I spent some exciting and eventful 12 days in Bordeaux in November 2021. A lot of impressions to write about!

My report will contain impressions from my visits, a little preview of the 2021 vintage, and tasting notes concerning 2020, 2019, 2018, and older ones. 


The 2021 vintage wasn't blessed by nice weather and was challenging for winemakers. Frost in the spring, hefty rains, coulure, mildew, you name it. In August 2021, everybody was prepared for a vintage similar to 2013. However, weather conditions improved considerably in September, and Bordeaux enjoyed sunny weather in mid-October. This turnaround truly saved the 2021 vintage! Little rain, no storms, and there was a time to harvest Merlot, Cabernets, and Petit Verdot patiently to collect them all with perfect ripeness. The initial prospect of the quality of red 2021 is, according to winemakers, a similar vintage to 2008 and 2014. Dry white wines will be satisfactory, while sweet white wines look promising. We'll know much more during primeur week in April 2022.

A spectacular flurry of new cellars in Bordeaux has been built in the last couple of years. To name some - Carillon, Figeac, Fleur Cardinale, Troplong Mondot and Valandraud. Money earned from sales of recently excellent vintages has been used wisely!

Just so you know, all 2020s listed below and tasted during my trip in November 2021 were barrel samples, and all 2019s I tasted have already been in bottles since the summer of 2021.


Monday, the 1st of November 2021.

I visited Gombaude Guillot, located in the best part of Pomerol, Le Plateau Argileux. This property caught the attention of Bordeaux geeks in the 1980s when the owner's daughter, Claire Laval, took over winemaking duties and asked her father to allow her to use new oak for aging. He said OK to that, and she then used 100% new oak for a part of production in vintages from 1985 to 1990. The wine was called "Cuvee Speciale" and got some excellent ratings. Regular cuvée matured in the used barrel was also produced along this "Cuvee Speciale." Claire Laval's son Olivier Techer took over winemaking in 2010.

Only one version of Gombaude Guillot is made, aged 30-50% new barrels. You get some excellent Pomerol for little money here!! I tasted vintages in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2016; all have been sublime. In 2020, 2019, and 2018, I rated 94-95p, and in 2016 got 94p. For TNs on these wines and other vintages I tasted - see the profile of GG in the "Chateau Profiles" chapter.

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Olivier Techer makes excellent Pomerol at Gombaude Guillot.

Next was a visit to Chateau Monbadon in Castillon, located beautifully at the second-highest point in the Gironde department, 106 meters above sea level. Jean-Philippe Janoueix is now a winemaker here, and 2021 is his first vintage. Knowing what he's achieved at Croix Mouton, 20 Mille, Cap St.George, St. Georges, Sacre Coeur, La Confession, and La Croix St.Georges, you can expect some good things here. 

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Left - Chateau Monbadon is well-placed on the top of the hill. Right - Jean-Phillipe Janoueix and Titan

Tuesday, the 2nd November 2021.

The day started with a visit to Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse. Josephine Duffau Lagarrosse, a granddaughter of the previous owner, doctor Duffau Lagarrosse, welcomed me. She's 31 years old and worked before at one of Bernard Magrez's properties. Josephine Duffau Lagarrosse took over the property in June 2021, with the backing from Clarins (a world-famous cosmetic company) investment fund run by her friend Prisca Courtin-Clarins. She's a very ambitious winemaker with many plans to get BDL even better quality-wise and get it higher in the classification. I tasted vintages in 2018, 2019, and 2020. After her arrival, she put 2019 in the bottle and changed the blend of 2020, initially made by Nicolas Thienpont and David Suire. 2021 will be 100% her "own" vintage, and she admitted that this vintage was incredibly challenging and hard to work with. After tasting, we went to the underground cellar of BDL, which is a spectacular sight. Josephine explained that around 80 trucks were needed to remove stones, sand, etc., to make the space there. 

2020 - displayed more elegance and finesse than 2019 and 2018 but retained the intensity, complexity, and vibrancy of its two older brothers/sisters. Fabulous mid-palate and a superb finish. Fantastic effort. 98+p.

2019 - I wrote in June last year after tasting a barrel sample of 2019 BDL. "It's a beautiful effort! Great nose with a remarkable intensity of black cherries, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder, fleshy on the palate with high complexity and sophisticated touch, and an emphatic and lingering finish. This wine oozes sheer class! 97-98p". From the bottle, it is identically impressive and got some elegance. 97-98p.

2018 - Tasted twice in 2021 from the bottle. It's a badass sublime wine. High-class nose with a riveting intensity of black cherries, grated chocolate, and mocha, creamy on the palate with exquisitely grained tannin, extraordinary complexity, sophisticated touch, and lingering finish for over 60 seconds. 98+p.

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Josephine Duffau-Lagarrosse, new owner at BDL.

Next was Corbin, owned by Anabelle Cruse Bardinet. At my request, she prepared vintages 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2019 to taste. She told us about a very challenging 2021 with outbreaks of frost and mildew. The vintage ended quite well at Corbin, thanks to sunny weather during the harvest.

After 2017 Corbin wasn't produced because of frost; she didn't have any second-year barrels to age Cabernet Franc 2018. So she tried to age it in vats and found that it gave the wine a much fruitier character. It was a great discovery; now, she combines vats with glass wine globes.

2019 - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. A distinctive and classy nose of sweet black cherries and blueberries. Dazzling elegance and finesse. Velvety. It's such a riveting and stylish effort! A stunning as from barrel. 96p.

2018 - 90% Merlot + 10% C. Franc. It was fleshy and corpulent wine with a seductive nose of dark berries, elegant and sublime, splendid complexity and long aftertaste. As impressive from the bottle as from the barrel! Fabulous stuff. 95+p. 

2016 - this wine had great aromas of violets and blueberries, was precise and distinguished, and had great complexity and balance, plus great elegance and finesse.  Outstanding effort. 94+p. 

2013 - this wine was nice for the vintage and is already drinkable. Soft, round, and pleasant. Prunes and mashed raspberries. 89p.

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Wine glass globes

Then, we went to Lafleur and met its manager, Omri Ram, who prepared the 2017 and 2018 Lafleur for tasting. He told me that in August 2021, the mood in Bordeaux was relatively low because of the repercussions of frost, coulure, mildew, and rain. However, the 2021 harvest finished strongly with beautiful sunny weather and no rain. So he was pretty happy with the outcome.

2017 - 53% C.Franc and 47% Merlot. Creamy, deep, great tension, vibrant, incredible structure, complexity, and midpalate. Awesome stuff. 98p.

2018 - 54% de Bouchets (local name for C. Franc) + 46% Merlot. A giant of a wine, creamy, very concentrated, iron fist/hammer in velvety glove, incredible complexity and length, and mega long finish. Wow! 99p.

Then Figeac. An American guide, Alexa, welcomed us, and we tasted vintages in 2011 and 2016 and visited the new cellar.

2011 - pre-Frederic Faye era. Delicate, fragrant nose and quite mature wine. Figs and prunes on the palate. This wine was ripe and ready to be consumed, and I don't think it'll make old bones. Good quality. 90p.

2016 - 36% Merlot, 38% C. Sauvignon and 26% C. Franc. It was a sophisticated wine with great, fabulous midpalate, complexity, and structure. The vintage's trademark, a distinguished style, was present there. Frederic Faye, Figeac's technical director, did a fantastic job! 98p.

Next was Cheval Blanc. We were treated with two vintages of Quinault L'Enclos, Petit Cheval, and Grand Vin and tasted them with Stephanie Duhar.

2019 Quinault L'Enclos was well-constructed wine with freshness, spicy raspberries and blackcurrants, nicely structured, and a lingering finish. 91p.

2019 Petit Cheval - 56% Merlot + 44% C. Franc. Sappy, smooth, silky, velvety texture, creamy fruit and grained tannin, subtle complexity, and meaty finish. Splendid second wine of Cheval Blanc. 93p.

2019 Cheval Blanc -  58% Merlot, 34% C. Franc and 8% C. Sauvignon. Distinguished and intensely aromatic nose of violets and raspberries. Very refined and sophisticated on the palate with great structure, richness, and mega long aftertaste. Simply an extraordinary effort. 98-99p.

2020 Quinault L'Enclos had dark fruit, a licorice nose, a polished palate with smoky fruit, and soft tannin. Fine structure and length. A smooth aftertaste rounded up all this. Attractive effort. 91p.

2020 Petit Cheval - 51% C. Franc and 49% Merlot. It had an intense fragrance of violets, iris, and raspberries. It was fresh, juicy, and fleshy with a solid backbone. Great second wine and probably the best one ever produced. 94p.

2020 Cheval Blanc - 60% Merlot, 34% C. Franc and 5% C. Sauvignon. Violets and black cherries, creamy berries, and grained tannin. Fabulous complexity. Great mid-palate, sophisticated, and with many layers. Ultralong finish. It will be as extraordinary as 2019. 98-99p.

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Superb wines from Cheval Blanc!

Then Valandraud. I was welcomed by Jean-Luc Thunevin in his new imposing cellar built in 2021 and tasted the immensely successful 2019 vintage of wines he consults and the ones he owns. Consulted properties are listed below, and they're from Saint-Emilion, except La Vieille Cure which comes from Fronsac. White wines are appellation Bordeaux.

Clos Romanile - 90% Merlot + 10% C.Sauvignon. This is a wine from Valandraud's cellarmaster, Remi Dalmasso. Creamy berries, silky texture, and well-constructed. Voluptuous on the palate with fine ripe tannin and lush aftertaste. 90-91p.

La Marzelle - 75% Merlot, 17% C. Franc and 8% C.Sauvignon. Sweet cherries on the nose, aromatic and delicate fruit, well-composed with a velvety texture, silky tannins, and a lovely fruity finish. Tasty effort. 92p.

Moulin du Cadet - had a lovely aroma of aromatic black cherries with cacao powder, well-defined, delicate, delicious complexity, sweet tannin, velvety structure, and attractive finish. Excellent effort. 93p.

Sansonnet - 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. Delicate and attractive nose of dark berries, fine structure, silky fruit, and crunchy tannins. Sleek and elegant with finesse. Well-made. 91p.

Soutard Cadet - a fragrant nose of cherry drops and raspberries, delicate and silky on the palate, elegant and well-balanced, lingering aftertaste. Lovely wine. 91p.

La Vieille Cure had a splendid nose of wild cherries, fleshy on the palate, strong structure, and vibrant, long aftertaste. Impressive effort. 92-93p.

Villemaurine - elegant style, silky fruit, gentle tannin, and a long and lush aftertaste. An amiable wine. 89p.

So his wines:

Bad Boy Syrah - very spicy fruit, nicely soft tannin, tasty, round, and easy to drink. 87p.

Bad Boy L'Original - L'Original part of the name was added some years ago and suggested by Cecile Monsec, J-L, Thunevin's assistant. Very cherry and fragrant on the nose, seductive, silky fruit, and tannin on the palate, caressing fruity finish. A pleasure to drink now. 89p.

Virginie Thunevin -  had a pretty and attractive nose of cherries, creamy fruit on the palate, silky texture, and well-integrated sweet tannin. Catchy wine and not too complicated. 90p.

Domaine des Sabines - 80% Merlot, 15% C. Franc and 5% C.Franc. Fresh raspberry drops, soft, silky fruit, and tannin with pleasant sweetness, very accessible and tasty. Attractive effort. 90p.

Le Clos de Beau Pere displayed an aromatic nose of black fruit, elegant and detailed on the palate with silky fruit, velvety tannins, fine structure and length, and a lingering finish. Tasty effort. 92p.

Clos Badon - 70% Merlot + 30% C. Franc. It had an intense aroma of raspberry drops, a strong backbone, potent, and well-constructed. A fine future awaits. 92+p.

Virginie de Valandraud - 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 9% C. Sauvignon and 1% Carmenere. Fresh and lively with aromatic cherries/raspberries, lovely fruit and tannin on the palate, fine length, and fruity finish. 92p.

Valandraud - 90% Merlot, 7% C. Franc and 3% C. Sauvignon. Not a powerhouse but a wine with pure elegance and finesse, velvety texture, refined and sophisticated. Remarkable complexity and a long, lush finish. 96-97p.

Bad Boy Chardonnay - a pleasant aroma of melted butter, crisp with nice acidity, round and tasty. Party wine. 87p.

Virginie de Valandraud white - white Valandraud's second wine. 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Sauvignon Gris. Full of freshness and vivacity, aromas of pineapple and grapefruit, fine acidity, well-crafted on the palate, and delicious fruity finish. 92p.

Valandraud white – 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Sauvignon Gris. Myriad of aromas like acacia flower, peaches, and pineapple, vibrant, multi-faceted, splendid complexity and acidity, lush aftertaste. 93-94p.

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Left - Jean-Luc Thunevin with his 2019 wines. Right - spectacular new cellar at Valandraud.

After Valandraud, we went for a quick visit to Fleur Cardinale, the neighbor next door. Caroline Decoster prepared 2019 and 2018 vintages to taste, and I also had the chance to glimpse the property's new cellar. The first vintage vinified there was 2020.

2019 Intuition - second wine of Fleur Cardinale. Flowery on the nose with violets and iris, delightfully round and lush on the palate with ripe berries and silky tannin. Nice acidity and smooth finish. Quite an attractive mouthful. 90p.

2019 Croix Cardinale – 75% Merlot + 25% C. Franc. Fleur Cardinale's neighbor and the Decoster family own both. Well-defined on the nose and palate, spicy and fragrant raspberries have a nice structure, silky texture, and fruity finish. 91p.

2019 Fleur Cardinale - 72% Merlot + 24% C.Franc + 4% C. Sauvignon. Very fragrant on the nose with violets, blueberries, and cherries. Well-defined, vibrant, complex, elegant with finesse, delicate fruit, lovely finish with persistency. Excellent winemaking here! 94+p.

2018 Intuition - 85% Merlot + 15% C. Franc. It's a second wine and was first created after tasting Grand Vin barrels for one year and deciding which ones go to Grand Vin and Intuition. Aromatic dark fruit on the nose, sappy and polished with black cherries, ripe tannin, and smooth aftertaste. 89p.

2018 Croix Cardinale – 75% Merlot + 25% C. Franc. It was a concentrated and beautifully balanced wine, with subtle complexity and well-structured, delicious and tasteful with a smooth and delicate finish. 91p.

2018 Fleur Cardinale - 74% Merlot, 22% C. Franc and 4% C. Sauvignon. Dense and spicy black cherries on the nose, intense, powerful, and tight with some fat ripe tannin on the palate, creamy berries, and delicate complexity. Meaty and persistent finish. Splendid effort. 93p.

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Left - very kind of Caroline Decoster to put my name on the door! Right - wines to taste.

Wednesday, the 3rd of November 2021. 

The day started with a great visit to Troplong Mondot. Aymeric de Gironde, technical director of the property, let us taste Mondot (second wine) in two vintages, followed by Grand Vin in three. It was evident that the style of the wine changed after the arrival of Aymeric de Gironde in the summer of 2017, from very concentrated and oaked wine to fresh, vibrant, and more elegant wine, without losing intensity, complexity, and depth. 2017 was his first vintage, but he didn't change the style that radically.

After tasting, we visited the spectacular new vinification and aging cellar unveiled in May 2021.

2017 Mondot - 100% Merlot. Spicy berries, sappy, lively with bright acidity, silky fruit and tannin, fine length, and lingering finish. 90p.

2018 Mondot - understandably longer and fatter, more precise and complex than the 2017 vintage. Persistent aftertaste. 91+p.

2017 Troplong Mondot - 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Franc. Only 15% of Grand Vin underwent malolactic fermentation in barrels. It was concentrated and had an intense nose of black fruit and ripe tannin on the palate was very complex and had a long finish. 95-96p.

2018 Troplong Mondot - 85% Merlot, 13% C. Franc and 2% C. Franc. Only 15% of Grand Vin underwent malolactic fermentation in barrels. It was evident to taste that concentration and extraction were considerably scaled down here. It had a great nose of intense black cherries and blueberries, richness, grained tannin, and creamy berries on the palate. A sublime effort, oozing sheer class. 97-98p.

2019 Troplong Mondot  - no malolactic fermentation in barrels. There is freshness, incredible intensity complexity, great midpalate, striking elegance and finesse, vibrancy, sophisticated touch, great acidity, length, and precision. It's a beautiful effort! 98p.

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Left - Aymeric de Gironde speaks about tasted wines. Right - aging part of the new cellar

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Vinification part of the new cellar

Next was Vieux Chateau Certan, and Alexandre Thienpont welcomed us. We tasted two vintages, which were simply breathtaking experiences.

2020 - 85% Merlot + 15% C. Franc. More potent than 2019 and has a bigger concentration, but otherwise same astonishing qualities as 2019. Decadently awesome stuff. 99p.

2019 - 78% Merlot, 15% C.Franc and 7% C. Sauvignon. 14.5% alcohol. Aromatic nose with violets and black truffles, some scent of iron, great midpalate, striking elegance and finesse, opulent and fabulous complexity, long finish. It's a fascinating wine! 98-99p.

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Alexandre Thienpont, with his fabulous 2019 vintage

After VCC, we went to the sacred place in Pomerol named Le Pin. Jacques Thienpont was so kind to come over from Belgium to meet me. I've known him since 1985! He made my wine life a lot sweeter by pouring three vintages of Le Pin. Bonanza! 2020, 2019, and 2018. I know that wines from this property cost a fortune, but you have to forget the price for a while and enjoy the moments while it's possible to taste them, and it's certainly not every day it happens!

2020 - great density, liquid silk or liquid cashmere, long, sophisticated, decadent, and fantastic mid-palate. Heavenly stuff. 99-100p.

2019 - I'll use the same adjectives to describe this wine as I did for 2020. Because it was similar to its one-year younger brother, and the only difference was a little more kinkiness in 2019 than in 2020. 99p.

2018 - I lack words to describe this wine. So it will be a short description. Fantastic density, kinkiness, and exceptional midpalate. Liquid cashmere. 99-100p.

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Heavenly 2018 and 2019 in a half bottle (the latter you notice in the background)

The next stop was Bourgneuf. It was a little coming down to earth after arriving at Bourgneuf from Le Pin. Still, Frederique Vayron, Bourgneuf's winemaker, has been making exciting wines here for more than ten years at prices everybody can afford! I tasted four wines.

2019 Les Saisons de Bourgneuf - second wine of Bourgneuf, which offered tasty fruit, soft tannin, roundness, and charm. Ready for consumption. 88p.

2017 Bourgneuf  - this property produced a seductive wine with delicate elegance, charm, silky fruit, tannin, and fine fruity. Delicate, stylish, and with much finesse. 93+p.

2018 Bourgneuf  - this wine showed intense blueberries and raspberries on the nose with a black winter truffle scent and creamy berries on the palate, well supported by velvety tannin. Power, elegance, and finesse combined with splendid complexity. Long and meaty finish. So classy, Pomerol! 95+p.

2019 Bourgneuf - 80% Merlot + 20% C. Franc, 14.5% alcohol, Lots of violets on the nose intermixed with blueberries and black cherries. Very refined on the palate with striking complexity, silkiness, and the interplay between creamy berries and grained tannin. Sublime aftertaste. A beautiful effort! 95+p! 

Then Petrus. I tasted here a barrel sample of the 2020 vintage. Rather elegant than powerful wine. Still, with a unique complexity, velvety, fantastic structure, sophisticated touch, multilayered, and breathtaking length. 99p.

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Nectar for a lot of money!

Next was Belle Brise. Only a few people know about a small property in Pomerol, except wine lovers in South-East Asia, Monaco. It's on the wine list at several famous three-four star restaurants in Paris.

I discovered it in 1996 while staying in Bordeaux and writing a book about Pomerol. I included Belle Brise among the 50 properties I would write about in my book.

You will find this 2 ha big vineyard tucked in the garden along with a bit of cellar and house close to rail tracks (Bordeaux-Paris). You'll find it by turning right before the bridge when you enter Libourne from Pomerol via N89 road. It's a stand-out wine with a significant flavor of black cherries, and some call it "Musigny" of Pomerol because of its purity, aroma, and delicate taste. Belle Brise's vineyard has a significant number of more than 100 years old vines!

The present owner of Belle Brise since 1991, Henri-Bruno de Coincy (pictured below), purchased in 2018 a neighboring 0.5 ha vineyard and renamed it Corlacy (Co and cy from Coincy). It's worth mentioning that he's also taking care of his family's property (Fontaine de Coincy) in Bas-Armagnac, which they've owned for 700 hundred years!

2019 Corlacy - similar to Belle Brise in the same vintage. However, there was less intensity of flavors, a lighter body, and a shorter length. Still, it had enough elegance and finesse to seduce. 92+p.

2020 Belle Brise - if I tasted this wine blind outside the property, I would immediately say "Burgundy"! Black cherries, seamless structure, silky berries, velvety tannin, great balance, sheer elegance, and finesse. It's a sensual and sublime effort! 95-96p.

2019 Belle Brise - it's similar to its one-year younger sibling, or should I call this wine a twin brother of 2020. It was imposing wine! 95-96p.

2018 Belle Brise - compared to the barrel sample, this wine seemed to have shed some power away and got a touch of elegance and finesse instead. Dense with an intense and significant flavor of black cherries (the hallmark of the property!), complex, and with a long fruity finish. Pure delicacy. 95p.

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Henri-Bruno de Coincy - artisan winemaker!

L'Eglise Clinet was the last visit of the day. A special one because I was going to meet the young generation at the property, who took over responsibilities after Denis Durantou sadly passed away in May 2020. It was great to meet his daughter, Constance, who kindly arranged a tasting of property wines in 2019 vintage and L'Eglise Clinet in 2018 and 2017. Her sister, Noemie, was busy in the cellar and couldn't participate in the tasting. Olivier Gautrat, the cellarmaster, who's worked for Denis Durantou for 20 years, tasted with us.

2019 Saintem/Saintayme - 100% Merlot, 45-year-old vines. Rosebush fragrance on the nose, minerality and crushed stones, tender fruit, and gentle tannin. Lingering finish. Catchy wine. 91p. 

2019 La Chenade had fragrant and ripe cherries/raspberries, delicate balance and fine structure, creamy berries, silky tannin, tasty palate, and quite seductive. As always, a superb quality here. 92+p.

2019 Les Cruzelles - 80% Merlot + 20% C. Franc. Sister property of La Chenade, both from Lalande-de-Pomerol. Flowery with violets on the nose and some grated dark chocolate, vibrant, bright acidity, complex, and lingering finish. Splendid effort. 92p.

2019 Montlandrie - 75% Merlot, 20% C. Franc and 5% C.Sauvignon. Freshness, intense rosebush and raspberries on the nose, juicy, fine acidity, well-defined palate, crunchy finish. Much pleasure here. 92p.

2019 La Petite Eglise -  80% Merlot + 20% C. Franc. The second wine of L' E. Clinet was impressive with cherries and violets, great intensity and vibrancy, splendid acidity, and great complexity on the palate. Persistent finish. 93+p.

2019 L'Eglise Clinet - 90% Merlot + 10% C. Franc. 14.5% alcohol. Very intense on the nose with black cherries, violets, and black winter truffle. Also, a secondary aroma of grated dark chocolate. Succulent, vibrant, and silky on the palate with great complexity and length. Persistent finish. Stupendous effort. 98-99p. It was the last vintage he made before leaving for heaven in May 2020.

2018 L'Eglise Clinet - 90% Merlot + 10% C. Franc. This wine had a huge concentration, strong backbone, fat and dense on the palate (old vines), a lot of minerality, great complexity, multilayered and excellent length, and long, long finish. Denis Durantou had always utilized traditional winemaking at his properties without modern tweaks. Amazing stuff. 98+p.

2017 L'Eglise Clinet - a textbook Pomerol with plenty of spicy black fruit, intense and creamy, great complexity and depth, sophisticated and terrific structure, and long finish. More elegance here than in 2018-19. Excellent wine. 97p.

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Olivier Gautrat (left) and Constance Durantou (right)

In the evening, I tasted Jean-Philippe Janoueix's wines in vintage 2019. They were equally impressive in the bottle as when I tasted them from the barrel.

Croix Mouton - 96% Merlot + 4% C. Sauvignon, 14.2% alcohol. It's a seductive, attractive effort filled with perfectly ripe raspberries, sweet tannin, fine structure, acidity, and a smooth and lingering finish. Probably the best CM ever produced. Great qpr for the money! 92+p.

Cap d'Or - second wine of Cap St. George - very cherry, silky texture, lush berries, and soft tannin, round and attractive. Soft and fruity finish. Very nice wine. 88p.

Cap St. George -  83% Merlot + 9% C. Franc + 8% C. Sauvignon, 14,2% alcohol. Fragrant roses and spicy blackberries on the palate, splendid acidity, vibrant, well-trimmed with some grained tannin, lush, focused, silky, well-constructed, fruity finish (roses!). Great value for the money. 93+p.

St. Georges - fresh, corpulent, well-structured. Aromatic dark fruit, silky tannin, juicy and lively. It finishes nicely with a fruity aftertaste. 92-93p.

Sacre Coeur - 100% Merlot, old vines from La Croix, 14.2% alcohol,  Dense and tight on the nose and palate with towering rows of black cherries and blueberries, potent on the palate with creamy berries and creamy sweet tannin as well. Opulent with high complexity, acidity, and structure. Brilliant effort. 94+p.

La Croix St. Georges -  95% Merlot + 5% C. Franc, 14.5% alcohol. It was a powerful, tight, precise, focused wine with lots of perfectly ripe dark berries and sweet-grained tannin, very complex, vibrant, and perfectly balanced. It was an imposing effort, indeed. 95+p.

La Confession - 73% Merlot + 27% C. Franc, 14.2% alcohol. A very dense, opulent, big, and intensely scented nose of black cherries and currants. Vibrant with a strong backbone provided by C. Franc, great structure, tight, complexity, and long persistence. Utterly stupendous effort! 96p.

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Jean-Philippe Janoueix' impressive wines

Thursday, the 4th of November 2021.

Sauternes and Barsac day!!

The first visit was to Raymond Lafon. I always visit this unclassified property in Bordeaux, which produces one of the best wines in Sauternes & Barsac.

2017 - one-third of the crop was lost due to frost in April. Imposing wine filled with freshness, great acidity, and sweetness. Tasty flavors of almonds, pear, peach, and apricot. Splendid complexity, elegance, and finesse. Sophisticated touch. Excellent effort. 95-96p.

2018 -  quite an aromatic wine with pineapple, sweet grapefruit, mango, elegance, refined, bright acidity, and long finish. Not the concentrated vintage here, lighter than usual, but a lot of grace and finesse compensate for that. 94p.

2019 - only 40% of the harvest went into Grand Vin. It seriously improved after aging in the barrel. Now in the bottle, it's better regarding intensity, flavors, depth, and length. Botrytized almonds and honey melon are vibrant, refined, and have excellent acidity and a long honeyed finish. Superb effort. 95-96p.

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Some excellent stickies!

Next was d'Arche. It was quite an enjoyable visit because this property got itself a very enterprising managing director. His name is Didier Galhaud, and before he arrived at d'Arche in March 2020, he worked at Guiraud for 14 years.

d'Arche produces its sweet wine in two versions, the classic Grand Vin and the luxury. The first mentioned was in 2020, made in the new cellar with a new oenologist, Matthieu Arroyo, born in the Sauternes area (Preignac). The luxury cuvée at the property is only produced in excellent vintages, and d'Arche made six vintages in the last 25 years. It's only made with the first collected botrytized berries in 50 cl bottles.

d’Arche Bordeaux blanc 2020 - dry white wine produced from 85% Sémillon and 15% Sauvignon, d'Arche Graves red from 100% Merlot,  d’Arche Bordeaux rosé from 50% Merlot and 50% C.Sauvignon and sparkling wine, L’Arche Perlée. 

He wants the consumer to enter d'Arche's universe and discover things. There's a shop at d'Arche with wines to buy and other things related plus f.i. whisky, gin, etc., matured in barrels previously used in aging sweet wines.

I tasted d'Arche normal cuvée in two vintages.

2019 - 90% Semillon + 9% Sauvignon Blanc + 1% Muscadelle. It had inviting aromas of white peaches, oranges, and clementines, with splendid acidity keeping it all in fine shape. Fine depth and length. Delicate aftertaste. Attractive effort. 92-93p.

2017 - despite being slightly lighter than 2019, it boasted the same fine characteristics as its two years younger sibling. Elegant and a great pleasure to drink and accompany food. 92p.

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The picture above on the left - a wine globe of glass is also used at d'Arche!

Then my friends and I arrived at de Fargues. It's one of the best sweet wines in Sauternes and Barsac, and it was more than confirmed when I had a vertical of vintages from 2020 to 2015. My deepest thanks to Alexandre de Lur Saluces for his generosity!

2020 - 80% Semillon + 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Difficult weather conditions with hot weather and rain in September and October. Only three tries produced 6hl/ha, of which less than half was worth the property standards. Anyway, what was produced, was of excellent quality. Guava, mango, and pineapple. Elegant, vibrant, great acidity, refined. Flawless heather honey finish. 95-96p.

2019 - many botrytized flavors, especially almonds, orange peel, mandarines and clementines, citrus, and heather honey. Hugely intense and sophisticated, it had great acidity to match the sweetness. Long and luscious finish. It was a proper cracker of the wine and so stunning for the vintage. 97p.

2018 - Hail in July didn't do any good for the grapes, and harvest started late because botrytis began its work for real in mid-October. Strict sorting of grapes was necessary. It had a nose of pineapple, citrus, and some almonds. Lighter in intensity and concentration than in 2019 and 2017. Very approachable right now. 93p.

2017 - almost as thrilling as 2019! Unctuous, very rich, and with outstanding freshness and acidity. Remarkable sweetness and many botrytized flavors like honey melon, almonds, sweet pineapple, and mango. Long and creamy finish. 96p.

2016 - this wine showed fine intensity, complexity, sweetness, concentration, and length. Fine acidity. Refined and elegant. Long honeyed finish. Splendid effort. 95p.

2015 - was distinct on the nose with sweet pineapple, grapefruit, and almonds. The palate had great acidity, complexity, structure, and length and was finished with acacia honey flavor. Very successful for the vintage. 95-96p.

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 More excellent stickies!!

The day's last visit took place at Yquem, and its cellarmaster Sandrine Garbay conducted a tasting of three vintages of Grand Vin for us. The wines were a mesmerizing experience.

2017 - 75% Semillon + 25% Sauvignon Blanc. In mid-October, the last three picking rounds brought botrytized grapes with a potential alcohol of 25 degrees! Botrytis worked at full throttle giving the grapes huge concentration. Incredibly intense nose of pear, peach, and melon, very potent on the palate, strong and concentrated, stunning acidity and richness. Enormous wine! 99p. 

2016 - late harvest, which ended at the beginning of November. The intense nose of pear, peach, and melon, had sheer power on the palate and great acidity but was not as remarkable as in the 2014 vintage. Fabulous intensity, great depth, and length. Sophisticated effort. 97p.

2014 - 80% of the harvest went into Grand Vin. Freshness, intense flavors of sweet grapefruit and almonds, remarkably high acidity, sophisticated and refined, incredibly intense, wonderful sweetness, vibrant and long on the aftertaste. Beautiful wine. The king still rules! 98p.

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Left - Sandrine Garbay, Yquem's cellarmaster. Right - true nectar in Sauternes.

Friday, the 5th of November 2021.

I arrived at Lafaurie Peyraguey to taste some vintages of the property, enjoy eating dinner there and stay until the next day before going to de Fieuzal and Domaine de Chevalier. 

Having great memories of an exquisite lunch at this place in April 2019, I've had big expectations for dinner. Unfortunately, they weren't fulfilled. Some dishes were fine, some less fine, and I didn't think they merited the high price the restaurant was asking. The boss, Jerome Schilling, had a day off this Friday, and his sous-chef steered things in the kitchen. Unfortunately,  the sommelier really "destroyed" the dinner for me with an awful order of serving wines. I chose a wine menu to accompany the dinner. The stay at the hotel was OK. Before the dinner, I tasted several vintages of Lafaurie Peyraguey with Sebastien Rambeaud, commercial sales manager. The wines were utterly impressive, all of them.

2020 - the aromas of mango, guava, apricot, and some citrus on the nose and palate, flair, elegance and finesse, sophisticated touch, sweetness, and acidity made a great pair. Lush and honeyed finish. Superb effort. 95p.

2019 - 93% Semillon + 7% Sauvignon Blanc. Intense nose of sweet pineapple, grapefruit, and orange peel. Very concentrated and powerful on the palate, yet with flair and grace. Striking acidity and sweetness. Sophisticated and with a mega-long heather honey finish. Amazing stuff. 96p.

2018 - plenty of aromatic tropical fruits on the nose, freshness, and finesse, refined and creamy, acacia honey, fine acidity, and much focus. Elegant aftertaste. 95p.

2017 - intense and concentrated, excellent acidity and sweetness, refined, rich, and remarkably complex. Very strong performance from this property. 95-96p.

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Left - four vintages of Lafaurie Peyraguey. Right - I was looking outside my hotel room.

Saturday, the 6th of November 2021.

Before my pre-birthday dinner at Domaine de Chevalier in the evening, I visited de Fieuzal on the outskirts of Leognan town. My friends and I were welcomed by a very joyful and energetic Stephen Carrier, the manager and winemaker at this property. The owner is an Irish entrepreneur, Lochlann Quinn, and his wife, Brenda (since 2001).

Stephen Carrier prepared for us vintages 2020, 2019, and 2018. After reading my request email, he brought a bottle of 1984, my first year visiting Bordeaux. Nice touch, don't you think?!

2020 - 65% Merlot, 30% C. Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. It mirrored well its one-year older brother (2019). Subtle, seductive, and with fine acidity. 92p.

2019 - 65% Merlot, 30% C. Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. Aromatic and elegant, well-structured with elegance and finesse. Silky berries and finely-grained tannin. Lingering finish. Heartbreaker wine. 92p.

2018 - 55% C. Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 10% C. Franc. It isn't a typical blend for the property. Maybe because of a mildew outbreak for Merlot. Fresh, fruity, and vibrant tobacco leaves, luscious blackcurrants, and elastic tannin, strong finish. This wine embraced well the character of the vintage. 92p.

1984 - despite a challenging year weather-wise, this wine was nicely made, with spicy raspberry fruit, alive, vivid, and tasty. Nice balance and nice structure. 88p.

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Vats in de Fieuzal's cellar bear the names of the owner's children.

Then we arrived to Domaine de Chevalier. Olivier Bernard kindly arranged dinner with invited friends to celebrate my coming 75th birthday. Before the dinner, he organized a blind tasting of white Domaine de Chevalier in six vintages from 2019 to 2014. White Domaine de Chevalier is in the top three of the best white wines in Bordeaux!

My order of preference among whites was the abundant, sophisticated, and classic 2019 (97+p), quite as impressive 2017 (97p), refined and with great richness and acidity 2014 (96+p), elegant with finesse and fine acidity 2015 (96p), crunchy and racy 2018 (95-96p) and crisp plus complex 2016 (95p).

I brought Rare champagne and wines for dinner except for 1975 Laville Haut Brion and 1975 Gilette Creme de Tete, which Olivier kindly supplied.

Wines tasted for my pre-birthday dinner:

We started with an excellent champagne fra Piper Heidsieck, 2008 Rare. Fresh, lively, citrus, lemongrass, refined, complex, and toasted palate. Long lemony finish. It's very young in its appearance and needs several years to unfold its great potential, 95+p.

Then we had two whites.

1975 white D.d.Chevalier - wasn't affected by age, viril, fine acidity, well-preserved, and smooth aftertaste. 91p.

1975 Laville Haut Brion - showing its age with some slightly sweet sherry tones. Anyway, it was an enjoyable, round, and tasty wine. 86p.

One special red wine, brought by my friend Ivar Bjurner, was served before the other reds. It was 1911 Chateau Camponac from Pessac. It was well done for a 110-year-old rarity, which managed to hold on and was well-preserved and tasty. 88p from me!

Then four reds followed in the same vintage, my birth year.

1946 Vieux Chateau Certan - was the best wine of these four, with plenty of black winter truffles, dark chocolate, and cherries. Very complex and refined, with a smooth aftertaste and a true delicacy. 94p.

1946 Cheval Blanc - this wine had some problems initially with some volatile flavors, but after 1 hour in the glass, they went away, and the wine flourished.  We got some refined and sublime treatment from the upper shelf. Sheer delight! 93p. 

1946 Pavie (Dutch bottling) - surprisingly well-preserved and lively. Fine fruit intensity and soft tannin. Almost as impressive as Cheval Blanc but slightly less refined. 92p.

1946 Trotanoy had more or less passed away, with almost no fruit left. NR.

Three more reds, then. 50 is the number of years I've lived in Denmark. 

1950 Cheval Blanc, with its extremely dark color, was a sophisticated delicacy and confirmed this vintage's exceptional fame (Right Bank). Fantastic treat! 96p.

1975 Les Carmes Haut Brion - had a scent of sea salt, smoky fruit, sea salt mature palate, and smooth finish. 91p.

1950 Clos Fourtet - had more or less passed away, with almost no fruit left. NR.

For dessert, we had two stickies.

1946 Coutet - has survived all these years! It still had nice sweetness and acidity left. Orange marmalade, taste of toffée and créme brulée, brown sugar and sugar pickled apricots. Light in concentration but quite a tasty wine. 87p.

1975 Gilette Creme de Tete - fresh with great sweetness and matching acidity. Almonds, orange peel, dried apricots, candied peach, and heather honey. Just a terrific stickie to enjoy! 94p.

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Left - Ivar Bjurner, Olivier Bernard, and Anne Bjurner. Right - my dear guests.

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 Wines to taste for my pre-birthday dinner

Sunday, the 7th of November 2021.

After leaving Domaine de Chevalier, we stopped at Smith Haut Lafitte. We tasted two reds and two whites in the 2019 vintage with the property's cellarmaster and oenologist, Yann Laudeho. All four wines fulfilled their promises from the barrel.

2019 Le Petit de Smith Haut Lafitte red - 60% C. Sauvignon + 40% Merlot. Fresh, powerful, intense nose, livid, plenty of blackcurrants, minty, lovely complexity, well-balanced, and persistent aftertaste. 92p.

2019 Smith Haut Lafitte red - 62% C. Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% C. Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Powerful and tight, intense cherries and blackcurrants, strong backbone, vibrant, bright acidity, great midpalate, long meaty finish. Fabulous stuff. 96-97p.

2019 Le Petit de Smith Haut Lafitte white - 80% Sauvignon Blanc + 20% Semillon. The fresh, intense citrus, green apple, and lemongrass aroma was crispy, elegant, and tasty. Very joyful and attractive. Splendid effort. 92+p.

2019 Smith Haut Lafitte white - 90% Sauvignon Blanc + 5% Sauvignon Gris + 5% Semillon. A lot of green apples, acacia flowers, and pears. Fat and creamy with excellent acidity. Great complexity and multi-faceted. Tremendous effort. 96-97p.

It was an exciting visit to Liber Pater. My friends and I first arrived at the vineyard in Landiras but were soon redirected to the owner, Loïc Pasquet's house/cellar in the nearby town of Podensac. Loic is a very passionate winemaker with some strong views which are controversial for some and some refreshing. It was refreshing to hear him speak about the importance of using ungrafted vines and using ancient grape varieties to keep the heritage of Bordeaux.

He studied and researched pre-phylloxera and these ancient Bordeaux grape varieties. Loïc Pasquet explained that pre-phylloxera didn't succeed much with its destroying work in Graves. Why? Because soils in Graves have a lot of sand on the surface and in the upper subsoil. When these microscopic insects tried digging holes in the ground to get down to the roots, the sand collapsed and killed them.

We tasted the second wine of Liber Pater, Denarius, in vintage 2007. He did use here grape varieties Petite Vidure, Castets, Tarnay, and Saint Macaire. It was a powerful wine, spicy, fleshy, bright acidity, and intense finish, and nothing indicated that it was unbalanced, unripe, and on its way down. An exciting and well-made experience. 92p.

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Loic Pasquet doesn't utilize oak barrels to vinify and age his wines; he only uses amphoras.

Monday, the 8th of November 2021.

The day started with a visit to Boyd Cantenac. This property's been experiencing an anonymous life for many years, but having tasted excellent 2018 and 2020 vintages, I found this property somewhat reborn. So, I requested a visit to taste some other vintages and learn more about them. However, it didn't happen, except I tasted quite a lovely 2014 Grand Vin (91p). The owner, a pretty old guy, treated us with samples of different grape varieties in the 2021 vintage after malolactic fermentation. It was exciting to try these samples, and they tasted pretty promising.

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An excellent collection of small bottles for samples from barrels/vats at Boyd Cantenac

Next was Palmer and Chris Myers, Palmer's export director, prepared to taste three Alter Ego vintages and two Grand Vin for my friends and me. Sadly there was no 2018 Palmer for tasting as the property ran out of stock for the bottles because Palmer only produced 11 hl/ha in this vintage due to mildew outbreaks! However, after years of me asking to taste Palmer's rare white wine, Chris Myers finally brought the wine, and it was a barrel sample of the 2020 vintage! Thanks a lot, Chris!!

2020 Alter Ego -  46% Merlot, 50% C. Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. There was more concentration here compared to 2019. Fragrant dark berries, complex, strong structure, and lush finish. Excellent effort! 93+p.

2019 Alter Ego - 51% Merlot, 40% C. Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. This wine had an aromatic nose of cherries, silky fruit, and tannin, a polished palate with excellent complexity and great length. Superb effort. 93p.

2017 Alter Ego - 53% Merlot, 41% C. Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Spicy dark berries on the nose, lighter on the palate than the 2019 version, more elegant and velvety texture. A seductive effort. 92p.

2020 Palmer - 48% C.Sauvignon, 48% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. Overall, it was a stunning effort in 2019. It had a more powerful presence but kept its aristocracy intact, like elegance, finesse, and sophisticated touch. Intense and fragrant nose of dark berries, well-defined midpalate, and excellent finish. 98+p.

2019 Palmer - 53% C.Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. Pure blackcurrant and cherry candy, sophisticated, refined, sheer elegance and finesse. Aristocratic. Totally and stunningly impressive wine. Wow! 98+p.

2017 Palmer - 54% Merlot, 42% C. Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. Twenty-five of production was lost due to frost in April. Very aromatic on the nose with black cherries and violets, stylish and complex. Silky all over and beautifully structured on the palate with a lingering finish that lasted long. 96p.

2020 Palmer white - 47% Muscadelle, 25% Sauvignon Gris and 28% Lauzet. The rare grape variety originates from the Jurancon district in the Pyrenees foothills. It displayed great acidity and minerality, a superb range of different flower scents, and was very seductive. Quite interesting to taste as it's rare. 92p.

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The picture above on the left shows Chris Myers tapping a sample of the 2020 Alter Ego. These large wooden barrels have been used at Palmer since the 2018 vintage for the second year of aging.

Then we arrived at Chateau Margaux. Philippe Bascaules, the technical director of the property, welcomed us. We indeed had a fantastic treat at Chateau Margaux! I was taken up to another stratosphere. Magic wines!!

2020 Pavillon Rouge displayed freshness, vibrancy, distinguish style, velvety texture, etc. It mirrors well its big sister/brother but in a lighter package. It might be the best vintage of this wine I've ever tasted! 94p.

2020 Chateau Margaux - only 36% of the production went into Grand Vin. 71% C.Sauvignon, 5% C.Franc, 23% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot. It was impressive with pure elegance, finesse, extraordinary length, and astonishing richness and complexity. Classy aristocrat, no less. Amazing stuff. 99-100p.

2016 Chateau Margaux - represents only 28% of the production. 94% C. Sauvignon, 3% C.Franc, 2% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. This wine was another classic for the property, with mind-boggling purity, sheer elegance, and sophisticated touch. Great mid-palate, distinguished and velvety structure. Liquid silk. A tender aftertaste that doesn't want to go away! 98-99p.

2001 Chateau Margaux - I don't remember tasting this wine before. It was a glorious experience to taste such beautiful wine! A perfectly aromatic nose of ripe blackcurrants and black cherries with black truffle, palate covered by lush berries and grained tannin, seamless structure, liquid cashmere, stunning midpalate, complexity, and finish. I'm delighted to have a couple of bottles of this beauty in my cellar! 99-100p.

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Heavenly wines!

The next stop was at Beychevelle. We had a true wine feast, tasting 14 wines with Philippe Blanc and Geraldine Santier. Four vintages of Beaumont, three of  Amiral de Beychevelle, and seven of Grand Vin.

2020 Beaumont - 51% C. Sauvignon + 41% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot. It had aromatic blackcurrants on the nose, a well-structured palate with crunchy berries, soft tannin, and a lingering finish. Splendid effort. 90p.

2019 Beaumont - very fragrant nose with flowers and red berries, quite polished and approachable on the palate with a velvety texture and smooth finish. As catchy and seductive wine as 2020. 90p.

2018 Beaumont boasted heavier style than 2020 and 2019, spicy blackcurrants well balanced by fine tannin, well-structured with persistent finish. It's splendid winemaking here. 89-90p.

2015 Beaumont - was an easygoing wine with attractive and tasty fruit, round, soft tannin, sleek and smooth. It drinks very well right now. 87p.

2020 Amiral de Beychevelle - 54% C. Sauvignon + 43% Merlot and 3% C. Franc. Equally attractive and enjoyable as 2019, with a bit more elegance and finesse. 91p.

2019 Amiral de Beychevelle - had a splendid nose of violets and mashed blackcurrants. It was finely composed with flair on the palate, silky texture, and a delicate finish. Attractive. 91p.

2012 Amiral de Beychevelle - fragrant and seductive wine that is a perfect companion to drink with friends at the restaurant. Fruity, delicate and tasty. Lots of pleasure. 88p.

2020 Beychevelle - 51% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. 13.4% alcohol. Intense aroma of black fruit, excellent structure and complexity on the palate, silky berries and tannin, creamy and vibrant, persistent finish. Great style and sheer class! 95-96p.

2019 Beychevelle - 49% Cabernet Sauvignon + 46% Merlot + 3% Petit Verdot + 2% Cabernet Franc, 13.7% alcohol. It was full of aromas of blackcurrants and black cherries on the nose, refined and classy with great elegance, full-bodied, cashmere everywhere, long and meaty aftertaste. Awe-inspiring effort. 95-96p.

2018 Beychevelle - 50% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. An extraordinary aroma of wild cherries and mocha, great structure and complexity on the palate, luscious berries and silky tannin, creamy berries, and great midpalate. Sleek and lingering finish. Classy, classy wine! 95+p.

2015 Beychevelle - aromatic and gentle, polished, luscious fruit, great finesse and elegance, length, seamless, velvety texture, and savory aftertaste. It's a great future. 94p.

2014 Beychevelle - 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 51% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Very aromatic on the nose with intense blackcurrants and blackberries, Well structured palate with ripe dark berries and corresponding tannin, bright acidity, and meaty aftertaste. A classic vintage for the property. 94+p. 

2013 Beychevelle - was a challenging vintage in Bordeaux with bad weather conditions. Beychevelle made an OK wine, lighter than usual, charming, and round but a bit four-squared. I don't think it'll make "old bones." 87p. 

2011 Beychevelle - aromatic fruit (black cherries), was intense and powerful with creamy fruit, fine structure, balance, and finish on the palate. Terrific effort for the vintage. 92p. 

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Wine feast at Beychevelle!

Then I arrived with my friends at Gruaud Larose. I haven't visited this property for at least ten years, so it was a much-needed visit. I requested a tasting of several vintages as the property's policy of not sending samples outside France to wine journalists. I also got to taste Rabaud Promis from Sauternes in two vintages. This property was acquired by Gruaud Larose's owner in 2020.

We tasted wines together with the young commercial director of the property, Arnaud Frederic, and winemaker, Virginie Sallette. You'll find a so-called boutique at Gruaud Larose, where you can buy different vintages of Gruaud Larose and Rabaud Promis, wine-related things, and honey produced at the property. By the way, Arnaud Frederic decided to use a vax capsule instead of the regular one, beginning with the 2018 vintage.

2015 60% C. Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 9% C. Franc. 13.15% alcohol. It was aromatic, sappy, and well-structured, with finely integrated tannins. Fine ripeness of the fruit. Complex and elegant. Notice the pretty low alcohol content in this vintage! The barrel sample promised a lot, and this wine is splendid in the bottle. 93-94p. 

2016 -  69% C. Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 2% C. Franc. 13.02% alcohol. Minty, some blackcurrants, Lush berries, and silky tannins on the palate. Elegant and finesse, delicate balance, refined and distinguished St.Julien wine. 93+p.

2017 67% C. Sauvignon, 31.5% Merlot and 1.5% C. Franc. 12.88% alcohol.Tobacco and crushed blackcurrants, delicate complexity and fine structure. Lively, elegant, finesse, and lingering finish. Close to 2016 quality-wise, but it tasted a bit lighter. 93p.

2018 - 67% C. Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 9% C. Franc. 14.2% alcohol. Powerful and opulent, with plenty of intense blackcurrants on the nose, complex and vibrant on the palate with excellent acidity keeping everything in order. Great mid-palate, depth, and length. Evident jump-up in quality compared to earlier vintages. 95p.

2020 - 79% C. Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 4% C. Franc. 13.18% alcohol. Tobacco leaves, black fruit, and some black truffles on the nose. Aromatic, vibrant, and complex. Fine midpalate. Persistent finish. It followed in the tracks of 2018. Impressive. 95+p.

Rabaud Promis 2019 - all the excellent things found in 2018 are present in the 2019 vintage, with even more intensity of botrytized flavors, more concentration, bigger acidity, more depth, and more precision. A beautiful effort, indeed! Yes, the eye-catching bottle has also been used for 2019!! 95+p.

Rabaud Promis 2018 -  90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. I start with an eye-catching bottle, heavy stuff, and it looks like it's made of crystal. It's a kind of necklace containing four paper clips. One with a QR scan to go directly to the property's website, the second explains how to make Rabaud's French Martini, the third explains how to use a large screw cap, and the fourth contains the property's history. All that is written in French and English. Spectacular and intelligent, wouldn't you say?! What about the liquid inside the bottle, then? As stunning as the bottle? Yes, very close indeed. I've never before tasted so exciting vintage from this property! Plenty of peaches and apricots, sweet pineapple and mango, remarkable finesse and elegance, rich, splendid acidity, and long aftertaste full of honey. Much better in the bottle compared with the barrel sample. Simply amazing for the vintage! 95p.

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Left - mini-vertical of Gruaud Larose. Right - thrillingly tasty and eye-catching wines from Rabaud Promis!

We went afterward to Pauillac and arrived at Pichon Comtesse. Property manager Nicolas Glumineau prepared three vintages of Grand Vin and the second vine. It was just an exceptional experience. He told us there would only be 50% of average production in vintage 2021 due to a widespread mildew outbreak.

2020 Pichon Comtesse Reserve -  47% C. Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Delicate cherries on the nose, vivid, attractive, and well-assorted on the palate with fine structure. Successful second wine. 92p.

2019 Pichon Comtesse Reserve - 51% C. Sauvignon, 46% Merlot and 3% C. Franc. Not that different from 2020. Very aromatic with black fruit and tobacco leaf, succulent, with slightly more acidity and concentration. Excellent second wine. 92-93p.

2017 Pichon Comtesse Reserve - 60% C. Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 2% C. Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Aromatic on the nose with cherries and raspberries, elegant, silky fruit and soft tannin, lively and finely structured on the palate. To be enjoyed before 2019 and 2018 vintages announce to be ready. 91p.

2020 Pichon Comtesse - 77% C.Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 6% C. Franc. This wine has a slightly tighter and more pronounced tannic structure than I experienced in 2018 and 2019 vintages. Nevertheless, we had an incredibly complex, rich, sophisticated, multilayered creature that needed several decades to develop awesome things. 97-99p.

2019 Pichon Comtesse - 71% C.Sauvignon + 23% Merlot + 6% C. Franc, 14.12% alcohol. Sensual with breathtaking elegance and finesse, refined and sophisticated, long rows of creamy blackcurrants and cherries, spectacular complexity, and length, multilayered, noble, and graceful. An utterly magic effort from the property! 99p.

2017 Pichon Comtesse - 70% C. Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 6% C. Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. A classy nose of tobacco leaf, creamy, exquisite, and sophisticated with stunning complexity and elegance. Very precise and focused. An utterly expressive and impressive wine to enjoy before 2018-2019-2020 will be ready to drink! 97p.

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Wines to taste at Pichon Comtesse

Then we crossed "Route des Chateaux" and walked to the neighboring Pichon Baron. Here, Corinne Ilic and Nicolas Santier arranged a tasting of three vintages of Pichon Baron and one of Tourelles and Griffons. As usual, it was a great visit with fabulous wines.

2020 Pibran - 55% Merlot + 45% C. Sauvignon. Fresh, catchy nose with dark berries and grilled bacon, complex acidity, finely scaled tannin, silky texture, and persistent finish. Splendid qpr for money. 92p.

2020 Les Griffons de Longueville - 50 % Merlot, 42% C. Sauvignon and 8% Petit Verdot. Aromatic black cherries and dark chocolate, full-bodied, luscious and fat, potent, splendid acidity, meaty finish. Superb second wine of Pichon Baron. 92p.

2020 Les Tourelles de Longueville - 64% Merlot, 29% C. Sauvignon and 7% C. Franc. One of the second labels of Pichon Baron. Powerful stuff, pencil, tobacco leaves, well-defined fruit, solid and creamy, strong backbone, lovely complexity, and firm finish. Impressive. 92p.

2020 Pichon Baron - 76% C. Sauvignon + 24% Merlot. It had a very intense nose of tobacco and grilled bacon, tight, dense, fat, and luscious on the palate with a strong backbone. It was a complete wine with great complexity, rich, and excellent length. Stupendous effort. 98+p.

2019 Pichon Baron - 87% C. Sauvignon + 13% Merlot. Now in the bottle and same utterly impressive display as from the barrel. Sheer power and concentration, rows and rows of creamy blackberries and sweet tannin, remarkable complexity and depth, luscious and with many layers. Big meaty finish. Riveting effort. 98+p.

2017 Pichon Baron -  79% C. Sauvignon + 21% Merlot. Freshness. Tobacco leaves and graphite on the nose. The palate had power, elegance, fine acidity, lovely complexity, and fine structure and balance. More accessible than the highly heralded vintages in 2019 and 2020. 96p.

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Corinne Ilic speaks about the composition of Pichon Baron's vineyard

Tuesday, the 9th of November 2021.

The day began with a visit to Latour, and I tasted three wines.

2016 Pauillac - freshness, well-constructed, vivid with fine acidity, length, and meaty finish. 91p.

2015 Les Forts de Latour - fragrant cherries and blackcurrants, bright acidity, and well-assorted. Complex with a long finish. 92p.

2014 Latour was a typical cool climate wine from Bordeaux, concentrated and tight, with great structure, complexity, and a huge aftertaste. This wine has many years to go. 94p.

Next was Montrose, and Helene Brochet kindly arranged Montrose tasting in vintages 2020, 2019, 2017, 2016, and 2001. I didn't ask for the 2018 vintage to taste because I did receive a bottle of it for tasting in December last year. It was my first encounter with 2020 and 2019 vintages, as Montrose doesn't send barrel samples outside France. So I'd like to wait when coming to Bordeaux. Both vintages were undoubtedly worth waiting for!!

2020 - 72% C. Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% C. Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Excellent nose of ripe blackcurrants and wild black cherries, intense and classy. Succulent berries on the palate with vibrancy, perfect structure, and complexity. Long creamy finish. Yet another mind-boggling wine from Montrose! 99p.

2019 - 64% C. Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% C. Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Yes, it was a powerful wine, but it also had a lot of elegance and finesse. A little bit lighter in concentration than in 2020, with silky berries and tannin. Great complexity, depth, midpalate, and luscious aftertaste. Tremendous effort. 98+p.

2017 - 76% C. Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% C. Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Fragrant dark cherries on the nose added some slices of black winter truffles. Seductive on the palate with splendid complexity, strong structure, and impressive length. A classic Montrose with both power and subtlety. This property produced a stellar wine in 2017! 97-98p.

2016 - 68% C. Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 7% C. Franc. This wine had a complex and fragrant nose of black fruit and a lot of silky fruit and tannin gently wrapped up in oak on the palate with finesse and power. Strong backbone, astonishing complexity, and length on the palate. Awe-inspiring effort. 99p.

2001 - 62% C. Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 1% C. Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. This wine was made by previous winemaking staff as Montrose changed hands in 2006. Seductive nose with ripe berries, well-defined fruit, and corresponding tannin on the palate. Full-bodied, harmonious, and with bright acidity. Typical wine for the property and the district of St. Estephe. Superb effort. 95p.

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From the left - Montrose's technical director, Vincent Decup, and Helene Brochet, PR-director

Then we went to Lafite Rothschild and had an exciting and educational visit with Lafite's oenologist, Christopher Conge. My friends and I tasted Duhart Milon, Carruaders, and Grand Vin in vintage 2019. All three were bottled several months ago, and since I didn't have a chance to taste these from a barrel last year, it was an excellent opportunity to discover this vintage. I greatly thank Lafite Rothschild's directorship for letting me taste the 2015 Grand Vin!

2019 Duhart Milon - 70% C. Sauvignon + 30% Merlot, 13.5% alcohol. Fresh with a fragrant nose of dark berries and tobacco, vibrant, well-equipped on the palate with lush berries and silky tannin, refined and with a long aftertaste. Imposing effort indeed. 93p.

2019 Carruaders de Lafite - 68% C. Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 5% C. Franc, 13.5% alcohol. Intense blackcurrants, black cherries, and violets on the nose, lively and succulent on the palate, great complexity and silkiness of fruit and tannin. It was the complete Carruaders I've ever tasted. 94p.

2019 Lafite Rothschild - 94% C. Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 1% P. Verdot, 13% alcohol. Very classy blackcurrant nose, intense and refined. Awesome structure and length. The feel was like drinking liquid cashmere. So aristocratic and sophisticated on the palate, with fantastic complexity and length. Eternal stuff! 99-100p.

2015 Lafite Rothschild - 91% C. Sauvignon + 9% Merlot, 12.5% alcohol. Simply a fabulous nose of red berries and graphite, mesmerizing on the palate with captivating intensity, complexity, and depth. Multilayered and sophisticated. Silky fruit and grained tannin. Long lingering finish. Fantastic wine. 98-99p.

Next was another First Growth, Mouton Rothschild. New technical director Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy, who succeeded Philippe Dhalluin, organized a tasting of wines in two vintages. He was previously responsible for Clerc Milon.

2019 d'Armailhac - 62% C.Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% C.Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Voluptuous, creamy blackcurrants, potent and concentrated, luscious fruit on the palate, rich, excellent complexity and length, Persistent and fruity finish. Splendid effort. 94p.

2019 Clerc Milon Pastourelle - 66% Merlot, 23% C. Sauvignon and 11% C. Franc. Aromatic black fruit, sappy, easygoing on the palate, soft tannin, tasty and fruity finish. Nice second wine. 87p.

2019 Clerc Milon - 72% C.Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% C.Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. It had a very inviting nose full of aromatic blackcurrants, a well-assorted palate, fine structure and splendid concentration, fleshy and persistent finish. Similar to d'Armailhac but more subtle and softer. Terrific effort. 93-94p.

2019 Le Petit Mouton - 68% C.Sauvignon + 32% Merlot. A scent of tobacco leaves and ripe blackcurrants on the nose. Powerful and succulent on the nose with a tight structure and meaty finish. A classic vintage for this wine. 93p.

2019 Mouton Rothschild - 90% C.Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% C. Franc. 13.56% alcohol. An extraordinary nose of tobacco, grilled bacon, and cigar box. Great concentration, depth, and length. Sophisticated with many layers, stunning midpalate, and long persistent aftertaste. Heavenly treat and yet another legend. 99-100p.

2017 d'Armailhac - 68% C.Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 7% C.Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Fruity and elegant with a silky texture, fine complexity, and lingering finish. Lighter than in 2019 but with more elegance. It's a pleasure to drink already. 92-93p.

2017 Clerc Milon -  60% C.Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 14% C.Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere. It had ripe blackcurrants mixed with crushed stones on the nose,  great intensity and concentration, fine complexity, and fine structure on the palate. Persistent finish. Splendid for the vintage. 93p.

2017 Mouton Rothschild - 90% Cabernet Sauvignon + 9% Merlot + 1% Petit Verdot. 13.06% alcohol. Classic nose of Cabernet Sauvignon with tobacco leaves and roasted bacon, elegant and refined on the palate, with great complexity and length. It's a great wine that will mature sooner than f.i. 2019 and 2018. 97-98p.

Wednesday, the 10th of November 2021.

We had an excellent visit to Angelus. Jean-Bernard Grenie (cousin of Hubert de Bouard and a part-owner of Angelus) tasted with us, and a young man Benjamin (responsible for winemaking) conducted it. We tasted 2020 and 2019 vintages of their new wine, Tempo, six vintages of the other wine made like Angelus, Carillon, and the same six vintages of Angelus. I requested tasting six vintages of Angelus because I wanted to follow the style change after Hubert de Bouard's daughter, Stephanie de Bouard-Rivoal, took over management and vinification in 2015. 

After tasting, Benjamin took us to the impressively looking Carillon winery in St- Magne-de-Castillon. It was a great experience to see how the different phases of vinification are being carried out there.

Vertical of Angelus:

2020 - 60% Merlot + 40% C. Franc. 14.5% alcohol. I tasted this vintage twice in six months, between May and November 2021, with the same impression. The specially selected C. Franc plots for Grand Vin were aging in so-called foudres, with a volume of 30 hl each, to preserve the subtlety of this grape variety. Freshness, intense black cherries, bright acidity. Spectacular elegance and sophisticated touch. This wine oozed with great precision, flowing midpalate and length! Breathtaking quality. 99p.

2019 - 60% Merlot + 40% C. Franc, 14.5% alcohol. This wine is a mix of 2020 and 2018 vintages. 2020's elegance, finesse, and sophisticated touch combined with 2018's intensity and concentration. A beautifully aromatic nose, silky berries and tannin, great complexity, and length made this wine irresistible! 98-99p.

2018 - 65% Merlot + 35% C. Franc, 14.5% alcohol. When Stephanie de Bouard-Rivoal, daughter of Hubert de Bouard, took over winemaking duties in the 2015 vintage, she aimed to change the style of Angelus, her father practiced. She wanted to reduce the amount of new oak used in the vinification, obtain more freshness and make more delicate and grained tannins. In a ZOOM interview with me in mid-December 2020, she felt she succeeded pretty well with this style change in the 2018 vintage. When tasting bottled Angelus 2018 in December 2020 at my home, it was a sublime, sophisticated, and incredibly complex wine. An imposing effort for sure! It was equally stunning when I tasted it again at the property in November 2021! 98+p.

2017 -  70% Merlot + 30% C. Franc, 14% alcohol. 30% less produced because of frost in the spring. Fragrant cherries and raspberries, milk chocolate, and cocoa powder. It was lighter in intensity and concentration, and there was more elegance and finesse here than in 2015 and 2016. Excellent effort for the vintage. 97p.

2016 - 60% Merlot + 40% C. Franc, 14.5% alcohol.  Quite similar to 2015 in terms of concentration and upfront fruitiness. Felt alcoholic on the nose with morello cherries and an excellently structured palate with lush berries and fine tannins. It's more elegant and with more finesse than in 2015. Eminent wine. 97p. 

2015 - 62% Merlot + 38% C. Franc. Flamboyant and concentrated wine with great depth, complexity, and length. Silky texture, velvety tannin, and luscious fruit. This wine had a slight sensation of extended extraction and big ripeness, but it didn't make the overall excellent quality picture lesser/smaller. 96-97p.

Carillon d'Angelus was created in 1987. In the beginning, it has been thought to be the second wine of Angelus, but through the years, it's acquired its own identity and is no longer considered a second wine of Angelus. It's made from selected vineyards in Saint-Emilion and vinified by Angelus' winemaking team with the same care as Grand Vin. 

2020 - it was the first vintage made in the new cellar. Fresh and aromatic, creamy, elegant, complex and silky, velvety tannin, vivid and well-structured, lingering finish. 94p. 

2019 - aromatic cherries wrapped in dark chocolate, succulent and vibrant, bright acidity, luscious berries and velvety tannin, seductive and lush, lingering finish. Superb effort. 93p.

2018 - intense on the nose with cherry drops and slightly warm fruit, but it didn't matter. It was concentrated on the palate with creamy berries, fat tannin, and a meaty finish. Superb wine. 93p.

2017 - fresh and aromatic, seductive, velvety structure, fine on the palate with layers, nice acidity, and length, lingering finish. Fine effort. 91p.

2016 - fragrant nose of morello cherries and raspberries. Well-assorted on the palate with a delicate balance. Lush berries and grained tannin. Elegant, with some finesse and nice complexity. Superb wine. 91-92p.

2015 - fragrant on the nose with black fruit, fleshy palate, finely composed, tasty, smooth, and lingering finish. Seductive and inviting effort. 91p. 

Tempo is a new wine made from grapes in Bordeaux vineyards, offering a more straightforward, quickly maturing wine for immediate consumption.

2020 - 90% Merlot + 10% C, Franc. Fresh, sappy, seductive, soil-driven, elegant, friendly, and tasty. Lush finish. It offered much pleasure. 89p.

2019 - flowery on the nose with a scent of rosebush. Very catchy wine with easy-tasting fruit and soft tannin, round and smooth. It's the first vintage of Tempo produced. 87-88p.

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Jean-Bernard Grenie (left) and Benjamin (right)

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The picture on the right - a new cellar for producing Carillon d'Angelus. Letting the vats hang creates more space for transporting things around underneath.

My next visit occurred at Soutard, where I tasted Petit Faurie de Soutard, Larmande, and Soutard in four vintages. These wines were of terrific quality. 

2020 Petit Faurie de Soutard - had an aromatic black cherry nose, subtle fruit and silky tannin on the palate, velvety structure, and seductive, lingering finish. Pretty wine. 89p.

2020 Larmande - 77% Merlot, 19% C.Franc and 4% C. Sauvignon. 13.8% alcohol. It's the sister property to Soutard, situated just near it. Violets and crushed dark berries on the nose, vibrant, finesse and elegant, complex, stylish, and with a lingering finish. Simply a terrific performance. 94p.

2020 Soutard - very similar to Larmande with slightly more intensity and length. Superb effort for the vintage. 94-95p. 

2019 Petit Faurie de Soutard - crushed morello cherries and spicy raspberries, smooth on the palate with upfront fruit, seductive and tasty. Soft tannins. Lovely effort. 88-89p.

2019 Larmande - was quite flowery on the nose with violets and iris, some morello cherries, silky fruit, and tannin on the palate, superb balance and finesse, juicy and well-defined. Persistent finish. 93-94p.

2019 Soutard - was fragrant on the nose with black cherries and violets, succulent and complex, luscious fruit and silky tannins, a magnificent structure, length, and lush lingering aftertaste. Terrific effort. 94+p.

2018 Petit Faurie de Soutard is a seductive nose of black cherries, delicate, sleek on the palate, balanced, round, and tasty, with a pleasant fruity finish. On the light side but nicely made. 87-88p.

2018 Larmande - 65% Merlot, 30% C. Franc and 5% C. Sauvignon. Rich and well-defined wine, exquisite with finesse, stylish, and smooth fruity finish. Very attractive indeed. 94p.

2018 Soutard - 63% Merlot, 28% C. Franc, 7% C. Sauvignon and 2% Malbec. Very sleek and seductive, with lots of blackberries and blueberries. Velvety texture, silky fruit, and tannin, very complex with finesse. Long fruity finish. Excellent wine with flair. 95p.

2016 Petit Faurie de Soutard - had spicy berries, well-assorted, nice structure, seductive and elegant, velvety tannins. It was a very amiable effort. 88-89p.

2016 Larmande - aromatic cherries and raspberries, some spiciness, succulent and livid on the palate with finesse and elegance. Lovely composed and with a lingering finish. Superb wine. 93-94p.

2016 Soutard -  polished wine, noble, discrete acidity, Perfectly ripe fruit and silky tannin, great complexity and distinction, precise and focused wine. 94p.

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 Wines to taste

Next was Tertre Roteboeuf. It's always a great pleasure to visit this unique property and its famous winemaker, Francois Mitjavile. At my request, he arranged a tasting of Tertre Roteboeuf 2020, 2019, and 2001, Domaine de Cambes 2019, and Roc de Cambes 2019.

2019 Domaine de Cambes - 80% Merlot + 20% C. Franc. Very intense nose of black-/blueberries, cocoa powder, and dark chocolate, smooth and creamy on the palate, good backbone, lovely balance, and fine fruity finish. Attractive and tasty. Delightful. 90-91p.

2019 Roc de Cambes - 85% Merlot + 15% C. Franc. It tasted the same from the bottle as from the barrel! The big, fully packed nose of black fruit. Very intense and complex, with creamy berries on the palate, splendid acidity and length, fine complexity, velvety texture, and persistent finish. Tremendous effort! 93-94p.

2019 Tertre Roteboeuf - 80% Merlot + 20% C. Franc. A thick nose full of blackberry aroma, violets, wild cherries, cocoa powder, and chocolate. Creamy all the way. It's a magical wine with great flair, sophisticated touch, fatness, seamless structure, and silkiness. It may be a long-standing cliché, but again, an exceptional wine from Francois Mitjavile hits the roof! Wow! 98-100p. 

2020 Tertre Roteboeuf -  80% Merlot + 20% C. Franc. 15% alcohol. Incredibly perfumed nose of dark cherries/wild cherries/morello cherries. The palate was a paradise with outstanding purity, beautiful berries, tannin, drive, and complexity. The high alcohol was hidden in the skirts of this wine and not noticeable at all! An eternal and sublime effort from a magician winemaker, Francois Mitjaville! 98-100p.

2001 Tertre Roteboeuf - I've heard voices that the 2001 vintage is better in several places on the Right Bank than its 2000 counterpart. It's not the case at this property. Sweet fruit and tannin - yes; aromatic - yes; luscious and complex – yes; superb balance – yes; great intensity, concentration, and length – no. 93 - 94p.

Afterward, I found myself at Le Dôme and enjoyed a grand finale because it was the last visit of the trip. The owner, Jonathan Maltus, welcomed us to his new and quite spectacular winery, and we tasted his excellent wines in two vintages. 

2020 Teyssier - 80% Merlot + 20% C. Franc. 13.9% alcohol. A very distinctive nose of raspberries and wild cherries. Intense and concentrated on the palate, subtle complexity, depth, and length. It had bright acidity to support fruit and tannin, mirroring a great deal of the splendid 2019. 92p.

2020 Laforge – 92% Merlot + 8% C. Franc. 13.8% alcohol. Because mildew strongly reduced the number of grapes at several of his estates, Jonathan Maltus didn't produce Le Carre and Les Asteries in 2020. Instead, the remaining grapes were added to his other properties, including Laforge. Pure, intellectual, aromatic with delicious redcurrants, luscious and silky on the palate, complemented by a grained tannin, finesse, and subtle finish. Gorgeous wine. 93p.  

2020 Vieux Chateau Mazerat - 90% Merlot + 10% C. Franc. 13.2% alcohol. It was a powerful, dense, well-equipped wine with luscious fruit, considerable tannin, excellent midpalate, great complexity, structure, and intense finish. Impressive effort. 95p.

2020 Le Dôme - 80% C. Franc + 20% Merlot. 13.9% alcohol. A jewel in the collection of properties owned by Jonathan Maltus, Big concentration and big structure. In addition to that, luscious berries and fat tannin have great midpalate with complexity and a long-lasting finish. Fabulous stuff. 96p.

2020 Le Nardian (white) -  very aromatic on the nose with pineapple, acacia flower, and pear. Full of freshness with pronounced acidity, crisp fruit on the palate, and a persistently fruity finish. Splendid for the vintage. 93p.

2019 Teyssier -  70% Merlot + 30% C. Franc. It was intense on the nose with spicy dark blackberries and raspberries, concentrated on the palate with subtle complexity, depth, and length. C. Franc added backbone and strength to balance the fleshy Merlot. Slightly less riveting than the barrel sample but still a superb effort. 92p.

2019 Laforge - 92% Merlot + 8% C. Franc. A splendid nose of spicy cherries and violets and splendid on the palate with creamy fruit well-supported by grained and sweet tannins. Strong backbone, lovely complexity, and a long creamy finish. Excellent effort. 93p. 

2019 Le Carre - 85% Merlot + 15% C. Franc. Powerful and intense on the nose with black-/blueberries/blackcurrants, creamy on the palate with splendid acidity. The balance here is perfect for ripe berries and fatty, sweet tannins. A great mix of elegance and power here! 94p.

2019 Les Asteries -  83% Merlot + 17% C. Franc. It reminded Le Carre greatly, but there was more turbo concerning intensity and concentration. Velvety on the palate. More complex, more profound, and longer, with a great addition of pure elegance and sophisticated touch. It did break my heart; it was so impressive. 95-96p.

2019 Vieux Chateau Mazerat - 65% Merlot + 35% C. Franc. It burst on the nose with dark chocolate-wrapped wild cherries and blackcurrants. Classy on the palate, strong and creamy, and with crunchy sweet tannins. Great complexity and length, and it's a great effort. 95+p.

2019 Le Dôme - this vineyard consists of parcels on the right side of the slopes near Beausejour Becot and Canon. 80% C. Franc + 20% Merlot. There was a sophisticated and intense nose of creamy black-/blueberries with great depth, a strong backbone provided by C. Franc, silky texture on the palate, sweet, crunchy tannins, remarkable complexity, depth, and length. Intelligent winemaking! Wow! 96+p.

2019 Le Nardian (white) - it's planted with old vines, which are app. half a century old or even older than that.  70% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon, and 15% Muscadelle. Great freshness and intensity of aromas and fragrances on the nose with acacia flower, pear, and peaches. Creamy pineapples and apricots on the palate. Great acidity. Excellent complexity and length. I'm impressed! 93+p.

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Left - Jonathan Maltus speaks about building his spectacular cellar. Right - tasting his 2020 wines.

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