My last day of tasting Bordeaux 2015 started in Pessac at 8am at Château Haut-Brion. The Domaine Dillon wines are impressive in 2015. This is the easily the finest vintage for Château Quintus, their St Emilion. It is intense and substantial. Château La Mission Haut-Brion is bold and tannic [and 15.1% alcohol], Château Haut-Brion itself is simply gorgeous. It has structure and succulence. Beautiful on the nose, it has wonderful mid-palate richness. It also weighs in at 14.9%, but in neither did I notice the alcohol. Their rare whites have weight and freshness. Next up was Château Haut-Bailly. It has produced a typically pure and substantial 2015. The fruit tones are beautiful [lovely Cabernet] and the palate is well structured.
Château Malartic-Lagravière held the UGCB tastings for the Pessac-Léognan appellation. Overall the whites had attractive freshness and weight. My pick was Château de Fieuzal, though Domaine de Chevalier is very fine, alongside a classic Château Carbonnieux and a bold Château Bouscaut. Château Pape Clément has weight and depth. Château Rahoul in Graves once again stood out. The whites didn’t suffer from the September rains and the cooler August appears to have preserved acidity in the grapes. For the reds Domaine de Chevalier, de Fieuzal, Pape Clément, and a great effort from Pique Caillou impressed. Again, as in other districts there was rain in mid-September in Pessac-Léognan but far less than in the northern Médoc. Generally it doesn’t appear to have affected the wines. There is plenty of weight and richness to be found in the reds.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte wasn’t shown at the UGCB, so a quick trip to the property showed the estate has made excellent whites and reds as usual. They have also changed the label as part of their 650th birthday celebrations and also to celebrate the 25th vintage of the Cathiard couple that run the property. It’s a pretty sleek look [which they may well keep].
A record-breaking F1 drive then got me up to Pauillac to Château Pontet-Canet by 1.30pm. Theirs is a voluptuous and wonderfully pure 2015. Pontet-Canet regularly produces some of the most exciting wines in all of Bordeaux and this vintage displays beautiful fruit tones in a decidedly grand cru Côtes de Nuits style. Lunch at the property allowed the chance to taste their mature 2004. This is impeccable Pauillac: blackcurrants and graphite aromas with surprising roundness on the palate for the vintage.
Talking of mature treats, the next stop was Château Latour. The property exited the en primeur system from the 2012 vintage but Latour still shows samples of the nascent wines, all to be realised later with some maturity [and usually in tranches]. There is beauty and purity to both Les Forts de Latour and Latour itself in 2015. They have gone for delicacy and expression of fruit over sheer concentration. The grand vin is not dissimilar to neighbour Léoville-Las-Cases in St Julien. Beauty again is the word in both wines, Latour the more concentrated and bolder of the two.
The real delight at Latour these days is to taste the quality of the current releases. First up is an exceptional 2010 Pauillac. This is made up from vats that don’t make it into Les Forts de Latour and young vines from outside Latour’s walled Enclos. In a sense it isn’t so much of a third wine, but a second, given that Les Forts has an identity of its own these days. This is terrific Pauillac that in 2010 is clearly at the level of many good crus classes. It is almost a match for the exceptional 2009 released a few years ago. Next up is Les Forts de Latour 2009. This is very special and just entering its drinking window [though endowed with plenty of fruit and tannin to last the years]. Finally, Château Latour 2000. This is remarkable stuff. It represents the last major tranche of the wine to be released by the château. It’s got twenty years at least ahead of it at least. Together with last years spectacular 2003 release, these wines show the remarkable quality of Latour in the very great vintages, even if 2000 and 2003 are chalk and cheese stylistically. I’ll write in more detail on these wines in a later post. All very exciting.
After that treat, I had time for a quick trip to Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste to taste Château Haut-Batailley [typically fine and attractive] alongside their impressive ‘GPL’, before heading down to Château d’Arsac, deep in the interior of the Margaux appellation, to look at a selection of 2015 crus bourgeois.
There is no doubt that for the cru bourgeois properties the 2015 vintage is at its most difficult in the Northern Médoc. A few properties looked goodish – such as Château Loudenne, Château Greysac, Château Les Grandes Chenes and Château Tour St Bonnet, but 2014 is a much better and more consistent vintage in this appellation. Many wines were dilute and washed out. The same is also true of St Estèphe. Many usually exciting properties, such as Château Beau-Site and Château Le Boscq, were watery and rain affected.
The Haut-Médoc appellation is also heterogeneous for the crus bourgeois, partly as the vintage rain in September affected different sectors disproportionally and the appellation covers a very wide area from Ludon in the southern Haut-Médoc, to north of St Estèphe. Again there is much more homogeneity and quality to be found in 2014 in this appellation at this level, which was a far safer and more satisfying bet than 2015 looks to be. I will write in more detail on these wines in a separate post.
The real pick up to the end of the day was the quality and finesse of the wines of Sauternes and Barsac, shown at La Lagune. 2015 looks to be a wonderful vintage [the clue was in the perfect Château d’Yquem tasted earlier in the week at Château Cheval Blanc]. There are a bevy of wonderful wines with great acidity and freshness but also beautiful aromatics and ample girth.
Next up a vintage overview following the week’s tastings in Bordeaux. After this I will publish detailed notes on each appellation’s wines tasted across the trip, profiling some of the star performers, starting with the various Côtes de Bordeaux appellations.
Tags: Chateau Bouscaut, Chateau d'Arsac, Chateau de Fieuzal, Chateau des Grands Chênes, Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Chateau Haut Batailley, Chateau Haut-Bailly, Chateau Haut-Brion, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Chateau Latour, Château Loudenne, Chateau Malartic-Lagravière, Chateau Pape Clément, Chateau Pique Caillou, Chateau Pontet Canet, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Chateau Tour St Bonnet, Côtes de Bourg, Domaine de Chevalier, Haut Médoc, Les Forts de Latour, Margaux, Pauillac, Pauillac de Latour, Pessac-Léognan, St Estèphe