The Grand Cercle sent half a dozen wines from its members in the Graves region from 2019 vintage. The Graves is an excellent district to find good value Bordeaux and this is evidently true in 2019 which is clearly a successful vintage here. Since the creation of the Pessac-Léognan appellation in 1987 the Graves appellation faded into the background a little, as all the region’s historic and well-followed properties were decanted off into the new appellation. I’m most familiar with the Château Rahoul, Château Ferrande and Château de Chantegrive in this district, all members of the Union des Grand Crus, as well as Clos Floridene through the UK’s Wine Society. Château Brondelle, Château Crabitey, Grand Enclos du Château de Cérons and Château Haura were new to me. I have also included notes on Le Prélat de Pape Clément from Bernard Magrez and Château d’Uza, sent by Jean-Luc Thunevin.
Generally, the Graves reds showed good colours, with plenty of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit flavours. The tannins were soft and the wines were easy and generous overall, although there was some phenolic astringency in some reds. Where they lacked mid-palate richness and the tannins felt present, I’d be tempted to put this down to the dry conditions undermining the final ripening of the tannin profiles of the reds, especially where harvest happened before the helpful late September rain. The whites were generally full, round and low acid. They have early drinking appeal.
I was impressed with Château Crabitey for its fresh, zappy white and its soft attractive red. Both had style. Château Brondelle’s red had plenty of fresh, gutsy fruit and soft vanilla tones, although there was a little astringency on the finish here. Reds from Château Haura and Clos Floridene, while perfectly correct, did feel a little taut in the middle. They had less mid palate richness than I expected. Clos Floridene white was impressive, however. It was substantial and full and combined this with an attractive saline edge. Grand Enclos du Château de Cérons seemed to have performed will in both guises, with a soft, full, early drinking red and a round, attractive white that had plenty of zap too. Château Lesparre, in the Graves de Vayres district, produced a gutsy red and a forward, textured white.
Le Prélat de Pape Clément, part of the Bernard Magrez range of wines, comes from vineyards in the municipalities of Cérons, Illats and Podensac. Both work well in 2019. The red had plenty of sturdy vibrant fruit and the white has freshness but also weight. I was struck by the concentration and intensity of Château d’Uza, a collaboration as I understand it between the Guignard family and Jean Luc Thunevin. This had a buckload of fruit and extract, which hopefully will be tamed a little by further elévage.
The following wines were tasted in June. All the samples were air freighted to London by the producers or by Le Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux on behalf of their members. Thanks to them for making these tastings possible this year.
Château Brondelle, Graves, 2019
Mid depth; red at edge; soft aromatics; easy; some vanillin lift; some wine gums and blackcurrants; little earth; opens up; warmth; ripe black fruits with vanilla oak notes; nice entry; little dusty but plenty of fruit and grip; freshness on the palate; gutsy; little astringency from the tannins but works. Will drink well early. Later more savoury tones emerged, alongside ripe fruit, peat and chocolate notes. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2024-3030. 87-88+
Château Crabitey, Blanc, Graves, 2019
Brilliant silver gold; grassy; fresh; candy; like this; grapefruit; citrus tones; fresh and zingy; has zap and life. Works well in a surprisingly lively style for the warmth of the vintage. [Vineyard 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2024. 86-88+
Château Crabitey, Rouge, Graves, 2019
Mid depth; deep at core; earthy red at edge; healthy looking; fresh blackcurrants and dark cherry; spices and damp earth; like this; attractive and fresh; sturdy; forward; lovely sweet ripe entry; soft and attractive this will provide immediately pleasurable drinking; forward and ready; low acid style of graves; soft textured tannins; like this. Good finish. [Vineyard 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2032. 88-90
Clos Floridene, Blanc, Graves, 2019
Pale straw/silver; candy; grapefruit; even lychee hints; feels substantial; full; nice palate; almost salty and saline edge with weight; lovely combination. Bravo – lovely white. [Vineyard 56% Sémillon, 43% Sauvignon Blanc, 1% Muscadelle]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2025. 90-91+
Clos Floridene, Rouge, Graves, 2019
Mid depth; earthy red/purple at edge; little oak; some red/black fruits initially; ripe aromatics; opens up; earthy intensity here; some methol and liquorice; little tart on the palate; feels somewhat pinched; has freshness and some vigour but feels a little tight on the mid palate. Lacks generosity. May fill out after elévage. [Vineyard 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2030. 85-87
Grand Enclos du Château de Cérons, Blanc, Graves, 2019
Pale silver/green; round and attractive; candy & pear drop; full; zesty but with white melon and guava notes; nicely textured mouthfeel; with some citrus zip on the end; has weight and zip; delightful now! [Vineyard 50% Sémillon, 50% Sauvignon Blanc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2023. 88-90
Grand Enclos du Château de Cérons, Rouge, Graves, 2019
Mid depth; red at edge; ripe and sweet fruit tones; soft; redcurrant notes; sweet fruit; redcurrant and rose hip; has middle; quite elegant; soft; has a good middle and ripe texture to the tannins. Easy finish. Good wine. [Vineyard 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2028. 87-88+
Château Haura, Graves, 2019
Mid depth; more purple at edge; fresher looking than some; little reductive at first; opens up slowly; some wine gum notes on the palate; more compact on the palate than I’d hoped; a little chew to the tannins; feels complete overall but lacks mid palate richness for me. May fill out during elévage. Let’s see. [Vineyard 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2030. 85-87
Château Lesparre, Blanc, Graves de Vayres, 2019
Pale straw; full bodied white; ripe; some candy and pear drop; some creamy notes; apple; guava; broad and rich; textured palate which has a creamy mouthfeel; lacks a bit of zip but is forward and appealing. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2025. 86-88
Château Lesparre, Rouge, Graves de Vayres, 2019
Mid depth; little darker; more black cherry and liquorice notes; like this; earthy plums; ripe; feels concentrated and deep; attractive fruit; some grip; gutsy. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2028. 86-88+
Clos d’Uza, Graves, 2019
Super arterial; really forward aromatics; blackcurrants and wine gums; creamy; fresh entry; blackcurrants; quite solid and full; texture here; lots of inky intensity; really full on extraction makes it feel a little dry on the finish currently. Like to see how this develop during elévage. Bucket load of fruit here evidently. [94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2030. 88-90
Le Prélat de Pape Clément, Blanc, Graves, 2019
Silver gold; brilliant and shiny; some citrus; candied peel; quite full [Sémillon influence]; some dry white characters; appetizing entry with plenty of pleasing acidity and life; not hugely complex; has nice zip. Salty finish. [73% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Sauvignon Gris & 1% Muscadelle]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2025. 88-89+
Le Prélat de Pape Clément, Rouge, Graves 2019
Mid depth; healthy look; red purple at edge; fresh, briary brambly fruit; attractive and quite Bordeaux; some blackcurrants and stalky earthy notes; little undergrowth; nice and pure; fresh sweet fruit; earthy blackcurrants; mid weight; some chocolate; solid gutsy red on the palate. Pretty easy going red in a fresh and vibrant style. [45% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2028. 87-88+
Tags: Bdx19, Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2019, Cabernet Sauvignon, Château Brondelle, Château Crabitey, Château Haura, Château Lesparre, Clos d’Uza, Clos Floridene, Grand Enclos du Château de Cérons, Graves, Graves de Vayres, Le Prélat de Pape Clément, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, vin, wine