1989/1990 Right Bank Bordeaux Tasting

1989/1990 Right Bank Bordeaux tasting 3-25-2016

Vienna Cafe and Wine Bar – Davie, FL

IMG_4667 2 copy

1989 and 1990 produced some of the best wines out of Bordeaux in the past 25 years, and both have already become legendary vintages. This is certainly true in the Right Bank appellations of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. It is often debated which vintage produced the better wines overall, as well as at many of the top châteaux. Neither professional critics nor wine amateurs can agree on which is the preferred vintage at châteaux such as La Conseillante and Angélus. With this in mind, we arranged a tasting of some of the top Right Bank wines from 1989 and 1990. What we found on this night should not be surprising at all; all of the wines in the tasting were superb, and there was little variation in the strength and appeal of these wines. It was very difficult to rank the ‘best’ wines on this night, and the subjectivity of this exercise has never been more apparent than on this night. Any of these wines could have been ‘wine of the night,’ and it almost seemed unfair to rank and score them. But in the end, the top three wines (chosen by the ten participants) were the 1989 Château Angélus, 1990 Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse),  and 1989 Château Clinet.IMG_8316

1989 Château La Conseillante: Elegant. A beautifully perfumed and fragrant nose. Very ripe red fruits, blueberry, truffle, very floral, with some Asian spices. Such purity of fruit in this wine. Not as concentrated and dense and the 1990 La Conseillante. Finesse and elegance on the palate. Excellent balance, with tannins nicely integrated. High acidity and a lengthy finish. This never ran out of steam, and just seemed to open and up and improve with passing time. 96/100

1990 Château La Conseillante: Layered and elegant. The nose started out a bit shy, but it really blossomed after two hours of air. Plum, cherry, floral, mint, sous bois, and sweet tobacco. Less floral and more earthy than the 1989 La Conseillante. This also exuded elegance, with silky tannins and a soft mouthfeel. Great complexity on the nose and palate. Beautifully balanced. Tannins nicely integrated. Medium-high acidity. A long finish with lots of lingering fruit and freshness. 95/100IMG_8285

1989 Château Clinet: Powerful. A beautiful core of plum and ripe cherries, with spices, mushroom, and damp earth. Dense and enormously concentrated. A rich wine. Full mouthfeel, with a fantastic balance. Nicely structured with soft but fairly prominent tannins. Well-balanced acidity on the finish. While perhaps not a 100 point wine, this is a powerhouse wine that is definitely at its peak and impressed most at the tasting. 97/100

1990 Château Clinet: Focused. One of the surprises of the night, in that it rivaled the 1989 Clinet (and surpassed it for some at the tasting). Really ripe and pure red fruits, with earthiness, mocha, and lots of floral notes. A beautiful ruby color. A really great weight to the wine. Very clean and linear. Less power and structure than the 1989 Clinet, but perhaps a bit more charm. Very soft tannins. This wine is in a good place right now, and was much better than the last bottle that I had several months ago. Probably won’t have the longevity of the 1989, when it’s all said and done. 95/100
IMG_8320.JPG1989 Château Tertre Rôtebouef: Rustic and exotic. I was expecting big things from this wine, after the incredible bottle of this I recently had (from the same case). This started out with a really exotic nose of red fruits, bacon, pepper, flowers, and dark chocolate. Surprisingly, the nose seemed to close down over time. Good weight and concentration, but didn’t seem to have the same finesse and elegant mouthfeel of the last bottle. Standing on its own, this wine could still hold its own; tonight, however, it just didn’t stand out. Will have to try this again, as there is just so much potential with this wine. The complexity is obviously there, and there is ample fruit and structure for this wine to shine. 93/100

1990 Château Tertre Rôtebouef: Dark and spicy. For most at the tasting, this was preferred to the 1989 Tertre Rôteboeuf. Dark fruits, black cherry, sous bois, spice, flowers, and anise rounded out some really nice aromatics. It did start out a bit shy, but opened up very nicely over time. Exotic like the 1989, but with more power and concentration. Firm tannins and medium acidity. A really nice finish with medium length. While not one of the top wines of the evening, this was still an excellent wine that held its own. I would consider giving this wine more time, as it seems that a bit more synthesis needs to occur. There is a serious core of fruit here, so there should no worry with holding this wine for a bit longer. 94/100

IMG_83211989 Château Angélus: Powerful and earthy. Probably my favorite wine of the tasting (though this was a difficult choice, given that all of the wines were impressive and so evenly matched). This was easily the most intoxicating nose of the evening, and it was hard to keep my nose out of the glass. Ripe plum, cassis, blackberry, sweet barnyard, soy, chocolate. After about an hour, there was a serious burst of violets on the nose. Very ripe and pure fruits. Powerful and dense on the palate. Full-bodied mouthfeel. The complexity of the nose was matched on the palate. Good freshness on the finish. Tannins still need more integration. This was truly a complete wine, and one that stood out due to its uniqueness of its aromatics and its power on the palate. 97/100

IMG_8336.JPG1990 Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse): Complex and complete. Struck by its very dark color, showing little signs of aging. Plum, dark fruits, mint, damp earth, and tobacco round out the aromatics. Complex, concentrated, and balanced, this wine seemed to have all of the necessary elements. Lots of structure; the tannins are round but still fairly prominent. High bright acidity contributing to lots of freshness on the finish. This wine has so much time left, and is just getting started. The immense amount of fruit, coupled with its solid structural makeup, bodes well for anyone who has this wine in their cellar. A standout on this evening. 97/100

1990 Château l’Evangile: Charming. This continues to be a really unique wine from l’Evangile. This was quite different from the other wines at the tasting. Red fruits, chocolate and sous bois. A bit lighter on the palate, almost seeming Burgundian at times. Still has noticeable tannic structure, with its ultra-soft tannins. High acidity creating a nice brightness on the finish. This is a very charming wine, especially if you like the light, elegant style. While some have reported bottle variation with this wine, this wine was spot-on with the last bottle tasted several months ago. 95/100

1990 Château Troplong Mondot: Dark and brooding. A bit closed down initially, but opened up nicely after an hour. Black cherry, raisin, earth, menthol, and coffee. Impressive concentration and complexity. A full-bodied mouthfeel. A really powerful wine. Lots of structure with firm tannins. A finish with impressive length. I get the sense that this is not yet at its peak and is going to improve. With the fruit concentration and structure here, this wine has a long life ahead of it. It just seemed like it was holding back a bit on this evening. 93/100

Advertisements

Bordeaux Trip Overview – May/June 2016

dIssan 3When we started planning this most recent trip back to Bordeaux, we never envisioned how enriching it would be. But by trip’s end, we had connected with old friends, made new ones, and left with a broadened perspective of Bordeaux. We visited during the 2015 futures campaign, which obviously permeated throughout the visit. It was clear that the winemakers and proprietors in Bordeaux are very pleased with the 2015 wines overall. We tasted many of these, and we can now see why.

L1020495b IGFirst, the 2015 vintage itself…the general consensus is that the 2015 prices have been as expected, and fair. The average increase of 25% over the 2014 wines was expected due to the rise in quality in the wines. The wines we tasted were rich, structured, and with fresh, ripe fruit; this was across the board. Some of them certainly stood out among the others. But it’s safe to say that people are buying 2015 Bordeaux. Ludovic Fradin of Smith Haut Lafitte told us they sold out in two hours; but what’s most surprising is that the U.S. was their biggest buyer. Perhaps things are changing in Bordeaux…

Cos dEstournel 2.JPGWe visited a number of great estates on both the left and right banks. A visit to Cos d’Estournel finished with a lovely lunch at the estate. We had a great visit and tasting with Bruno Rolland, the third generation Cellar Master at Léoville Las Cases, where we tasted wines from the entire Delon range, from Nenin to Clos du Marquis to Léoville Las Cases.

Lafon Rochet 1.jpgA visit with dynamic Technical Director Lucas Leclercq at Lafon Rochet was also quite educational and enriching. It was great to check out their beautiful new vat room, with concrete and steel vats that had been installed only eight days before the 2015 harvest. On the left bank, there were other great visits to Lagrange, Dauzac, Brane-Cantenac, d’Issan, and du Tertre. While in the Médoc, we stayed at Château du Tertre, which we would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone planning a visit to the Médoc. A private tour there was highlighted with a tasting their unique 2015 blanc, composed of Chardonnay, Gros Manseng, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Tertre Roteboeuf 1As busy as we were on the left bank, we were even busier on the right bank. Again we stayed at Logis de la Cadène, one of our favorite places to stay (and eat!) in and around Bordeaux. The dining in Saint-Émilion was superb, as always; you simply can’t go wrong with places like Le Tertre, Logis de la Cadène, and Les Belles Perdrix. One highlight was our morning spent with François Mitjavile at Tertre Rôteboeuf. His passion and philosophies about wine are inspiring. In his cellar, we tasted with 1989 Tertre Rôteboeuf, as well as the more recent 2014 and 2015 vintages. Les Belles Perdrix group.jpg

After proprietor Jean-Bernard Grenié joined us for lunch at Les Belles Perdrix, he guided us on a private tour of Château Angélus. We also had a great visit with Comte Stéphan von Neipperg at Canon-la-Gaffelière, where we discussed organic sustainability.

On this trip, we had some very memorable dinners. One of our best gastronomic experiences was at Logis de la Cadène, with Ronan Laborde and Monique Bailly of Château Clinet. Among the wines of the night were the 1985 Château Le Gay and 1990 Château Gazin. Prior to the dinner, we toured the new and very impressive Ronan by Clinet facilities.Logis de la Cadene 2.jpg And after touring the new facilities at Château Mauvesin Barton, we enjoyed a delightful dinner with the Barton family and some of their fantastic wines. And before departing Bordeaux, we had a final dinner with Fred Vicaire of Château Coufran, Basile Tesseron of Château Lafon Rochet, and Ferdinand Mähler-Besse of Sobovi.

Branaire Ducru 2There were a number of highlights on this particular trip, but the crescendo occurred following the Union des Grands Crus tasting. First, we attended a lovely dinner at the beautiful Château Branaire-Ducru in Saint-Julien. Proprietor Patrick Maroteaux is the vice-president of the UGCB, and certainly hosted a dinner to remember. Following a tour of the property with son François-Xavier, we were treated to an excellent French meal and even better wines. Smith Haut Lafitte, Canon, Rauzan-Ségla, and La Tour Blanche were all there to share some of their wines as well. But the highlight was the Imperial (6 liter) bottle of 1995 Branaire-Ducru.

Branaire Ducru 1On the morning after the dinner, we were treated to a tasting at Branaire-Ducru that included the 2009 to 2015 vertical. It was quite enlightening to note the evolution and differences among the wines. It was also easy to see why M. Maroteaux prefers the 2010 vintage to all others. Following this, we were then treated to a lovely lunch at the estate. And to celebrate Allison’s upcoming birthday, they even opened a bottle of 1983 Branaire-Ducru and served a ‘cake’ of cannelés!

St EmilionSo it’s one more visit to Bordeaux in the books! This was a truly special trip, where there was never a dull moment. It was another reminder that while the region may be known for its wines, but it’s really the people who are the soul of Bordeaux. Look out for upcoming blog posts, where we will add a bit more detail to all of our adventures. We look forward to a return trip in the near future. but until then, we will continue to Drink Bordeaux!

 

Bordeaux Trip Overview – September 2015

Even though we had recently visited Bordeaux earlier in the summer, it was obviously hard to stay away for long. We found ourselves coming back a mere three months later. It turned out that this was a fantastic time to visit. The skies were clear. The rains abated. And fortunately for us, the harvest was just beginning. The 2015 Bordeaux vintage was just hitting its stride. 1-chateau-haut-brion-harvesting-grapes

Our trip began in St.-Émilion, where we stayed at the restaurant/B&B Logis de la Cadène. Hubert de la Boüard, owner of Château Angélus, owns this small guesthouse. For those who are aware of the fantastic restaurant, it should come as no surprise that the rooms here are top-notch. The service was also fantastic; we will definitely stay here again. Our visit here was also highlighted by a great dinner at Le Tertre, an excellent family-owned restaurant across from Logis. 

2-logis-de-la-cadene-2

In the Right Bank, we visited a number of properties in both St.-Émilion and Pomerol, including Clinet, La Conseillante, Petit-Village, Vieux Château Certan, Beau-Séjour Bécot, La Gaffelière, La Dominique, and Villemaurine. Echoed at most châteaux was the belief that the Merlot ripened extremely well, which should bode well for the vintage. Some even felt that the sugar ripeness was possibly a bit high and could lead to higher alcohol levels. Despite this, there was an excitement here that this vintage will easily eclipse the past four.3-chateau-la-conseillante-wine-glass-vineyard

When we reached the Médoc, the harvest was in full swing. Again, this early harvest was due to the excellent ripening of the grapes. We stopped by Château Margaux and spoke with Managing Director Paul Pontallier, who relayed his cautious optimism about the 2015 vintage. At Margaux, they were also planting a few vines in front of their new winemaking facility; these vines won’t be made into wine, however. They are going to serve as ‘reference vines’ to teach visitors about the different varietals. We visited other properties in the Médoc, including Lynch-Bages, Palmer, Phélan Ségur, and Giscours. At Palmer, Thomas Duroux was furiously moving through the vineyards, likely awaiting the upcoming harvest.

4-chateau-palmer-back

Finally, we made it to Péssac-Léognan and Sauternes. The harvest was in full swing at Haut-Brion, which had already harvested the white grapes and had just started with the young Merlot (destined for the second wine). Château Climens in Barsac was also harvesting the beautifully botrytized grapes. We also visited La Mission Haut-Brion, Pape Clément, Guiraud, and d’Yquem. The weather throughout was just amazing, with clear azure skies contrasting with the rolling green vineyards.

5-chateau-haut-brion-tasting

Our trip ended in the city of Bordeaux. Again we dined at Garopapilles, one of our favorite restaurants in the city. The chef here previously worked at Haut-Bailly, and the food here is consistently brilliant. We also briefly joined Jane Anson, the renowned author of numerous Bordeaux books, for a glass of wine at Le Bar à Vin. This was followed by a special dinner  at Comtoir Cuisine, where good friends Hamish Wakes-Miller of Bella Wine Tours, Ronan Laborde, and Monique Bailly joined us. Ronan is the owner of Château Clinet, which produces some of the best wines in Pomerol. Ronan and Monique brought a bottle of 1960 Château Clinet to share with us, and what a special bottle this was. 6-chateau-clinet-1960

All in all, this was a whirlwind of a trip, but what a trip it was. We covered a lot of ground, but there is so much more to cover. Until next time… 

7-chateau-margaux-paul-pontallier

 

www.DrinkBordeauxWine.com

Pomerol VS Saint-Émilion Tasting

Pomerol and Saint-Émilion Tasting at Wine Watch in Ft. Lauderdale 10-21-2015

IMG_6200This year, Wine Watch in Fort Lauderdale has hosted tastings that compare two appellations. Obviously we decided that we just can’t miss any of these, especially one that includes an older Pétrus. Pomerol holds a special place in our hearts for multiple reasons. First of all, the wines of Pomerol are some of the most charming and unique in Bordeaux. But perhaps more importantly, older Pomerols can sometimes be so elusive to obtain. And let’s not ignore St.-Émilion, which had some heavy hitters in the tasting as well. The 1975 Pétrus was certainly one of the stars of the evening, but the 1998 Trotanoy has the potential to perhaps eclipse it. On the St.-Émilion side, the more modern style Valandraud and Peby Faugères stole the show, beating out classics Cheval Blanc and Canon. But on a night like this, one just has to feel fortunate to taste any of these greats. But if there’s one takeaway from this night, it’s that the Right Bank did very well in 1998.


IMG_62531975 Pétrus from Pomerol. Still with a deep, dark color. Nose of dried plum, dark fruit, licorice, mineral, cedar, and mushroom. Pure elegance in a glass. Still has a solid structure, with silky tannins. Gorgoeous finish. 97 pts


IMG_62541988 Château Lafleur from Pomerol. Exotic. Brighter red fruit than the Pétrus, a little pepper, truffle, and Asian spices. Solid mouthfeel. Still fairly tight and tannic. An impressive long finish. Took on a slight oxidized note after 4 hours, which was a bit concerning considering the present tannin structure. Not a crowd pleaser, but more of a bruiser at this stage. 93 pts

1989 Château La Fleur Pétrus from Pomerol. Initially disappointing, this did show some improvement with a couple of hours in the glass. Medium ruby color. A bit light, lacking concentration. Cherry and plums dominate. Would like to see more tertiary elements at this stage. Notable acidity. Slight bitterness to the finish, which subsided. 91 pts


IMG_62551989 Château Le Gay from Pomerol. One of the better surprises of the evening. Took lots of time to show itself and open up, but was quite impressive when it did. A much more evolved nose than the ’89 La Fleur Pétrus, with black currant, cherry, cedar, tobacco, espresso, and a hint of green pepper. Solid tannic structure. Like the balance here. Long finish. 95 pts

1998 Château Trotanoy from Pomerol. Really interesting to try this after drinking a bottle of this recently. Interesting bottle variation, with this bottle showing a hint of Brettanomyces (but in a very good way). Black currant, blackberry, earth, truffle, and espresso. Powerful but elegant at the same time. Full-bodied on the palate, hitting on all cylinders. Beautiful, long finish. A memorable wine. 97 pts


IMG_6256

1967 Château Cheval Blanc from St.-Émilion. The biggest disappointment of the evening. Like drinking chewing tobacco enveloped in a wall of tannins. Disjointed and flat. Aromatically very evolved, but the structure is still overbearing. Not much to like with this bottle. Hopefully, this was just a bad example. 87  pts

1985 Château Canon from St.-Émilion. Like the ’89 Le Gay, became much better after a couple of hours in the glass. Light ruby color. Fruity and earthy nose, with a charming old library book scent (which is so common in mature Canon). Light-medium body, almost Burgundian in a way. The strength here is the excellent finish, which just seemed to linger. Not a special wine, but I wouldn’t mind trying this again, with its very charming nose. 92 pts


IMG_6257

1998 Château Petit Cheval from St.-Émilion. Much more memorable than the ’67 Grand Vin. Red fruit, spice, and cedar. A fresh nose. Adequate mid-palate. Still quite tannic and tight. A good finish with no bitterness noted. 91 pts

1998 Château Valandraud from St.-Émilion. Another one of the strongest wines of the night. An amazing nose…still young and bursting with fruit, but with tobacco, sweet musk, and espresso. Definitely an exotic feel to this. Great mid-palate and finish. Silky on the palate. Love the concentration, balance, and overall like-ability. 95 pts


IMG_62581998 Château Peby Faugeres from St.-Émilion. Still appears very young. Very dark color, minimal lightening of the edges. Ripe plum, blackberry, licorice, spice, and chocolate. Full-bodied. Tannins still need a bit of further integration. Acid balances well with the fruit. Impressive length on the finish. 95 pts


IMG_6275At the end of the tasting, we opened up a couple of interesting bottles. We didn’t have high hopes for the 1967 Carruades de Lafite, but the 1995 was a treat and a surprise. The 1995 vintage has been known by many to be a somewhat tannic and backward vintage, but the Beychevelle showed very well and was quite approachable.

A Visit to Château La Conseillante in Pomerol

1-chateau-la-conseillante-bottles The beautiful bright purple color on the bottles makes Château La Conseillante stand out from the rest. This color is used to brand and to decorate their facilities, but the purple is not what makes this place so special, as it is all about location. Situated in Pomerol, La Conseillante is next to the famed Pétrus. La Conseillante has a special quality all its own, and is another of the very unique Pomerol properties to visit.

2-chateau-la-conseillante-tasting-room

Pulling up to La Conseillante, the building is very simple and fairly understated. Upon entering, you will find purple motifs everywhere, from the flowers to the walls.  There has been a lot of work done at La Conseillante, with a new vat room completed in 2012 with the installation of 22 concrete vats. 7-chateau-la-conseillante-vat-room

It is always great when a tour includes a visit to the vineyards. Our guide Audrey explained about the viticulture, and allowed a tasting of a sweet, ripe Merlot grape. The visit continued to the new and impressive vat room, where we met the new winemaker Marielle Cazaux, who previously worked at Château Petit-Village. She was very pleasant, and it was enlightening to hear speak about the current vintage and future of La Conseillante. The visit continued to the barrel room and then to the cellar, which had a bottle from 1912.

6-chateau-la-conseillante-grapes-vineyardThe tasting was in a room surrounded by natural light with windows overlooking the vineyards. The tasting included one wine from the recent 2014 vintage. But the view of the vineyards from the tasting room really enhanced the tasting experience.

4-chateau-la-conseillante-wine-glass-vineyardChâteau La Conseillante is a great place to visit in Pomerol. It is a château that splits the middle of a traditional Pomerol property and a state-of-the-art, modern winemaking facility. Here you get the sense that while the technology may evolve, the soul of the château always stays the same.

Collage-chateau-la-conseillante

www.DrinkBordeauxWine.com

Château Le Bon Pasteur 1996

IMG_4067Tasting Note:

Still drinking well and likely at its peak. Nice ruby color with faint orange at the edges. Nose was aromatic with no decant, though maintained over 2 hours. Noted blackberry, plum, chocolate, earth, fennel, spice, and hints of eucalyptus. Medium weight, velvety mouthfeel. Tannins soft and round. Medium-plus finish. This is a nice high-quality Pomerol that offers great value.


About Château Le Bon Pasteur:

The initial Le Bon Pasteur estate pre-dated the appellation system, which then split the estate into three parts: Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol, and St. Emilion. Two new chateaux were then formed, Chateau Bertineau-St.- Vincent (Lalande-de-Pomerol) and Chateau Rolland-Maillet (St. Emilion); all three wines are made in the Le Bon Pasteur facilities.  Harvesting is done manually, plot-by-plot. The grapes are then double sorted before and after de-stemming.

Three Interesting Facts:

  1. The name Le Bon Pasteur, meaning ‘The Good Shepherd,’ was chosen by previous owner Hermine Dupuy on Good Shepherd Sunday of the Catholic calendar.
  2. Joseph Dupuy was the initial owner, purchasing the land in 1920.  His grandson, the famed oenology consultant Michel Rolland, ran the estate from 1978 until it was sold in 2013.
  3. Le Bon Pasteur was sold to a Chinese businessman in 2013, due to Michel Rolland’s brother Jean-Daniel’s desire to sell the estate.
    Blend: 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc