WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations

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Brane-Cantenac vertical tasting with Corinne Conroy

brane-cantenac-bottleesTasting 11 consecutive years of the Chateau’s grand vin, this event was a fantastic walk through the last decade of Bordeaux vintages, but the evening’s real revelation was the remarkable consistency of character and quality that the wines showed, through these varied times.

Kiran’s tasting notes:

2001: Heady mix of perfume, sandalwood and spice on the nose, lovely savoury and complex flavours in the mouth, fruit & cedar. Delicious, fresh and lively finish. Gorgeous.

2002: Quite closed at first on the nose, some floral hints, opening up after decanting to give delicate mature nose of earth and forest floor, on the palate medium body tasty and rounded.

2003: On the nose baked fruits and some earth and wood, in the mouth more fruit and spice but with enough acidity and lift.

2004: Slowly opening up with floral notes, sandal wood, beginnings of forest floor, lovely silky mouthful of black fruit tart, savoury, balanced, fresh and long. The gem of the evening. As with all of the wines tonight, a haunting perfume characteristic of the Chateaux lingers on in the empty glass. Wow!

2005: A little tight on the nose, sweet green pepper then opening up with blackcurrant, spice and cedar. In the mouth more fruit and a touch of spice. Quite concentrated with nice integrated tannins and great freshness. Still a tightly coiled spring.

2006: Needed decanting, sweet floral and fruity core then a whiff of hoisin sauce on the nose. Concentrated flavours of black fruit and bit of toast on the palate, again compact, packed with nice tannins.

2007: A floral nose with sweet fruit, lighter bodied than the previous wines but with nice red fruits and a few savoury notes, cool and clean.

2008: After decanting and some coaxing revealing some classic black fruit and cedar on the nose, but characteristically of these wines as if delivered from a perfume vaporiser  making it delicate and sensual. Medium body, with nice fruit and some savoury notes. Amazing how this wine has evolved into such an enjoyable experience from the awkward and unfriendly barrel sample I tasted EP 4 years ago.

2009: At first not as expressive as last time I tasted this wine (Corrine says it is beginning to close down for a period).  After decanting and some air, ripe fruit, flowers a touch of toast, lots of everything making a heady nose. On the palate lovely silky body, lots of fruit with enough savoury notes and a super crisp balance. Remains refined even though a bigger wine. Lovely!

2010: Wow! This wine has an intense yet somehow delicate perfumed nose, violets, red currants. Just a touch of cigar box, the vaporiser is working overtime on this one. Then in the mouth really concentrated, again silky but with strong backbone of tannin. The Chateau seems to really sing in this vintage, hitting equilibrium between refinement and substance. Outstanding!

2011: This wine really impressed. Side by side with the 2010, one could appreciate just how close in quality it is to that great vintage. Similar perfumed delicate nose, a nice sweetness and silky on the palate, with fresh red fruits and a hint of toast, good acidity.  Really fine.

brancan1Brane-Cantenac is a second growth from the original 1855 Bordeaux wine classification of 1855 in the Margaux appelation. In 1922 it was acquired by the Lurton family and in 1992 control passed to Lucien Lurton’s son, Henri Lurton. Brane-Cantenac’s vineyards lie on fine, gravelly soils, grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Merlot (40%), Cabernet Franc (4.5%), and Carmenere (0.5%)

Brane Cantenac wines are available widely. The wonderful 2009 vintage is still vavailable from Nickolls and Perks at a good price http://www.nickollsandperks.co.uk/product.asp?product=NPCS19452

The superb 2004 and older vintages from Fine & Rare: http://www.frw.co.uk/searchWines.aspx?keywords=Brane+Cantenac+2009&sid=4&FRS=ws

The evening was in the private room at Bistro Aix, Crouch End, with a tantalizing selection of French classic cuisine.      http://www.bistroaix.co.uk/


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Brane Cantenac vertical tasting brainstorm

On Saturday November 9th, we held a  brainstorm at the Curtis household on how to serve 11 consecutive vintages of Lurton’s marvellous Brane Cantenacs. A Smaragd Wachau Riesling kindly hidden from the night before and the Soli pinot provided the inspiration for the daring format. (Advice from Michael Schuster and Mike Ritchie MW not withheld.)

It was to be:

  • Round 1:  2001 v 2008  ( age and elegance)
  • Round  2:  2010 v 2011  ( Blockbuster V stuggling vintage – or so we thought)
  • Starter: terrine pate with Brane 2004
  • Round 3:  2003 v 2006 v 2007 ( hot years, cool years )
  • Main: confit of canard with 2002 ( or meant to be)
  • Round 4: 2005 v 2009 (blockbuster years)

Served as above and the crowd loved it. Lurtons optical sorter at nearly half a million Euro threw us with the 2011 v 2010.

The lovely Corinne from Brane helped the evening flow, and it would have been the perfect night except for the taxi driver dropping her at Charing Cross Hospital not Hotel!

Apologised profusely at the UGC tasting at the Royal Opera House on the 12th November and may well have sorted a joint Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte-Chateau Coutet tasting for WanderCurtis for 2013. Roll on the New Year, we will keep delivering.

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Four decades of Bordeaux – Highgate, London

Tasting and comparing classed growths from each of the last four decades certainly delivered plenty of intellectual interest, but a little more drinking pleasure from the wines wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The theme of the tasting, which included wines from 7 through to 42 years old, was aging.(Quite appropriate as it came a few days after my birthday on which one of the nicest treats was realising that over the last few months I’d been labouring under the impression that I was a year closer to 50 than I really am!)

Round 1: Old v Young

  • Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste 5th Paulliac 1975

We opened the two remaining bottles of this, the first being oxidised. The second although not faulty was unfortunately really an example of a wine on its very last legs. Brick coloured and noticeably lighter in colour than the Batailley. The nose initially delivered some stewed fruit and forest floor notes, bark chips etc. but soon faded. Interestingly after a while it turned to a not unpleasant scent of turmeric. On the palate more cooked fruit, then unmistakably oxidised. This was one of seven bought at auction, three of which were fantastic, three completely oxidised. *

  • Chateau Batailley 5th Growth Paulliac 2005

Garnet colour, restrained and tight nose but as it opens up classic cassis, cedar wood and a touch of blackcurrant leaf, good balance and freshness (acidity to age well hopefully). The tannins are there in abundance, but not harsh or aggressive at all. With decanting this becomes more complex and shows its potential. A good contrast, as this wine is too young but still lovely **++

Round 2: Saint Julien Leoville seconds
(sort of but not really as each of these are chateaus in their own right)

  • Chateau Langoa Barton 1989

Both of these similar colour with brick rim. Some similar characteristics as one would expect from neighbouring vineyards, but as they opened up they showed their individuality. ’89 was the better year and the Langoa didn’t disappoint, gradually opening up in the glass with wave after wave of subtle sweet and savoury scent combinations: forest floor, baked fruit tart etc. Similar experience in the mouth, soft and delicate blends of flavour sustaining one’s interest. This is a great example of how the primary flavours have dropped away to reveal more subtle and complex ones beneath. Excellent ***

  • Chateau Clos de Marquis 1988

Quite a perfumed nose, someone suggested of fabric plasters and Savlon but in a good way? In the mouth still some life with fruit and vegetable flavours. This didn’t develop in the same way as the Langoa and in comparison was a little one dimensional but enjoyable if not particularly long. **

Round 3: Left and Right bank

  • Chateau Cantenac Brown growth Margaux 3rd 1996

On the nose this was at first a little restrained but opened up with classic cassis, graphite, and a bit of wood still predominant, but accompanied by more savoury flavours of caramelised fruit and a bit of peat. Good balance still tight, refined as a Margaux should be. Could have done with decanting and has plenty of years left. **++

  • Le Jardin de Petit Village 1996. Pommerol

This has plenty of fruit on the nose, plumbs and a hint of cocoa powder which is the predominant merlot in this right bank second wine. On the palate rounded and mellow less structure than the Cantenac Brown but more mature and very tasty. My guess is that this is just right now in terms of aging.**

Round 4: Second Growths

  • Chateau Brane-Cantenac 2nd Growth Margaux 1970

The oldest wine of the evening, light brick colour, initially slightly funky nose as one taster put it, for me it was a whiff of Brussels sprouts with other vegetal notes, still some sweetness, changing to earthy loam then stewed fruit. On the palate nice sweetness, and engaging complexity, autumnal red fruits, baked tarts, spice, savoury notes. Again developing with a progression of fleeting flavour combinations to keep one interested. Lovely ***

  • Chateau Pichon Longueville 2nd Growth Paulliac 2002

A rather ungiving nose, some cassis and wood but a bit light and not forthcoming. Same on the palate, a bit too delicate, some fruit and mineral, but after a decade one would have hoped for more, perhaps a bit hollow? Will this improve is it just still shut tight or is there not much there? ’02 not a great year and disappointing for the price.*

The evening finished with a couple of sweet Bordeaux and Gerald’s excellent apple tart.

On reflection it was certainly an education in how Bordeaux age. Most people enjoyed the 1980s and 1996 wines, which were I think more accessible. The 1970 Brane-Cantenac was for me the wine of the evening just because it was so interesting whereas the Langoa 89 probably gave the most pleasure. The Cantenac Brown and Batailley didn’t show their full potential as they have on recent pre-tastings when they had time to fully open up over an evening, but should be delicious with a few more years.