Working through 110 wines shown blind by Le Cercle Rive Droite on the last Sunday in March, D:Ream’s ‘Things can only get better’ was ringing in my mind. Slowly they did, but only slowly. There is no doubt that 2013 is the trickiest Bordeaux vintage since 1997 for the reds and the smaller producers in the Côtes de Bordeaux are amongst those who have probably struggled the most.
The best reds are sappy and lively with freshness and reasonably attractive fruit. Amongst these I’d put Château Mont Pérat in Cadillac, Château de Francs ‘Les Cerisiers’ and Château Puygueraud in Francs and in Castillon, Château Joanin Bécot and Château Cap de Faugères have produced good-ish wines. Château d’Aiguilhe, made from extremely low yields, was an impressive effort and for me is the pick of the wines I tasted from these districts.
I found the rest of the reds either lacking in fruit, unduly thin or dilute or with excessive sap and acid [sometimes a combination of these problems]. Some were masked by oak and felt pushed out of shape and disjointed. The tasting notes below are often savage. I’m sorry in a way as producers will have toiled hard just to make wine in 2013 in the face of almost insurmountable problems. At critical points in the growing season the weather was dreadful. First flowering was disrupted by rain and cool conditions, and Merlot was especially affected. Wet and humid conditions then threatened [and caused] rot at harvest. This forced growers to harvest grapes that were not at full maturity in order to save a vintage that otherwise would have been entirely lost to rot. Things would have been even worse if the crop had been larger and if July hadn’t been as hot as it was, mitigating some of the green characters that might have otherwise marked the wines more.
It may be that some of the wines I’ve rated poorly will come together a little better during elévage. A majority of the wines were tasted on an overcast day though I don’t think more sympathetic barometric pressure will add much of what is missing – namely fruit and flavour – or quell the high acids found in many.
I tried a couple of whites, Château Puygueraud and Château Charmes Godard. Both were pretty impressive, the latter especially so. I wish I’d had the opportunity to taste more of the regions whites, though I covered those from Pessac-Léognan pretty comprehensively [more later on these generally very good whites].
The following Côtes de Bordeaux wines were tasted at the Cercle de Rive Droite event held at Château Bellefont-Belcier. Others were tasted at tastings held at Château Canon-la-Gaffelière and Château Pavie Macquin.
Château Bel Air de la Royère, Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux
Earthy and dense-ish/deep-ish – legs, but vibrant too; little green streak; dense; some herbal tones; sap; sappy; acid quite present; little hard on the palate and mean and pinched on the finish. May settle. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 80-82
Château Haut Bertinerie, Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux
Mid depth; looser at edge; some sour cherry; thin and mean on the palate; acid and sap; no fruit. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 74-76
Chateau Fougas Maldoror, Côtes de Bourg
Mid depth; deep core; earthy purple at edge; light nose; some honey on the nose; very dry palate; mean and pinched [acid] very under-ripe and immature. Poor. Savage. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 72-74.
Château Carignan, Cadillac, Côtes de Bordeaux
Mid depth; less focused meniscus; bell pepper; some earth and a streak of green; stalky; mean palate; thin. May fill out a tad but there is a lot of green fruit in here. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 76-78.
Château Mont Pérat, Cadillac, Côtes de Bordeaux
Deep; vibrant at edge; some savour; black fruits; little cassis [reasonable – and pretty good effort]; some wood influence; fruit is tight but there; lean but not thin; some polish and reasonable finish. Complete [at least]. Best wine so far. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 83-85
Château Le Doyenné, Cadillac, Côtes de Bordeaux
Deep-ish but looser at the rim and more red; slight whiff of rot [botrytis] and vegetal hint; thin and dilute. Oh dear. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 70-72
Château Reynon, Cadillac, Côtes de Bordeaux
Mid depth; earthy purple [healthy]; light cherry fruit, not unattractive; little herbal tang; round[ish], some flesh but overall bit elegant. Bit of chew on the finish. Could round out further. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 80-82
Château Veyry, Castillon, Côtes de Bordeaux
Cherry at edge, vibrant, not the most concentrated look; some wood influence; little sour note at the edge; bit dominated by wood on the nose; wood on the palate; lacks flesh; little forced and disjointed. Chew from wood tannins on the finish. May come together later. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 78-80
Château Cap de Faugères, Castillon, Côtes de Bordeaux
Mid depth; light at edge; soft and light nose; soft and easy going; simple but no real hard edges; kinda works in an easy going way. Light but effective quaffer. Little dry at end but still ok [ish]. 82-84 Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite [second tasting] Deep colour; red at edge; stone fruits; soft and easy on the palate. Quite creamy. Drink 2018-2024. 84-86 Tasted 2/4/14 Chateau Canon-la-Gaffeliere.
Château Joanin Bécot, Castillon, Côtes de Bordeaux
Deep looking and tight to the meniscus; earthy at edge; deeper and more concentrated; some meaty tones with oak influence; black fruits; [legs]; little hint of earth and undergrowth; good attack – fruit here – bit sinewy but with some chew; tannin but nicely handled and comes good on the finish. Some chew. Not bad. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 83-85
Château d’Aiguilhe, Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux
Vivid and glossy, purple at edge; attractive spicy nose; deep, ripe and quite full on the palate; spicy cake mix; soft and sweet entry with plenty of fruit which is well handled. Nice chew and density. Good wine this and good effort in the vintage. Chewy finish but material is there. Astonishingly low yields here in 2013. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10hl/ha, 40% new oak]. Drink 2018-2027. 86-88+
Château Marsau, Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux
Deeper; more dense to edge; little vegetal – rhubarb and green bean notes; watery palate; dilute and no flavour; zero flavour or finish. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 70-72
Château de Francs ‘Les Cerisiers’, Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux
Deep and saturated looking; very tight to the meniscus; some black fruits; little graphite; solid effort; sweetish fruit; some weight; little extracted at the back; chew and material here but also sap and acid. Still it has the elements. Not a bad effort in context. Tasted blind 30/3/14 Cercle de la Rive Droite. 83-85
Château Puygueraud, Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux
Depth; some gloss; earthy purple edge; attractive sweet/sour cherry notes; nice texture on the palate, not over-extracted; lacks depth but not over-extracted; some elegance; little spice. Nicely managed. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 4 April 2014. 83-85
Château Puygueraud, Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux
Pale green/silver; fresh candy and pear drop notes; vibrant palate with some weight and soap alongside grapefruit and passionfruit. Attractive. Fresh and zippy. [youngish vines – 6/7 years old, did several passings and discarded 50% of the crop. Blend of 55% Sauvignon Gris, 45% Sauvignon Blanc]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 4 April 2014. 87-88+
Château Les Charmes-Godard, Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux
Silver green and very fresh looking in the glass; grapefruit, zesty and very refreshing; melon; vivacious; weight palate with style and verve; very fresh and round with good length. Very interesting white. [50% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon Gris, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, planted in 1988 – vineyard selection, juice selection and fermented in large 500L barrels with 15% new oak]. Tasted Pavie Macquin 4 April 2014. 87-89+
Tags: Blaye, Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2013, Cadillac, Castillion, Château Bel Air de la Royère, Chateau Cap de Faugères, Chateau Carignan, Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Château de Francs ‘Les Cerisiers’, Château de Puygueraud, Chateau Fougas Maldoror, Chateau Haut Bertinerie, Chateau Joanin Bécot, Chateau Le Doyenne, Château Les Charmes Godard, Chateau Marsau, Chateau Mont Pérat, Chateau Reynon, Chateau Veyry, Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg, Francs, primeurs