Bordeaux Grands Crus Classes Tasting

6 May 2009

Attending tastings like this can be a bit of a lottery. Either turn up nice and early, fight your way through the heaving masses but actually get to see all the wines on show, or, turn up late, enjoy a tranquil and genteel session but perhaps miss out on some of the more popular wines.

Having chosen the latter there are gaps in my tasting notes but I think what was tasted had my full attention. A slightly more relaxed tasting has to be the way forward.

An over view…

Count Neipperg shows off his mime skillsThere were a number of good Chateaux in attendance – Smith Haut Lafitte, a collection of wines by Count Neipperg, Gazin, Angelus, Canon, Brainaire-Ducru, Leoville Poyferre and Pontet Canet. Each showing a variety of recent vintages. Most had brought along some 08 samples, so it was a good opportunity to size them up against previous releases disregarding the pricing anomalies.

Having read through my notes a number of times a couple of comment stick out as being of interest…

There were some 05’s on show which I thought were showing a surprising level of development. It was the end of the afternoon, maybe some had been opened all day, but considering the weight and structure of the vintage I would have expected a bit more freshness and certainly a bit less meatiness on these wines at this point in their development. Having said that the Mondotte, Canon la Gaffeliere and Brainaire-Ducru were all showing really well – still intense, a sense of anticipation about what treats lied ahead.

By and large I was quite disappointed with the 06’s. They weren’t showing at all well. Thet seemed a bit thuggish, lean and even in a couple of cases quiet unpleasant. Chunky, fat, hollow even. Again Mondotte seemed to be shining.

2007 is an interesting vintage – I’ve always quite liked it. It’s dark, juicy, certainly not elegant but quite racy never the less. Lets just forget the whole price issue surrounding them – from what was showing at this tasting (and other dips into them) I can see some very pleasant, foodie wines on the horizon. Lots of cassis mintiness, shiny wines almost with a hint of the South West about them (yes more south west then Bordeaux).

Pontet Canet 08…& the 08’s? Certainly a lot different from everything else on show. They seemed to have all the good bits of the other vintages here, but also some of the not so good bits. I really liked the layers of flavours some of them showed. Most were showing good levels of ripeness. I did think a couple looked a little simple – polished, 2 dimensional perhaps? I guess the problem I’ve always had with this vintage is understanding how 3 months of phenolic ripening could occur in a handful of weeks in the early autumn. I guess only time will tell?

Finally let us not forget the whites. Not usually a fan of Bordeaux Blanc and admittedly I didn’t have any prices on hand to put the wines into context, but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by what was on show here. Having done some research I think it is hard to justify Bordeaux Blanc prices when the world is full of exceptional whites for a fraction of the price. A particular mention for Les Hauts de Smith Blanc 06 – lovely stuff.

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