I visited Bordeaux between 12th September and 26th September 2013. Most of my stay was spent visiting Left and Right Bank properties. 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 attended these Voyage de Presse events, the properties chosen for me this time weren’t ones I had heard so much about. I like this kind of event where you are entirely down to earth and refresh/widen your wine horizons. This was the opposite of what I usually do during primeur time, running from one high-esteemed property to another. I had a 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 the potential of these is expected to be excellent in terms of fruit intensity and acidity, despite terrible weather conditions in Spring and early summer. Some places started harvesting Merlot but not grapes for sweet whites. It'll be interesting to see what Bordeaux will be capable of now. Because of rain at the beginning of September and beginning of October, there's a risk of botrytis, which forced properties to harvest early, and grapes with higher acidity and not 100% fully ripe skins (phenolic ripeness). Still, it seemed (9th October) that botrytis did very little damage as dry wind and cooler temperatures from north/northeast prevented spreading it. Unfavorable weather conditions and lack of ripeness characterized this vintage.
Here are my impressions:
VOYAGE DE PRESSE 2013 - GRAVES & PÉSSAC-LÉOGNAN
Monday the 23rd September 2013
Berengere Quellien makes splendid wines at Lusseau. September 2013.
I visited this property in September 2012, but it was short but enjoyable. It's situated in the Graves, Ayguemorte les Graves, only 1 km from the Pessac-Leognan district's border. There is 7 ha of vines, 1 ha of 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, the daughter of the present owners, has been making wine here since 1997. She graduated 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 the "normal" version (cuvée barrique), which is barrel fermented in new and 1-year-old barrels, kept for a different amount of time in same barrels, all according to of the potential of the vintage. Despite wine facilities at Lusseau perhaps needing some upgrading, renovation, and modernization, one can't complain about the quality of Lusseau wines because they represent splendid value for the money.
I was very impressed by the white 2012, matured in 50% new oak for eight months, which had a splendid nose of acacia flower and apple, splendid complexity, acidity, and balance, and a fine and smooth finish. 91p. Red 2006 (cuvée barrique), fermented in 1-year-old barrels and kept in these for one year, was potent with very good minerality, acidity, structure, and concentration. Well-balanced and with a meaty finish. 88p. Red 2010 (Cuvée Berengere - 30% C.S + 70% Merlot) displayed some power, ripe berries, good concentration, roundness, nice balance, and a soft finish. Lovely 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 the harvest of white grapes on 25th September and was very satisfied with the quality.
Tuesday, the 24th September, 2013
Chateau Haut Reys
Gabin's 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 one 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 on 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, four months in 100% new barrels).
Haut-Reys 2011 red (20% CS + 80% Merlot) had a fruity nose, good minerality, and some dryness coming from CS. Nicely made, with good structure and balance. 87p. Haut Reys 2010 Vieilles Vignes red displayed a fine fruity nose and palate, good complexity, structure, and meaty finish. 88p. Haut-Reys 2010 Cuvee Paumarel (matured one year in 100% new oak) had more intensity of cherry flavor on the nose, bigger concentration, and more complexity than the VV version. Fine long fruity finish. Very well-made wine. 89p.
Haut-Reys 2012 white had a very good aromatic nose (acacia flower), very good acidity, freshness, nice balance, and a soft finish. Charming wine. 87p. Haut-Reys 2010 VV white had a delicate nose of acacia flower and lemongrass, fine acidity, a touch of new oak evident on the palate, refined finish. 89p. I found the VV version of red and white and Cuvée Paumarel to be the ones to search for.
Tasting of 2010 red Graves and 2012 white Graves at Chateau de Cerons
When in Bordeaux, you should always taste red wines before whites, as tannin in red wines makes your tasting senses more affected by 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 the property. 90p. Cuvee Paumarel (Haut Reys), Magneau, Rahoul, and Respide had a pretty cherry nose, concentrated palate, delicate 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 wines with ripe fruit, very friendly, balanced, very good structure, and fruity aftertaste. All wines rated 88p.
Among 2012 whites, I liked Chantegrive Cuvee Caroline, Clos Floridene, Lusseau, and Rahoul, very fresh and complex wines, intense with splendid acidity, well-constructed, and with a 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 in the same barrels for seven months. 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 fruit sweetness, very good ripeness, was quite tannic and strongly structured, and some dryness coming from the oak. Good potential here when tannin softens and merges with fruit into a balanced blend. 87p. Good wines but a bit too anonymous for my taste.
This property in Sant Pierre de Mons, close to Langon, is 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 the present proprietor, and he offered me to taste the 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, acidity, complexity, structure, and balance. New oak gives a discrete touch here, giving this wine more complexity and nuances. Long aftertaste and a fine future. 89p. well-made and promising wine. 2001 red aged in oak barrels (33% new, 33% 1-year-old, and 33% two years old) was powerful, potent, and strongly structured, full of ripe blackcurrants, fat tannin, and meaty finish. Not quite ready to drink yet, but the future is very promising. 89p. 2009 red aged in oak had the same style as 2001 but sweeter tannin and fruit, more complexity, and a longer finish. 90p. Wines here have a good deal of character and are, imho worth searching for.
Wednesday, the 25th of September, 2013
Chateau Haut Bacalan
This property is situated in the industrial area of Pessac. It was quite an entertaining visit, as I learned during a conversation with the owner, Michel Gonet, that he's a cousin of Xavier Gonet. Xavier Gonet is married to Julie Medeville and makes wine at Medeville properties, Gilette, Les Justices, and Respide Medeville (Graves). Michel Gonet owns several properties in Bordeaux, including those 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, an intense aroma of grated chocolate on the nose, fine structure, velvety texture, balance, and charm. Fine effort indeed. 90p. 2010 d'Eck displayed a lot of fat cherry fruit and tannin, silky texture, splendid structure and length, catching elegance, and fine meaty finish. A splendid effort worth 91p. Interesting wines with character and with a clear indication of thoughtful vinification. Both wines will surely get better in the future as both vineyards get older.
I also did taste his Champagne Brut Nature 2004 (100% Chardonnay), which was very creamy and complex.
Haut Bacalan welcomes you.
Tasting of 2010 red and 2012 white (classified and not classified properties in Pessac-Leognan) at Gazin-Rocquefort
There were many goodies among the 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 relatively 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 merited all 90p ratings. The sample of Larrivet Haut Brion was flawed/too old.
Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion
Wooden vat with a rotor (to perform batonnage de lie?) for white wine vinification. Larrivet Haut Brion in September 2013
I know this property in Leognan very well as its wines appear every year in UGCB tastings during primeur week and also appear when negociant firm Beyerman visits Copenhagen every year at the beginning of September. There are 72.5 ha planted with vines - 61 ha red (55% Merlot, 40% C.Sauvignon and 5% C.Franc, the average age of vines are 25 years) and 11 ha white (60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon, the 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 a winemaker before joining Larrivet Haut Brion) to improve the 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 the top wines in the district but very interesting and reliable. Especially red has been in very fine form since 2010 vintage, and white has been in splendid form since 2008. And both wines are still improving. I was particularly impressed with the red and white 2011 vintage.
It was a well-organized trip this Voyage de Presse and an excellent opportunity to learn about less-known properties from Graves/Pessac-Léognan. Thanks!
Almost all the properties mentioned have a website, so if someone needs more detailed information, Google it or ask Syndicat Viticole de Pessac-Leognan/Syndicat Viticole des Graves for more information.
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.
The owner, Dennis Darriet, told me they still waited for the harvest at Seguin as grapes haven't approached the full phenolic ripeness, and that was a lot of work in the vineyard due to tough weather conditions. I tasted the last four vintages - 2012, 2011 and 2010, and 2009. This property has emerged as one of the greatest values for the money in the district and the whole of Bordeaux. And Seguin isn't even a classified growth!!
2012 was elegant, fruity, with tasty, well-balanced, round, and soft cherries. This vintage shows a lighter style of Seguin. 91+p. 2011 offered a splendid nose of ripe cherries with remarkable depth and intensity. Silky on the palate with strong structure, fine length, and smooth aftertaste. Now in the 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 blend as 2010) was a tad less intense than 2010, with many blackberries, black cherries, stunning balance, finesse and elegance, and sophisticated touch. Beautiful, classy wine and great effort indeed. 95p.
I stayed at the property for a few days before and after Ban des Vendanges at Domaine de Chevalier. The owner, Jean-Jacques Bonnie, and his wife were kind and generous hosts. Me and several other people who also stayed at ML and were scheduled to attend Ban des Vendanges immensely enjoyed the red and white wines served.
2010 red was powerful, packed with fresh black cherries, fine depth and structure, a superb balance between sweet fruit and fat tannins, and a firm aftertaste. 93p. 2010 white displayed splendid intensity on the nose with pineapple and lemongrass and great acidity on the palate. Very stylish wine with finesse and elegance. Well-deserved 92p. 2005 red had the same splendid black cherries as 2010 but less intense. In terms of style, it was close to 2010. 92+p. 2005 white reminded me 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 a revelation - even more intense and concentrated than 2010 and 2005, tighter, longer, and more complex. Fabulous effort for the vintage, which is considered one of the best vintages for white in the last 20 years. We also tasted 1990 red to see how ML was before Bonnie family arrived in 1997. This wine resulted from a yield of 100hl/ha (!) and therefore diluted all over. Tannin and fruit somehow escaped full ripeness.
Smith Haut Lafitte
A few hours before the Ban des Vendanges event, I visited this highly regarded property in pretty good weather. After being driven by car to the office, all traffic around the property then was on a bicycle, not only for me but also for Florence and Daniel Cathiard. They told me they hate using cars at the property, and they moved around the property by bicycle because it's healthier and doesn't produce CO2 at all.
It was a hilarious and interesting visit, thanks to Florence and Daniel Cathiard's bicycle tour around the property, with several stops to explain what's going on at SHL. They have, f.i. a big project of reusing CO2 at one of the property's cellars. During lunch with Cathiards and 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, with apple and lemongrass on the nose. Great acidity, concentration, balance, and length. Long finish. Great effort. 94p. 2009 red was tannic and strong with black fruit, excellent depth and length, strong structure, and fleshy aftertaste. Terrific effort for the vintage. 95p. 2005 red displayed a thick texture, spicy black cherries, fat strong tannin, was powerful with strong structure and very long on the palate. Every inch is as excellent as in 2009. 95p.
Daniel 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 the 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 weren't easy to taste wines (2010 vintage of red and white) due to too many people in 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 (the first vintage for Olivier Bernard made together with Claude Ricard), still very drinkable and rated 90p, and fabulous red 1998 La Mission Haut Brion, a beautifully crafted wine with excellent balance and long aftertaste. 96p. After dinner, there were many amazing 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 the weather could have been much better.
I visited this property on a quite rainy and cold day on 16th September, and Thomas Duroux, who welcomed my friend and me, 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).
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 an excellent aromatic nose of black cherries, richness, velvety palate, excellent structure, balance, and a very long finish. Classy and sophisticated wine. 95+p. 2011 Alter Ego was a bit less concentrated with a more tannic approach and less charming than the 2012 version. Still, fine quality here. 90p. 2011 Palmer was a tad less concentrated and less deep than the 2012 version but still an excellent wine. 94+p. 2010 Alter Ego displayed big concentration, fat, perfectly ripe black fruit and tannin, refined, well-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.
This property has always been an excellent quality for money and accurate to Margaux style. In 2009, Giscours replaced the consultant (Boissenot) with Denis Dubordieu. The consultant change is quite apparent 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 fruity, elegant, round, and charming on the light side. Stylish and with reasonable depth. 88p. 2012 Giscours displayed a very aromatic touch, was harmonious and smooth on the 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 clone of 2012 with slightly more ripe fruit and tannin and a long finish. Yet again, splendid wine for the vintage. 93p. 2010 du Tertre displayed great composition, balance, and a long finish. Perfectly ripe fruit and tannin. Sheer elegance and finesse. Impressive stuff. 92+p.
2010 Giscours was as stunning as its appearance in May during the 2010 tasting in Copenhagen. Very intense nose of black cherries and chocolate, fabulous fruit sweetness, complexity, structure, and balance, sophisticated and refined. Awesome wine. 96p. 2009 du Tertre had a more rustic style than 2010 but was still well-made. However, fruit ripeness didn't reach the level seen in 2010. 89p. 2009 Giscours had the same indication of different state of fruit and tannin as tasted in 2009. Du Tertre, and was more mineral than in 2010. Fine quality, anyway. 92p.
This property hasn't received much wine press accolade in recent vintages, so the main purpose of my visit was to see if it was deserved. I was welcomed by the daughter of the present owner, Anne-Francoise Quie. She's a 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. I think there will be further improvements when she gains 100% control of this property and makes decisions independently. 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 an unconvincing performance 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 the visit was corked. 2012 Rauzan Gassies (71% CS + 29% Merlot) had a lovely nose of blackberries, fine acidity and minerality, fine structure, freshness, and seductive touch. A fine effort for the vintage 91p. 2011 Rauzan Gassies showed less charm, a more tannic approach, and fine complexity, concentration, and length. Slightly different in style than 2012, and maybe it'll surpass 2012. 91p. 2010 Rauzan Gassies impressed with a very intense nose of black cherries, the fatness of fruit, and tannin. An 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.
Anne-Francoise Quie does a great job at Rauzan Gassies - September 2013
This property has the same owner as Chasse-Spleen (Celine Villars since 2005) and produces wines of adorable quality. 65 ha big vineyards are 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 intensity, complexity, and length than 2010 but was still a well-made wine and a fine effort for the vintage. 89p. Both 2012 Camensac and 2012 Chasse-Spleen displayed light body and texture, a nice aroma of black fruit, nice minerality, and a nice finish. Not for long timekeeping. 87p.
Haut Brion & La Mission Haut Brion
On the day of my visit (17th September 2013), the harvest of S.Blanc at Haut Brion started. After tasting a highly heralded 2009 vintage last year in September, I did taste even more heralded wines here in the 2010 vintage. And they didn't disappoint!
La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion, the second wine of La Mission, presented itself very well with sweet and aromatic fruit, fine ripe tannin, fine structure and concentration, and a smooth fruity finish. 91p. Le Clarence de Haut Brion, the second wine of Haut Brion, had more of everything than Chapelle with a firmer and longer finish. 92p. La Mission Haut Brion had a fabulous nose of black cherries/blueberries, excellent concentration on the palate, great depth and structure, sophisticated touch, and a long finish. All in velvet and silk. Fantastic wine but not 100% as hedonistic as four months ago could mean that this wine is going into a deep sleep. 100p. Haut Brion had darker fruit and more power than LMHB, with 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 a very aromatic nose of acacia, lemongrass, and apple and the same flavors on the 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 it had more richness and depth. 99p.
It was a cold and rainy morning when I arrived at Lafleur (18th September). The 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, and aromatic, had very good structure and length, nice tannin, and a nice finish. Successful for the vintage. 88p. 2012 G de Guidauneau had a more meaty and concentrated palate than Grand Village was deeper, and the ripeness of both fruit and tannin was slightly better. Well-made wine. 89p. 2012 Pensées de Lafleur was strong, potent, and quite tannic, with blackberries on the nose and an aromatic, long, meaty finish. Splendid effort. 90-91p. 2012 Lafleur 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, bottled in April, didn't show its full potential as it seemed unbalanced 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 the perfect level of ripeness, chocolate/cacao powder on the nose, wonderful structure, deeply structured and sophisticated, silky tannin and fruit on the palate, fabulous finish. Wonderful stuff. 99+p.
Jacques Guinaudeau explains the difference between vines growing on the left and right side with different soils on each side. Lafleur in September 2013
When my visit (20th September), harvest wasn't started yet. 2012 (90% CS + 10% CF) was sappy and aromatic, medium body, fine structure, and smooth finish. Certainly on the light side. 91p. Will aging in oak give some more weight to this wine? 2011 offered more concentration and length than 2012, and the 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 a strong backbone, and extremely long finish. 96p.
When 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 ahead in front of 2012, and I believe it will improve. It had more intensity and concentration, a stronger structure, and fatter tannin. Longer on the palate. Black cherries and raspberries seem riper, too than in 2012. 93p. 2010 is, imho still the best vintage made by the winemaker since 2008, Frederique Vayron. The thick aroma of black fruit on the nose, alcohol evident on the nose but not abusive or interfering, well-crafted, strong structure, beautiful balance, powerful tannin which needs to age. Excellent wine. 95+p. 2009 was almost a copy of 2010 with the same quality and style. Alcohol wasn't that evident, but tannin seemed to taste less ripe at the time than in 2010. Great future here. 94+p.
Like many other 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, 9 2012 reds, 6 2010 reds, 1 2012 white and 2 2010 whites.
2012 Bellevue de Tayac had very nice fruit, 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 a seductive aroma of cherries, blackberries, and a soft fruity finish. 87p.
2012 Bad Boy had a seductive nose of black fruit, more fruit sweetness than BdT and VT, splendid acidity, and a delightful fruity finish. Big charmeur. 88p. 2010 Bad Boy was full of ripe black fruit and ripe tannin, strong, well-crafted, and had a long finish. Uncomplicated but hedonistic for all the money. 90p. 2012 Domaine des Sabines had spicy ripe fruit, soft texture, nice balance, and charm. 87p. 2010 Domaine des Sabines displayed great ripeness of fruit and tannin, black cherries everywhere, strong structure, and a long finish. 91p.
2012 Les Clos de Beau Pere was a big surprise with a fine aroma of black cherries and fine sweetness, well-packed with sweet fruit and sweet tannin, and a splendid structure with a long finish. Splendid for the vintage. 91p. 2010 Les Clos de Beau Pere was tight, well-crafted, strongly structured, long, and with a 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 nicely put together with a nice structure, good concentration, acidity, and tannin. 87-88p. 2010 Clos Badon had far more intensity and concentration than the 2012 version, better structure, fat fruit, and tannin, and had a longer aftertaste. 90p. 2012 Virginie de Valandraud was a very potent and concentrated wine with a 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 the 2012 version but in a fatter, riper, richer, and more complex display. Impeccable winemaking! 97+p.
2010 Virginie de Valadraud blanc offered a very aromatic display of acacia flower, pear, and lemongrass, splendid acidity, fine complexity, and long fruity finish. 91p. 2012 Virginie de Valandraud blanc was leaner and had less of everything than the 2010 version. 87p. 2010 Valandraud blanc had great intensity of flavors, excellent acidity, excellent depth and complexity, and a long, well-balanced finish. Very impressive effort. 92p.
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 the 2005 vintage and one from the 1991 vintage
2012 Tertre Roteboeuf had a fabulous nose of black cherries and blueberries, great freshness, beautiful balance, velvety fruit, and tannin. Fabulously constructed wine with incredible class and style. Among the best wines of the vintage. 95+p. 2012 Roc de Cambes followed the same track as TR with a beautiful cherry nose, perfectly ripe fruit (!), excellent complexity, and a velvety finish. Very impressive effort. 92p. 2011 Tertre Roteboeuf and 2011 Roc de Cambes mirrored their 2012 version perfectly 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 the same appellation as RdC) displayed aromatic black fruit, freshness, and a 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 slightly jammy, nicely balanced, and charming. 87p.
Yummy! Carpaccio of maigre (seabass) with black truffles for lunch prepared by Francois Mitjavile's wife. September 2013.
For lunch, Francois Mitjavile served 2005 Tertre Roteboeuf and 2010 Roc de Cambes. 2005 TR was fabulous with chocolate and dark cherries, extremely sophisticated and refined. The fantastic intensity of aromas on the nose, richness on the palate, stunning complexity, and thrilling aftertaste. This is lovely stuff at the 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 a beautifully crafted wine, creamy, with incredible aromatic touch and complexity. Well-deserved 94p here!
The harvest had yet to start on the day of my visit (23rd September), but first pickings were expected in a few days. I tasted vintages from 2005 to 2011.
2005 displayed an intense nose of apricots, many botrytized flavors on the palate like pineapple, guava, and honey melon, sublime richness, sophisticated touch, and a long lingering aftertaste. Extraordinary stuff. 95p.
2006 offered spicy botrytised flavors of grapefruit and apricot on the palate and crème brulée on the nose. Superb balance and plenty of finesse. Honeyed aftertaste. Fine effort. 92p.
2007 had more of everything than 2005; it was fatter, deeper, and with a long 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 a long finish. 93p.
2009 had an 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 and a big range of botrytised flavors like grapefruit, lemon peel, pineapple, and pear. Distinguished, rich, and long on the palate with great sweetness, acidity, and graceful aftertaste. Silky texture. Imposing wine. 95+p.
The harvest was yet to start at my visit (23rd September). Jean-Pierre Meslier told me that grapes looked extremely promising. I tasted vintages from 2006-2007-2008-2009-2010.
2006 - very good intensity of botrytised flavors, acidity, length, sweetness, and aftertaste. Elegant style. 92p.
2007 - sophisticated, long, great intensity of aromas (mango, peach, honey melon) and striking acidity. Very long honeyed aftertaste. Great effort for the vintage. 95p.
2008 - reminiscent of 2006 but seemed slightly lighter on the tasting day than 2006. However, it appeared to have a longer finish and better acidity. 92p.
2009 - petrol, elegance, refinement, great intensity of botrytised flavors, 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.