Day three on primeurs week saw me start off in Margaux with an early morning tasting with Thomas Duroux at Château Palmer. There is great depth to Palmer in 2015. It looks to be an exciting vintage in the appellation. Though there is some variation in experience, Margaux, overall, had less of the September rain that dampened things further up the Haut-Médoc. An emotional trip to Château Margaux then beckoned. This was the first primeurs tasting in the château’s new Norman Foster designed chais and winemaking facility. Obviously it was also the first primeurs for thirty years or more unaccompanied by Paul Pontallier. It was an emotional experience. All the things he had worked for at Margaux had come true – an impressive new cellar and a beautiful wine in 2015 – a fitting epitaph for a fine man.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Brane-Cantenac’
Margaux has had a good to very good vintage in 2014. It vies with 2012 as being the best year here since 2010. The quality is not quite as outstanding as it is further north in the Haut-Médoc [St Estèphe, for example has produced wines that rival 2010] but I was still impressed with many of the wines in Margaux for their balance and elegance. Things feel significantly more homogeneous here than in the past in what remains a very heterogeneous and large appellation. Out side of Château Margaux and Château Palmer I was very impressed with Château Brane Cantenac, Château Giscours, Château Lascombes, Château Marquis de Terme and Château Rauzan-Ségla. There are good efforts too from Château Angludet, Château Cantenac Brown, Château Kirwan, Château Labégorce, Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry, Château Rauzan Gassies and Château Siran.
Seventeen wines from the Margaux appellation in 2010 were shown by the MW Institute late last year. While there’s variation, generally the wines shown were very impressive. They have vivid fruit characters and show attractive tension and freshness. Once again there is more structure, grip and tannin evident in the wines than in 2009 so, in general, these 2010s need more time in bottle to show their best. At the top end Château Margaux [pictured here] has produced a 2010 every bit as good as its 2009. It is a fabulous effort. This is closely followed by an extremely plush and concentrated wine from Château Palmer, perhaps even better than their glorious 2009? Château Brane-Cantenac and Château Giscours are both beautiful. They show depth, purity and elegance. Château Lascombes is typically lush and forward while at the other end of the scale Château Rauzan-Ségla is dense and long term. Structured, balanced wines have also been made at Château Durfort-Vivens, Château Ferrière, Château Kirwan and Château du Tertre. Château Prieuré-Lichine and Château Rauzan-Gassies are full and gutsy.
The MW Institute’s Annual Claret tasting of over one hundred top chateaux held last November was a good opportunity to assess how the 2010 Bordeaux vintage is developing. There is no doubt that this is a great vintage for many reds. It has been pretty consistent from cask to bottle, a vintage generally much more classical than the precocious and forward 2009, but of similarly prodigious quality. Taken together these two vintages make an exceptional back-to-back duo for Bordeaux, especially so on the Left Bank and in Pessac-Léognan. The same can also be said for Sauternes and Barsac. Pomerol and St Emilion once again have made many excellent wines in 2010, often extremely well endowed and big framed, though sometimes too much so in St Emilion when they nudge sixteen degrees.
Originally I was impressed by the overall quality of the Margaux appellation in 2012 during primeurs. Last month’s UGCB tasting in London has done nothing to shake the belief that many properties here have, by and large, made a set of enjoyable, reasonably full and delicious wines. There is appetizing vigour and sap in the best but plenty of plush Merlot fruit in evidence too. This variety really succeeded in 2012. It gives a forward and attractive aspect. There is elegance – this is not a set of blockbuster wines by any means – but the balance and harmony is striking. The vintage clearly plays to the virtues of the appellation. Early maturing Margaux for sure, these wines are generally more homogeneous and enjoyable for me than 2006, 2007, probably 2008, and certainly 2011 and 2013.
The Margaux appellation has struggled more than most in 2013. A great many wines tasted at the Union des Grand Crus tasting were in a kind of no-man’s land. The delicate fruit tones of 2013 had been worked too much in quite a few cases, rendering them chewy and extracted yet with puckering levels of acidity. Some very good wines have still been made. I’ve posted separately on Château Margaux and Château Palmer. Both stand out as beacons of hope but neither are what you might call affordable. Elegant efforts from Château Angludet, Château Giscours and Château du Tertre are pure and vigorous and worth considering if you’re a Margaux fan [like me]. Château Rauzan-Ségla and Château Brane-Cantenac, Château d’Issan and Château Lascombes, should also work out well too. The disappointments seem more to do with approaches to the vintage in the cellar as much as the problems that 2013 presented itself. In some respects many of the Margaux wounds are self-inflicted.