2014 is a good to very good vintage for the red wines of Pessac-Léognan. The best have very attractive aromatic profiles, plenty of depth and texture to the fruit, and attractive freshness and acidity. There is a general sense that the wines need to round out and fill in further during elévage, but many show real promise. A few of the lesser properties lack concentration and in a few cases tannins were a little tough. Haut-Brion, followed by Haut-Bailly, Smith Haut Lafitte, La Mission Haut-Brion, Domaine de Chevalier and Pape Clément, have all produced very impressive wines. Behind these Olivier [especially] along with Bouscaut, Carbonnieux, de Fieuzal, and Latour-Martillac have produced reds of note. Again these wines are often priced competitively compared to wines of a similar quality in the Haut-Médoc appellations such as Pauillac and St Julien. Many, though by no means all, have been released at prices below that of comparable vintages [2008 for example] which makes them worth considering this year.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Carbonnieux’
The quality of Pessac-Léognan’s dry white wine is exciting in 2014. Whilst the quality of recent vintages has been high here, 2014 looks excellent. Once again there is a salty, saline touch to the wines, which, by and large, display refreshing and moreish acidity but there are plenty of ripe, pretty fruit flavours to be found in the wines too. Overall they will give much enjoyment. These are stylish, impressive white wines with verve and character. If you are a fan of top class white Bordeaux then they are usually worth buying en primeur as, unless you plan a trip to Bordeaux, they are produced in small quantities and can be hard to find.
Now the dust has settled on primeurs week my verdict would be that 2014 Bordeaux is a good to very good vintage for red wines, a vintage which favours the Left Bank especially, but there are also many successes on the Right Bank too. Without doubt it is the best and most consistent vintage since 2010, though it is not up to the quality of that vintage nor its predecessor 2009, with a couple of possible exceptions. 2014 is another excellent vintage for the dry white wines of Bordeaux and there are a number of stylish sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac. Given the overall quality of the reds, 2014 is definitely a vintage worthy of purchasing en primeur, assuming the price is right. Early indications are that prices will remain stable or increase a little from 2013 for the top estates [an altogether inferior vintage for the reds]. Still given exchange rates, this will still be a reduction of between 10-20% if you are a GBP or USD customer – so if that’s your currency 2014 is potentially interesting. The litmus test usually is that chateaux must release cheaper than any physically available vintage otherwise an en primeur purchase makes no financial sense. So, even if by default, 2014 may be the first vintage since 2008 to offer decent prospects for the consumer. Fingers crossed!
The highlights from Wednesday’s 2014 tastings were the juicy, appetizing quality of the Pomerols shown at JP Moueix and the depth and breadth of the white wines in Pessac-Léognan. In St Emilion there are some impressive wines [Figeac, Cheval Blanc, Clos Fourtet] but there is some inconsistency – some reds are a little extracted relative to their fruit. The best had bright vivacious qualities, and there was certainly a voluptuous aspect to the set of Neipperg wines shown at Canon-la-Gaffelière. There was plenty of extract, matter and acidity on display amongst the reds at the UGC event held at Château Smith Haut Lafitte. I generally enjoyed the more composed and harmonious – Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Olivier, Pape Clément and Smith Haut Lafitte were especially impressive.
There is no doubt that 2010 is a great vintage in the classical sense for the reds of Pessac-Léognan. These are long-term wines, in many cases it was as if they were being woken up rather too suddenly, bleary eyed to present themselves. If 2009 screamed out coquettishly from the glass, these 2010s took much longer to assess at the same age at the MW Institute. Clearly profound wines of great depth, they still needed to be coaxed in the glass to show their qualities, and because of the remarkable gravity of fruit, you needed to spend more time than usual to get your bearings as to just how [incredibly] good many were. Château Haut-Bailly and Château La Mission Haut-Brion were tops for me – Haut-Bailly is an absolutely stellar effort. Château Haut-Brion vies with an extremely impressive Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Domaine de Chevalier and Château Bouscaut are both gorgeous, while Château de Fieuzal, Château Malartic-Lagravière and Château Carbonnieux [tasted separately] are concentrated and dense.
The red and white wines of Pessac-Léognan are looking good now they are in-bottle. The whites have good aromatic profiles, plenty of flavour and nice acidity. The reds are medium bodied, forward and attractive. 2012 would appear to be an early-maturing vintage for both styles. Top of my list for red and white would have to be Château Smith Haut Lafitte. It had produced two very impressive wines. Close behind are Château Bouscaut [two outstanding efforts from this property], Château de Fieuzal, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Domaine de Chevalier and Château Pape Clément. Château Haut-Bailly has made an impressive, masculine red, and Château Olivier and Château Carbonnieux have made lovely vibrant whites.