Bordeaux in March/April 2002
My opinion of 2001 vintage? It's a classic Bordeaux one, not as heavy, dense and concentrated as 2000. The fruit (red wine) is also different. 2000 is a year of dark berries (blackberries, blueberries and blackcurrants), while 2000 is a year of red fruit (raspberries and cranberries). 2001 red wines are also incredibly aromatic, fresh and with nice balance.
The tannins aren't of course near that fat and silky compared to 2000, because weather conditions were responsible for this. 2001 tannin appears as it uses to be in classic Bordeaux vintages - strong, edgy and a bit rustic to start with. My experience tells me, that maturing in oak will soften and round its edges.
I find 2001 to be a significantly better vintage than both 1997 and 1999. Maybe it'll turn even better than in 1998. And I'm sure, that 2001 wines will even be more surprise in a positive way, when in the bottle. Are they wines to keep? Here I'll make a claim that the best wines easily can keep for 20-25 years, while the lower classified wines are good for 12-16 years in the cellar.
Sauvignon Blanc reached a rarely seen grade of perfect maturity – pickers did simply eat grapes because they were luscious and sweet. Sauvignon Blanc grapes are rarely eaten by harvesters because this variety usually has a quite tarty taste. The other important variety, Semillon, was also harvested in perfectly ripe shape. That's why 2001 vintage is so remarkable for dry white wines in Bordeaux. In terms of quality, 2001 is very close to 1998 and 2000, two exceptional vintages for white Bordeaux.
Domaine de Chevalier (what a refinement and finesse) impressed enormously for 96+p and Pape Clement (incredibly complex and refined) too. 94p. Haut Bergey (extremely full-bodied and well-structured) was simply memorable and got 93p, Smith Haut-Lafitte (refined and with sheer elegance) got 92p and de Fieuzal (powerful and well-structured) received 91p.
Following wines were splendid and deserved 90p: Carbonnieux (intense aroma of peach/acacia and long on the palate), Chantegrive (full-bodied and well-composed), La Louviere (a lot of character and well-structured), Latour Martillac (intense aroma of acacia flower and long aftertaste), Malartic Lagraviere (refined and elegant) and Picque Caillou (charming and very elegant).
Red wines couldn't match the great success of whites, but there's nothing to be ashamed of. They're significantly lighter than their "brothers" and "sisters" from 1998 and 2000, but they do compensate for it with fresh fruit, elegance and finesse.
Haut Bergey (very complex and with exquisite structure) reached 92p and La Louviere (juicy and delicious on the palate) received 91p, de Fieuzal (strong and concentrated), Domaine de Chevalier (sheer finesse and elegance) and de France (perfectly ripe fruit and long aftertaste) got each 90+p.
Carbonnieux (elegant and with finesse), Les Carmes de Haut Brion (intense ripe blackcurrants and fine length), Chantegrive (full-bodied with sun-ripe fruit), Haut Bailly (compact and aroma of violets), Malartic Lagraviere (succulent and with splendid balance), Pape Clement (succulent and strong), Picque Caillou (gracious and charming) and Smith Haut Lafitte (powerful and well-structured), got altogether well-deserved 89p.
Sauternes & Barsac
A stunningly exceptional vintage! Botrytis cinerea had optimal conditions for carrying out its work - was helped a lot by perfect weather (warm days, cool nights and almost no wind) and perfectly mature grapes. Wines show extremely well-developed botrytis, extraordinary richness, finesse and refinement, and a breathtakingly fine balance between sweetness and acidity. Whoa!
All the mentioned wines here were tasted blind.
de Malle (perfect botrytis, enormous body and fantastic sweetness) hit bull's eye with its 97p and so did Sigalas Rabaud (perfect botrytis, very concentrated and incredibly refined) also. 95+p. Clos Haut Peyraguey (fabulous botrytis and extremely complex) and Nairac (super elegant and super-refined) got both 94p, while Romer du Hayot (powerful and full-bodied) was very satisfied with 93p.
Broustet (honeyed and very refined on the palate), Doisy Vedrines (splendid botrytis and big body), Lafaurie Peyraguey (extremely nuanced and sophisticated), La Tour Blanche (very sweet and refined) and Suduiraut (very luscious and extremely well-balanced), were all honoured with 92+p.
Bastor Lamontagne (a lot of character and full-bodied), Doisy Daene (beautiful botrytis and sheer elegance), Guiraud (rich, intense and incredibly harmonious), Lamothe Guignard and de Myrat (splendid sweetness and balance) impressed a lot and got 92p.
Margaux, Saint-Julien and Pauillac, together with several lower classified wines from AOC Haut-Médoc, succeeded really well in 2001, especially the wines with a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon.
In Moulis, Chasse-Spleen (full-bodied, aromatic and harmonious) and Poujeaux (reminded a lot of Chasse-Spleen) were very impressive. 91p for both.
From AOC Haut-Médoc, Belgrave (ripe berries and great complexity), Camensac (full-bodied, well-structured and with pure elegance), and Coufran (as impressive as Belgrave and Camensac), were instant hits worth 90+p. La Lagune (aromatic and finesse) with 89+p and La Tour de By (fresh blackcurrants fruit, aromatic and harmonious) with 89p, tasted simply terrific. Clarke from Listrac impressed with splendid structure and harmony and deserved its 90p.
In Margaux, Lascombes was brilliant with magnificently composed and complex wine and received 92p. Rausan Segla was compact, tasty and well-balanced and got 91+p, du Tertre with its delicious and very tasty fruit, pure finesse and elegance were worth all its 91p. Brane Cantenac impressed me a lot with its beautiful aroma of ripe berries, big body and long aftertaste. 91p. Cantenac Brown (91p), Siran (90+p), Marquis de Terme (90p), d'Angludet (89p) and Prieure Lichine (89p), were all splendid wines with fine structure, finesse and exquisite balance.
In Saint-Julien, Leoville Barton showed great complexity, lots of ripe blackcurrants and raspberries, refinement and much finesse. Rings simply the bell with its 94/100p. Branaire was irresistible and catchy with its delicious fruit. 93/100p. Leoville Poyferre (violets, ripe tannin and strong structure) got 92p, while Lagrange and Talbot, both getting 91p, had a beautiful aroma of violets and tasted deliciously of cherries.
In Pauillac, Pichon Baron stole the show; it was very fruity, superbly concentrated and strong. Well-deserved 94p. The always reliable Lynch Bages was also stunning and got 92p, while Haut Bages Liberal had many nuances and tasted like a dream, which was absolutely worth 91p.
In Saint-Éstephe, Phelan Segur had a fine aroma, structure and complexity. 90/100p. Cos Labory (88-89p) and Lafon Rochet (88p) were powerful and robust, but also quite edgy.
Here, 2001-wines aren't quite up to level with 1998 and 2000. Quality isn't the same everywhere in the district. Light structure, elegance and finesse are characteristic for many wines.
Cheval Blanc (aristocratic and with many nuances) got 93+p, while Belair (mega aromatic and full of finesse) fully deserved its 93p. Beausejour Duffau (as always very classic and sophisticated) together with Trottevieille (refined and with impressive finesse) were very happy for 92p.
Angelus (finesse and long aftertaste), Beau-Sejour Becot (aromatic and full-bodied), Clos Fourtet (well-composed with many nuances), La Gaffeliere (corpulent and very harmonious), La Mondotte (strong and fat), Pavie (happily not over-extracted as I feared) and Canon-La-Gaffeliere (complex and very nuanced) performed splendidly at 91p.
Clos de L'Oratoire, Corbin Michotte, Grand Mayne and Larcis Ducasse were extremely aromatic and got 90-91p, while Cap de Mourlin, La Confession (same owner as Mouton and de Chambrun, first vintage), La Couspade and La Dominique showed elegance and delicious style at 89+p.
Tertre Roteboeuf tasted at the property wasn't much behind the exceptional 2000. 93+p. Pavie Macquin tasted in May 2002 (in Copenhagen) showed a great class with the delicious sweetness of the fruit. 91p.
Wines in this district performed very well in 2001, but aren't at the same level as 2000 or 1998. On the other hand, it seems that they will outplay in vintages 1996 and 1997. Charm, sweet fruit and strong but ripe tannin is present in many wines.
Vieux Château Certan (incredibly nuanced and with stunningly build structure) counted for 93p, Bon Pasteur (very concentrated and with delicious fruit-sweetness) and La Croix St.Georges (strong and robust) reached 92+p, Cantelauze (delicious, delicate and luscious) got well-deserved 92p, La Cabanne (very aromatic, sappy and harmonious) came to 91p, while La Pointe and Petit Village (both aromatic, well structured and full-bodied) got 90+p. La Croix de Gay was a very nice and tasty wine at 89p.
2001-vintage has confirmed the continuing progress of this district with many fabulous and splendid wines. While not at the same level as 1998 and 2000, 2001 seems to be at least a class above 1999.
Barrabaque Cuvée Prestige (aromatic, deliciously ripe fruit and great complexity) and Moulin Haut-Laroque (dense and superbly concentrated) were both honoured with 92+p. Fontenil (big fruit extract and sappy), du Gaby (raspberry fruit drops, aromatic and well-structured), Moulin Pey Labrie (delicious raspberries and plenty of charm) and La Vieille Cure (a lot of nuances and strong) was worth a gold medal with their 91+p.
Arnauton, Belloy (delicious raspberries on the nose, deep and intense), Dalem (very aromatic and luscious), La Dauphine (powerful with ripe berries), Magondeau Beau-Site, Mazeris, de La Riviere (strong and robust), Rouet, La Rouselle, La Valade and Vrai Canon Bouche were all dazzlingly fine at 89+p.
de Carolus tasted at the property seemed to be one of the exceptions in 2001. It was even better than the fantastic 2000! What the intensity of fruit and class! 93+p.
Lalande-de-Pomerol's uncrowned king, de Chambrun, made fabulous wine with delicious sweety fruit and splendid structure. 91p.
Roc de Cambes from Côtes de Bourg, which has the and same owner as Tertre Roteboeuf, showed a nice stream of ripe red berries, fine harmony and complexity. 89p.
Mouton (same owner as de Chambrun) from AOC Bordeaux Superieur was an elegant wine with an enchanting fruity character and fine length on the palate. 88-89p.