francois Mitjavile rounded up with serving 2000 Roc de Cambes - very potent and very intense, seems very young so evolution is slow, mineral, very rich and long. Many good years of further development ahead. Impressive stuff. 93p.

7Lafleur

Jacques Guinaudeau told me that he managed to harvest Cabernet Franc ripe in the middle of October after the big rains and thinks 2013 is better here than 2012. Here are the wines I tasted:

Jacques Guinaudeau - true master of winemaking - Lafleur in March 2014

2013 Grand Village was fresh, mineral and with nice acidity, balance, bite and finish. Not overdone - thoughtful winemaking. 88p. 2013 G Acte 5 had similarities to GV. Same fine freshness and minerality, red fruit and fine structure. Slightly more intense and concentrated, longer finish. 89p. 2013 Pensées de Lafleur was on the light side, quite mineral and with fine structure and length. 89-90p. 2013 Lafleur benefitted a lot from late harvest of Cabernet Franc (mid-October) with vast quantities of black fruit, strong backbone and elastic structure, minerality and long persistent finish. Beautiful work in this difficult vintage. 95p. 2012 Lafleur had some muted flavors of coffee and vegetal flavors related to Cabernet Franc. Not good to taste at this particular day of my visit. 94p? 2011 Lafleur has been a hit for me from the birth and now after bottling it hasn't lost anything of its qualities. Sublime, very complex and sophisticated, black cherries and chocolate. Great structure, mid-palate, balance and finish. Simply stunning wine. 95-96p. 2013 Grand Village Blanc displayed fine aroma of acacia flower, passionfruit and melon, and very fine acidity. Very balanced wine. 90p. 2013 White Les Champs Libres comes from 2 plots planted 20 years ago and it's kept in 100% new oak. Lemony and apple, complex and well-balanced, rich and with long aftertaste. 91p.

Bourgneuf

Visited twice - on first occasion I tasted 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2000 and 2013 + 2011 on second occasion. 2013 had little yield - only 17hl/ha. 35% new oak. It was mineral with fine acidity, black and red fruit, energetic, precise winemaking. Very well-made wine which showed the same on both occasions. 91p. 2012 displayed aromatic cherries and chocolate, seemed to have gained, more intensity, depth and length, sappy and with silky tannin. Really fine effort for the vintage. 92p. 2011, tasted twice too, was closed, tannic and not giving much from itself. Still, there was great deal of potential. 92+p. 2000 made by present winemaker's (Frederique Vayron) father, Xavier Vayron, was quite a gem. Powerful, meaty, concentrated and with lot of perfectly ripe blackberries, blueberries and cherries. You also taste the subsoil here - "crasse de fer" (iron dirt). Great future. 94p.

Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux

I managed to taste app. 100 wines. Some really good wines but several dull ones. My cherry picks were - Raymond Lafon from Sauternes (93+p), CarlMagnus from Fronsac (91p) and Barrabaque from Canon-Fronsac (90p). The majority of wines with nice fruit and tannin, soft and smooth, were rated by me in range 87-89p.

13La Dominique

I arrived with my friends to participate in launching of new cellar and restaurant on the top of it. The view over Pomerol from the restaurant is magnificent. 2013 Fayat (Pomerol) was light and soft, uncomplicated, smooth and with good balance. 85p. 2013 Clement Pichon (Haut Medoc) had same appearance and style as Fayat. 85p. 2013 La Dominique was disappointing with subdued flavors and light texture. 86p. 2011 La Dominique displayed some power, fine acidity/minerality and very good structure. 88p.

Nice view from La Dominique's terrace towards Cheval Blanc

Guiraud

Attended pre-primeur event where it was possible to taste 2013s from Domaine de Chevalier, Neipperg and some few other wines.

2013 red Lespault Martillac (a property managed by Olivier Bernard from D.d.Chevalier) was soft and fruity, rather four-squared and with nice balance. 85p. 2013 white Lespault Martillac had very good intensity of acacia flower and pear on the nose and nice acidity, structure and length. Really good wine. 88p.

2013 red Domaine de Chevalier despite light texture, showed silky fruit and tannin, aromatic dark fruit, fine acidity and fruity finish. 91-92p.

2013 white Domaine de Chevalier was very impressive with acacia flower and apple, sophisticated touch, very rich and refined, great acidity and complexity and long fruity finish. Fabulous stuff. 94-95p.

2004 Domaine de Chevalier had great aroma of black fruit on the nose, sappiness and fatness on the palate, splendid structure and impeccably balance. Stylish and classy wine 93p.

2013 red Clos Marsalette was nice soft and fruity wine which would be ready to drink soon. 85p.

2013 white Clos Marsalette showed very nice aroma of acacia flower, nice acidity and nice balance. 87p. 2013 d'Aiguilhe had nice acidity but was chunky and four squared. 86p.

2013 Clos d'Oratoire displayed more intensity, structure and concentration, was elastic and well-balanced. Very nice wine indeed. 87p.

2013 Canon-La-Gaffeliere had more of everything than Cd'O with better fruit and tannin, fine complexity and longer finish. 90p. 2013 La Mondotte wasn't miles better than CLG as it normally is - it displayed more depth, more richness and longer aftertaste than CLG. 91-92p.

Petrus

2013 was harvested on 2-3-4 October, only 26 hl/ha in yield, lost around 40% of potential crop during flowering. Late harvest in 2013 for this property was very beneficial and it reflects in the wine. Excellent effort, very refined, balanced, sweet fruit, excellent acidity, structure and complexity. 93-94p.

Le Gay

Henri Parent, son of Catherine Pere-Verge who died last year in April, is in charge of her mother's properties. 2013s here are quite nice wines but under 2012 in quality. 2013 La Graviere had good fruit and tannin, good structure, balance and soft aftertaste. 87p. 2013 Mainor de Gay tasted gently vinified with soft and smooth fruit. 86p. 2013 Montviel displayed some freshness, soft sweet fruit and soft tannin, very nice structure and aftertaste. 87-88p. 2013 Le Gay was considerably intense with silky fruit and tannin and pleasing sweetness of fruit, splendid balance, complexity and persistent finish. Very good effort for the vintage. 92-93p. 2013 La Violette had more stuffing than Le Gay, was more marked by new oak, more tight and better acidity. 93+p. I've also tasted 2011 Le Gay, splendid effort with truffles, great concentration, structure and long finish. 94-95p.

La Conseillante

Jean-Michel Laporte, La Conseillante's manager, can really be proud of his achievement in the difficult 2013 vintage. 2013 Duo de Conseillante was fresh, soft, smooth, showed sweet fruit and nice balance. 87p. 2013 La Conseillante had great intensity of black cherries, violets, finesse, elegance, was very complex and refined. Excellent wine work. 94p.

After 2013s, there was time to have a little vertical. 2012 Duo de Conseillante tasted of cherries and truffles, had nice balance and pleasant fruity finish. 86p.

2012 La Conseillante didn't show the promises from barrel sample last year and I think reason for that was transferringwine to vats before bottling. 92p.

2011 La Conseillante was sappy, strongly structured, complex, well-knitted with great length and long fruity finish. Impressive stuff. 94p.

2010 La Conseillante was powerful yet elegant with great structure and complexity, fat ripe fruit and fat ripe tannin, great depth and strikingly long aftertaste. Stunning wine with awesome class. 95-96p.

2006 La Conseillante seemed quite evolved with slightly jammy flavors. Light texture. Merlot wasn't a revelation in this vintage, it's obvious to taste. I think this wine is speeding up in maturity pretty fast. Nice and charming. 91p.

2005 La Conseillante showed truffles, seductive nose. elegance and class, was very sophisticated and with excellent length and structure, incredibly long aftertaste. Awesome stuff and this wine can be a serious competitor to the beautiful 2010. 95p.

Lafaurie Peyraguey

Before going to Climens, I visited Lafaurie Peyraguey, where new owner Silvio Denz introduced himself to the press. Tasty canapés were accompanied by vintages 2009, 2005 and 1988 of the estate.

2009 showed elegance and finesse, great acidity, balance and sweetness, aromatic and well-knitted. Really splendid wine. 92-93p.

2005 had excellently botrytised fruit flavors of apricots, peaches, oranges/orange peel, lusciousness, refinement, super elegance and exquisite balance. Gorgeous wine. 93+p.

1988 had orange peel, brown sugar, perfect match between acidity and sweetness, aroma of heather honey. Impressive wine. 93p.

Climens

As usual tasting of several lots and blends. Always very interesting to taste these. Because of the lunch at Lafaurie Peyraguey same day, lunch at Climens was cancelled, but the vertical of Cyprés and Grand Vin wasn't. Thanks for that! It was immense tasting showing fantastic ability of Climens to make some heavenly wines. I tasted Cypres in vintages 2012, 2011 and 2010, and Climens in vintages 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005. It's simply so kind of Berenice to let journalists taste these wine year after year and follow their development.

2012 Cypres de Climens had pleasant nose and taste of acacia honey, good intensity of botrytised flavors, nice acidity and sweetness. Honeyed finish. For early consumption. 88p. 2011 Cypres de Climens was more intense and concentrated than 2012, there was clear taste of crème brulee and brown sugar, very good balance and persistent honeyed finish. Well-made. 90p. 2010 Cypres de Climensdisplayed fine sweetness and acidity, combined with catchy aroma of honey melon and apricot. Fine complexity and length here. Splendid second wine worth every point of its rating. 92p.

2013 Climens - it will be a great Climens, no doubt about it, but maybe I'm too conservative in rating it only 94-95p after rating 2012 here 95-96p last year. 23-24 degrees potential alcohol and residual sugar at 6.7%.

2012 Climens didn't reach imho tasting highlights of last year's barrel sample, had light texture, finesse, very nice acidity and sweetness, was rich, elegant and with nice but a bit short aftertaste. 93p.

2011 Climens was potent, with great acidity and minerality, very intense botrytised flavors of orange peel and honey melon, sophisticated touch, richness and great length. Awesome effort. 98p.

2010 Climens entertained with incredibly intense flavors of acacia honey, honey, melon, orange peel, sophisticated touch, perfect balance between sweetness and acidity, stunning complexity and mega long aftertaste. 99-100p.

2009 Climens was a twin sister of 2010, slightly more spicy on palate, as mind-boggling. 99-100p.

2008 Climens showed several similarities to 2011, but more related to style of the wine than intensity and richness. Anyway it had impressive elegance and finesse. 95p.

2007 Climens was fabulous stuff with great acidity and minerality, very long on the palate with awesome structure and complexity. Stunning wine. 99p.

2006 Climens mirrored 2008 big time with fine aroma of crème brulee. 95p. 2005 Climens was simply a beautiful wine in all aspects, fresh, with fabulously scented botrytised flavors of acacia honey, apricot, peach and oranges, awesome richness and balance, and mega long finish. Spell-bounding wine. 99-100p.

UGCB tasting of Sauternes & Barsac in vintage 2013 at Rayne Vigneau (blind) - weather conditions weren't optimal in 2013 to make better than average red wines but they provided enough of ingredients to make excellent vintage in Bordeaux' sweet district. 2013 is close to successful 2011 or maybe even better.

My cherry picks were: de Fargues (94+p),very intense and powerful wine with splendid botrytis, acidity and length, Doisy Daene and Doisy Vedrines, both rated 93+p, with intense flavor of grapefruit and apricot, powerful and long on the palate, fine botrytis and long finish, well-made Clos Haut Peyraguey, Coutet, Lafaurie Peyraguey, Nairac, Rayne Vigneau, Rieusec and La Tour Blanche just a notch behind with slightly less intensity of botrytised flavors but still rich and complex, all rated 93p and Bastor Lamontagne, Broustet, Filhot, Guiraud and Suduiraut which displayed fine minerality, acidity and sweetness. All six wines were rated 92p.

This tasting confirmed, that 2013 succeeded all over in Sauternes & Barsac and even small properties made a really good wines. Only two properties, Lamothe and Lamothe Guignard were rated low by me, meaning 88p, which wasn't bad as these wines were really nice. There were not a single bad wine out of 26 I have tasted.

12Pavie

Impressive recent makeover of this estate, many people attending this event (welcome dinner for journalists from all over the world), excellent food but why serve 2006 Pavie which is not representative at all for Saint-Emilion, to cheese?? No 2005 or 2000 to serve - was Pavie's cellar really empty? No samples of 2013 vintage either offered to taste here.

Some people say this looks like entrance to casino in Las Vegas - I DON'T AGREE! March 2014

Cheval Blanc

Two visits - first visit on Tuesday the 1st April with UGC and tasting 2013 barrel samples and the second one on Monday the 7th April, meeting technical director since 2008 Pierre Olivier Clouet, retasting 2013 barrel samples and tasting 2010 and 2009 vintages of Cheval Blanc. Yield of only 20 hl/ha here in 2013 vintage.

Tasting notes of 2013 Petit Cheval and Grand Vin were identical on both occasions. Petit Cheval being smooth, soft, with nice fruit and good structure. 86p. Cheval Blanc had silky fruit and tannin, light texture and fine structure, complexity and length. Elegant style with finesse here. 92p. Tasting Cheval Blanc is always tricky, as this wine tends to appear light and diluted from barrel, but it's only a disguise. This wine starts to put on weight and develop complexity and richness when in bottle. Will 2013 Cheval Blanc dramatically improve after bottling? I hope, we'll see.

11The highlight of my visit was tasting 2009 and 2010 vintages of Cheval Blanc, which I kindly requested to have possibility to taste when asking Cheval Blanc for appointment. Thanks a lot for that!

Pierre Olivier Clouet says - "Look what I have for you! Just Cheval Blanc 2009 and 2010." Anne Bjurner and me seem immensely thrilled to taste these two jewels!

2009 had a great aromatic nose of black cherries mixed with grated Varlhona chocolate, excellent acidity and minerality, velvety structure, strong backbone and structure, fruit and tannin possessed excellent ripeness and were fat. Great sophisticated touch to this wine. Exceptional wine. 98-99p.

2010 had more intensity of flavors, same mix of cherries and grated chocolate, more strong and fatter tannin, same refinement and sophisticated touch. Liquid velvet or liquid silk, you choose. Heavenly stuff. 99-100p. Pierre Olivier Clouet, my friends and me had great time all together while tasting 2009 and 2010 and spoke of our impressions concerning other vintages tasted recently.

10

Two "slices of heaven"!

UGC tasting of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol in 2013 vintage at La Conseillante (blind)

20 wines from Saint-Emilion and 9 Pomerols. Not really an exciting tasting. Among Saint-Emilions I particulary liked Canon (90-91p), Clos Fourtet (90p), Larcis Ducasse (90p), Pavie Macquin (90p) and Troplong Mondot (90p). Dassault (89p) was well-made. Among Pomerols, the star wine was of course impeccably made La Conseillante (94p), followed by evidently less scaled Clinet (90p).

Ausone

Tasting at this property can be quite hard for taster's teeth, because of samples' very oaky character. I found 2013s here to be similar to 2012. Simard had fruity nose (red berries) and was oaky on the palate. Good meaty finish. 85p. Fonbel had good acidity, good bite and good structure, but also lot of oak. 86p. Moulin St.Georges was similar in style to Fonbel with better structure and length. 87p. Chapelle d'Ausone had very good fruity nose, sappiness and concentration, well masked however by vast quantities of new oak. 88p. Ausone was quite pretty wine, not plagued by new oak, intense and concentrated, ripe black berries, strong structure, fine complexity and length. 92-93p.

Corbin

Its owner, Anabelle Cruse Bardinet was satisfied with her 2013 but said making of this vintage wasn't for fainthearted. 2013 had fruity nose of cherries and raspberries, freshness, some minerality, silky tannin, good balance and soft finish. Very good effort. 89p. 2012 was identical to 2013. 89p. 2011 (bottled late spring last year) displayed better things than 2013 and 2012, like more ripeness of fruit and tannin, bigger concentration, stronger structure and better complexity. Splendid wine. 91p. 2010 had deep aromatic nose of black fruit, fatty and velvety tannin, very long and concentrated palate with fatness and very long finish. Great class and style. 93-94p.

Corbin Michotte

Met Jean-Nöel Boidron, oenology teacher at University de Bordeaux, at Corbin Michotte, which winemaking facilities were recently renovated. In addition to some 2013s, I tasted several other vintages of Corbin Michotte and one of Cantelauze. Jean-Nöel Boidron told me, that he still doesn't understand why Corbin Michotte was ripped off Cru Classe status and that court case will take at least one year more, because it's very complex. Imho, it's great injustice and you'll understand it better when you taste 2013 which is better than many Cru Classes from Saint-Emilion in this vintage and when you taste 2010, 2005 and 1998. Corbin Michotte has always been one of the most consistent performers over the years. What the classification committee might have thought deciding to relegate CM, I don't know, but it seems very, very suspect with maybe some personal feud(s) involved.

2013 Corbin Michotte had fine aroma of grated dark chocolate, splendid ripe dark fruit, remarkable acidity and minerality, fine balance and persistent finish. Splendid effort for the vintage. 91p.

2013 Calon (St. Georges Saint-Emilion) showed tasty soft fruit, light texture, smoothness and good balance. 87p.

2013 Calon (Montagne St-Emilion) was similar to St.Georges one with slightly more intensity and sappiness. 87p as well.

2013 Cantelauze was not available for tasting during our visit.

2010 Corbin Michotte was delightfully strong and potent, yet in great balance, lots of chocolate and cherries, fat fruit and tannin with perfect ripeness. Beautiful wine with so much character of soil and everything fitting perfectly. 94p.

2005 Corbin Michotte had it all - very seductive and beautiful cherry nose, beautiful fruit on the palate, velvety and silky, great complexity, structure and length. Stunning wine, which at the moment has edged 2010! 95p.

1998 Corbin Michotte was truffy with excellent structure, balance, length, velvety fruit and tannin with delightful sweetness. Impressive wine. 93p. Cantelauze is Boidron family's property in Pomerol and consists of four parcels - one close to Bonalgue, one close to Le Gay, one close to Grangeneuve and one close to La Patache, which means two parcels on the right part of Pomerol and two parcels on the left part.

2010 Cantelauze was fresh with great acidity, fat fruit and tannin with perfect ripeness, great depth and complexity, strong structure and great harmony, and long lingering finish. Fabulous wine. 94p.

Jean-Philippe Janoueix

Following the motto "I do it my way", he's made really nice wines for 2013 vintage. They all show freshness and tasty fruit. His style of making is semi-modern and you can't really accuse him of making flat wines lacking freshness. His 2013s showed obvious freshness, life, ripe fruit and ripe tannin, lot of oak and splendid balance. They're not overdone and overextracted, you really can taste gentle winemaking in 2013. Wines from Jean-Philippe Janoueix are consistent from vintage to vintage thanks to his excellent winemaking skills. Weather conditions and related problems caused lighter wines here in 2013. 2013 Croix Mouton 87p, Le Conseiller 89p, 20 Mille 88p, Sacre Coeur 91-92p, La Croix St.Georges 92+p and La Confession 92+p. Particulary Sacre Coeur, L.C.St.G and LC had remarkable ripeness of black fruit, freshness, excellent structure, precision and focus.

9Jean-Philippe Janoueix did well with 2013 vintage

La Cabanne

Francois Estager presented a reasonable line-up of 6 2013s, which tasted lighter than 2012s last year. Domaine des Gourdins (St-Emilion) 85p, Domaine de Gachet (Lalande de Pomerol) 85-86p, La Papeterie (Montagne Saint-Emilion) 85p, Plincette (Pomerol) 86p, Haut Maillet (Pomerol) 86p and La Cabanne (Pomerol) 88. La Cabanne was the best wine here with attractive and tasty fruit, very good acidity, balance and firm finish.

Pavie Macquin

I tasted a range of 2013s, which Nicolas Thienpont owns and consults. Puygueraud was fruity with some tannin, light, round and soft. Easygoing wine for quick consumption. 85p. Trimoulet had nice fruit, ripe tannin, was sappy and nicely made. Charming and not too complicated. 85-86p. Berliquet displayedattractive nose, considerably soft fruit and tannin, good structure and nice aftertaste. 87-88p. Larcis Ducasse had black cherries on the nose, very attractive and seductive, sappy and well-balanced, splendid construction, meaty finish. Splendid effort. 90p. Pavie Macquin was meaty with soft fruit and tannin. Very good structure and very good support of tannin. Firm aftertaste. Really good for the vintage. 90p. Beausejour was similar to Pavie Macquin. 90p. Puygueraud white (55% S.Blanc + 45% Semillon) had fresh aromas of acacia flower, apple and pear, fine acidity, fine concentration, structure and length on palate. Not bad at all. 88p. Charmes Godard was similar to Puygueraud with same flavors, same fine acidity and fine complexity. 88p.

UGC tasting of Graves and Pessac-Leognan at Picque Caillou (blind)

Red wines performed nice despite 2013 vintage's ugly behavior in growing season, whites were excellent. My cherry picks among reds were Domaine de Chevalier, Ferrande, La Louviere and Latour Martillac 91-92p. Best wines imho among whites were: Domaine de Chevalier 94-95p, Pape Clement 94-95p, Smith Haut Lafitte 92-93p, Bouscaut 92p, Carbonnieux 92p, Fieuzal 92p, Larrivet Haut Brion 92p, Malartic Lagraviere 92p and Olivier 92p.

Labegorce

Both Labegorce and Marquis d'Alesme seemed to struggle a bit in 2013 vintage. Labegorce made light and soft wine, which however had an atrractive and seductive sweet fruit and tannin, very good balance and soft finish. 88p. Marquis d'Alesme was similar to Labegorce with better acidity and more complexity. 89p.

000

La Lagune

Very interesting visit. New cellar master here since September 2013, Maylis de Labordiere. She's not of Bordeaux origin, comes from Beaujolais. On my question, "why you chose Bordeaux and not Burgundy", she answered, "many friends of mine told me to go to Bordeaux and take education there, as it is the best place". She's qualified oenologist, young and very dynamic. Difficult vintage to start one's career anyway!

I didn't taste the real barrel sample but 4 different lots instead. They represented 4 different blends from different parcels. Lot 1 (95% C.Sauvignon + 5% Petit Verdot) was soft and silky with sweet fruit and tannin, fine structure and length. Lot 2 (95% C.Sauvignon + 5% Merlot) had better structure and bigger depth, also fine acidity. Lot 3 (95% CS + 3% Merlot + 2% P.Verdot) was even better that Lot 1 and 2, concerning depth, structure and length, but not as fruity as Lot 2. Lot 4 (99.2% C.Sauvignon + 0.8% Merlot) showed more intensity and concentration, stronger structure and more length than Lot 1, 2 and 3. Tight and complex. Lot 4 will undoubtedly be the main ingredient of 2013 La Lagune and I'll therefore rate future final blend 91p.

New cellar master since September 2013 at La Lagune, Maylis de Labordiere (left) and owner Caroline Frey (right). April 2014

Yquem

First event took place at Grand Theatre on the 2nd April, where I tasted 2013 and 2003, then visit to Yquem 6 days later. Here, I tasted 2012 Y, dry wine of Yquem, 2013 and 2011 d'Yquem.

2013 Y had freshness, green apple and acacia flower on the nose, fine acidity and fine fruity aftertaste. 89p.

2013 d'Yquem tasted identically on both occasions - very sophisticated and intense nose of honey melon, orange peel, finesse and elegance, great match between acidity and sweetness, remarkable complexity and stupendous finish. It's classy d'Yquem which needs time to develop, but at the moment I don't think this wine matches the quality of 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. 95+p. 2011 d'Yquem - this wine showed multiple botrytised aromas, a lot of sweetness and corresponding acidity, sophisticated touch, fabulous intensity, stunning balance, length and finish. Exceptional stuff. 98p.

2003 d'Yquem was heaven - incredibly intense on the nose with myriad of botrytised flavors like candied pineapple, mandarin, candied orange peel, heather honey, mango, guava, fantastic acidity and sweetness, sophisticated touch, enormous richness and an aftertaste which lasts for more than a minute. 100p.

109Lagrange

Beautiful sight - Chateau Lagrange in April 2014

This beautifully situated property was my base for last two days of UGCB tastings. It's a big one covering 157 ha, hereof 115 ha planted with wines. Soil here is mostly gravel in different sizes of stones. Vineyard is in one block and planted with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. Vinification is traditional.

Wine here is reliable and stable. Lagrange has produced very aromatic and fruity 2013 worth attention. I also managed to taste vintages 1985, 1988, 1989 and 2000. 1985 was very charming, attractive and seductive with sweet fruit (88p), 1988 was lighter than 1985 with nice structure and complexity (87p), 1989 was not alike 1985, with greater sweetness and more intensity, a real heartbreaker wine (90p), it was served blind and I guessed it right on :-D, while 2000 impressed with great aromatic nose of cherries and blackcurrants, fat ripe tannin, great depth and long aftertaste. A killer wine. 93p.

Mouton Rothschild

Tasting 2013s here was quite satisfying as you could taste that they were thoughtfully made and adjusted to the character of the vintage. 2013 d'Armailhac was light, soft, smooth and round. Good acidity and nice fruit, reasonable finish. 87p. 2013 Clerc Milon had more of everything than d'Armailhac, bigger depth, better fruit and tannin, more concentration and longer finish. 88p. 2013 Petit Mouton was similar to Clerc Milon. 88p. 2013 Mouton Rothschild had delicate nose of blackcurrants and raspberries, finesse and elegance, splendid structure and finish. 93p. 2013 Aile d'Argent (white Mouton Rothschild) displayed acacia flower and pear, fine intensity, acidity, balance and length. Aromatic and tasty. 89p.

UGCB tasting of Listrac, Moulis, Medoc and Margaux at Malescot St-Exupery (blind)

A handful of well-made wines, especially from Margaux commune - my favorites were Dauzac (92+p), Giscours and Rausan Segla, both 92p, du Tertre (91+p) and Rauzan Gassies (91p). More than two handfuls of wines present at the tasting were rated 87-89p.

Lafite

Tasting 2013s here was quite satisfying as you could taste that they were thoughtfully made and adjusted to the character of the vintage. Carruaders de Lafite was sappy with sweet fruit and silky tannin, had fine structure, depth and length. Not overdone and fine result of gentle winemaking. 88p. Duhart Milon was similar to CdL with slightly more apparent oaky character. 88p. Lafite had more of everything than Carruaders - granite (minerality), fine acidity, splendid structure and complexity, richness and great harmony between fruit and tannin. Gentle dose of new oak this time! 94p.

Calon Segur

As other top properties in Saint-Estephe, Calon Segur did made really good wine in 2013. Weather condition didn't allow to aim higher and do something better. 2013 Capbern Gasqueton was soft, smooth, with light texture, easygoing fruit, silky tannin and short fruity finish. 86p. 2013 Marquis de Calon had very good minerality and acidity, very good structure as well, however it was light, uncomplicated and with rather short finish. Really nice wine for early consumption. 87p. 2013 Calon Segur was aromatic, sappy, possessed splendid structure and fine complexity, and long aftertaste. 92p.

111Margaux

My Danish friends, Anne and Ivar Bjurner, listening to Paul Pontalier explanation concerning 2013 vintage - March 2014

Visited twice, first on the 3rd April and then on the 9th April. On both occasions, 2013 Chateau Margaux, Pavillon Rouge and Pavillon Blanc were tasted.

2013 Pavillon Rouge (84% C.Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% P.Verdot and 2% C.Franc) showed light texture, soft fruit with catchy sweetness and ripe tannin. Fine balance and soft fruity aftertaste. 88p. 2013 Margaux which is 100% C.Sauvignon was lighter than usual with smooth, silky tannin, soft fruit, polished texture. Normally, Grand Vin contains Merlot, but winemaking stuff didn't value the Merlot parcel in question to have quality worth putting it in Grand Vin. So my rating is more based on reputation than on actual appearance, because I think Margaux with put on weight when in bottle. 93p. 2013 Pavillon Blanc, which is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, showed aromatic nose with flavors of acacia flower, green apple, freshness, great acidity and long aftertaste. Splendid effort for the vintage. 92p.

Btw, Thomas Do Chi Nam, who started as technical director at Margaux on the 1 September 2011, left Margaux in the end of 2013 after mutual agreement.

Palmer

Not exactly great vintage for Alter Ego and Palmer, but they managed to make pretty good wines with considerably ripe fruit, soft tannin and persistent finish. 2013 Alter Ego showed freshness, very nice acidity and minerality, light texture soft fruit and tannin. 88p. 2013 Palmer was oaky with very fine acidity, on the light side, elegant and with very fine complexity and structure. Will it put on weight when in bottle? 92-93p.

Pontet Canet

Melanie Tesseron, niece of Alfred Tesseron, explained, that despite the difficulties they experienced, 2013 is satisfying. They finished harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon on the 10th October, after the big rain on the 4th October. 2013 here was aromatic with splendidly ripe fruit on the nose and palate, silky texture, freshness, great balance and elegance. Finesse rather than power and muscles. 92-93p.

UGCB tasting of Haut Medoc, St. Julien, Pauillac/Saint-Estephe at Clerc Milon (blind)

OK showing with Gruaud Larose, (91p) Leoville Poyferre (91p), Saint-Pierre (91p), Leoville Barton and Talbot (90-91p), Beychevelle, Gloria and Lagrange, all 90p, as the most interesting wines. Many wines were rated between 87p and 88p.

Latour

I tasted the usual range of primeur wines + Pauillac 2008, Les Forts de Latour 2006 and Latour 2004.

2013 Pauillac was juicy with good acidity, light but well-balanced, with good zest and reasonable aftertaste. 85-86p.

2013 Les Forts de Latour acted powerful, meaty and chewy, new oak upfront, strong backbone, splendid depth and length. Really, really good for the vintage. 88p.

2013 Latour was remarkably strong for the vintage with powerful structure and backbone combined with intense fruit, ripe tannin, great complexity and long finish. Probably the best 1.Cru wine in this vintage. 94+p.

2008 Pauillac had ripe and sweet fruit, fine polished palate, fine length and fruity finish. 87p.

2006 Les Forts de Latour possessed really fine ripe fruit, splendid structure, aroma of blackcurrants, leather and pencil, fine balance and persistent aftertaste. 91p.

2004 Latour displayed thick aromas of black cherries and chocolate, strong backbone, big depth, strong structure, excellent balance and long meaty finish. Combines perfectly finesse and power. Fabulous stuff. 96p.

Pichon Baron

Jean-Rene Matignon, technical director of AXA properties, told me, how difficult it was to cope with unsettled weather conditions in 2013 and how difficult it was to made good wine out of the grapes which came through unscathed. He was happy with the result.

2013 Pibran was fruity, round and attractive with smooth texture. This wine was chaptalized. Nice wine. 86p. 2013 Les Tourelles de Longueville had sweet fruit, fine acidity, silky and smooth texture, good structure and soft aftertaste. 87p. 2013 Pichon Baron was powerful, aromatic, intense, with sweet fruit and tannin, long fruity finish. Successful for the vintage. 30hl/ha and only 40% of the harvest went into Grand Vin. 92p. 2013 Le Jardin de Petit Village tasted light and four-squared with nice round fruit. 85p. 2013 Petit Village was nicely made with aromatic black cherries on nose and palate, silky texture, nice backbone and very good balance. Light but tasty. 90p.

112

Domaine de Chevalier

Astonishing evening on Sunday the 6th April. In addition to little vertical tasting of white Domaine de Chevalier, I tasted other wines from Olivier Bernard. Then dinner with some fantastic wines from vintages ending with 4.

Whites for the dinner

Olivier Bernard explained - " You know, 2013 vintage was very difficult and needed a lot of work in the vineyard and cellar, we succeeded anyway to make a really good red and beautiful white despite difficult circumstances, so I hope you will enjoy my wine in both colors".

Wines tasted - fruity and easygoing 2013 Lespault Martillac red (85p), aromatic 2013 Lespault Martillac white with very good acidity and length (88p), 2013 Domaine de Chevalier red which was aromatic with silky fruit and tannin, fine smoothness on the palate and meaty finish (91-92p), three versions of 2013 Clos des Lunes, fruity and attractive Lunes Blanche (87p), more intense and longer Lunes d'Argent (88p) and fatter, more deep and more concentrated Lunes d'Or (90p).

Then four vintages of white Domaine de Chevalier - classy, stylish, rich and refined 2013 (94-95p), lighter 2012 but still with classy elegance and finesse (94p), stunning 2011 with fabulous intensity, complexity and length, sophisticated touch, great richness and length (96p) and even better 2010 which was extremely sophisticated, with fabulous acidity and depth, and long caressing aftertaste (97p).

For dinner I had white D.d.Chevalier 1964, 1984 and 2004. 1964 was interesting old wine, sherry flavors, well-balanced (89p), 1984 was refined with finesse, great complexity and great balance (93p) while 2004 was slightly oxidized.

Then a blast from the past, 1924 Lafite, which had incredible nose of truffles, truffy palate too, riveting elegance and remarkable complexity as well. Amazing wine. 95p.

1974 Latour followed, but it was past its peak with almost all fruit gone and acidity all over in this wine. 84p.

Next wine in line was 1934 Ausone, mature fruit, silky, very delicate and tasty, yet in fine balance but acidity is well-pronounced. Impressive old wine. 92p.

1954 Leoville Poyferre was clearly marked by age, extracted coffee beans, good balance. 87p. 1964 Haut Brion showed nice intensity and concentration, polished style, nice balance and finish. 91p.

1964 Petrus tasted like bottle kept under pristine conditions - youthful dark color, almost black ink, powerful, extraordinary complexity, structure, depth and length. Unquestionably the best wine of the dinner. Heavenly stuff. 99p.

We finished dinner with a curious 19th century bottle of Yquem, which probably was from vintage between 1891 and 1893.

113Three versions of Clos des Lunes

Belle Brise

Again an entertaining visit at this property! My friends Anne and Ivar Bjurner were simply thrilled. We tasted Belle Brise in vintages 2013-2012-2011-2010-2005 and Armagnac in vintages 1979 and 1964.

2013 Belle Brise was very, very cherry with grated chocolate, incredibly seductive and sublime, velvety and delicate. Fabulous effort for the vintage and better than many famous wines on Right Bank and Left as well. 93p.

2012 Belle Brise had same style as 2012, was as aromatic and seductive, maybe slightly less intense. 92-93p.

2011 Belle Brise had incredibly intense nose of black cherries, silky fruit and tannin, finesse and elegance. Great complexity and length here. Very classy and stylish wine. 93+p.

2010 Belle Brise was a fantastic treat with excellent and incredibly intense black cherries, sophisticated palate with fat velvety texture, perfect ripeness of silky fruit and tannin, stunning complexity, structure and length. What an achievement! Imho Belle Brise rivals Le Pin and many other top names in this vintage. 96+p.

2005 Belle Brise had extraordinary nose of black cherries, truffles, fabulous complexity, excellent structure and depth, perfect ripeness of fruit and tannin, and immense finish. Less fat tannin than 2010, but what a wine. 95-96p.

48aLeft - Undoubtely the best vintage Belle Brise has ever produced!

Troplong Mondot

It was kind of weird to visit this property after death of Christine Valette-Pariente 8 days before. Wines here are quite modern and therefore somewhat controversial. Either you like them or you don't. Nobody deny however that wines here are of high quality, but maybe amount of new oak and length of maceration/extraction could be reduced.

2013 had fruit on the verge of over ripeness but there was enough of freshness to balance fruit. Fine structure, depth and length. This wine would have been better with more gentle winemaking. 91p.

2012 was similar to 2013, blueberries and blackberries, slightly jammy flavors, lot of acidity and tannin. 91-92p.

2011 had more of everything than 2012 and 2013 - very concentrated and tannic, full-bodied, sweet fruit and tannin, superbly balanced and with great length. Fine effort for the vintage. 93p.

Nairac

Nicolas Tari-Heeter, winemaker, made here splendid 2013 vintage, clearly better than 2012 and with great potential. I was also treated with a awesome vertical of 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007 and 2005, where all these wine performed simply fantastic and clearly showed what Nairac is capable of!

2013 had very strong flavor of grapefruit, apricot and honey melon, excellent match between sweetness and acidity, refinement, complexity, length and honeyed finish. Splendid effort. 93p. 2011 displayed mandarin, crème brulee, rasp honey, a lot of sweetness, spicy flavors, excellent balance, depth and length. Rich on botrytised flavors and with very long honeyed and persistent finish. Great future. 95+p. 2010 was different in style than 2011 - more acacia honey here, acidity is more upfront than in 2011. Distinguished and long on the palate with great sweetness, acidity and very long aftertaste. Simply great stuff. 96p. 2009 reminded a lot of 2011, with more acidity, more depth and more length in 2009. Tasted a bit better than 2010 with slightly more complexity and richness. 96+p. 2007 mirrored perfectly 2009 with more finesse here. Fabulous wine. 96+p. 2005 was probably the best wine of the tasting - displayed fabulous nose with great intensity and depth of apricots, lot of botrytised flavors on the palate like pineapple, guava and honey melon, sublime richness, sophisticated touch and long lingering aftertaste. Extraordinary stuff. 97p.

Montrose

Visiting and tasting at Montrose are never a dull moment. I must admit that this property's always been one of favorites among Bordeaux wines. Old vintages, especially 50's and '60s has always been rare treat. New owners have changed a lot and new cellar for instance looks monumental. Because of use of solar cellars, Montrose is more than self-sufficient in electricity. Montrose has appointed new cellar-master from 1st June 2014.

Herve Berland told me, that 2013 vintage needed a lot of attention and work, and gentle vinification. 2013 Tronquoy Lalande offered aromatic and seductive nose of cherries and raspberries, soft and smooth texture, good balance. 86-87p.

2013 La Dame de Montrose had well-marked aroma of violets, very good minerality and acidity, nice balance and fruity finish. Lighter style than usual. 86p. Then three recent vintages of Montrose to taste.

2013 Montrose was very well-knitted, complex and finely structured, lighter than usual, equipped with silky fruit and tannin, and smooth finish. One to enjoy before 2005, 2009 and 2010 vintages of Montrose. 92p. I thought 2012 had more to offer than 2013. Sweet fruit, splendid aromatic nose of black berries, splendid concentration, fine bite and persistent finish. Fine effort for the vintage. 93p.

2011 was excellent in all aspects - very aromatic, well-composed, sappy, silky and with great depth and length. 94p.

114New cellarmaster (left), Herve Berland, Montrose's technical director (middle), and recently appointed chef responsible for PR, Helene Brochet (right). April 2014.

Cos d'Estournel

Jean Guillame Prats left and new technical director arrived. It's clearly to be seen in 2013 wines that they aren't heavily extracted. Gentle vinification this time!

2013 Goulée was soft and smooth, round, a bit earthy on palate with rather short finish. 85p. 2013 Pagodes de Cos displayed nice aromatic nose, very good concentration and zest, very good acidity as well and meaty finish. 86-87p. 2013 Cos was made in modern style but I couldn't find any over extraction in this vintage. Aromatic and tasty cherries on the nose and palate, mineral with fine acidity, long meaty aftertaste. Really nice effort for the vintage and clever winemaking. 92p. 2013 Cos white (76% S.Blanc + 24% Semillon) showed freshness, acacia flower and green apple flavors, fine acidity and fine fruity finish. 91p.

Rauzan Segla

I kindly asked in my email to have possibility of tasting last four vintages and I got it. Thanks a lot!

2013 was fresh and aromatic, on the light side, smooth and well-balanced, finesse and elegance, soft and silky aftertaste. Same impression as at UGCB tasting of Listrac, Moulis, Medoc and Margaux at Malescot St.Exupery. 92p.

2012 had very aromatic and seductive aroma of black cherries and chocolate, fine acidity and very fine smooth finish. It'll not surprise me if 2012 turns out to be better than 2013 on the long run. 92+p.

2011 was different than 2013 and 2012, more red fruit (raspberries) here, but also plenty of cherries and chocolate, more depth, stronger structure and longer finish. Splendid effort. 93p.

2010 had of course all the best things this vintage could offer - very intense nose, luscious black fruit and fat ripe tannin, excellent structure and depth, great complexity, long meaty finish. Great effort. 94p.

 

Latest news

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

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HOW DID LESSER REDS FARE IN 2014 VINTAGE? WHAT ABOUT LESSER DRY WHITES IN 2015 VINTAGE? PLEASE 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"

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

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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