Chateau D’Issan 2004

90+ points

Margaux, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Another fine attractive Margaux from 2004.  It’s raw still with quite separate oak, yet quite supple and drinkable.  Sweeter in style than many clarets the fruit is crunchy, fresh and Summer ripe.

With age I think this will be a particularly charming, fine and accessible claret.

(from a half bottle).


Chateau Sociando-Mallet 2002

91 points

Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Intense aromas of blackcurrent and herbs.  Still quite raw this is a strongly flavoured wine, vin de garde with a long life ahead of it.  Plenty of new oak without any cosmetic or sweet oak flavours.  A distintive herbal seam with savoury metallic medicinal edge.

I was stuck by a similarity in flavour and aromas to the best of Hawkes Bay cabernets.  It would be interesting to try one alongside this, I expect the Sociando-Mallet would be more concentrated, and distinctly more savoury and dry – but there would be a resemblance.

Chateau Clarke 2005

90+ points

Listrac-Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 14%

Note the date that I’m reviewing this wine – June 2008.  It’s only just been released, and I’m not familiar with tasting such young wines.  I’ve had a few bottles of 2005, notably the Puriri Hills from New Zealand, they were young, rich, raw, powerful wines but this is near ridiculous.  Not much fun to drink.

Very dark, very deep closed aromas, considerable tannin.  The lesson is that fine Bordeaux from 2005 should not be touched for many years.  This is probably particularly true for Cabernet dominant wines (and Chateau with improving quality and high aspirations) like this one.

For a Chateau profile click here.

Chateau Cantenac Brown 2004

88+ points

Margaux, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Margaux performed particularly well in 2004.  Every classed growth seems to possess that essential characters that one would expect, in that they are sophisticated, elegant and with a certain degree of opulence.  This wine too, although somewhat a little less concentrated, less oomph, a little more accessible than some.

I thought the nose quite mute, but Anne felt it was lovely and expressive and I’d trust her nose ahead of mine anyday.

The palate is fresh, with clear fruits and an attractive creaminess.

Chateau Ferriere 2002

92 points

Margaux, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Bottles like this make be a big fan of this Chateau.  And of Margaux.

Gorgeous aromas of berries and hints of savoury characters like iron and gunpowder.  The palate is fresh, with the elegant lively acidity that marks Bordeaux apart from many other regions.  Elegance with power, a top wine from the vintage which I suspect is adding a bit of weight over the few years it has had in bottle.

Not quite as profound as the 2000, but very good nevertheless.

For reviews of other vintages click here.

The Wine Doctor has a profile on Chateau Ferriere.

Saint-Hilaire Du Coin Muscadet Réserve 1996

90 points

Muscadet Serve et Maine, Loire, France. 12%

I’m a growing fan of Muscadet, which at its best is fabulously dry, austere yet flavoursome, with considerable minerality.  This wine tastes like oyster shells.  It doesn’t seem like it is 12 years old, and at a price of only 7 Euro that seems impossible.  Muscadet isn’t fashionable, nothing like the Sauvignon Blanc wines of the Loire.  it doesn’t even have the marketplace presence of Pinot Grigio which it certainly competes with in terms of light dry style.

I believe that much Muscadet is plain.  I recently came across some very good versions from the fabulous 2005 vintage and put the quality down to this vintage alone.  But this wine, albeit benefitting from a long age, shows that it isn’t just 2005.  My only criticism is that it’s difficult to see what the age has done for this wine.  It seems to be to be similar to the 2005s.

Chateau Soudars 2001

87 points

Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Dark colour, with currant like aromas, very promising.  On the palate it’s a bit 4-square, no real flair, some mineral iron type flavours.  Pretty good for what it is, and the price it sells for.  The back label says it was elevated to cru bourgeois supérieur in 2003.

I’ve just noticed that I reviewed the 2000 vintage previously.

Chateau Magdelaine 2004

90+ points

Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%

Characteristically right bank, with the sort of deep fruit cake and plums (and pencil shaving oak) characters that I fail to detect on any New World merlot along with considerable minerality.  A fine, food friendly wine
that appears drinkable now yet is still a bit shy and reserved.

The blessing of this wine is that it lacks the extraction and syrup that has started to characterise some top (and not so top) right bank wines.  This restraint and sophistication are admirable.  Class.

Chateau Thieuley (Blanc) 2004

89 points

Bordeaux, France. 13%

I’ve not ever been a real fan of Thieuley, I’ve bought several cases (red mainly) based on the price and good reviews from people like Parker, they give it a good score because it is good for merely a Bordeaux appellation wine (and the price).  This wine is impressive though, the best Thieuley I’ve ever had, and it’s really due to aging.

I bought this from a French supermarket because I was surprised to see this humble wine still selling the 2004 vintage, I’d expect 2006 or even 2007.  The age really matters here, it’s still fresh but fleshed out with fabulous lanolin characters that Semillion gains with age.  Gorgeous, and now extra great value for money.

Château Brane-Cantenac 2004

92 points

Margaux, Medoc, Bordeaux. 13%

This is rather fine, with a long life ahead of itself and yet attractive now – hence my high point score.

This wine shows the finesse and wonderful vivacity and lightness (an almost ethereal quality) that Margaux can sometimes have. While there is real structure, dark forest fruits and minerals (a touch of iron). Moderate concentration, it certainly doesn’t taste dense or in the least bit syrupy.

Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2005

83 points

California, USA. 15%

I ordered the stock standard Ravenswood Zinfandel from room service and was pleasantly surprised when this turned up, presumably a more expensive and certainly an older vintage than expected.

Consumed over 2 nights (and not quite finished) this wine never grabbed me. I expect Zin to be big, but the alcohol burn on this was distracting. Ravenswood’s slogan is, or was, “no wimpy wines”, maybe I’m being wimpy although I’ve had many larger or more confronting wines. I just hoped for more spice and interest.