Me watching an exciting conversation between Francois Mitjavile (Tertre Roteboeuf) and Anne Bjurner
I spent two weeks in Bordeaux in March/April 2014, tasting around 300 2013s and additional 50 wines, divided into several verticals and wines in 2010, 2011, and 2012 vintages. Here is a 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 the first week of tastings, Niko Dukan, a wine journalist from Croatia, accompanied me. For the second week, my Danish friends accompanied me, Anne and Ivar Bjurner; Anne = a wine sommelier, and Ivar = a 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 with wet and cold weather during the first three months, slightly better April, and rainy and cold May. June offered some violent storms and no warm weather. Vinexpo in June took place in stormy and cold weather, very wet, by the way. As a result, flowering was late, and Merlot especially suffered a lack of fruit setting and millerandage. July brought some warm weather spells but ended with an extremely violent storm, which quickly shed a lot of water, causing extensive flooding. On Left Bank, this storm's gale winds uprooted many trees from Margaux to St.Estephe. August started with a hail storm, which avoided the most critical areas in Bordeaux, affecting only Entre-Deux-Mers and some parts of Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux.
Happily, warm weather returned and stayed until the 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, and then warm weather returned. At the end of September, another violent storm struck Bordeaux, and significant rainfall followed on the 4th of October. There were substantial problems with rot, spreading 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 to ripen, 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!
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+
Its owner Denis Darriet and his talented winemaker, Xavier, made a very nice 2013; despite troubles with this vintage. 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, 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 on the day of my visit, being tannic and disturbed. NR. 2009 has also chosen not to display all its goodies, but it has great potential. 93p. 2004 Confidence(s) du Chateau Seguin, a luxury cuvee made from old vines, tasted tight, concentrated, very complex, well-structured, and with a 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 11th October, a week after big rains, and production was only 28 hl/ha. "White" harvest ended on 1 October, resulting in 46 hl/ha.
2013 La Mission was elegant, soft, round, and silky. Soft tannins, too, but fine complexity and finesse. 93p.
2013 Haut Brion was similar to 2013 LMHB, with spicy fruit and slightly more tannic. 93p.
The second wine of La Mission, 2013 La Chapelle de LMHB, had violets on the nose, very nice acidity on the palate, soft fruit and tannin, and good structure and length. Light wine. 86p.
The second wine of Haut Brion, 2013 Le Clarence de HB, was 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 a fine apple, citrus, and lemongrass aroma, with great complexity, balance, structure, and length. Impressive effort. 94p.
2013 Haut Brion white showed as splendidly as LMHB, and the only thing that put HB in front of LMHB was more intensity, depth, and a long finish. 95-96p.
2013 La Carte de Haut Brion, the second wine from a blend of LMHB and HB "leftovers", had nice fruit and acidity, a fine aroma of apple and pear, and a mellow finish. 88p.
2013 Quintus was aromatic with black cherries, elegant and soft, fine complexity, and soft fruit on the palate. Already drinkable. 88p.
The second wine of Quintus, 2013 Le Dragon de Quintus, showed good aromas, roundness, and softness. Nice light wine. 85p.
This year I only tasted a partial range of Thunevin wines. This time only seven wines were on the menu, all 2013 and all reds. They are more or less similar in quality to their 2012 counterparts. Domaine Virginie Thunevin was juicy, fresh, aromatic, and light, with soft fruit and tannin. Very approachable already. 85p. 3 de Valandraud (St.E) followed in the same track as DVT and had a slightly bitter aftertaste but a longer one. 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 a strong structure. Not bad, but it needs time to soften. 88+p. Virginie de Valandraud (St.E) had a fine concentration of sweet, silky fruit and fine tannin. Aromatic with cherries, complex, and with a splendid fruity finish. 89p. Le Clos de Beau Pere (Pomerol) was aromatic with tight, fresh, and complex black cherries. Fine long aftertaste. 89p. Clos Badon (St.E) looked similar to LCdBP but had slightly green flavors and bitterness in the aftertaste, slightly lowering the rating. 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 in 2013, 2012, and 2011 vintages 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 also went easy with soft, tasty fruit and was very drinkable. 85p. 2013 Clinet displayed a very nice aroma of black fruit, soft fruit, tannin, silky texture, and fruity finish. Not bad, but the mid-palate was somewhat weak. However, this vintage's weather behavior didn't allow it to make better wine here. Light end elegant style. 91p. 2012 Clinet was similar to 2013, as both wines were almost identical. 91p. 2011 Clinet had far more stuffing, depth, bigger structure, complexity, and concentration, and fruit and tannin were riper than in 2012 and 2013. 93p.
Meeting Denis Durantou is always a great pleasure, not only because he's a magician winemaker but also because of his way of doing things. He doesn't use malolactic fermentation in barrels - he says he will get the same flavors every year by using this particular vinification method. He uses a short fermentation period (15 days) at 26 degrees C. His wines in 2013 are pretty similar to 2012 but a bit lighter in 2013.
2013 Saintayme (St-Emilion GC) was very flowery on the nose (roses and violets) and tasted crushed cherries, displayed freshness, light and tasty fruit on the 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 (from Lalande de Pomerol) had fine cherries on the nose and palate, fine grip, light structure, ripe tannin, and fruity aftertaste. 89p for La Chenade and 90p for Les Cruzelles. 2013 La Petite Eglise (Pomerol), the second wine of L'Eglise Clinet, had a pretty nose of cherry/chocolate mix, reasonably strong on the palate, chewy, and with a meaty aftertaste. 90p. 2013 L'Eglise Clinet was a distinct, classy, stylish, rich wine with black cherries and chocolate/cocoa powder. Complex, potent, tight, with a strong structure and long aftertaste. Great effort for the vintage. 94p.
I also tasted red and white wine from Chateau Thenac in Bergerac, for which he's the 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, and needs time to mature. Very good effort. 2012 with 59% Merlot, 26% C.Sauvignon, and 15% Malbec showed more fruit, spicier, and riper fruit. 2013 white displayed acacia flavor, lovely intensity and acidity, freshness, balance, and a honeyed aftertaste. Well-made wine.
Very pretty drop-free foils illustrated by Denis Durantou's wife, Marie Reilhac. L'Eglise Clinet in March 2014
At VCC, Alexandre Thienpont only obtained 1/5 of the normal yield per hectare! 92% Merlot + 8% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol barely reached 13%. 2013 is very fine - elegant, sweet fruit and tannin, silky texture, attractive and seductive. Finesse and refinement. It will peak quite early. 92p.
Francois Mitjavile told me that in 2013 he chose to wait a bit longer to harvest to obtain very ripe flavors and lose a bit of freshness. He used by the way a special bacteria spray against grey rot in 2013 and was very happy with the result. 2013 Domaine de Cambes had very ripe fruit (confit), was soft and with good balance, with no significant freshness. Chocolate flavors. Good effort for the vintage. 87p. 2013 Roc de Cambes also had very ripe fruit, a different style than usual, soft and with a mellow structure. Lighter structure. 89p. 2013 Tertre Roteboeuf was gracious, aromatic, sublime, dense, ripe fruit, and fresh. Impeccable winemaking. 94p.
I also tasted 2011 Tertre Roteboeuf - rich and sophisticated on the nose, with lots of black cherries and blueberries, velvety texture, intense mid-palate, silky fruit with the 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 intense, seems very young, so evolution is slow, mineral, rich, and long. Many good years of further development are ahead. Impressive stuff. 93p.
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 - a true master of winemaking - Lafleur in March 2014
2013 Grand Village was fresh and mineral, 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, long finish. 89p. 2013 Pensées de Lafleur was light, quite mineral, and with fine structure and length. 89-90p. 2013 Lafleur benefitted greatly from the late harvest of Cabernet Franc (mid-October) with vast quantities of black fruit, strong backbone, elastic structure, minerality, and long persistent finish. Beautiful work in this difficult vintage. 95p.
2012 Lafleur had some muted coffee and vegetal flavors related to Cabernet Franc. Not good to taste on this particular day of my visit. 94p? 2011 Lafleur has been a hit for me since birth; now, it hasn't lost anything of its qualities after bottling. 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 a fine aroma of acacia flower, passionfruit, melon, and very fine acidity. A very balanced wine. 90p. 2013 White Les Champs Libres comes from 2 plots planted 20 years ago and kept in 100% new oak. Lemony and apple, complex and well-balanced, rich and with a long aftertaste. 91p.
I visited twice - on the first occasion, I tasted 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2000, and 2013 + 2011 on the second occasion. 2013 had little yield - only 17hl/ha. 35% new oak. It was a mineral with fine acidity, black and red fruit, and energetic, precise winemaking. Very well-made wine, which showed the same on both occasions. 91p. 2012 displayed aromatic cherries and chocolate, which gained more intensity, depth, length, sappy taste, and 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 a great deal of potential. 92+p. 2000, made by the present winemaker's (Frederique Vayron) father, Xavier Vayron, was quite a gem. Powerful, meaty, concentrated, and with plenty 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 around 100 wines. Some really good wines but also several dull ones. My cherry picks were - Raymond Lafon from Sauternes (93+p), CarlMagnus from Fronsac (91p), and Barrabaque from Canon-Fronsac (90p). I rated most wines with soft and smooth fruit and tannin in the range 87-89p.
Nice view from La Dominique's terrace towards Cheval Blanc
I arrived with my friends to participate in the launching of the new cellar and restaurant on top of it. The view over Pomerol from the restaurant is magnificent. 2013 Fayat (Pomerol) was light and soft, uncomplicated, smooth, and balanced. 85p. 2013 Clement Pichon (Haut Medoc) had the 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 good structure. 88p.
I attended a pre-primeur event where tasting 2013s from Domaine de Chevalier, Neipperg, and a few other wines was possible.
2013 red Lespault Martillac (a property managed by Olivier Bernard from D.d.Chevalier) was soft, fruity, four-squared, and with a nice balance. 85p. 2013 white Lespault Martillac had an excellent intensity of acacia flower and pear on the nose and nice acidity, structure, and length. Delicious wine. 88p.
Despite its light texture, 2013 red Domaine de Chevalier showed silky fruit and tannin, aromatic dark fruit, fine acidity, and a fruity finish. 91-92p.
2013 white Domaine de Chevalier was impressive with acacia flower and apple, sophisticated touch, rich and refined, great acidity and complexity, and long fruity finish. Fabulous stuff. 94-95p.
2004 Domaine de Chevalier had a great aroma of black fruit on the nose, sappiness and fatness on the palate, splendid structure, and impeccably balanced. Stylish and classy wine 93p.
2013 red Clos Marsalette was a soft, fruity wine that would be ready to drink soon. 85p.
2013 white Clos Marsalette showed a 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 and was elastic and well-balanced. Very nice wine, indeed. 87p.
2013 Canon-La-Gaffeliere had more of everything than C.d'O, with better fruit and tannin, fine complexity, and a longer finish. 90p. 2013 La Mondotte wasn't miles better than CLG as it normally is - it displayed more depth, richness, and longer aftertaste than CLG. 91-92p.
2013 was harvested on 2-3-4 October, with only 26 hl/ha in yield, lost around 40% of the potential crop during flowering. The early harvest in 2013 for this property was very beneficial and reflected in the wine. Excellent effort, refined, balanced, sweet fruit, acidity, structure, and complexity. 93-94p.
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, tannin, good structure, balance, and a 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, with a very nice structure and aftertaste. 87-88p. 2013 Le Gay was considerably intense with silky fruit, tannin, pleasing fruit sweetness, 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, was tighter, and had better acidity. 93+p. I've also tasted 2011 Le Gay, a splendid effort with truffles, great concentration, structure, and a long finish. 94-95p.
Jean-Michel Laporte, La Conseillante's manager, can be proud of his achievement in the difficult 2013 vintage. 2013 Duo de Conseillante was fresh, soft, and smooth, showing sweet fruit and nice balance. 87p. 2013 La Conseillante had great intensity of black cherries, violets, finesse, and elegance and was very complex and refined. Excellent wine work. 94p.
After the 2013s, there was time to have a little vertical. 2012 Duo de Conseillante tasted of cherries and truffles and had a nice balance and pleasantly fruity finish. 86p.
2012 La Conseillante didn't show the promises from the barrel sample last year, and the reason for that was transferring wine to vats before bottling. 92p.
2011 La Conseillante was sappy, strongly structured, complex, and 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 a strikingly long aftertaste. A 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. This wine is speeding up in getting mature pretty fast. Nice and charming. 91p.
2005 La Conseillante showed truffles, a seductive nose. elegance, and class; it was very sophisticated, with excellent length and structure and an incredibly long aftertaste. Awesome stuff and this wine can be a serious competitor to the beautiful 2010. 95p.
Before going to Climens, I visited Lafaurie Peyraguey, where the new owner Silvio Denz introduced himself to the press. Tasty canapés were accompanied by vintages of the estate's 2009, 2005, and 1988.
2009 showed elegance, finesse, great acidity, balance, and sweetness, and aromatic and well-knitted. 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 an orange peel, brown sugar, a perfect match between acidity and sweetness, and the aroma of heather honey. Impressive wine. 93p.
As usual, tasting of several lots and blends. Always very interesting to taste these. Because of the lunch at Lafaurie Peyraguey the same day, lunch at Climens was canceled, but the vertical of Cyprés and Grand Vin wasn't. Thanks for that! It was an immense tasting showing the fantastic ability of Climens to make some heavenly wines. I tasted Cypres in 2012, 2011, and 2010, and Climens in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005. It's so kind of Berenice to let journalists taste these wine yearly and follow their development.
2012 Cypres de Climens had a 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 a clear taste of crème brulee and brown sugar, a nice balance, and a persistent honeyed finish. Well-made. 90p. 2010 Cypres de Climens displayed fine sweetness, acidity, and a lovely honey melon and apricot aroma. 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; it had a light texture, finesse, very nice acidity, and sweetness, and was rich and elegant, with a nice but short aftertaste. 93p.
2011 Climens was potent, with great acidity and minerality, a very intense botrytised scent 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, a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity, stunning complexity, and mega long aftertaste. 99-100p.
2009 Climens was a twin sister of 2010, slightly spicier on the palate, as mind-boggling. 99-100p.
2008 Climens showed several similarities to 2011, but more related to the style of the wine than intensity and richness. Anyway, it had impressive elegance and finesse. 95p.
2007 Climens was fabulous with great acidity and minerality, long on the palate, and awesome structure and complexity. Stunning wine. 99p.
2006 Climens mirrored 2008 big time with a 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. Still, they provided enough ingredients to make excellent vintage in Bordeaux's 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 an intense flavor of grapefruit and apricot, powerful and long on the palate, fine botrytis and a 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 in Sauternes & Barsac, and even small properties made delicious wines. Only two properties, Lamothe and Lamothe Guignard, were rated low by me, meaning 88p, which was alright as these wines were lovely. There was no bad wine out of the 26 I have tasted.
Some people say this looks like an entrance to a casino in Las Vegas - I'm afraid I have to disagree! March 2014
The 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 do - as Pavie's cellar is empty? No samples of 2013 vintage either offered to taste here.
Two visits - the first visit on Tuesday, the 1st of April, with UGC and tasting 2013 barrel samples, and the second one on Monday, the 7th of April, meeting technical director since 2008 Pierre Olivier Clouet, retasting 2013 barrel samples and tasting 2010 and 2009 vintages of Cheval Blanc. The yield of only 20 hl/ha here in the 2013 vintage.
The 2013 Petit Cheval and Grand Vin tasting notes were identical on both occasions. Petit Cheval was smooth and soft, with lovely fruit and a good structure. 86p. Cheval Blanc had silky fruit and tannin, light texture and delicate 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 the barrel, but it's only a disguise. This wine starts to put on weight and develop complexity and richness in the bottle. Will 2013 Cheval Blanc dramatically improve after bottling? I hope we'll see.
Pierre Olivier Clouet says - "Look what I have for you! Just Cheval Blanc 2009 and 2010." Anne Bjurner and I seem immensely thrilled to taste these two jewels!
The highlight of my visit was tasting 2009 and 2010 vintages of Cheval Blanc, which I kindly requested to have the possibility to taste when asking Cheval Blanc for an appointment. Thanks a lot for that!
2009 had a great aromatic nose of black cherries mixed with grated Valrhona 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, the same mix of cherries and grated chocolate, stronger 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 I had a great time altogether while tasting 2009 and 2010 and spoke of our impressions concerning other vintages tasted recently.
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 an exciting tasting. Among Saint-Emilions, I particularly 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 impeccably made La Conseillante (94p), followed by less scaled Clinet (90p).
Tasting at this property can be hard for the taster's teeth because of the samples' very oaky character. I found 2013s here to be similar to 2012. Simard had a fruity nose (red berries) and was oaky on the palate. Good meaty finish. 85p. Fonbel had good acidity, bite, structure, and oak. 86p. Moulin St.Georges was similar in style to Fonbel, with better structure and length. 87p. Chapelle d'Ausone had a very good fruity nose, sappiness, and concentration, well masked by vast quantities of new oak. 88p. Ausone was quite pretty wine, not plagued by new oak, intense and concentrated, ripe blackberries, strong structure, fine complexity, and length. 92-93p.
Its owner, Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, was satisfied with her 2013 but said making this vintage wasn't for fainthearted. 2013 had a fruity nose of cherries and raspberries, freshness, some minerality, silky tannin, good balance, and a 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 a deep aromatic nose of black fruit, fatty and velvety tannin, a very long and concentrated palate with fatness, and a very long finish. Great class and style. 93-94p.
I met Jean-Nöel Boidron, an 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 the court case will take at least one year more because it's very complex. Imho, it's a 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. 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 a fine aroma of grated dark chocolate, splendid ripe dark fruit, remarkable acidity and minerality, fine balance, and a 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, slightly more intense 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, with lots of chocolate and cherries, fatty fruit, and tannin with perfect ripeness. A beautiful wine with so much character in the soil, and everything fitted perfectly. 94p.
2005 Corbin Michotte had it all - very seductive and beautiful cherry nose, beautiful fruit on the palate, velvety, great complexity, structure, and length. A 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 a delightful sweetness. Impressive wine. 93p. Cantelauze is the Boidron family's property in Pomerol. It 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 lots on the right part of Pomerol and two parcels on the left one.
2010 Cantelauze was fresh with great acidity, fat fruit and tannin, perfect ripeness, great depth and complexity, strong structure and harmony, and a long lingering finish. Fabulous wine. 94p.
Following the motto "I do it my way", he's made lovely wines for the 2013 vintage. They all show freshness and tasty fruit. His style of making is semi-modern, and you can't accuse him of making flat wines lacking freshness. His 2013s showed apparent freshness, life, ripe fruit, ripe tannin, a lot of oak, and splendid balance. They're not overdone and over-extracted; you 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. Particularly Sacre Coeur, L.C.St.G, and LC had remarkable ripeness of black fruit, freshness, excellent structure, precision, and focus.
Jean-Philippe Janoueix did well with the 2013 vintage
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, excellent acidity, balance, and a firm finish.
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 and ripe tannin and was sappy and nicely made. Charming and simple enough. 85-86p. Berliquet displayed an attractive nose, considerably soft fruit and tannin, good structure, and a 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 the palate. Pretty good. 88p. Charmes Godard was similar to Puygueraud with the same flavors, same fine acidity, and fine complexity. 88p.
UGC tasting of Graves and Pessac-Leognan at Picque Caillou (blind)
Red wines performed nicely despite the 2013 vintage's ugly behavior in the growing season, while whites were excellent. My cherry picks among reds were Domaine de Chevalier, Ferrande, La Louviere, and Latour Martillac 91-92p. The 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.
Both Labegorce and Marquis d'Alesme struggled a bit in the 2013 vintage. Labegorce made light and soft wine with an attractive, seductive sweet fruit and tannin, a very good balance, and a soft finish. 88p. Marquis d'Alesme was similar to Labegorce, with better acidity and complexity. 89p.
It was an exciting visit. New cellar master here since September 2013, Maylis de Labordiere. She's not of Bordeaux origin but 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 to do it". She's a qualified oenologist, young, and very dynamic. Difficult vintage to start one's career anyway!
New cellar master since September 2013 at La Lagune, Maylis de Labordiere (left) and owner Caroline Frey (right). April 2014
I didn't taste the actual barrel sample but four different lots instead. They represented four 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, bigger depth, and fine acidity. Lot 3 (95% CS + 3% Merlot + 2% P. Verdot) was even better than Lot 1 and 2, concerning depth, structure, and length, but less fruity than Lot 2. Lot 4 (99.2% C.Sauvignon + 0.8% Merlot) showed more intensity and concentration, robust structure, and longer than Lots 1, 2, and 3. Tight and complex. Lot 4 will undoubtedly be the main ingredient of 2013 La Lagune, and I'll rate the future final blend 91p.
The first event occurred at Grand Theatre on the 2nd of April, where I tasted 2013 and 2003, then visited Yquem 6 days later. I tasted 2012 Y, dry wine of Yquem, 2013 and 2011 d'Yquem.
2013 Y had a 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 dazzling finish. It's classy d'Yquem, which needs time to develop, but at the moment, this wine does not match 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 a 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.
Beautiful sight - Chateau Lagrange in April 2014
This beautifully situated property was my base for the last two days of UGCB tastings. It's a big one covering 157 ha, hereof 115 ha planted with wines. The soil here is mostly gravel in different sizes of stones. The vineyard is planted in one block with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot. Vinification is traditional.
The wine here is reliable and stable. Lagrange has produced a very aromatic and fruity 2013 worth attention. I also tasted vintages in 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 like 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 a great aromatic nose of cherries and blackcurrants, fat ripe tannin, great depth, and long aftertaste. A killer wine. 93p.
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, a reasonable finish. 87p. 2013 Clerc Milon had more than d'Armailhac, bigger depth, better fruit and tannin, more concentration, and a long finish. 88p. 2013 Petit Mouton was similar to Clerc Milon. 88p. 2013 Mouton Rothschild had a 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.
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 and had fine structure, depth, and length. Not overdone and fine result of gentle winemaking. 88p. Duhart Milon was similar to CdL with a slightly more apparent oaky character. 88p. Lafite had more than Carruaders - granite (minerality), fine acidity, splendid structure and complexity, richness, and great harmony between fruit and tannin. A gentle dose of new oak this time! 94p.
Like other top properties in Saint-Estephe, Calon Segur made good wine in 2013. Weather conditions didn't allow the winemakers to aim higher and do something better. 2013 Capbern Gasqueton was soft and smooth, with a light texture, easygoing fruit, silky tannin, and short fruity finish. 86p. 2013 Marquis de Calon also had very good minerality, acidity, and fine structure. However, it was light, uncomplicated, and with a rather short finish. Nice wine for early consumption. 87p. 2013 Calon Segur was aromatic, sappy, had a long aftertaste, and had splendid structure and fine complexity. 92p.
My Danish friends, Anne and Ivar Bjurner, listening to Paul Pontalier's explanation concerning the 2013 vintage - March 2014
I visited twice, first on the 3rd of April and then on the 9th of April. 2013 Chateau Margaux, Pavillon Rouge, and Pavillon Blanc were tasted on both occasions.
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, 100% C. Sauvignon, was lighter than usual with smooth, silky tannin, soft fruit, and polished texture. Normally, Grand Vin contains Merlot, but the winemaking stuff didn't value the Merlot parcel to have quality worth putting in Grand Vin. So my rating is more based on reputation than appearance because Margaux put on weight in the bottle. 93p. 2013 Pavillon Blanc, 100% Sauvignon Blanc, showed an aromatic nose with acacia flower, green apple, freshness, great acidity, and long aftertaste. Splendid effort for the vintage. 92p.
By the way, Thomas Do Chi Nam, who started as technical director at Margaux on 1st September 2011, left Margaux at the end of 2013 after a mutual agreement.
Not exactly a great vintage for Alter Ego and Palmer, but they made 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, elegant, and very fine complexity and structure on the light side. Will it put on weight when in the bottle? 92-93p.
Melanie Tesseron, the niece of Alfred Tesseron, explained that despite the difficulties they experienced, 2013 was satisfying. They finished the harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon on the 10th of October, after the big rain on the 4th of October. 2013 was aromatic, with splendidly ripe fruit on the nose and palate, silky texture, freshness, great balance, and elegance. Finesse here rather than power and muscles. 92-93p.
UGCB tasting of Haut Medoc, St. Julien, Pauillac/Saint-Estephe at Clerc Milon (blind)
OK, Gruaud Larose (91p), Leoville Poyferre (91p), Saint-Pierre (91p), Leoville Barton and Talbot (90-91p), Beychevelle, Gloria, and Lagrange, all 90p, were the most interesting wines. Many wines were rated between 87p and 88p.
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, good zest, and a reasonable aftertaste. 85-86p.
2013 Les Forts de Latour acted powerful, meaty, and chewy, with new oak upfront, strong backbone, splendid depth, and length. Really, really good for the vintage. 88p.
2013 Latour was firm for the vintage, with powerful structure and backbone, intense fruit, ripe tannin, great complexity, and a long finish. Probably the best 1.Cru wine in this vintage. 94+p.
2008 Pauillac had ripe and sweet fruit, finely polished palate, fine length, and fruity finish. 87p.
2006 Les Forts de Latour possessed really fine ripe fruit, splendid structure, an aroma of blackcurrants, leather, and pencil, fine balance, and persistent aftertaste. 91p.
2004 Latour displayed thick black cherries and chocolate aromas, a strong backbone, big depth, strong structure, excellent balance, and a long meaty finish. Combines perfectly finesse and power. Fabulous stuff. 96p.
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 make good wine out of the grapes, which came through unscathed. He was happy with the result.
2013 Pibran was fruity, round, and attractive with a 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, and intense, with sweet fruit, tannin, and a 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 the nose and palate, silky texture, nice backbone, and good balance. Light but tasty. 90p.
Domaine de Chevalier
Astonishing evening on Sunday the 6th of April. In addition to a 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, the 2013 vintage was challenging and needed a lot of work in the vineyard and cellar, we succeeded anyway to make a good red and beautiful white despite difficult circumstances, so I hope you will enjoy my wine in both colors".
The 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 fragrant with silky fruit and tannin, delicate 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 graceful 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 highly sophisticated, with fantastic acidity and depth, and long caressing aftertaste (97p).
I had white D.d.Chevalier in 1964, 1984, and 2004 for dinner. 1964 was interesting old wine with sherry flavors, well-balanced (89p); 1984 was refined with finesse, great complexity, and outstanding balance (93p), while 2004 was slightly oxidized.
Then a blast from the past, the 1924 Lafite had an incredible nose of truffles, a truffy palate, riveting elegance, and remarkable complexity. 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.
The next wine in line was 1934 Ausone, mature fruit, silky, delicate, and tasty, yet in fine balance, but the acidity is well-pronounced. Impressive old wine. 92p.
1954 Leoville Poyferre was marked by age, extracted coffee beans, and good balance. 87p. 1964 Haut Brion showed nice intensity and concentration, polished style, nice balance, and finish. 91p.
1964 Petrus tasted like a 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 Yquem bottle, probably from a vintage between 1891 and 1893.
Three versions of Clos des Lunes
Again an entertaining visit to 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 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. 93p.
2012 Belle Brise had the same style as 2012, was as aromatic and seductive, maybe slightly less intense. 92-93p.
2011 Belle Brise had an incredibly intense nose of black cherries, silky fruit, 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, a sophisticated palate with a fat velvety texture, perfect silky fruit and tannin ripeness, stunning complexity, structure, and length. What an achievement! Imho Belle Brise rivals Le Pin and other top names in this vintage. 96+p.
2005 Belle Brise had an 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.
Undoubtedly the best vintage Belle Brise yet produced!
It was weird to visit this property after the death of Christine Valette-Pariente 8 days before. Wines here are relatively modern and, therefore, somewhat controversial. Either you like them, or you don't. Nobody denies that wines here are of high quality, but the 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 freshness to balance the fruit. Fine structure, depth, and length. This wine would have been better with more gentle winemaking. 91p.
2012 was similar to 2013, with blueberries and blackberries, slightly jammy flavors, 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. A fine effort for the vintage. 93p.
Nicolas Tari-Heeter, the winemaker, made here a splendid 2013 vintage, clearly better than 2012 and with great potential. I was also treated with an awesome vertical of 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, and 2005, where all these wines performed simply fantastic and clearly showed what Nairac is capable of!
2013 had a powerful grapefruit, apricot, and honey melon flavor, an 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 in botrytised flavors and with a very long honeyed and persistent finish. Great future. 95+p. 2010 was different in style than 2011 - more acacia honey here, and acidity is more upfront than in 2011. Distinguished and long on the palate with great sweetness, acidity, and a very long aftertaste. Simply great stuff. 96p. 2009 reminded me a lot of 2011, with more acidity, depth, and length 2009. It tasted better than in 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 a fabulous nose with great intensity and depth of apricots, a lot of botrytised flavors on the palate like pineapple, guava, and honey melon, sublime richness, sophisticated touch, and long lingering aftertaste. Extraordinary stuff. 97p.
Visiting and tasting at Montrose is never a dull moment. I must admit that this property's always been one of the favorites among Bordeaux wines. Old vintages, especially the '50s, and '60s, have always been rare. New owners have changed a lot, and the new cellar looks monumental. Because of the use of solar cellars, Montrose is more than self-sufficient in electricity. Montrose has appointed a new cellar master from 1st June 2014.
Herve Berland told me that the 2013 vintage needed much attention, work, and gentle vinification. 2013 Tronquoy Lalande offered an aromatic and seductive nose of cherries and raspberries, a soft and smooth texture, and good balance. 86-87p.
2013 La Dame de Montrose had a well-marked aroma of violets, delicate minerality and acidity, nice balance, and a 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 a 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 blackberries, splendid concentration, fine bite, and persistent finish. A 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.
New cellarmaster (left), Herve Berland, Montrose's technical director (middle), and recently appointed chef responsible for PR, Helene Brochet (right). April 2014
Jean Guillaume Prats left, and a new technical director arrived. It's evident in 2013 wines that they aren't heavily extracted. Gentle vinification this time!
2013 Goulée was soft, smooth, round, and slightly earthy on the palate with a rather short finish. 85p. 2013 Pagodes de Cos displayed a nice aromatic nose, good concentration and zest, acidity, and a meaty finish. 86-87p. 2013 Cos was modern, 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, green apple flavors, fine acidity, and a fine fruity finish. 91p.
I kindly asked in my email to have the possibility of tasting the last four vintages, and I got it. Thanks a lot!
2013 was fresh and aromatic, on the light side, smooth and well-balanced, with 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 a very aromatic and seductive aroma of black cherries and chocolate, fine acidity, and a smooth finish. It'll not surprise me if 2012 turns out to be better than 2013 in the long run. 92+p.
2011 differed from 2013 and 2012, with more red fruit (raspberries), plenty of cherries and chocolate, more depth, stronger structure, and a long finish. Splendid effort. 93p.
2010 had all the best things this vintage could offer - intense nose, luscious black fruit and fat ripe tannin, excellent structure, and depth, great complexity, long meaty finish. Great effort. 94p.