What a vintage for Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. The Grand Vin has extraordinary depth in 2019. It is a giant in terms of extract and structure. The fruit is so compelling and the tannins so supple, it must surely vie to be amongst one of the wines of the vintage, along with that other left bank stunner Pichon Lalande [more on that wine shortly]. This Ducru is clearly a legendary wine in the making. It feels more evidently tannic than the other potential ‘hundred pointers’ in 2019 but what a wine. It’s a fitting tribute for the 300th anniversary vintage here [yep Ducru has been around since 1720]. La Croix de Beaucaillou looks really good in 2019 too. It is wonderfully plush and refined. There are also some additions to Bruno Borie’s line up here with the release of St Julien Le Petit Ducru [effectively replacing Lalande Borie] and a new Haut-Médoc, Madame de Beaucaillou, both of which also impressed.
Posts Tagged ‘Haut Médoc’
It is a tribute to the dedication of the top estates in the Haut-Médoc that so many respectable wines have been made in 2017. In some cases that might also be a little of the luck of the draw. Some properties will have been less frost-affected than others because the best sites are often those that also offer some degree of frost protection by virtue of geography or aspect. Others will have made wine by sheer force of effort and wherewithal. Château La Tour Carnet, for example, lost well over 70% of their crop due to frosts. The very respectable red they have ended up producing has also been underwritten by the resources of owner Bernard Magrez. Smaller, less well financed properties, would have probably faired less successfully in the circumstances. Of the eight wines shown last autumn by the UGCB, Château Belgrave and Château Cantemerle led the pack. These are really stylish and complete wines which show a lot of flair. For the moment Château La Lagune shows less well. Though it has considerable purity, it felt a little sulky, but I would expect this wine to eventually find its stride. Excellent wines have been produced by Château Beaumont and Château Citran and both will offer good value. Château La Tour Carnet and Château Coufran are also good.
In the Haut-Médoc, the 2017 vintage doesn’t quite play as well as perhaps I’d hoped back in 2018 during my primeurs tastings. A lot of sites inland from the Gironde, such as Listrac and Moulis, suffered from the April frosts, and this has obviously affected the choices of blending elements, as well as volumes [as elsewhere in Bordeaux in this vintage]. I’m a great fan of these two appellations as sources of good value, vigorous wines, that have plenty of zap and life. Unfortunately, there is a certain angularity to some of the wines here in 2017. While the best terroirs have made the best wines here – Château Poujeaux is the most convincing – 2017 is not a vintage to particularly seek out here over 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. All these vintages are fuller and more complete than 2017.
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.
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.
I’ve recently been reunited with eight cases of Bordeaux that have been kindly stored in a friend’s cold cellar in Gloucestershire for half a dozen years. Much of it is pretty decent Bordeaux that finally coming into bloom from the 2005 vintage. There are also some 2006s, 2003s and 2000s from what are often seen as ‘lesser’ properties but which have provided wonderfully enjoyable drinking. The question that I’ve been asking myself as I’ve been reacquainting myself with these wines six years on is whether my taste for Bordeaux has changed…