The harvest is going on in Château Palmer's vineyard, September 2005. Copyright. Alain Vacheron
Already from its berth, the 2005 vintage in Bordeaux was proclaimed one of the best since vintages 1947, 1949, 1961, 1982, and 2000; all counted as milestones in Bordeaux wine history.
I tasted around 300 barrel samples of the new vintage in Bordeaux during two weeks in April 2006 to find out if rumors did tell the truth.
2005 started with relatively quiet and cool winter months. Spring was warm with a lot of sunshine, so flowering started on time at the beginning of June and passed quickly and without any problems. From May to September, Bordeaux experienced only a few millimeters of rain. Still, vines adapted well to the lack of water, even though both summer and autumn were warm but not excessively warm.
Summer nights were cool, so vines could "cool down" and grapes could keep aromas and freshness. Isolated rain showers at the beginning of September helped grapes to reach perfect ripeness, and in Sauternes & Barsac, rain showers kick-started the "attack" of Botrytis cinerea fungus.
There were no problems whatsoever with the ripening process of the grapes, and these weren't disturbed either up to or during the harvest by known and unknown maladies. At the time of the crop, grapes were simply perfect, small ones with thick skins full of aromas, concentrated juice, and tannin.
Harvest of "white" grapes began at the end of August, and Merlot was harvested in Pomerol (Jean-Pierre Mouiex's wines) around mid-September. Also, in Saint-Émilion, Merlot was harvested in mid-September, while in Haut-Médoc and Graves, Merlot was picked 1-1.5 weeks later. Cabernet Franc followed shortly after, but it took some time for winegrowers with Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested from late September to late October. Bordeaux' most capricious and late-ripening grape variety, Petit Verdot, was the last to harvest. In 2005, all grape varieties in Bordeaux had ripened perfectly, which rarely happens.
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon had reached unusually high sugar content, corresponding to 14-15% alcohol in Merlot and 12.5-13% alcohol in Cabernet Sauvignon.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE VINTAGE
Having 22 years of experience in tasting barrel samples, I felt well-prepared to learn this new vintage. After two first days of visits, I thought about 2005 as a 1996 vintage, but I soon changed my mind!
2.5 weeks stay in Bordeaux convinced me entirely, and after having tasted several hundred wines, there's no doubt this vintage's simply extraordinary. However, only some things in this vintage look perfect.
Unfortunately, some wines have extremely high tannin levels at the top and bottom of Bordeaux's wine pyramid. This true bombardment of tannin, which I haven't experienced in earlier vintages, will disappear or melt together with fruit on time, so wines get perfectly balanced. Château owners are, however, sure that the wines throw away tannin "cuffs" when the time comes, so why do not believe them? You can't take their experience in judging the development of vintages away from them.
Even if nature has given Bordeaux's winemakers raw material of heavenly quality, some chose to improve the final result by over-extraction. This has caused their wines to lack freshness and irritate the palate's dryness. Some had succeeded in harvesting grapes either too early or too late, despite quite ret homogenous ripening period during summer and autumn, a ripening process that was extremely easy to control.
If we now look away from the flaws mentioned above, you will find lots of excellent and masterly made wines on both banks, with aromatic fruit, superb balance, and silky tannins. Many wines are almost black ink in color, crammed with fruit and tannin, and with stunning length.
They are immensely aromatic, with black cherries and blueberries appearing in almost all tasting notes. Several winemakers created silky tannins in their wines, making this vintage irresistible.
It was fantastic to find out how successful Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac, and Saint-Éstephe communes were in 2005, with many wines being the best for many properties. In Péssac-Léognan, Pomerol, and Saint-Émilion, established stars didn't disappoint, and several new shooting stars joined the upper-quality class.
White dry Bordeaux in 2005 is almost as that exceptional as the 2002 vintage; however, not everywhere in the district. Sauternes & Barsac continues without stopping producing fabulous vintages one after one. In 2005, several properties made wines matching the quality of the 2001 vintage and were better than their 2003 versions.
If 2005 resemble some of the recent vintages? No way, this vintage is its own! It's vintage with incredible long keeping potential and will be extremely expensive for many wines. In 15-20 years, we'll be wiser and probably able to judge if 2005 surpasses vintages 1947, 1949, 1961, 1982, and 2000 for red wines.
After bottling, 2005's astonishing quality was confirmed! This is an outstanding vintage!
THE BEST WINES
The following tasting notes come from tastings arranged by Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and from the author's visits. I rated all these wines according to a 100 points scale.
Sauternes & Barsac
d'Yquem. Shortly speaking, it was a heavenly wine lasting 5-6 decades. An additional description isn't needed. 98-100p.
Climens. It turned up as usual with an incredibly sublime and sophisticated wine with astonishingly pure and intense botrytis. This wine is immense. 96-98p.
de Fargues. "Poor man's" d'Yquem. It's a wine with intense botrytis, enormous sweetness and fresh acidity, mandarins, and orange peel aromas everywhere, stunningly rich. Wow! 96-97p.
Raymond Lafon. It had very well-shaped botrytis and acidity present. There was great sweetness, tropical fruit, and sophisticated touch. Fabulous wine. 95-96p.
La Tour Blanche. This wine has been in stunning form since vintage 2001. It had intense botrytis, a strong pineapple aroma, superb structure, and length on the palate. The delicacy with a vengeance! 94-95p.
Bastor Lamontagne and Rabaud Promis were surprisingly strong with intense botrytis, big body, sweetness, and length. Yummy! 93-94p.
Coutet impressed greatly with pure finesse and elegance. It was well defined and with pure botrytis, beautiful balance, and honeyed aftertaste. 92-93p.
Les Justices was a tad more powerful than Coutet but just as gracious. Very impressive wine! 92-93p.
Doisy Vedrines, Lamothe Guignard, Myrat, Romer du Hayot, and Sigalas Rabaud showed delicate and well-shaped botrytis, aromatic nose of orange peel, apricot, pineapple, and melon, honey on the palate, plus finesse and elegance. 90-92p.
Clos Haut Peyraguey, Doisy Daëne, Guiraud, Lafaurie Peyraguey, Nairac, de Malle, Rieussec, and Suduiraut were difficult to assess because they seemed very closed. They undoubtedly have great potential, but I'll rate these wines 90+p for the moment, with an excellent chance for 93-96p if they're capable of fulfilling their potential.
D'Arche, Broustet, and Rayne Vigneau were all well-structured wines in the light style with nice botrytis, fine tropical fruit aroma, and fine sweetness. 88-89p.
OK wines: Caillou (87p), Filhot (87p) and Suau (86-87p).
Heavyweights Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion didn't disappoint and fulfilled expectations to every inch. Both resembled very close 2000 vintage; Haut Brion was strong, crammed with fruit and tannin, and had fabulous structure. La Mission shined as usual with breathtaking composition, finesse, and perfect balance. They will be legendary wines. 97-100p.
Pape Clement. It was very aromatic in the nose with delicious sweetness, strong and full-bodied on the palate with many nuances and a long aftertaste. Eminent wine. 93-94p.
Carmes Haut Brion and Domaine de Chevalier showed a catchy and aromatic nose of black cherries, delightful sweetness on the palate, pure elegance, and finesse. Yummy! 92-93p.
Haut Bailly and Malartic Lagraviere were true heartbreakers with attractive, aromatic, tasty fruit, splendid balance, and long taste. 91-92p.
Smith Haut Lafitte was marked by new oak and had a lot of extract. 91-92p.
La Tour Haut Brion was concentrated and sappy with much oak but also had enough sweetness. 90-91p.
Respide Medeville (Graves) had surprised enormously with really well-composed and tasty wine. 90-91p.
La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion and Bahans Haut Brion were splendid second wines, perfumed, sappy, and delicious. 89-90p.
Chantegrive, De Fieuzal, Haut Bergey, and Rahoul delivered the goods in a compact and complex style with delicious dark berries everywhere. 89-90p.
Latour Martillac, La Louviere, Olivier, and Picque Caillou were on the light side but pleasant wines, with fruity soul, tasty and reasonable structure. 88p.
Carbonnieux looked a bit more rustic with an obvious oak scent in the nose and quite much tannin on the palate. 88p.
OK wine: Ferrande. 87p.
Domaine de Chevalier, Haut Brion and Laville Haut Brion are créme de la créme of white Bordeaux. All three wines were extremely aromatic, full-bodied with acacia, apple, and citrus in large quantities, incredibly refined and sophisticated with fabulous nuance, richness, and structure, and wildly long on the palate. Exceptional wines. 95-98p.
La Louviere had a delightfully scented and intense nose of apples and pears, splendid structure, lovely elegance, and great length on the palate. A delicious effort from this property. 93p.
Haut Bergey, Olivier, Pape Clement, and Smith Haut Lafitte belonged to the same high-quality class, with more power, sappiness, and less finesse than La Louviere, and were rewarded with 93p.
Malartic Lagraviere and Latour Martillac resembled roughly the style of La Louviere but were barely that intense. These are stunningly splendid wines, which truly deserve 92-93p.
Carbonnieux and Rahoul impressed with freshness, roundness, delightful cooperation between aromatic fruit and acidity, plenty of nuances, and soft aftertaste. 91-92p.
Chantegrive, Fieuzal, and Larrivet Haut Brion were almost as fresh and energetically as Carbonnieux and Rahoul and were rated 90-91p, while Bouscaut and de France showed softness, roundness, and lovely taste. 89-90p.
OK wine: Picque Caillou. 86p.
La Tour de By. It was a pretty aromatic, tasty, and delicious wine. 89-90p.
Goulee and Potensac were also successful wines with a strong backbone, spicy dark berries, and a long aftertaste. 88-89p.
Greysac played more the robust stuff and was quite marked by tannin. 88p.
Fonreaud and Fourcas Dupré had both lovely scented nose of dark berries and were sappy and well structured on the palate with nice length. Well-deserved 89-90p.
Fourcas Hosten was, on the other hand, more rustic and less aromatic. 88-89p.
OK wine: Clarke. 87p.
Maucaillou and Poujeaux showed fine quality with ripe berries, sweetness, oak, sappy and full-bodied palate, and lovely palate length. 90-91p.
On the other hand, Chasse-Spleen was lightly on the "cover" with delightful sweetness of fruit and elegance. 88-89p.
Cantemerle and La Tour Carnet impressed with a beautiful nose of blueberries and blackberries, delicious sweetness, ripe and sweet tannins, and great finesse. Delicious, delicate, and seductive wines. 92p.
La Lagune, Lamarque, and Malescasse followed shortly after with just as beautiful "look". 91p.
OK wines: Beaumont (86p), (Belgrave (86p), Camensac (86p), Citran (86p)and Coufran (86p).
Paul Pontalier, the magician at Château Margaux. Dear Paul Pontalier - what's your secret in making Margaux so damn irresistible!
Margaux. Black red. It was simply a dream of a wine having all your wine heart can wish! What an incredibly sophisticated and multidimensional wine. A masterpiece. Fantastic! 99-100p.
Palmer was, as always, a perfect example of beautiful elegance and finesse, the goodies Margaux commune is so famous for. This was a complete wine and a heartbreaker. 94-96p.
Lascombes has been on fire since vintage 2001, and the journey close to wine paradise continues in 2005. Incredibly aromatic, intense, and tempting wine. 94-96p.
Dauzac and Marquis de Terme made the wine of their life with a sophisticated nose of dark berries and big depth on the palate, where everything was perfectly measured. Yummy! 93-95p.
Labegorce, Prieure Lichine, and Rausan Gassies had all reasons to be proud of their performance. Incredibly aromatic and delicious wine. 92-93p.
Du Tertre and Giscours had kept the true "face" of Margaux commune with breed, finesse, and richness of nuances. Delicacy x two. 92-93p.
D'Angludet and Siran were black-red with a catchy nose of violets and dark berries and splendidly elegant and racy on the palate. 91-92p.
Cantenac Brown, Durfort Vivens, and Kirwan followed on the same track with delicious fruit and lovely balance. 91-92p.
Marquis d'Alesme Becker had a lovely perfumed nose of violets and delicious finesse. 90-91p. Pavillon Rouge was just as pretty, delicate, and delightful, with tasty cherries on the palate. 90-91p.
Alter Ego (Palmer's second wine) was aromatic and with fine structure. 89p.
OK wines: Brane Cantenac (86-87p), Malescot St. Exupery (86p?), Monbrison (86p), Rausan Segla (86-87p)
Leoville Las Cases was surprisingly kind, silky, and incredibly aromatic, with breathtaking nuance, richness, and aftertaste lasting more than 1 minute. Simply a dream wine that will last 30+ years because of this wine's exquisite balance. 97-99p.
Branaire Ducru, Leoville Barton, and Leoville Poyferre were three perfectly cut diamonds with fat fruit and fat tannins, fabulous structure, wonderful balance, and marvelous length on the palate. Sheer enjoyment! 94-96p.
Beychevelle. Without a doubt the best wine ever from this property in modern times. It was just marvelously composed in sophisticated and silky "wrapping". This looked like a formidable wine work, and what a delicacy we have here! 94-95p.
Clos de Marquis was a stunning beauty. I don't remember tasting such a delicious, seductive, luscious wine from this property. And what a beautifully scented nose this wine had! A heartbreaker wine of big caliber. 93-95p.
Langoa Barton, Lagrange, and Talbot delivered just as stunningly beautiful wines, intense and aromatic with delicious sweetness, exemplary structure, and silky tannins. It was just to be delighted at these wines' irresistible "sex appeal"! 93-95p.
Gruaud Larose was light and elegant but quite nicely made. 88p.
Lafite did surprise by not being soft as a lamb. It was strong wine, deep, sappy, and extremely concentrated. A bobbling volcano! 98-100p.
Latour did surprise me by not being the monster I was looking forward to. It was incredibly sophisticated and multidimensional, with an enormous body, silky tannins, and the highest quality aromatic fruit. Will be a legend. 98-100p.
Frederic Engerer, the man behind Latour's fabulous form in recent vintages. Please, don't raise the price of 2005 by 200%!
Pichon Comtesse was incredibly aristocratic on the nose with intense black cherries, amazingly sophisticated and elegant with a big body and great length. Simply delicious! 95-96p.
Lynch Bages had a delicious nose of dark cherries and blueberries, fabulous sweetness, length, and nuance richness. It is even better than the spectacular 2000 version! 95-96p.
Mouton Rothschild was made up of 65% of total production). Even if this wine didn't have Lafite's and Latour's nuance richness and multidimensional intensity, there were many delicious ingredients wine freaks could romp about anyway. 94-96p.
Neighbor to Mouton Rothschild, Pontet Canet, came agonizingly close to 1. Cru wine and confirmed this property's stable and very high quality in recent vintages. 94-96p.
Grand Puy Ducasse was a big surprise with stunningly made wine. Amazingly concentrated with fat fruit and ripe tannin in close dance. Extremely tasty and nuanced. Bravo! 93-95p.
Pichon Baron was just as wonderful but more modern in style. 93-95p.
Armailhac, Clerc Milon, and Lynch Moussas (!) seemed to like having surpassed all their achievements in the 2005 vintage with incredibly well-defined, full-bodied, harmonious, and luscious wines. Delicacy wines! 93-94p.
Batailley presented a splendid wine, crammed with goodies, fruity and harmonious. 92-93p.
Haut Bages Liberal offered simple numbers of sun-ripe dark berries, sappiness, and lovely structure, while Les Forts de Latour was just as delightful and tasty. 90-91p. Carruaders de Lafite showed power and sappiness. 90p.
Petit Mouton was an extremely accessible wine with soft fruit and round tannins. 88p.
OK wines: Croizet Bages (86p) and Pauillac (87p).
Cos d'Estournel. Almost black. It had an intense aroma of black cherries and was very strong and full-bodied on the palate, with a long and persistent aftertaste. A very modern style here, but the quality is indisputably high. 95-97p.
The delicious, hugely aromatic, well-structured, sophisticated Cos Labory and Les Ormes de Pez deserved 92-93p. Lafon Rochet also got 92-93p but had a more robust approach, oak flavor, and weight on the palate at the expense of finesse.
Marbuzet was strong, with an earthy taste and rock-solid structure. 88-89p.
OK wine: Pagodes de Cos. 87-88p.
Ausone. It tasted not at all bombastic, as I feared. It was a fantastic combination of power, refinement, and elegance, with lovely dark berries and silky tannins. A wonderful effort! 98-100p.
Cheval Blanc. It was more full-bodied than usual and acted as an incredibly refined, well-composed, and subtle wine with sheer elegance. 25-30 years long life. 97-100p.
Tertre Roteboeuf. A black-red, strong aroma of dark cherries and blueberries, stunningly luscious, silky tannins, refined and sophisticated up to fingernails. Agonizingly close to being like a legend. 96-98p.
Troplong Mondot. I don't remember having tasted such complete and fantastic wine from this property before. Christine Valette has every reason to clap in her hands – the wine had a powerful aroma of dark berries, cocoa, and chocolate powder, was multidimensional, incredibly well balanced, and with rock-solid structure. Long-life! Wow! 96-98p.
Clos Fourtet. Seemed like the best vintage ever for this property. This wine had dark cherries in large quantities and great sweetness. On the palate, it exploded of perfectly ripe fruit, adequate tannin, and excellent structure and was a marvelous wine. 93-95p.
Angelus, Beausejour, Beausejour Becot, La Confession, La Mondotte, and Pavie Macquin impressed with their hefty body, delicate aromas of perfectly ripe berries, rock-solid structure, and big depth and length on the palate. Well-deserved 92-93p to every one of these wines.
Belair, Canon, Dassault, Figeac, Franc Mayne, Grand Mayne, Pavie Decesse, and La Serre were all delicious wines, filled with blueberries/dark cherries in the nose and on the palate, adequate oak, well-balanced and well-composed, full-bodied and with a long aftertaste. 91-93p.
Berliquet, Chapelle d'Ausone, Corbin Michotte, La Couspade, and Moulin St. Georges impressed with big fullness, delicious sweetness, beautiful balance, and kind aftertaste. 90-91p.
Canon-La Gaffeliere was made of a different kind, marked by oak and with much extract. 90-91p.
Pavie. A controversy with a vengeance! It had too much of everything, and the wine seemed over-dimensioned. This wine can be amazing if fruit and tannin melt together in time to create a beautiful, kind, and tasty mixture. 89-95+p?
Cap de Mourlin, Larcis Ducasse, Larmande, Magdelaine, Petit Cheval, and Trottevieille bobbled all of oak, violets, cherries, strong backbone, and elegance. It can even be better. Fine quality. 89-90p.
La Dominique, La Gaffeliere, Clos de l'Oratoire, and La Tour Figeac left all very positive impressions with well-defined fruit, adequate tannin, and strong structure. 88-89p.
Balestard La Tonnelle Fonbel and Rolland Maillet were well-made, elegant, tasty wines. 88p.
Lafleur. You hear angels sing! 2005 will rival the unforgettable 2000 vintage's silky "look" and depth. It was an incredibly multidimensional and lovely wine. A true legend. 98-100p.
Pétrus. Well, not quite as gracious as Lafleur, but there was an enormous concentration of everything, unbelievable nuance, richness, and extreme depth. Silky aftertaste. Early harvest paid off! Oh-la-la wine. 98-100p.
Vieux Chateau Certan. Black red. Unusually seductive and silky wine all the way. It had a fantastic sweetness of fruit and breed. It will undoubtedly be a historic milestone for this property. 97-98p.
Le Pin produced fabulous wine, but hardly as silky and seductive as Vieux Chateau Certan. 95-97p.
Trotanoy. "Poor man's" Pétrus! It was fabulous, with all ingredients running at full speed. Long-lived. 95-96p.
Hosanna. This wine looked like a more concentrated and nuanced version of Certan Marzelle. Simply amazing wine. 94-95p.
Certan de May was black-red, incredibly intense, full-bodied, and refined with sweetness and tannin. 93-94p.
La Fleur Petrus had a beautiful, nicely scented nose of sun-ripe dark berries and silky tannins on the palate. It was refined and elegant wine. 93-94p.
La Croix St.Georges was fresh, fat, and crammed with perfectly ripe berries and ripe tannin. High-quality wine and a memorable one. 93-94p.
Bon Pasteur. This was a strong wine with large quantities of dark berries, tannin, and big depth. 93p.
Certan Marzelle. It had a beautifully scented nose of black cherries and blueberries, full-bodied, splendidly balanced, refined, and with pretty much tannin. Excellent wine. 93p.
Cantelauze, Clos L'Eglise, La Conseillante, and La Pointe were a quartet of exquisite wines, incredibly aromatic, gracious, and with great finesse. Yummy! 92-93p.
Latour-á Pomerol produced refined and well-proportioned wine containing tasty fruit and ripe tannin. It has a beautiful future to look forward to. 92p.
Pensées de Lafleur was a delicious second wine of Lafleur, aromatic, luscious, and meaty. 91-92p. Rouget also had delicious sweetness, plus power and sappiness. 91-92p.
Bourgneuf Vayron looked like powerhouse wine with large quantities of fruit, sweetness, and more than a handful of tannin. It needs time to become soft and round. 91p.
Beauregard had very nice aromas of mocha, cacao, violets, plus dark berries, and tasted nicely of cherries/strawberries. 89-90p.
Lafleur Gazin and Vray Croix de Gay tasted almost the same as Beauregard. 89p.
Gazin didn't have Beauregard's pretty "face" and was rather dry in the aftertaste. 89p.
La Cabanne, La Croix, La Croix de Gay, Nenin, Petit Village, Le Prieure, and Providence showed quiet and light style, tasty fruit, and fine length and got 88p.
La Grave had oak and tannin in large quantities. 88p.
OK wine: Clinet. 87p.
De Chambrun. Black red. Lots of spicy dark berries, strong, robust, and with splendid backbone, many nuances, and big length. Excellent wine. 92-93p.
Bertineau St.Vincent, made by Michel Rolland, was marked by tannin but well-balanced and had a finely scented nose of ripe raspberries and blackcurrants. It needs time to develop into a rounder wine. 88-89p.
Defi de Fontenil originates from a parcel with old Merlot vines in Fontenil's vineyard. It was aromatic and sappy, strong wine with a rock-solid backbone. Splendid balance and depth. Brilliant wine. 92p. Fontenil was slightly lighter and more marked by oak. 91-92p.
Dalem, with a thick aroma of black cherries plus a powerful and meaty palate, and Moulin Pey Labrie, with a distinct nose of dark cherries and delicious structure, were fine-quality wines. 89-90p.
Croix Mouton and Le Conseiller from Jean-Philippe Janouiex (de Chambrun and La Confession) were splendid wines with aromatic dark berries, luscious and nicely structured. 90p.
20 Mille from the same winemaker is his new adventure and is 100% Merlot from 5 years old vines planted close to Croix Mouton's vineyard. As the name explains, there are 20.000 vines per ha. Strong and robust with fine tannins, splendid balance, and long aftertaste. 90p.
Reignac had delicious blueberries/cherries and fine length. 89-90p.
Grand Village had a fine aroma of black cherries, a nice structure, and a harmonious taste. Fine effort. 89p.
Côtes de Bourg
Roc de Cambes produced the best vintage I've ever tasted from this property. It was a wine with amazingly aromatic fruit, fat but silky tannins, beautifully balanced, and incredibly tasty. Pure delicacy. 92-93p.
UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE, ALL WINES LISTED BELOW WERE TASTED IN COPENHAGEN ON THE 31ST OF AUGUST 2006
2005 ANGELUS: It did impress with a big body, fine aromas of perfectly ripe berries, rock-solid structure, splendid balance, big depth and length on the palate. This was an impressive wine. 94-95p.
2005 LES ARUMS DE LAGRANGE (white wine): Aromatic and round, crisp, tasty, and pleasant. It will do well at garden parties and as an aperitif. 87p.
2005 BASTOR LAMONTAGNE: This wine was surprisingly strong with intense botrytis, a big body, superb sweetness, and superb length. Yummy! 93-94p.
2005 BEAUREGARD: It had very nice aromas of mocha, cacao, violets, plus dark berries, and tasted nicely of cherries/strawberries. 90p.
2005 BEYCHEVELLE: The best wine ever made by this property in modern times. Everything was just marvelously composed in sophisticated and silky "wrapping". This looked like a formidable wine work, and what a delicacy and stunning wine we have here! 95p.
2005 BRANAIRE: Black red. It looked like a perfectly cut diamond with fat fruit and fat tannins, fabulous structure, wonderful balance, and marvelous length on the palate. Sheer enjoyment! 95p.
2005 CAMENSAC: Dark red, delightful fruit sweetness, full-bodied, very well knitted together, and with fine length. This wine improved considerably since April 2006. 89-90p.
2005 CANTEMERLE: This wine impressed me a lot during primeur week in Bordeaux, and I did it again in Copenhagen five months later. It had a beautiful nose of luscious blueberries and blackberries, ripe and sweet tannins, and great finesse. It was simply delicious, delicate, and seductive wine. 92p.
2005 CANON-LA-GAFFELIERE: Was marked by oak and with much extract. It appeared to be a full-bodied and tight wine with a long taste. It needs time to soften. 91p.
2005 CARMES HAUT BRION: Deep red. It was incredibly aromatic, had a strong structure, splendid balance with luscious black cherries, and a long aftertaste. Formidable wine. 93p.
2005 LA CLÉMENCE: Black red. It was strong, powerful, long on the palate, with gobs of perfectly ripe Merlot. 92p.
2005 CHASSE SPLEEN: Sappy and well-structured wine with fine tannin grip and delightful fruit sweetness. Has gained some more depth and concentration since April 2006. 92p.
2005 CLOS DE L'ORATOIRE: This wine left a positive impression with well-defined fruit, adequate tannin, and strong structure. 88-89p.
2005 DESTIEUX: From the owner of La Clemence. This wine was strong, very concentrated with a lot of ripe black cherries, well supported by strong but ripe tannin, with remarkable length and structure. 91p.
2005 DURFORT VIVENS: Black, red wine with a catchy nose of violets and dark berries, plus splendidly elegant and racy on the palate. Splendid appearance. 91-92p.
2005 DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER red: Almost black red. This wine showed a catchy and aromatic nose of black cherries, delightful sweetness on the palate, pure elegance and finesse, roundness, and great length. Yummy! 93+p.
2005 DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER white: A fresher and more approachable wine than 2002. Otherwise, it had the same stunning richness and depth as 2002 and will be a long-time runner. 96+p.
2005 FERRIERE: Robust wine with an oak taste very present. Plenty of dark berries and well-integrated strong tannin. It needs time to soften up. 88-89p.
2005 LES FIEFS DE LAGRANGE: Delicious, elegant, and very charming. It was a delightful and tasty wine. 87p.
2005 GISCOURS: Very stylish wine, strong, powerful with luscious fruit. It was splendidly balanced with a long-lasting aftertaste. This wine and sister property du Tertre firmly shows why Margaux commune succeeded in the 2005 vintage. 93p.
2005 GRAND PUY LACOSTE: Strong wine with luscious berries, classic Pauillac style, superb depth, structure, and length. Well put together! It was simply formidable wine. 93p.
2005 LA GURGUE: It reminded me a lot of the 2005 Ferriere. Good future. 88-89p.
2005 HAUT BAGES LIBERAL: It offered simple numbers of sun-ripe dark berries, sappiness, and lovely structure, and was a beautifully balanced wine with the breed and lingering aftertaste. 91p.
2005 HAUT BAILLY: Dark red. Modern style wine with medium weight, ripe berries, tight and closed. Could you give it time to age, for potential is there. 90+p.
2005 LABEGORCE: This wine had all reasons to be proud of its performance. It was incredibly aromatic and delicious. 92p.
2005 LABEGORCE ZEDE: Round, tasty, nicely made wine with some earthy tones on the palate. 86p.
2005 LAGRANGE: Stunningly beautiful wine, intense and aromatic with delicious sweetness, exemplary structure, and silky tannin. It was just to be delighted at this wine's irresistible "sex appeal"! 93-94p.
2005 LEOVILLE POYFERRE: It was one of the best Saint-Juliens in this vintage. One of the top wines in 2005. Impeccably made with all ingredients your wine heart wishes. 95-96p.
2005 PETIT VILLAGE: Aromatic but light. This wine was round and elegant, with a nice structure and luscious fruit. 88-89p.
2005 PHELAN SEGUR: Obviously, the cask sample I tasted in April 2006 was faulty, for in Copenhagen, it did completely the other way. It was delicious, hugely aromatic, and well structured with a robust approach and oak flavor. It will certainly improve. 90-91p.
2005 PICHON BARON: Dark red. A very concentrated wine with fatty fruit and ripe tannin in close dance. It had a semi-modern style with fruit sweetness, power, and strong structure, so this wine showed fine quality. 91p.
2005 LE PIN: Dark red. It has improved a good deal since tasting in April 2006. Decadent, seductive, with excellent fruit sweetness and silky tannins. Fabulous balance and a delightfully sophisticated touch to this remarkable wine. 97p. Tasted twice - last time in April 2007.
2005 POUJEAUX: Fine quality with ripe berries, sweetness, pretty much oak, sappy and full-bodied palate, plus lovely length on the palate. It's improved since April 2006. 91-92p.
2005 PONTET CANET: Black red. It had a lot of new oak and black cherries as well. It was a powerful wine with stunning balance, multilayered structure, and a long aftertaste, which came agonizingly close to 1. Cru quality! Breathtaking! 95-96p. It tasted again in October 2007 at the property (it had already been bottled) and was even better with fabulous texture, fantastic balance, and exceptional richness. 97p.
2005 SMITH HAUT LAFITTE red: Black red, very tightly knitted, strong structure, ripe and luscious blackberries in large quantities, well balanced with great length. It's quite marked by oak now. 92+p.
2005 SUDUIRAUT: This wine was very closed in April 2006 during primeur tasting, but in Copenhagen, five months later, it opened up considerably with stunning botrytis on the nose, full-bodied on the palate, and rich with splendid balance. It will surely get better in 10 years. 95p.
2005 DU TERTRE: Once again, an impressive wine from this property. It was wine in classic Margaux style with pure and classy elegance, finesse, aromatic touch, sophisticated and immensely attractive. 93-94p.
ADDITIONAL WINES TASTED DURING MY VISIT TO BORDEAUX IN OCTOBER 2007
2005 LE GAY: Thick, splendid sweetness of dark cherries, stunning structure, and length. Strong and succulent wine. A brilliant effort for the vintage. 94p.
2005 MONTVIEL: Fat, well-integrated fruit and tannin, delicious and with a nice aftertaste. Very fine for the vintage. 6-12 years of cellaring. 90p.
2005 VALANDRAUD: Black red. Fabulous intensity on the nose of black cherries, blueberries, and blackberries. Great intensity and concentration of sweet, perfectly ripe berries and impressive fatness and length. This wine is a real treat for wine lovers and will give pure enjoyment for a long time. An exceptional effort from Jean-Luc Thunevin. 97p.
ADDITIONAL WINES TASTED BLIND IN COPENHAGEN IN MAY 2008
(DURING THE BERLIN TASTING IN COPENHAGEN - BORDEAUX, ITALY AND CHILE)
2005 LAFITE: Dark red. This wine was immense. The first thing I noticed was a simply fantastic nose of perfectly ripe blackcurrants with incredibly aromatic fireworks. This wine showed an enormous power, length, and aftertaste and was silky everywhere. There were pure elegance and a pure sophisticated touch too. There was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that it was Bordeaux wine. We were presented with a true and majestic 1. Growth par excellence! I guessed it was Margaux 2005, not knowing that the organizers confused participants by putting three 1. Growths from Pauillac in the tasting. It turned out to be Lafite 2005!! 100p.
2005 LATOUR: Dark and red color. Incredibly refined on the nose/palate, sophisticated, tight, and wonderfully balanced with silky black cherries/blackcurrants and silky tannins. It had more than 30 seconds long lingering meaty finish. My first sniff and sip of the wine in glass 6 left me with no doubt – it was one of the big boys from Bordeaux. I was, however, in no doubt that the wine in question was Latour 2005. 99p.
2005 MOUTON ROTHSCHILD: Black red colored wine, dusty blackcurrants on the nose and palate, sophisticated, fabulous length, and wonderful balance. Elegant, not especially concentrated, but incredibly well-knitted. My initial impression was Bordeaux because of this wine's elegance and complexity; my guess was Lafite 2005. It turned out to be Mouton 2005, and I was impressed that it tasted better than out of the barrel in April 2006. 98p.
ADDITIONAL WINES TASTED IN COPENHAGEN IN JULY 2008
2005 LYNCH MOUSSAS: I was fond of this wine from the barrel, but it tasted lighter and less intense when in the bottle. I think it was filtrated before bottling. Still, you have a vivid wine with nice aromatic fruit, round and pleasant, which already drinks well. 89p.
2005 BATAILLEY: More intense in aroma, more concentrated, and better structured than Lynch Moussas. Good. 90p.
2005 BRANE CANTENAC: I was not impressed with this wine in April 2006, and it didn't impress me either in July 2008. Ok, fruit, but quite diluted and simple. There was a big yield and not a careful selection of grapes for Grand Vin. It was missed opportunity to make a nice wine, that's for sure. 86p.
2005 LASCOMBES: I was incredibly impressed by this wine from the barrel in April 2006, and it hasn't lost anything of the goodies in the bottle. Incredibly aromatic, intense, and tempting wine grabs your attention with the exquisite combination of power and elegance. Delicious treat! 95p.
2005 TROTTEVIEILLE: There were violets, cherries, a strong backbone, and elegance. Very balanced and very tasty. 92p.
2005 FIGEAC: I liked this wine very much with its silkiness. Very refined wine with aromatic dark fruit, elegant and round. An excellent glass of wine. 92p
2005 PICHON BARON: I wrote in April 2006 that it was made in a modern style, and I still think it is. I expected more of this wine in terms of depth and length. It seemed to have a bit too hollow midpalate and went down in the aftertaste far too quickly. 91p.
2005 MONTROSE: From the very first moment, this wine offers you a self-service board of splendidly aromatic fruit (blueberries, blackcurrants, and black cherries), a powerful yet impeccably harmonious attitude, stunning depth, many layers to dig in, and very long aftertaste. This is pure class, and what's very important is that you can taste terroir here, not the modern gimmicks. 97p.
2005 COS D'ESTOURNEL: Not my cup of tea. It tasted very extracted, a lot of oak, and was quite dry on the palate. Depth and power are there, but I'm afraid soil character isn't there! Did I catch this wine at the wrong moment? 90-92p for now.
2005 COUTET: I like Coutet because it always seems balanced. It was a beautiful wine with an aroma of acacia flower, pineapple, and peach, an exquisite and gracious touch, splendid sweetness and acidity, refined and delicate on the palate, and a smooth finish. Despite being on the light side, there was no limit to how much you did adore this heartbreaker wine! It is well-suited for 12-18 years of additional cellaring.
2005 LAFAURIE PEYRAGUEY: This is one of the most reliable properties in the district, which beautifully mixes power and elegance. It seemed to follow in 2001 vintage tracks with excellently botrytised fruit flavors of apricots, peaches, oranges/orange peel, lusciousness, refinement, super elegance, and exquisite balance. Gorgeous wine for keeping in the next 15-20 years. 93+p.
ADDITIONAL WINE TASTED IN COPENHAGEN IN SEPTEMBER 2010
2005 BON PASTEUR: This was a strong wine, which had large quantities of dark berries, tannin, and big depth. Chocolate powder, black cherries. 94p.
2005 CANTEMERLE: A bit closed now but still impressed with a beautiful nose of blueberries and blackberries, ripe and sweet tannins, and great finesse. Delicious wine. 92p.
2005 FONTENIL: It was an aromatic, sappy, strong wine with a rock-solid backbone. Splendid balance and depth. Brilliant wine. 92p.
2005 LAFON ROCHET: Hugely aromatic wine with dark chocolate and cocoa on the nose, splendidly constructed, well-structured, and balanced. 93p.
2005 TALBOT: Maybe not as impressive as it tasted in April 2006 during primeur week, but still, this property can be proud of its effort in 2005. A lot of stuffing, a lot of berries, strong. It will improve over the next ten years. 93p.