Many of the red wines tasted during my visit to Bordeaux this April had freshness, engaging aromas, juicy fruit flavours, reasonable depth and generally soft tannins. On this basis 2017 is surely a good vintage? Well yes. For the best properties we’re talking of wines with elements of 2014, 2012 and 2008, possibly a combination of all three in certain places. Things are more exciting for the whites [it looks to be a brilliant year] and Sauternes too has excelled again. But these generalisations hide a somewhat heterogeneous vintage.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau La Vieille Cure’
My final day tasting primeurs 2017 took me again to the right bank. First it was to Fronsac and Château La Dauphine who held the Grand Cercle press tasting. A comprehensive look at the Côtes de Bordeaux revealed a little irregularity but many successes. Château Veyry, Château Cap de Faugères and Clos Puy Arnaud were good in Castillon, Château Réaut and Château Reynon impressed in Cadillac, with a stylish Château Haut Bertinerie in Blaye. In Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac the wines felt more homogeneous. I will write in detail later, but Château La Vieille Cure, Château Gaby, Château Dalem, Château de la Rivière, Château de la Dauphine were excellent. In Pomerol and Lalande de Pomerol some wines lacked depth, but there was also plenty of bright perfumed fruit on offer with fresh acidities. Château Taillefer, Château Feytit-Clinet, Château La Clemence and Château Bourgneuf all looked good. In Lalande de Pomerol, Château Tournefeuille and Château Jean de Gué showed well.
Saturday morning started in the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin. It’s always a tasting that I look forward to. Thunevin is candid about the late April 2017 frost which hit the right bank hard. Some of his properties and those he consults for were unscathed, some were left slightly affected, and others have been decimated. In some the effect is simply on volumes, in others it has also affected quality and style. I’ll write in more detail on St Emilion in a future post but the good news is that qualitatively Château Valandraud is excellent. It has wonderful perfume and layers of fruit. For me it is up there certainly with the 2012 and the 2014. St Emilion Grand Cru Clos Badon is in good shape [but very low production]. Jean-Luc’s Pomerol Le Clos du Beau Père also looks good.
There is elegance and sophistication in Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac in 2015. These appellations don’t produce the kind of ripe blockbusters you find in St Emilion or Castillon, but there is genuine grace and refinement here. These are wines that put on weight during elévage but often seem thoughtful and pensive early on. The picks for me tasted blind at the Grand Cercle event organised at Château Bellefont-Belcier were Château Barrabaque in Canon-Fronsac and Château Dalem, Château Fontenil, Château Moulin Haut-Laroque, Château Les Trois Croix and Château Villars in Fronsac. All these wines have ample fruit, structure and plenty of style. Château La Vieille Cure usually does very well in Fronsac but the sample I tasted felt odd to me and I didn’t have the time to taste an alternate sample unfortunately.
A dozen or so wines tasted from Canon-Fronsac and Fronsac were generally a rather lean bunch last month. There’s structure here and serious intent in some but not a huge amount of joy. The picks would have to be from Fronsac and include Château Les Trois Croix, Château Fontenil, Château de Carlmagnus and Château Dalem. Château La Vieille Cure is chewy and needs to settle while Château de La Dauphine, often excellent, has made something elegant, if rather light.
These appellations have produced a serious set of wines in 2012. There is plenty of fruit, complexity in many cases and no shortage of style. I’d expect these to be well priced and should prove good buys, better bets frankly than many of their similarly priced counterparts on the Haut-Médoc in this vintage. As you’d expect of Fronsac/Canon-Fronsac the wines are more structured than many of those in the Côtes de Bordeaux, less lush, more intellectual. Having just said that Chateau de la Dauphine looks an absolute treat. It is really seductive.