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Bordeaux Primeurs 2013: Médoc

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

147 copyA dozen 2013 Médoc cru bourgeois and others tasted during primeurs week in April were generally light, fresh and vigorous.  Château Potensac stands out as a genuine success. It’s a good wine and excellent in the vintage context. Goulée, by the ambitious team at Cos d’Estournel, is also vibrant and refreshing. Château Patache d’Aux, Château La Tour de By, Château Les Ormes Sorbet, Château Loudenne and Château Blaignan are also successful for the vintage.

The Médoc is usually a first stop for well-priced and nicely made Bordeaux. If you like your wine appetizing and vigorous, then you will find enjoyment in the top 2013 Médocs. I don’t mean this as a euphemism for thin and acidic, though there probably are examples of this sort to be had. I did cherry-pick the best properties in the Médoc at the Cru Bourgeois Association tasting, but, as with their Haut-Médoc counterparts, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality I found in those wines. This obviously isn’t a vintage with the glorious ripe fruit qualities of 2009, or the bold structures and ageing potential of 2010, but, like 2007 and 2011, the very best provide authentic and appealingly fresh Médoc, though with more acidity and sappy freshness than both these years.

Interestingly there was actually less rainfall in 2013 in the Médoc than there was in 2012 and 2008, though still much more than average. Importantly though, the rain fell at particularly unwanted times. Along with very cool temperatures, the wet weather really disrupted the early growth cycle of the vines and, as elsewhere, led to problems in the flowering and fruit set of Merlot, an important component in the blends in the northern Médoc. July was hot and August dry, though less warm.

These conditions didn’t bring forward the October harvest dates particularly but, allied to appropriate vineyard work, they at least reduced the potential for green flavours and under-ripeness in the fruit. Still the damp, humid conditions that accompanied the harvest necessitated picking this fruit earlier than was hoped – so the picture in the Médoc was pretty much as it was all over Bordeaux in 2013.

So what’s in the glass? The quality and reliability of Château Potensac isn’t news to anybody. Part of the Delon group that runs Château Léoville-Las-Cases in St Julien, Potensac is a benchmark for quality in the appellation. It has succeeded admirably in 2013. The blend favours the Cabernets this year [49% Cabernet Sauvignon & 20% Cabernet Franc] reflecting the reduced yield on the Merlot. It is clean, fresh and sturdy for 2013.

The second wine here, Chapelle de Potensac is sappy and vigorous. It shouldn’t be ignored. Several satisfying bottles of Chapelle from the 2006 and 2008 vintages drunk during primeurs week [bought for less less than £10/$17 a bottle] emphasized just how it delivers decent Médoc at a reasonable price. It can clearly also take a bit of age.

Goulée by Cos d’Estournel is a very vibrant and positive experience in 2013. While it doesn’t have the weight and richness of 2009 or 2010 obviously, it is very nimble on its feet and is genuinely appetizing and nicely judged for the vintage. Château Patache d’Aux and Château La Tour de By are both reliable producers of good value Médoc. Neither disappointed in 2013. They express the freshness of the vintage. They are elegant but are without any weedy or dry characters.

La Tour de By shot

In a similar bracket, I thought Château Les Ormes Sorbet, Château Loudenne and Château Blaignan faired well. In a vintage where much was against the vigneron and winemaker, clearly these properties have worked hard to produce positive, vibrant wine. They are lighter and more elegant than usual but they have satisfying sap and vigour.

The following eleven wines were tasted variously at Château Léoville-Las-Cases [Château Potensac, Chapelle de Potensac], Château Meyney [Château Blaignan], Chateau Cos d’Estournel [Goulée] and the rest at the Cru Bourgeois association tasting at Château d’Arsac. I’ve listed them qualitatively, though [as ever] are more important than the numbers.

Château Potensac, Médoc

Deep at centre; healthy purple at edge; vibrant Bordeaux – sappy, fresh, blackcurrant tones; salt and mineral hints; quite sturdy on the palate with good fruit and chew; freshness – tannin supple and ripe; lacks a bit of density on the finish [may well fill out] but an excellent effort in the vintage context. [49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 13.14% alc, TA 3.70, pH 3.67, IPT 60, 33% new oak, 10% press wine, 39hl/ha]. 87-88+

Goulée by Cos d’Estournel, Médoc

Mid depth; healthy and vibrant looking; fresh, spicy nose; lively and lifted; redcurrants and cherry notes; light bodied but refreshing on the palate with good acidity and lift. To drink young with all the fruit and life. Lively and sappy. Good interpretation of the vintage. [60% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 12.6% alc, TA 3.3, pH 3.52]. Drink 2017-2022. 86-87+

Château Patache d’Aux, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc

Deep and saturated look; quite attractive aromatics; full; no trace of green fruit; full palate too with extract and material but no trace of dryness; sappy and well done. Some depth and ambition and delivers good vigorous Médoc style. Tasted Cru Bourgeois event at Chateau d’Arsac 3/4/14. Drink 2017-2025. 85-87

Château La Tour de By, Médoc

Mid depth; purple at edge; some graphite and blackcurrant tones; pure and elegant aromatics; palate fresh and pure Cabernet tones; little tightness and will be sappy – but what it lacks in density it makes up for in elegance. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2017-2023. 85-87

Château Les Ormes Sorbet, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc

Deep and saturated; vibrant edge; blackcurrant fruit tones; pure and fresh; some wood at the back still to integrate; ripe enough fruit beneath; some flesh here. Should work out pretty well. Tasted Cru Bourgeois event at Chateau d’Arsac 3/4/14. Drink 2017-2025. 84-86+

Château Loudenne, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc

Deep at centre; some ink and resin but nicely composed; blackcurrants and spices; palate has nice Bordeaux qualities; some leaf; appetizing blackcurrants and fresh tones. Good effort. Tasted Cru Bourgeois event at Chateau d’Arsac 3/4/14. Drink 2016-2023. 84-86+

Château Blaignan, Médoc, Cru Bourgeois

Mid depth; cherry, spices and black fruits; soft and fresh; soft entry; quite simple but honest. Has sap and freshness but not at all dry. Fresh and easy. Nicely done. [50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Drink 2017-2023. 84-86

Chapelle de Potensac, Médoc

Deepish; vibrant edge; vibrant fruits; spices and blackcurrants; some salt; lacks a bit of depth on the palate but well structured with vibrancy. Sap and chew at the end. Good-ish effort especially as a second wine. [66% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc 13.03% alc, TA 3.76, pH 3.63 IPT 52 39hl/ha 6.9% press wine, 10% new oak]. Drink 2017-2024. 84-86

Château Tour St Bonnet, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc

Mid depth; fresh; some stalky blackcurrant and Cabernet notes; bubblegum; wet rocks; sappy palate but fresh and vigorous. Tasted Cru Bourgeois event at Chateau d’Arsac 3/4/14. Drink 2016-2023. 83-85

Château Rollan de By, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc

Deepish; quite saturated colour; some resin and red fruits; spices and wet rocks; tightish; quite elegant high-toned style but with some middle. Lightish overall. Chewy/spicy finish. Tasted Cru Bourgeois event at Chateau d’Arsac 3/4/14. Drink 2016-2023. 83-85

Château Ramafort, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc

Deep colour; little resin on the nose; inky and rather chewy and chunky. Tasted Cru Bourgeois event at Chateau d’Arsac 3/4/14. Drink 2016-2020. 81-83

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