As you’d expect given the diversity of terroir in the Margaux appellation in 2008 things are more heterogeneous than in St Estèphe, Pauillac or St Julien. Once again the wines were a subdued bunch and only a handful sang on the day at the MW Institute 2008 tasting. Quite a few felt over-extracted relative to their fruit – this was surely not the vintage to be turbocharging – and neither does it play to the commune’s strengths, the beauty and elegance that mark the finest wines.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Brane-Cantenac’
I’m a Margaux lover but this appellation is utterly frustrating in 2011.The wines of merit are outnumbered by the disappointing here by a margin of almost 2 to 1. What’s gone so wrong? It was a challenging year of course but so it was for everyone else. Margaux, as one of the largest blue chip appellations, has a far wider variety of soils and terroirs than say Pauillac or St Julien, so this probably accounts for some of the irregularity. The drought conditions through the first half of the season, followed by topsy-turvy weather, cool summer but with a huge heat spike, would have also caused more problems in the vineyards here than elsewhere. This would have been especially the case on the lighter, gravelly soils that Margaux is famous for. So we’re talking about dealing with grapes with an unusual degree of irregularity in ripeness. Sorting in the vineyard, selection in the winery all would have been essential, even at those estates that had managed this tricky growing season well.
Usual mixed back in this appellation with diverse terroir, blends and wine-making styles. The best 2007s are worth considering at the right price. These include Chateau Palmer, Chateau d’Issan, Chateau Lascombes and Chateau Rauzan Ségla, but there are many here to avoid. 2008 is a slightly better bet, 2009 certainly so.
There is more variation here among the wines than in the other appellations reflecting, as usual, the different terroirs and winemaking approaches. It seemed that the wines were also suffering more from bottle shock than the other Medoc appellations. If you’re looking for quintessential Margaux perfume and the benchmark elegance and poise the appellation is famed for, look no further than Chateaux Brane Cantenac and Chateau du Tertre which both look terrific.
There is some variability here in Margaux both between the wines, some excellent, others over extracted, some variability between samples. Generally I was impressed by the wines on my first pass, the second pass I did the Margaux appellation slightly impressive, interesting as it was generally the other way around in the other districts. Of course the large appellation here with its wide variety of soils and terroirs does means that often you are not comparing like with like. There is also considerable variability between the blends in Margaux and in the wine making; some much more extractive and manipulative than others.
You might have imagined that a commune like Margaux, tending to have lighter, famously more gravelly soils, would struggle in a hot year like 2009. It is clear that heat stress on the vines did lead to some difficulties with grape ripening getting blocked, but this so-called ‘hydric stress’ did also act to slow down a harvest that otherwise may have completely runaway in alcohol, conditions that would have led to a corresponding evaporation of acidity. Denis Lurton of Chateau Desmirail believes that water stress was key in the vintage, ‘It kept the ripeness in check in the warm weather. The conditions gave us so much control to make different choices and it’s all about the choices. That helped us make a lovely wine. ’