Chateau Puygueraud 2002 Bordeaux Cotes de Francs 87 points
Leconfield Coonawarra Cabernet 2004 83 points
Charles Melton Barossa Valley Cabernet 2002 87+ points
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2002 Pauillac Bordeaux 95+ points
Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2002 Pauillac Bordeaux 93+ points
St Supery Cabernet 1999 Napa Valley 90 points
We started with the Puygueraud half bottle for context. A lovely fresh savoury light wine with some tannin. Should drink and age well over the next 5+ years. Lacks substantial concentration but is very food friendly still. Classic budget claret, excellent cafe/restaurant wine.
Leconfield Cabernet in comparision was all fresh sweet acidic fruit with considerable herbaceousness. Surprisingly approachable for such a young wine, very pleasant. Yet later when we came back to this wine it tasted green and unpleasant. Very interesting addition to the tasting.
Charles Melton’s 2002 Cabernet was another stark contrast. I thought the nose was a bit like some classic Aussie reds of the past (many Cabernet Shiraz blends) warm and with a touch of grease paint – personally I found this quite attractive though it won’t appeal to everyone. There was also quite a lot of other exotic oaky chocolate mocha aromas. Not a particularly varietal (cabernet) wine. A syrupy wine, like some South African wines. Pretty nice to drink even without food. Somewhat choclate milkshake in style. The alcohol is a bit hot and noticeable. Some poeple have used the word ‘elegance’ when describing Barossa cabernet from the cool balanced 2002 vintage – it’s a bit of a stretch. Certainly though there is far less evident added acidity, the wines are fresher and will be less leathery with age. Drink now to enjoy the modern winemaking or leave for a few years for it to settle down into maybe a slightly less sweet traditional Australian red.
The nose on the Lafite was quite a shock to me, so much power and concentration. It had the sort of lead pencil and blackcurrant aromas one should expect but the intensity was arresting. Without tasting this wine it is very obvious that it is extremely young, and is built to age. The colour, needless to say, was very dark and shiny. Very concentrated but not at all syrupy or hefty. Very savoury with plenty of fine tannin. The first taste wiped my mouth clean of flavour, not to suggest that the wine is ethereal, but very tightly bundled and tannic. This wine has real breed, power without weight, and great complexity. It should age superbly and for a long while.
The Mouton was more exotic, a bit more clumsy (hardly a criticism given it is only a baby – perhaps one year in bottle) with sweeter mocha tones of oak. There also seems to be more alcohol, certainly a bit more gylcerol weight and the heroic tannins are more chewy. Very rich and pretty exciting. A bit more showy than the Lafite, serious wine but less classic. With time I expect the differences between these two wines will narrow a tad. Personally I think the sheer style and restraint of the Lafite is more exciting but it is very much down to personal taste. Nice to see difference in style between these neighbours.
St Supery 1999 was a pleasant relief compared to all of the very young wines above. Closer to a bordeaux than to the Australian wines, not syrupy and less hefty than many Californian wines I have tried. 13.8% alcohol which is not bad relatively speaking. Reminded me of some good quality NZ cabernets with well handled french oak and classic tiny touch of herbaceousness, classic winemaking. There is cool climate fruit here. The extra 3+ years in bottle this wine had over the others made it much more drinkable. A nice food wine; less savoury than bordeaux and far less concentrated and complex than the first growths.