For all the talk of a Left Bank vintage, the Right Bank, specifically the Côtes de Bordeaux comprising Blaye, Bourg, Cadillac, Francs and Castillon has produced a number of impressive wines in 2014. Francs and Castillon stood out for me at the Grand Cercle tasting late last month but there are successes elsewhere. There is plenty of flesh and sophistication in the best Côtes de Bordeaux and they should prove good value. In Castillon Château Alcée and Château d’Aiguilhe [especially] and Château Veyry are very good. In Francs Château de Franc, ‘Les Cerisiers’, Château La Prade and Château Puygueraud stand out. In the Côtes de Bourg Château Fougas Maldoror has produced a very good wine.
Winter 2013-2014 on the Right Bank was one of the wettest in 50 years but it was also mild. This gave rise to an early budbreak and the prospect of an early harvest. From mid-April onwards the weather cooled and with May also cool [and wet] the vegetative cycle slowed. The first two weeks of June however were hot and dry allowing for a reasonably uniform flowering but summer itself never really stuck. July and August were cold and wet. Much work was required in the vineyard [canopy management, green harvests] and the vintage, initially looking like an early one, would undoubtedly be later. Then summer finally came. From late August [27th onwards] until the end of October [with a few patches of rain in mid October] the weather was exceptionally hot and dry. These conditions, by and large, allowed growers to harvest in their own time [unlike in the extremely challenging 2013 vintage].
On the best properties and with the right approach, the conditions allowed for the harvesting of grapes with ripe tannins but also fresh fruit and aromatic profiles. It’s an intriguing combination – ripeness and freshness – which makes 2014, across the board, an interesting vintage. There is less density than 2010 but generally more weight than 2012. As I said at the top from my tastings Castillon and Francs succeeded the best, though my tastings overall in the Côtes were confined to the wines shown blind by the Grand Cercle [15 wines] at a very well organized event at Château Belfont-Belcier and those producers who advise and produce in Castillon and Francs [such as Nicolas Thienpont and Count Stephan von Neipperg].
The following wines from Côtes de Bordeaux are listed in alphabetically. As usual the notes are more important than the numbers. I’ve also included notes on two excellent whites, Château Puygueraud and Château Charmes Godard.
Château Alcée [Castillon]
Deep and saturated look; earthy purple at edge; nice fruit; creamy but fresh; cherry and plum; full; little fruit cake note; texture; mid palate; cream but also minerality; nice depth; full. Serious. Nice fruit on the finish. Tasted 3 April at Château Pavie-Macquin. Drink 2019-2025. 88-90+
Château Ampélia [Castillon]
Mid depth; light but more purple at edge; wood on the nose; fruit bit submerged; palate similar; wood first; dry; some texture but feels a tad hollow to me. Finishes short and woody. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2022. 81-84
Château d’Aiguilhe, [Castillon]
Deep and saturated colour; tight to the edge; lovely aromatics; creamy black fruits; some wet rocks; lots of concentration on the nose; some wood but doesn’t mark the fruit; liquorice and plum cake notes to the fruit; open creamy and saturated palate. Plenty of glossy extract here. Excellent and exciting. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc 30% oak, 35 hl/ha]. Tasted Canon-la-Gaffeliere 1st April ’15. Drink 2019-2030. 90-92+
Château Bel Air La Royère [Blaye]
Deep saturated look; rich, ripe cake like fruits; full; some wood; full; nice extract; some chew but has flesh; wood needs to integrate; nice fruit; good; nice balance; lacks length but has extract and chew. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2017-2022. 84-86+
Château Cap de Faugères [Castillon]
Mid depth; little light at the edge; light strawberry and red fruit tones; delicate; some silk; easy; lacks concentration; delicate; some red fruit components; may fill out; soft edge; lacks bit of middle; nice ripeness, bit simple on the finish. Drink 2017-2022. 84-86 [Second tasting] Mid depth; vibrant edge; chalky wet rock; red fruits; vibrant; vivid; some ribena and ink; little stretched in the middle; will fill out. Nice finish. [85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 150,000 btls]. Tasted Canon-la-Gaffelière 1st April ’15. Drink 2017-2023. 84-86
Château Cap de Faugères, Old Vines La Mouleyre [Castillon]
Deep core; nice aromatics; really sublimated but open; lovely black cherry tones; full; vibrant jam; but nicely done; glossy; sweet and ripe on the palate; plenty of guts and matter; finishes with good length; little lifted. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10,000 btls]. Tasted Canon-la-Gaffelière 1st April ’15. Drink 2018-2025. 87-89
Château Carignan [Cadillac]
Mid depth; attractive look; vibrant; little acetic; some spices and red fruit tones; little stalky note; perhaps a little closed? Little green; tart; slightly vegetal edge? Hardness here…some sap and texture and acid on the finish. Little hard overall. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2017-2023. 81-83
Clos Chaumont [Cadillac]
Mid depth; earthy note; some sweetness; little lift; little bubblegum fruits; some life and sap; simpler; sweet fruit; sappy; easy; nice tension; lacks weight but nice acid and fresh. Easy. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2017-2024. 84-86+
Clos Puy Arnaud [Castillon]
Deep-ish; dark core; lively and vibrant edge; vibrant fruit; summer compote; blackcurrant and Morello cherry; juicy aromas – appetizing; cherry notes; hint of kirsch; very cherry; quite nimble and fruit driven; some chew and sap and acidity here. Good stuff. Should fill out and settle better. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2025. 85-87
Château Cote Montpezat [Castillon]
Deep, fraction looser than above; redder edge; little smoky; lapsang notes; some spice; easy fruit; open; some sap and life; spices; direct but has some texture. Not extracted and will be an early drinker in a fruity/spicy style. Little wood on the finish here but doesn’t mask the relatively light to mid-weight fruit. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2023. 85-86
Château Fougas Maldoror [Côtes de Bourg]
Deep and saturated; very opaque at centre; legs; attractive fruit; concentrated but nicely presented; some oak but the fruit is here [definitely] and this feels sophisticated; nicely linear and focused; blackcurrant fruits; very good balance and elegance. Fruit is there. Fine tannin on the finish. Focused. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2025. 87-89
Château de Franc ‘Les Cerisiers’ [Francs]
Deep and saturated look; arterial; very dense look; smoke, coffee; some wet earth; sweet entry; attractive fruit; some earth; blackcurrants; nice sweetness and gloss to the fruit; nice finish; caressing and nicely done. Nice length. Very attractive Bordeaux on the palate. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2025. 87-89+
Château Haut Bertinerie [Blaye]
Healthy saturated colour; full and attractive fruit; some wood; plum and some spices; full; little simple; dips; easy fruit some depth and texture to the palate; mid weight; little brambly/briary fruit; chew on the finish. Bit short presently. May fill out. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2023. 84-86
Château Joanin Bécot [Castillon]
Saturated and opaque; tight to edge; little woody; green streak but full; some tea; quite polished palate; little chew to the tannins; more gravelly/chalky texture; contained; not austere exactly but little lacking in generosity and roundness. Bit serious. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2022. 84-86
Château de Laussac [Castillon]
Mid depth; sweet fruit; little sweaty note that blows off; some sweetness; red fruit tones; feels simple; some nicely handled oak here; fruit, cherry aid tones; some fruit; spices too. Not that bad. Modesty. Will come good. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2017-2022. 83-85.
Château La Prade [Francs]
Mid depth; purple edge earthy; chalky; black cherry more mineral tones; chalky; nice sweet entry; ripe fruit; black cherry; textured again; more solid feel in the middle. Nice finish. Density at the end. Tasted 3 April at Château Pavie-Macquin. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89
Prima du Château Carignan [Cadillac]
Healthy saturated colour; vibrant purple at edge; full; some peat; little undergrowth; not unattractive; blackcurrants here; nice polish and style; ambition; wood; bit hard presently on the palate; not that much joy on the palate; rather dry tannins. Disappointing in the end. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2022. 81-83.
Château Puygueraud [Francs]
Lovely colour; deep at centre; earthy purple at edge; ripe; minerality; black fruits; black cherry; textured aromatics; perfume; creamy entry; plums and blackcurrants; ripe; textured red; nice palate; good mid palate; very good extract and grip on the finish. Tasted 3 April ’15 at Château Pavie-Macquin. Drink 2018-2025. 87-89+
Château Reynon [Cadillac]
Mid depth; attractive look; bright bubblegum fruit; like a cru Beaujolais; should be an easy drinking crowd pleaser; easy; juicy fruit; simple; lacks sophistication but should prove easy and drinkable. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2017-2022. 85-87
Château Veyry [Castillon]
Deep and saturated; healthy look; full aromatics; some fatness; wood on the nose; feeling of some saturation; nice flesh and texture to the fruit; sweetness and attractive; nice palate; some style and polish here. Tasted blind Grand Cercle 29 March ’15. Drink 2018-2025. 86-88+Whites Château Puygueraud [Francs]
Pale silver/gold; brilliant; taut; citrus; tight; pear drop and candy; with lees notes but concentrated; zesty; lees notes; grapefuit and citrus tones; vibrant and zesty. Hand harvested. [55% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Sauvignon Gris]. Drink 2016-2020. 87-89+Château Charmes Godard [Francs]
Pale silver gold; ripe grapefruit; softer and rounder; some candy; more weight on the palate; grapefruit; mouthfeel; some grapefruit and lees; nice round style. Spicy finish some grapefruit. Nice finish. [50% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Gris, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, hand picked, aged and fermented in 500l oak barrels]. Drink 2016-2022. 87-89+
Tags: Bourg, Cadillac, Castillon, Chateau Alcée, Chateau Ampélia, Chateau Bel Air La Royère, Chateau Cap de Faugères, Chateau Carignan, Chateau Côte Montpezat, Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Château de Franc ‘Les Cerisiers’, Chateau de Laussac, Chateau Fougas Maldoror, Chateau Haut Bertinerie, Chateau Joanin Bécot, Chateau La Prade, Chateau Puygueraud, Chateau Reynon, Chateau Veyry, Clos Chaumont, Clos Puy Arnaud, Côtes de Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg, Côtes de Castillon, Côtes de Franc, Francs, Prima du Chateau Carignan