Chateau Cap De Fouste grand reserve 2001

90 points

Cotes Du Roussillon, France. 13.5%

Well this was a surprise. A lovely rich, soft aged wine, almost Australian (but in Australia it would be much more expensive). A substantial amount of oak has now integrated into the wine. It seems to have prematurely aged, but I’m not complaining, it has the complexity of a great old shiraz.

I think this must be the highest score I’ve given to a Côtes du Roussilon wine, or anyhere in the South maybe. Extraordinary value.

I later found out (when buying more) that the cépage = 50% Shiraz, 30% Grenache, 20% Carignan.

Bordeaux Vintage 2007 August after the rain

These photos were taken on the 23rd of August, towards the end of the 5+ days of rainy days.

It must be very close to harvest time on the Right Bank. Notice that the grapes are very dark and ripe looking. Also, to my untrained eye, rather healthy.

ripegrapes.jpgbunches.jpgstemilion.jpg

Update (28th of August) – Decanter magazine is reporting that the vintage has started (for white grapes). The report is much more upbeat than previous coverage where they said mildrew and rot was rampant.

Update (1st of September) – the weather is looking good now.

Chateau La Tour Figeac 2000

85 points

Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%

Dark colour, the flush of youth is gone but otherwise no sign of development. Interesting aromas, appetising, some vegetal, more left bank than right (less towards the fig, plum spectrum).

The aromas carry through to the palate where there is also plenty of firm fleshy fruit. Quite weighty, but not extracted. Creamy consistency.

But the odd thing is how sweet it is for Bordeaux. It because too much with the main meal. Having tasted, and been impressed by the 2004 Château La Tour Figeac recently this was unexpected. After dinner the 2000 went very well with strawberries, their sweetness made the wine a little more savoury.

I hope that with age this wine becomes more savoury, rather than jammy. I find it hard to recommend it.

From the Château website.

Château La Tour Figeac 2000 (89-91)
“Deep purple-colored, with notes of ripe plums, cherries, vanilla and underbush, this sweet, full bodied, layered wine displays exceptional potential.
The moderate tannin is accompanied by more than sufficient fruit, glycerin, and extract. This 2000 will be drinkable yound but keep for two decades.
It is a sleeper of the vintage. Anticipated maturity:
2003-2018.”
Robert Parker, The Wine Buyer’s Guide Sixth Edition, 2002

Domaine Baron’Arques 2003

89 points

Limoux, France. 14.5%

Another Domaine Philippine De Rothschild venture. This time much closer to home, in the South of France.

The back label says it is a mixture of Bordeaux varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc) and Southern varieties (Grenache, Syrah, and Malbec). Though Malbec is no stranger to Bordeaux.

It is a successful wine. The grenache gives alcohol and sweetness, it a strident obvious grape variety. There is also a silkiness and the fruity chewy tannins of the South. Yet also some of the firmness of palate structure of Bordeaux, and oak style.

Nice. I wouldn’t want to drink this sort of wine often, but it is lovely Mediterranean blend – for Mediterranean food. Took the heat of 2003 in its stride.

Drink now and over the next 5+ years.

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2001

90 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Drinking beautifully now and over the next decade. Quite a lot of oak, but warm and integrated, not intrusive. Classic core of fine fruit sweetness.

I wondered, drinking the 1999 if the 2001 had greater concentration. I think not, though I’ve yet to try them side by side.

Update: July 2009 – a lovely classic gentle claret.  Reminds me of somewhat of Hawkes Bay wines.  A green quality, but a delicious one.

Chateau Lafon-Rochet 2004

87 points now (potential 92 perhaps even higher)

Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Very youthful colour, dark with flash of crimson.

Dense aromas, confronting, it’s obvious this isn’t a drink now wine. The oak aromas are raw but not at all overdone, or in anyway flashy or sweet.

Very tightly wound, intense wine, some astringency. Fine, very firm, ripe but not sweet. This might be next door to Lafite but the flavour isn’t the blackcurrent of Pauillac. This is for keeping. Good value cellar wine.

Chateau L’Escadre ‘Major’ 2004

84+ points

Premières Côtes De Blaye, France. 13.5%

Modern “reserve’ style wine, i.e. dark ripe with a lot of oak. A bit forced. Still it isn’t too extracted and the 2004 vintage has a good acid balance. Not exactly fun to drink now, but then it is a baby. Potentially very good value. Wait until 2010 if you can. How long will it last after that, I don’t know ?

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 1999

90 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

True to form, another good Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste. Perhaps not as concentrated as the 2001, they would be interesting to try along side. Classic fine, dinner table claret, with a correct lively backbone of acid and tannin rounded out with fine balanced (and expensive) oak treatment, no really overt oaky flavours, more just warmth and texture.

The best of 1999 (and it’s not too inconsistent a vintage on the left bank) are starting to drink well now and they are great value compared to the expensive vintages of 2000, 2003 and 2005. Indeed they are very good value compared to 2006 which won’t be ready to drink for a long while yet.

Thierry Allemand ‘Reynard’ Cornas 1999

91 points

Cornas, Rhone, France. 13%

I’d have given this wine higher points but for the mercaptan, it’s a bit more than just barnyard complexity, it slightly marrs an otherwise very impressive wine.

Deep dark in colour this is a substantial shiraz, in weight and depth like a top class Australian wine, and like these wines only now at 8 years of age just starting to show its true complexity. Less glycerol and sweetness than an Australian wine though.

2007 Bordeaux Vintage Report – August update

See also early Sept update

It’s hard to find any positive news about the upcoming harvest. In July newspapers around the world were reporting that the grapes were affected by mildew due to a wet month.

We arrived here in mid July and as I reported earlier had reason to be a bit more positive. Since then it has been much the same. A mild, moderate Summer but with quite a lot of sunshine.

Last week though the local newspaper was reporting that this will be a very difficult vintage.

And now we have a week of rain, see the forecast (from http://www.Weather.com) below. But I still want to add a note of optimism. As I write this I’m looking out the window to blue sky with plenty of fluffy cumulus clouds.
Bordeaux blue sky
There has been rain, but in the form of Summer showers than rainstorms. Since we have been here the actual weather has always seemed better than I expected after checking Weather.com in the morning.

Another positive point is the lack of field mushrooms in Bordeaux. When my wife enquired at the markets she was told there are no mushrooms because it hasn’t rained enough. Now maybe a lack of mushrooms says little, maybe if there were any at this time of year it would be a terrible vintage, but it’s one sign of the recent good weather. If there are mushrooms in the market this week I’ll ammend this post.

We’ll see what the rest of the week brings, but I suspect that this will be a vintage where the more diligent (and expensive) Châteaux manage to make pretty good wine still. If they can handle the mildew they may get ripe grapes. Perhaps comparable to 2001 or 1999?

Update: August 21 – it rained most of last night, and we have another day of rain forecast today. I guess the vintage is a wash out.

4th week of August weather forecast

Château Clerc Milon 2004

88 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

I confess I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had expected. I think it is just the youth of the wine. These 2004 are good value compared to other available vintages, and high quality, but they are, of course, young.

Chateau Clerc Milon 2004 is a fine wine, elegant yet potentially rich. A lovely tight seam of sweet ripe fruit in mid-palate. A waste to drink it now. Wait at least three years, preferably until 2012.

clercmilon.jpg

Good ratings by other critics – though consierable diversity in descriptions.

Stephen Tanzer: 87-88 points very good to excellent. “52% cabernet sauvignon, 42% merlot, 5% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.
Good full medium ruby. Aromas of licorice, game, leather and dark chocolate. Densely packed and a bit medicinal, with good fruit intensity and some
youthful toughness. Finishes with substantial, slightly rough tannins.”

James Suckling [The Wine Spectator]: 89-91 points. “Very Cabernet on the nose, with lots of currants and hints of oak. Full-bodied, chewy and rich, with a long finish. Shows potential.”

Jancis Robinson 17 points “A good effort here in a wine that is softer and sweeter than its Mouton stablemate d’Armailhac. Very very dark blackish purple. Nice spicy nose, very round supple start. Attractively open, if light, nose already. A certain meatiness on the nose and then pretty light on the palate with dry tannins on the finish. Not tarted up, perfectly honest, but probably slightly lower yields would have yielded a slightly more interesting wine. Just a little bit too much inkiness rather than body. Honest though. Amazingly forward. Lots of black cherry fruit then the fine tannins and, just, sufficient acidity. Good classic Médoc if not necessarily
Pauillac. Drink 2011-17.”

Stephen Spurrier [Decanter] ★★★★ highly recommended [17 points] “Very deep colour, good concentration and very good
purity of fruit, quite firm and very Pauillac, with a certain leanness that needs to soften out. Drink 2012-25.”

Wine International Magazine: 86-91 points
“The ‘underlying green notes’ AR remarked on may well be the 1% Carmenère. Otherwise, it is a tale of dense, sweet black fruits, a savoury, black olive,
almost Marmitey note and very firm tannins, but not too much. It is quite extracted and perhaps a shade dry on the finish. 2010-2020.”

Château Monconseil Gazin 2003

80 points

Blaye, France. 13%

One of leaders of the new Appelation Blaye.  In the hot 2003 vintage Chateau Monconseil-Gazin is a ultra dark wine that reeks of new oak.  The palate is quite hard, with astringent acid (presumably a fair bit added) and plenty of tannin.

It’s heroic, New World heroic.  In the Chateau Pavie style.  There are some Australian shiraz wines made like this, they aren’t the best of Australian shiraz, but shiraz is more suited to this style with greater potential to age without turning prune like.

I hope this isn’t typical of the new appellation.

Château Milon 2004

80 points

Bordeaux Supérieur. 12.8%

Chateau Milon 2004 is a better than average Bordeaux Supérieur. It’s youthful, with some astringency that I expect will fade quickly, it isn’t a very concentrated wine.

Personally I’d rather spend a few more euro on a good cru bourgeois.

Château Lanessan 2000 & 2001

87 points

Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Chateau Lanessan produces good honest claret. I suspect that one day they’ll do considerably better than this as it is a well situated vineyard.

2000 is the better vintage but the bottle had a leaking cork. There wasn’t detectable oxidation (yet) but I doubt this was the best of bottles. A bit muddy, without flair, or great intensity, but nicely solid.

2001 was fresher and surprisingly seemed of similar ripeness levels. A good effort.

Château Reynon 2005

88 points

Premières Côtes de Bordeaux. 13.5%

Clive Coates wrote that this estate can produce rich and succulent wines, and in 2005 they certainly have. Fleshy ripe fuit with great consistency all the way through the palate. This I suspect is the hallmark of the 2005 vintage.

Merlot dominant. Will drink early, it’s possible to enjoy this wine now but really needs a year or two. Probably will age for up to 10 years.

Again from Denis and Florence Dubourdieu.

raynon.jpg

Is cheap Bordeaux worth it ?

No.

At least that’s my conclusion after trying some supermarket wines (cheap even very cheap, but no bargains), and a clutch of Bordeaux Superior from a thoughtful retailer in the heart of Bordeaux. The wines chosen by the good retailer were around ¢10, mostly Bordeaux Superior and were better than the supermarket wines but they not great bargains. Many featured modern recipes and not all went right, too much extraction, bitter green tannins and too much alcohol, and disjointed oak sometimes sweet.

These wines around 10 euro will sell for around £12 in the UK and almost $20 in the US. They will be uncompetitive. And there in lies Bordeaux’s problem, they still do produce a lot of wine that isn’t competitive. It’s much better than it was, and better still in great vintages like 2005, but the rest of the world has got better too.

That’s why we read stories of the struggles to sell Bordeaux wine, while classed growth prices continue to climb.

Just a few more euros and there are some great bargains. Some are cru Bourgeois. Lanessan, Tour Haut-Caussan, Reynon, Vieux St.Andre are some that have been reviewed here. These sell in shops in Bordeaux for 11-14 euro, and this seems to be what they share in common, i.e. a big jump in quality can occur over 10 euro. These are the bargains of Bordeaux, wines not often seen in international markets.

Chateau Reynon 2002

88 points

Cadillac, Bordeaux, France. 14%

Sauternes satellite region. Reynon is own by Denis et Florence Dubourdieu who appear to be very talented.

This very good value sweet wine has some distinctive fruit character (perhaps it’s Savignon Blanc retaining some primary fruit flavour in the blend). Nice zippy acidity and sweetness, well balanced. Starting to build some complexity with age. Not a lot of noticeable bortrytis or oak. Great value.

Vieux Chateau Saint André 2003

89 points

Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%

A good example of what can be good about the 2003 vintage. This wine is very 2003 in the sense of raisin ripe, but dry, not sweet, baked fruit. But accepting this vintage style, it is a rich and approachable wine. The heat of 2003 has given more stuffing than usual, including more (soft ripe) tannins. Drink now and over the next 3 years. V.good value.