Chateau Filhot 2004

87++? points

Sauternes, Bordeaux, France.

Sauterne really needs about 12 years of age, but sometimes when it is very young (3-4 years) it can offer a burst of fruit flavour that is very attractive. Filhot is a clean, not oaky style, and I sort of hoped it might offer something attractive in extreme youth. Decanter magazine gave it a very good rating recently. But it was closed and mild. Nicely balanced but not complex nor bursting with pure young fruit flavours.

It was better after bing open for 3 nights – which bodes very well for its future.


Chateau La Tour Figeac 2004

90 points

Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%

Wonderful rich absolutely Right Bank aromas, fresh, with new oak but not obtrusive. This is a classy St Emilion that may one day taste as good as it smells. Today it’s good but the palate is more raw and closed than the wonderful nose. Not that there is a lot to complain about. Rich but fine, gentle ripe tannins and good structure. Should drink very well in 3-5 years, say 2010 onwards, but still enjoyable earlier if you have to.

I seldom drink Right Bank wines, the best are rarely good value. This was recommended by a friend.

Chateau Palmer 1998

90 points

Margaux, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Rich and ripe wine, more than I expected for a late 90s vintage. Exotic fleshy wine, but definitely not a right bank wine in flavour terms. Almost a burgundian take on Bordeaux.

Coffee (cafe latte) oak, and some cowshit (mercaptan?) – if I had tasted this wine blind I’m sure I would have been (unjustly) dismissive because these are both characters that I’m not fond of. And this is why there are sound reasons not to taste blind (just as many as there are in favour of blind tasting); anyway who drinks bottles blind?

July Report on Bordeaux Vintage 2007

UPDATE: There is an August update to this report here.

All the hype about mildew and lost crops may have more to do with selling the 2006 wine than the reality of 2007.

While parts of central Europe have been experiencing heatwave, other areas have had little in the way of Summer including some very serious flooding. Bordeaux has been spared floods though it had a very wet May and June. We’ve been here for the last 10 days of July and it’s been pretty mild, patchy weather. Some ran, some clear sunshine, and some cloudy humid days. It reminds me of an Auckland (New Zealand) Summer – oddly enough an area that has produced a few very Bordeaux like wines.

Decanter magazine online reported, rather sensationally, that mildew rot could result in losses of 90% in Bordeaux.

Today we visited Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, neighbours in Pessac, which is a suburb of the city of Bordeaux. As this photo shows the day was cloudy, though warm (23 C) and humid. Rain threatened, but did not eventuate.
La Mission Haut Brion in July 2007

We saw no sign of rot, nor vineyard workers engaged in spraying. The vineyards here are immaculate as you might expect for serious classed growths such as these. The leaves are picked to allow air to circulate around the bunches of grapes. There was no sign of rot, at least not to my inexpert eye. See for yourself:
Grapes at Chateau Haut Brion

At La Mission Haut Brion there were bunches on the ground suggesting a recent green harvest.
Green Harvest at La Mission Haut Brion July 2007

UPDATE: There is an August update to this report here.

Chateau Gloria 2004

90+ points

St. Julien, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Modern fresh, reeking of new oak. In spite of this I’m impressed there is real substance and chewy chocolately tannins, yet balancing acidity. I’ve not had Gloria for years, and thought it a bit over-rated as a bargain of Bordeaux, but yes it is like a classed growth.

Chateau D’Aiguilhe 2000

90 points

Cotes De Castillon, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%

A merlot dominant wine, which is perhaps why I’m not fond of the 2002 (a difficult year for Merlot). This is ultra dark, with coffee new oak. Modern, somewhat extracted, showing very little sign of its 7 years of age.

This wine has voted one of the best bargains of Bordeaux by Decanter magazine, and while I fear that the voting system ended up favouring wines of consistent body and extract (over the years) rather than individual style and finesse, with this bottle I can understand it having achieved quite a fan base relatively quickly.

Chateau Raymond-Lafon 2002

89 points

Sauternes, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%

Mellow wine with complex fruit (pears and other things) and far less racey acidity than I’d expected – a bit less than I might have hoped for. In some ways its simple, in others it hints at considerable complexity – I guess that’s just because it is far too young. Too easy to drink now. Keep for 5 more years.

Chateau Pontet Canet 2002

90 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

A dark and full wine, deep. It has a richness that makes it approachable now but this wine really needs some years to reveal its charm. It isn’t so fresh and light on its feet as some cabernet oriented 2002 clarets. It has brooding depth.

Here is a Château profile on the excellent WineDoctor site, with tasting notes for a number of vintages.

Chateau Haut-Batailley 2002

89 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Quite powerful, somewhat raw, with plenty of acid. Not dissimilar to a top Coonawarra (I say that without tasting them side by side, where I’m sure the similarity would be less than expected). Another good (cabernet dominant) wine from 2002. May merit an even higher score in 5 years.