WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations

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Bordeaux Noughtie Tasting

Date – February 13th 7.30 Pm , Highgate

The first BYO format tasting and certainly not the last.

As usual all wines (12 in all) were served blind but with the twist of putting the person who brought the wine in the driving seat. They were invited to present the wine, share critic reviews, their own experience of the wine and to lay a trial of tantalising clues for the assembled tasters.  Lots of entertaining discussion and great fun for all.

A lovely selection with a predominant Left Bank theme but some delightful elegant Pomerol’s including Lafleur and Vieux Chateau Certain.

Educational as ever this format really focuses on issues such as quality, drinking pleasure, value, winery reputation and vintage.  For me, surprise of the night – how well many of the 2002s were drinking in spite of the vintage’s poor reputation, confirmation of the night – just how much pleasure a ‘comparatively good value’ wine like Grand Puy-Lacoste reaching maturity from a good year like 2000 can give!

Thanks to all who attended for generously bringing such a great selection of wines and of course to the Kellys for hosting once again in their wonderful dining room.

Started with Bollinger , Louis Roederer . Delighted to have in attendance , UK Champagne Ambassador, Tim Hall of Scala Wines

Tasting Notes  courtesy of Tim Hall  Scala Wines

1) Chateau Leoville Barton , St Julien 2002

St Julien, 2nd growth 1855, 72CS, 20M, 8CF

Garnet-deep; maturing edge. Intense ripe aroma, lots of new oak; svelte and classy.  Some chewy dry tannin on the end. Dense but lean bodied spare-fleshed.  Impressive elegant wine. Thought Left Bank (LB) 04.  Not fleshy enough for a great year.

2) Chateau Phelan Segur 2005

St Estephe, Cru Bougeois (when this made) but now with break-away group and boycotting the classification.  55CS, 45M

Deep core; touch of brick. Cream and slight vanilla and varnish nose; high char oak, perhaps a bit dolled up. Astringent dry tannin on the end.  Good wine, trying very hard, perhaps a bit much. Thought LB 04.

3) Chateau Charmail 2000

Haut-Medoc, Cru Bougeois, 48M, 30CS, 20CF, 2PV

Deep core. Some age on the rim, quite tiled. Touch green on nose,  not wholly ripe fruit.  Meaty, savoury, quite evolved. Needs drinking. Rather austere.

4) Chateau Pontet-Canet 2001

Pauillac, 5th growth 1855.  62CS, 32M, 5CF, 1PV

Deep core; some orange bricking. Very seductive big hit of exotic dried peel and new oak, gloriously met with pressing red berry fruit. Very classy indeed.  Succulent, medium weight but not fat, great finesse.  Thought Paulliac 05 and thrilled this property made such q good wine in this mediocre year.  Top wine of the night for me.

5) Chateau Talbot 2003

St Julien, 4th growth 1855.  66CS, 26M, 8PV

Mid-deep. Quite a rim. Sweet nose, gorgeous and opulent; Christmas cake. Round, big, soft tannin. Lots of new oak.  A big hug of a wine. Tasty and seductive. Considered right bank (RB). Forgot 2003 made such plump soft wine on the LB in this warm year. I would get on with this.

6) Chateau Lafleur 2004

Pomerol, with a great reputation.  50M, 50CF

Deep core; brick rim. Very drying tannin on end. But candied peel and fig full fruit, yet a mild green component too. Complex and tantalising jostle of elements. Not completely harmonious but opened beautifully in the glass. Does this need more time?  Impressive.

Boeuf Bourguignon , baked camembert

7) Vieux Chateau Certan 2002

Pomerol, a very high ranker. 60M, 30CF, 10CS

Deep core, wideish rim.  Very spicy nose, cumin and pencil shavings; classy integrated oak.  Medium intensity yet reticent and a bit passive on the mid-palate.  Softish but ultra charming.  A good long carry  to the end, leaving moss and cinnamon and red cherry notes.  Drinking well, no need to keep longer but good for a few years.

8) Chateau Senejac 2002

 Haut Medoc, Cru Bourgeois when this made, but not now.  48CS, 37M, 11CF, 4PV

Mid-pale, broad rim.  Very sweetish fruit nose and extraction but pretty evolved and a green streak going through, in fact herbaceous but forgiven by a residue of fruit brightness.  Pleasant enough, perhaps better a few years ago. Upright, four-square and needs drinking up.

9)Léoville-Lascases 2002

St Julien, 2nd growth 1855.  65CS, 24M, 10CF 1PV

dense.  Evidently a light version of a tip top property, with cedar, coffee and a whole gamut black fruit and spicy but reticent oak. Stately stuff.

10) Grand Puy -Lacoste 2000

Pauillac, 5th growth 1855.  75CS, 20M, 5CF

Deepish purple, quite open with charming easy and open fruit and spice.  Mellifluous, succulent and serious.  Medium range stuff, in middle age, but good poise and all still holding together.  Delicious.

11)Yon-Figeac 2002

St Emilion, Grand Cru Classé  80M, 20CF

Mid-colour, wide core, pretty evolved and slightly unfocused.  But oh so supple and drinkable in its roundness and green plum and currant cake character.  A savoury note that made it attractive and not too loose-limbed.   Nice RB contrast to prior LB wine.

12)Vieux Chateau Gaubert 2006

Graves AOC.  50M, 50CS

Medium colour and orange rim. Fruit left but losing it to the structure so finishing a little austere and dry. But much good fruity weight. Fairly short range wine, pleasant, not enough chewy intensity for old bones.  Drink now.

Raymond Blanc’s Tarte Aux Pommes

Doisy-Daene 2005    

Sauternes, 2nd growth 1855 (although divided since then) 86S, 14SB

A lovely muscovado sweetness but then complexity of hay and tobacco on the nose.  Quite a hit and then light, gorgeous botrytic note. Very fresh and lightly-poised and not cloying.  Excellent and stylish.

And all finished off with Tim’s excellent Champagne Lacourte-Godbillon Brut NV , full details of where to get this will be mailed out .


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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.

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Barrel tasting in Bordeaux

My French became fluent after a 1967 St Estephe a 1974 St Julien and a 1999 Pomerol raided from my Aunt’s cellar in Castets-en-Dorthe to celebrate her 60th birthday. The red wine has kept her young – she’s not looking a day over 40!

Exquisite foie gras/magrets du canard, saucisson, fromages of every type, baguettes, masses of decanted Bordeaux reds, a rampant log fire and the party was on. A delight to meet Jean-Luc Magnac, local winemaker of Passavant – a port style wine made from Merlot. This was beautiful, normally aged 18 months, but he reckons the 2010 vintage is so good it didn’t need the ageing.

The following day, I drove to local vineyard to barrel taste the magnificent 2010 vintage. Tried cab sav/merlot and malbec from the barrel – great colour depth and concentration. The cab sav was a little green peppery, but was assured this is a whopping vintage. Another year to dig deep for the en primeur sale.

The wine flowed all weekend and finished with a harmonica blues duo in cercle du concorde in Castets.