It’s that time of year again in Bordeaux. No not harvest. The official release of the 2014 Vintage and the start of the en Primeur campaign. A source of rather considerable controversy, en Primeur, or futures, is a busy time in Bordeaux. The wine world descends on the city as the chateaux throw open their doors and invite critics, negociants (wine merchants) and professionals to taste their latest vintage. It is also when the critics provide their first round of scores and when the estates then use those scores to help set the pricing. And so we come to the real heart of the controversy … money. But that’s a story for another day.
Tonight was the annual Graves tasting held at the Place de la Bourse in the heart of the Bordeaux city center. Unlike last year, this year I managed to escape the crowds and score a pass for the professional event, which meant early admission and a greater opportunity to chat with the estate representatives. And this year, like last year, I found that once again I preferred the white wines. Not really that surprising, Graves is know for producing stunning white wines. And white wine is a lot easier to taste during the en Primeur events. They are often finished sooner and have progressed further in their development than the red wines. And finally, I’ve found that I personally don’t care for much of the red wine produced in Graves. (I know as a wine professional and a Bordeaux advocate I’m not necessarily supposed to have such strongly biased preferences, but I do. Deal with it.)
I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about every wine I tasted (there would be just too much info – one of the drawbacks of large scale tastings). But I’m definitely going to give shout outs to a couple of the stand outs from the evening.
Chateau de Portets: First things first. I have to give the winemaker at this estate (a fellow California native) a major kuddos for working to engage her audience, something that is all too lacking in the Bordeaux region. After hearing a couple of us chatting and trying to come up with a plan, she invited us to her table to taste her wines. The white wine had an amazing nose that hinted at the robust beauty this wine will be. A bit soft on the palate and deliciously light on the oaky character this wine had a good acidic backbone that will live up to the fruit.
Chateau de Cérons: I’ve actually visited this estate during the Portes Ouvertes de Graves (which for some inexplicable reason I didn’t write about). And at the time I liked the wine so much I bought two bottles of their dry white and a half bottle of their sweet white. So going into it, I was already expecting good things. And I was not disappointed. A blend of 50% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Sauvignon Gris the wine was a bit repressed on the nose but delivered a crisp and clean palate. Another great value white.
Chateau Moutin: A Sauvignon Blanc dominated blend (85%) I noted during the tasting that this was “the most finished blanc.” Crisp and clean it was well balanced with fruit and acidity. After spending a few minutes talking to the Managing Director, who was very excited to talk to an American and a Californian connected to the Bordeaux industry, I am eager to try the rest of the wines offered in this range.
So… that’s all for now folks. I will confess my time at the tasting was very limited as I had a dinner immediately following (great food, great company and an even better view, I might have to add to my list of Bordeaux favorites), so I didn’t get to try as many of the wines as I would have liked. But c’est la vie. And this is not the end of my en primeur adventures this week. So for now (since it’s after midnight my time) I’ll leave you with this one last note: 2014 Graves whites are looking mighty promising.