July 2008 Bordeaux Vintage Weather Report

Well tomorrow is the start of August when things start to get serious.

Last year at this time there was a great deal of worry (see my post).  June and July had been wet.  Yet the grapes on the vines looked pretty developed (dark colour), more so than they do this year.

But the weather this year has been better.  Though not a picture postcard sort of Summer, there has been rain but nothing really serious, and nor has there been excessive heat.  Yesterday was hot and incredibly humid.  Today the wind is blowing hot and dry air from the South, it’s 31 degrees Celcius.  Rain is forecast for tomorrow.

Unsettled yes, but nothing to suggest anything like the difficulties of 2007 at this stage.

Chateau Marquis de Terme 2004

86 Points

Margaux, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Dark and bright but not scarily so. Fragrant with nice French oak. Surprising sweetness on the front palate balanced by acids on the finish giving an overall fruit-like effect. Still the sweetness is tad cloying without food. New World-ish? Slightly perhaps though the tannins are fine and grippy.

Out of step quality wise with its neighbours.

Leave for 4 years.

PS on the 2nd night it was more savoury but the acid and tannins astringent, not a favourable combination.

PPS the 2000 vintage is a slightly better wine, plus with the benefit of 4 years of age (88 points).  Not showing the richness of 2000, another wine to show that this wasn’t the super quality nor even as consistent a vintage that en primeur tastings suggested.

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Chateau Frachet 2004 cuvee prestige

75 points

Premieres Cotes De Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

This wine proudly displays its medals, its picking at optimum maturity, and 14 months in new oak.
Unfortunately this translates to an extracted wine, a touch porty, with raspy tannins. It’s great to see these minor Bordeaux gaining in concentration but this is trying too hard and I don’t like the recipe.

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Chateau Lanessan 2004

80 points

Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Lanesson is a large but well sites vineyard next to St. Julien. It tends to produce simple old fashioned luncheon claret but I had the impression that things were improving. And 2004 is such a pure consistent vintage that I thought perhaps they might show something special this year. But no. Wait for the 2005.

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Chateau Malescot Saint Exupery 2001

87 points

Margaux, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

I’m unfamiliar with this chateau. I bought a case of the 2004 based on critics reviews, Parker especially has been complementary in recent years. Otherwise I know nothing about it.

This was unexpected, however, given my knowledge of 2001 which is a good vintage, well priced, suffering if anything from a degree of mudiness, i.e. the fruit isn’t super pure it doesn’t sing, but the quality producers show none of this producing good wines in a reasonably priced vintage. Why was it unexpected, because of the whack of oak, almost coconut. It’s an elegant wine, good acidity, but that oak it really does border on excessive.

Hmm, it’s very clean modern, not extracted, but I’d prefer the oak was less obvious. Mint toffee wine. Don’t touch it until 2010 see what if it is more integrated then.

Jean-Michel Gerin Cote-Rôtie ‘champin le seigneur’ 2004

90+ points

Côte-Rôtie, Northern Rhône, France. 13%

Deceptive wine. At first it is fresh very young simple Shiraz (with a touch of Viognier ?), quite floral, but that finish, it has a lovely touch of fruity sweetness, and it goes on and on.

On the nose there are some complex smoked meat aromas.

In Australia I’m usually unimpressed with Shiraz/Viognier blends, but this is obviously what they are trying for – and shiraz-wise some cool climate producers are doing a good job, but are perhaps a bit too hamfisted when it comes to adding the Viognier. Or maybe in the Rhone it just works. Or maybe this wine doesn’t really have much Viognier, it just seems that way.

Anyway, it’s an interesting wine and quite lovely. Enjoyable now, but I’d rather drink it in 2011.

Chateau Pontet-Canet 2001

90 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

This has been highly rated by many wine critics (Jancis Robinson gave it as high as 18/20 “big and bloody and pretty sumptuous”) which I can understand. It’s hard to find anything but glowing reviews for Pontet-Canet in recent vintages. However I’m not greatly enamoured by the style of this bottle, it seems to be going down a Leoville Las Cas road which to me sacrifices some charm and a little complexity for deep ripeness.

The tannin is lovely, and there is a green seem, but dense ripeness that reminds me of vintages like 1982, 1989 and 1990 – which is pretty impressive for a 2001. The alcohol on the finish is a little too noticeable.

Chateau Peyretaille 2004

79 points

Pércharmant, France. 13%

40% Merlot, 40% Cab Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cot.

I’d not heard of this region. It’s out past Bergerac. A Sud Ouest wine, first prize in the ConCours Regional Des Vins Du Sud-Ouest.

Floral nose with touch of vanillin. Warm, lightish, hollow wine with light warm fruit and youthful acidity. Quite good for its price (5 euro).

Chateau La Tour Carnet 2004

87+ points

Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 13%

A 4th growth, this is its 595th harvest. Now owned by Bernard Magrez (of Chateau Pape Clement).

This is dark and concentrated with plenty of new oak. You get an awful lot of concentration per euro. I’m downpointing it a little becuase I feel it is a bit too extracted. Perhaps it will gain some elegance and charm with age, but I worry.

Hard to drink now, it tastes like it has just been bottled. Oaky, dense – not much fun. Too extracted ?

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2004

91+ points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Considerable new oak aromas, a touch of flyspray astringency.

A dark strong wine with lashing of oak, that impart astringency but also a touch of creaminess. This is quite a bold GPL, one of the best in recent years (and hence best value too given the restrained prices of 2004). I expect this wine will have a very long future of fine drinking. If you have some in your cellar you should be pleased.

For more on other GPL vintages click here.

The Wine Doctor’s chateau profile is here.

Chateau Rollan de By 1999

89 points

Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Dark solid colour.  Lifted aromatic, slightly plummy aromas – distinctly Rollan de By.  Almost like a St.Emilion but not, yet definitely Merlot, and ripe and no sign of dilution, nor green.  But soft and even a bit fleshy.  Yet with some grippy acid and tannins.  Interesting, great drinking now.  Perfect cafe wine – though I doubt you’d ever find a bottle of this (9 years old) now in a cafe.

1855.com finally deliver – well sort of

All of my emails went unanswered, even the email to the marketing director, and the email asking for the order to be cancelled.

Instead I received an email from 1855.com saying that 75% of my order had shipped.  I thought that was a bit rude after receiving emails to cancel the order, but at least it was progress.  And today, 4 days after receiving that email, and a bit over a month after placing the order I have 18 bottles.  Fortunately I was home when the courier arrived – this was what I was worried about, and hence prompted my initial emails and calls to 1855.com.

If the last 6 bottles arrive safely from 1855.com I will post the news here.  I hope they do because they were the main reason I placed the order.  But I fear they won’t as they are no longer listed on the 1855.com web site.

UPDATE: the wines did arrive, and fortunately I was home when the courier called. The next day I received an email apologising for not replying to my (many) previous emails and asking if I wished to wait for my remaining 6 bottles or have a refund. I asked for a refund and received a prompt email saying it had been processed.

Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion 2003

87 points

Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Fun enjoyable.  Showing some of the dusty ripe grapes of 2003, low acid plus a rather alarming degree of brown on the rim.  But the touch of exotic oak is well handled.

Drink now.  Not very intellectually demanding.

PS This estate has nothing to do with Ch. Haut Brion, indeed is located at the other end of Pessac-Leognan.

Chateau D’Aurilhac 2005

88+ Points

Cru Bourgeois.  Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%

This sort of wine confirms my expectations for 2005, there are going to be some very good moderately priced Chateaux.  Consumed over 3 nights (to give it a bit of oxidation) it’s an intense wine with powerful fleshy core of fruit.  A total lack of herbaceous character, yet still adequate fresh acidity.

Chateau Malartic Lagraviere 2004

90 points

Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France. 13%

An open knit style of wine with a dash of sweet oak.  Less freshly floral/herbal than the 2004 Margaux I’ve been trying lately, but with a herbaceous tone instead.  Lovely core of sweet fruit.

I expect this wine will live for a long while due to its charming balance, but it drinks early.  I’m not scoring it as high as similarly priced Margaux 2004 because it seems less complex, but I have reservations about my judgement – charming wines can be deceptive (charm isn’t necessarily simplicity), they can just get better and better.

Chateau Labegorce Zede 2004

91+ points

Margaux, Bordeaux, France. 13%

I’ve not ever had wine from Château Labégorce Zédé before and I’m impressed.  Very sophisticated.  Lovely herbal tones on the nose.  Palate is fresh, zippy, ripe with smidge of smoke on the finish.  Complex for such a young wine.  A expect a great future, it has sufficient stuffing, and great balance, to provide good drinking for a dozen more years at least.

Clos du Marquis 2004

89 points

Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France. 13%

The first impression is of oak and concentration fruit.  For me it brings to mind young New World and Bordeaux wines consumed in hotel rooms whil travelling – not an entirely happy memory.

Given substantial breathing this is still a rather masculine and New World cabernet oriented wine.

This is the 2nd wine from Leoville Las Cases.  One of the very first, and arguably technically not a 2nd wine in that it is a separate vineyard area, not I believe, casks rejected from the grand vin.

I’m starting to wonder if the Leoville Las Cases house style is to my liking.  I’ve enjoyed the 2004 Margaux wines more, due to their fragrance and delicacy inspite of being concentrated intense vin de garde.

Chateau Haut Bages Liberal 2004

91 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Another very good 2004.  Dense fresh cabernet, Pauillac.

Haut Bages Liberal is doing very well lately, and this is perhaps the best I’ve tasted.  It’s too young of course, but the acid is not too prominent.  There is more depth and opulence than the, also very good, 2002.

Chateau Potensac 1998

90 points

Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Blackcurrent aromas.  More concentrated, fresh and clean that the Cissac of the same vintage.  Classy.  Less rustic that the 2001 Potensac.

Great value, woth the 4 extra euros than Cissac 1998 – also bought off retail shelves at 10 years old.  Bargain.

I cancel my 1855.com order

To see how this turned out click here.

From: Byron Sharp
Date: 4 July 2008 4:47:11 PM
To: contact@1855.com
Subject: Re: 1855 / Thank you for your order !

I instruct you to cancel this order and return my money (credit my credit card).

I am cancelling my order because you have not answered any of my emails.  I have phoned several times and each time my questions regarding delivery are not answered.

Byron Sharp

On 07/06/2008, at 12:35 AM, order@1855.com wrote:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your order with 1855. (You will find the summary below)

For all your question concerning your order ( Shipping delivery, invoice, …) please contact us at +33 (0) 1 42 61 1855 or contact@1855.com

A tres bientot,

1855 Team

A delivery will be done within 10 – 15  days.

1855.com saga continues

1855.com have done nothing to change my opinion that they are one of the worst wine retailers in the world.  See my previous post on how 1855.com took my money but answered no emails or questions via phone.

Following the instruction to ring back in an hour, I spoke to a gentleman who said he could not cancel my order of tell me anything about it as his computer screen only gave my name and address.  He said I would need to speak to “an agent” and none were available.  When I asked how this could be he said everyone was busy and then hungup.  Yes he hung up on me.

Wow. I’ve never experienced anything like this buying wine, or anything for that matter.  Don’t buy from them.

To see how this turned out click here.

1855.com worst wine retailer on the web

1855.com, based in Paris, claim to be the largest wine retailer on the web.  In my experience they are the worst.

I created an account with http://www.1855.com and placed an order for two cases of wine to be delivered to an address in France where I was staying.  On the 7th of June my credit card was charged.

Nine days later I sent an email to 1855.com asking when the wine might be delivered, saying I needed warning because I had not stayed at this apartment before and was unsure of how deliveries where made.  No reply.

Three days later I emailed 1855.com again.  No reply.

Four days later I emailed again.  No reply.

So I phoned.  Several times I reached a recorded message that said all 1855.com operators were busy, please phone back.  What a great way to look after customers, and take phone orders !!  Eventually I reached a person who acknowledged that my emails had been received, she said she couldn’t answer my question but would email me the answer.  No answer ever came.

Eventually their web site updated to include a delivery date for my wine “tow (sic) to three weeks from order date”.

Four weeks after order date I rang, and rang, and rang.  Finally I reached a person, Charlotte, who told me that she couldn’t help me now and that I had to call back after the weekend on Monday.  I asked why and she said because they were busy phoning customers.  “But I’m a customer, why can’t you serve me now, I would like you to cancel my order and refund my money, I no longer trust your company”.  But she said she couldn’t do anything, or tell me anything about my order, and that no one else available could.  She could not explain why anything would be different on Monday.

In an hour I will phone http://www.1855.com again and try to get my money back or my wine.  Meanwhile I thought I should write this note of warning to others.

To see how this turned out click here.