As I mentioned in last night’s post Back to the Futures Again the Bordeaux en Primeur campaign featuring the 2014 vintage is underway. And today I was fortunate enough to enjoy not only the tastings hosted by the Union des Grands Crus but also to enjoy a couple of private visits at some of Bordeaux’ best estates.
My day actually began with a trip out to my office and a little bit of studying at work. Ah the joys of coordinating navigation when you don’t have a car. Oh. well. But the adventure really started with an amazing lunch at Chateau Léoville Poyferré. The stunning setting was complimented further by amazing wine and a surprisingly delicious meal of local favorites. And of course there was wine. A 2009 Chateau Moulin Riche, a 2007 Leoville Poyferre and a 2005 Leoville Poyferre. The 2005 was a particular pleasure. Rich and smooth, complex and elegant this wine was a lovely compliment to the great food. And I have to give some kudos to Leoville Poyferre for serving quality wines and taking advantage of a great opportunity to promote good vintages of their wines to a hall full of industry professional and critics.
After lunch we made our way to the Saint-Julien tasting featuring Beychevelle, Branaire-Ducru, Gloria, Gruaud-Larose, Lagrange, Langoa Barton, Leoville Barton, Leoville Poyferre, Saint Pierre and Talbot. Representing the classic Saint Julien traits of deep-color, persistence and subtle complexity, each wine was a unique offering. But Leoville Poyferre stood out as my favorite from the appellation. With a good tannic structure well balanced by crisp acidity it offered the classic notes of cedar and cherry on the back of ripe fruit character. The Chateau Saint Pierre was another standout. Already soft on the palate it nonetheless had a lot of depth. Anise, cherry and cassis were delivered on the balanced palate. And Chateau Gloria, rapidly becoming one of my go-to’s, delivered another consistent wine with a spicy nose and lovely tannins.
We then made our way to Chateau Lunch-Moussas for the tastings of both the Pauillac and Saint-Estephe appellations. After traversing the muddy parking lot and the hard-to-navigate deep gravel drive with a broken umbrella, we finally made our way inside. We tasted D’Armailhac, Batailley, Clerc Milon, Croizet-Bages, Grand-Puy Ducasse, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Haut-Bages Liberal, Lynch-Bages, Lynch-Moussas, Pichon-Baron, Cos Labory, Lafon-Rochet, Ormes de Pez, de Pez, and Phelan-Segur. While I do enjoy the wines of Pauillac, it is not my favorite Medoc appellation. With strong personality and aggressive concentration these wines are typically powerful and long lived. But there was one estate which truly stood out: Chateau Batailley. The wine was very complex and delivered smooth notes of fresh cherry and chocolate. Based on previous experience I was expecting Lafon-Rochet to by my favorite, but surprisinglyChateau Batailley took this title. The great color delivered a wine of amazing tannic structure that was deliciously balanced. Elegant notes of anise, clove and black cherry defined the palate. Still a bit rough around the edges the wine will soften with additional oak aging.
And then… then there was magic with visits to Haut Marbuzet, Cos d’Estournel and Montrose. That there should say enough but I’ll say a bit more.
At Chateau Haut Marbuzet, perched in the Saint Estephe appellation, we were greeted by a wine maker who I think might be my new hero. Aside from his wine, which was very good, he was an inspiration. Aged 80, and not looking like it, he was active, spoke great English (a rarity in Bordeaux), and was a terrible flirt. He even managed to avoid the lechery that often accompanies. I want to be him when I’m 80. But back to the wine. The 2014 delivered a lot of fresh fruit with notes of cherry, clove and anise. The smooth palate and oak influence delivered a lingering length. The 2013 was – by Bordeaux standards – a warm fruit bomb, a surprise in the difficult vintage, with just a touch of bitterness.
The we went to Cos d’Estournel, what is probably my favorite estate in Bordeaux. Over the course of our visit, we not only paid a brief visit to the barrel room and the wine library, but tasted four wines. The Goulée (a second property about 25 kilometer or 16 miles north of Saint Estephe), Les Pagodes de Cos (the second wine), Cos d’Estournel and the Blanc. All four were stunningly fabulous. The Goulée was surprisingly floral and the exemplary balance was a reflection of the less concentrated style the wine making team actively pursued. The Pagodes was complex and fresh, soft and elegant. The good structure also delivered floral notes of white flowers and vanilla that lingered. To quote our host the Cos itself was “bewitching.” I could have happily sipped a glass these evening. Fresh fruit and subtle complexity delivered on perfect balance. The Blanc, a small production only dating back 10 years, was a bit of a revelation. I am pickier about my whites than my reds and even more so my Sauvignon Blancs. This was the perfect balance of ripe fruit, citrus and just a touch of green herbal character. Mineral and a touch salty this brilliant pale lemon colored wine was amazingly subtle.
Finally it was on to Montrose and three more wines: Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande, La Dame de Montrose and Chateau Montrose. The Tronquoy-Lalande was a decent soft and straightforward wine with a slightly minty note underscored by vanilla and cherry. The Dame de Montrose was ripe with fruit underlined with baking spices. Complex and elegant this wine had a firm structure and good acidic balance. The Montrose was ripe with warm earth, baking spices and rich fruit. Elegant and complex I thought this was another amazing offering that could be ranked up there with Cos on my list. On another note, the estate itself is stunning and I am dying to go back for a proper visit.
A day of firsts (first en primeur estate visits, first visit to Montrose, first taste of Beychevelle ….), I walked away with a giant smile of my face. Featuring purple teeth of course. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s right bank adventures and discovering more of the 2014 Vintage.