Bordeaux’s primeurs week ended for me, as it began, in St Emilion. While perhaps 2014 will be seen as a vintage for the Cabernets and therefore the Left Bank, there is in fact a lot to like about the texture and freshness of the best wines from Pomerol and St Emilion. Cyrille Thienpont who works with his father at many Right Bank properties [including Berliquet, Larcis-Ducasse and Pavie-Macquin], said it was as much the terroir that mattered [well drained, clay-limestone] as the variety [Merlot/Cabernet] in St Emilion. These thoughts were echoed in Pomerol by his cousin Alexandre Thienpont at Vieux Château Certan [the 2014 VCC is an intellectual beauty by the way]. What pleased him was the marriage of the Merlot and the Cabernet on his property. The vintage, he believes, allowed the elements to combine well, and that the strength of the wine [and perhaps the vintage?] was in the combination rather than in any of the particular elements here on the Right Bank.
I’ve already reported briefly on some of the properties Nicolas Thienpont consults for, but Chateau Beauséjour, in a addition, is a thoroughbred beauty and stunning in 2014. Tasting at Pavie-Macquin also allowed the opportunity to look at several other properties Thienpont runs on the Côtes de Bordeaux, namely in Francs [Puygueraud and La Prade] as well as Castillion [Alcée]. These districts [Castillion especially] benefitted from slightly drier conditions in the growing season than St Emilion, and these three wines looked successful, Alcée especially so. Whites from Puygueraud and Les Charmes Godard confirm the success of 2014 for dry whites, but that’s also partly the expertise and attention to detail evident in Nicolas Thienpont’s set up.
Impromptu trips in Pomerol to La Conseillante and L’Evangile showed nicely balanced, harmonious wines in 2014, without the sheer gloss and appeal of 2009 or the density of 2010, but nevertheless appetizing and intellectually stimulating wines that will probably develop in the manner of 2008 or maybe more 2001.
My first trip to Château Pavie revealed a bevy of dense wines with plenty of structure, extract and evident use of oak. Pavie itself was the pick of the bunch, with lots of pure fruit with multiple layers, and there is a lot of density and extract overall. Monbousquet was also quite nicely done, though it is structured and a little tight at present. Others like Clos Lunelles [little toward the pruney] and Pavie Decesse [little towards the jammy] felt a little chewy, and I’d like to see how these develop down the track. Bellevue-Mondotte has great fruit and formidable levels of extract and a long, if currently rather chewy, finish.
Château Canon looked beautifully pure in 2014, in what we now know will be John Kolasa’s final vintage here [he’s retiring]. The 2005 also shown was in tip top form, just entering its plateau of maturity, but with ten to fifiteen years more life ahead of it.
A rather rapid trip to the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin – always a treat for the senses – did not disappoint. Château Valandraud looks almost epic in 2014 – a remarkably saturated and concentrated effort – but neither jammy nor overly dry on the finish. Clearly a lot of work goes into this wine to get the creamy, tactile mouthfeel it has. It may not be to everyone’s cup of tea, but my Bordeaux tastes are eclectic, and it works wonderfully for me. I was also impressed by a very fat and rich Clos Badon [St Emilion Grand Cru] and the Lalande de Pomerol Domaine des Sabines. I’ll post in more detail on all these wines with notes and scores in the coming weeks.
If the trip ended in St Emilion, I began the day in Pessac-Léognan at Château Haut-Bailly. It was my first visit to the property and seeing the remarkable terrior first hand was an education. This is a estate with a very long history and the vineyards lie in one large bloc that surrounds the property. The 2014 is very classic in the mould of 2008 or 2001. The 2005 shown to me was very impressive indeed and is already drinking very well.
All for now. I’ll digest my overall thoughts on the 2014 vintage this weekend – these initial posts have been dashed off [somewhat] in order to give you some immediate impressions. So I’ll post a more comprehensive overview soon and then start the laborious process of reporting on each of Bordeaux’s principal districts separately, starting on the Right Bank. Whether Bordeaux 2014 is worth considering en primeur depends largely on price, but if theses are sensible there are definitely wines to consider this year. Cheers for now…
Tags: Alexandre Thienpont, Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2014, Chateau Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse, Chateau Bellevue-Mondotte, Chateau Berliquet, Chateau Canon, Chateau Haut-Bailly, Chateau L'Evangile, Chateau La Conseillante, Chateau Larcis Ducasse, Chateau Monbousquet, Chateau Pavie, Chateau Pavie Decesse, Chateau Pavie Macquin, Chateau Valandraud, Clos Badon, Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Castillion, Côtes de Franc, Cyrille Thienpont, Domaine des Sabines, Jean-Luc Thunevin, Nicolas Thienpont, Pessac-Léognan, Pomerol, St Emilion, Vieux Chateau Certan