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Bordeaux Primeurs 2013: Pauillac

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_5699Pauillac in 2013 reminds me of a lesser version 2011. Sound like faint praise? Given the extremely challenging vintage conditions this is a success. There are some very good wines here; some are good values too. Others are a little compact and there is a degree of austerity to a few. Partly this is because of the increased percentages [even for Pauillac] of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blends, partly perhaps also because of less than fully ripe tannin, partly too the combined affect of very fresh acids this year, more so than 2011, 2008 and 2007, the vintages to which 2013 has been already been compared.

You are probably very familiar with the difficulties of the 2013 vintage [certainly if you’ve been reading this site!]. If not a quick recap for any hermits just emerging into the light: a cold start to the season delayed vine growth in 2013; dreadful wet weather during flowering marred fruit set, and September humidity led to the rapid onset of botrytis, and caused the harvest to be picked earlier than hoped [by a week or more]. Only a very hot July and a slightly drier than average August, allowed the grapes to approach ripeness [though by no means in every case] without, by and large, any green characters in the fruit. There was less sugar in the grapes and alcohols are correspondingly far lower, around 12.5-12.75%. It’s a far cry from 2009 where 14% [and more] was the norm.


The first growths, Latour, Lafite and Mouton, have made very good wines. Others, notably Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Pontet-Canet, have made wines just as good in my opinion. I’ve already posted on GPL [the wine merchant’s favourite too, according to a Liv-Ex poll] and the biodynamic Pontet-Canet. At the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux [UGCB] tasting event, Château Pichon-Longueville looked to be a wine of depth, substance and some scale. Château Batailley was nicely composed and elegant. Château Clerc Milon, [also tasted at Mouton], looked successful, a notch above Château d’Armailhac, which is reasonable enough, but a little harder and more compact.

Château Lynch-Bages has a pretty bold, extracted style for the vintage and it feels chewy. It needs to settle but the elements are clearly there. It wasn’t among my best picks though it was released at a good price [that is, cheaper than any physically available vintage], so probably something to consider for ‘lunch-box’ fans. Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, 100% Cabernet this year, is fresh but a little austere at present. This will prove to be a fascinating wine given the usually high [for Pauillac] percentage of Merlot usually found in the blend [it represents 35% of the vineyard]. Down the line, this entirely Cabernet Sauvignon-based Pichon-Lalande should be capable of out-foxing the most cunning of blind tasters.

Château Grand-Puy Ducasse looks to be a good effort in the vintage context. It was pretty consistent on the three [separate] occasions I tasted it. There is some oak to integrate, but the fruit is good and the wine well balanced. Hubert de Boüard is the consultant here now [replacing Denis Dubourdieu] working alongside Thierry Budin and Anne Le Naour. There have been significant improvements at this estate in recent years.

Tasted separately from the UGCB, I was also impressed with wines from Duhart-Milon and Haut-Batailley. Duhart-Milon was intense for the vintage [and better than Carruades]. At Haut-Batailley there here is some oak to integrate but the wine offers good value as usual. Château Pédesclaux seems to be coming out from obscurity. The wine, managed now by Emmanuel Cruse [Château d’Issan], is nicely constructed for the vintage. Château Haut-Bages Libéral was inconsistent – once light and round, then second time thin and more acidic.

Château Croizet-Bages and Château Lynch-Moussas are light and elegant. Lynch-Moussas is the more consistent. Cru bourgeois Château Fonbadet looks elegant and unforced, probably the best way to go in the vintage context. It, along with Croizet-Bages and Lynch-Moussas, will be early drinking.

The followine 24 Pauillacs are listed in qualitative order, though [as ever] the notes are much more important than the numbers.

Château Latour, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep and saturated; dark at centre; purple edge; tight and focused; cassis and blackcurrant tones; some elegance; graphite tones; intense; and quite elegant but with substance behind; nice linear style though. Correct; some density and chew to the palate [this is Latour after all] but nice, fresh finish. Good effort in the context. [95.3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.3% Merlot, 0.4% Petit Verdot, 12.73% alc, 63 IPT, 31.5% of production]. Drink 2020-2033. 91-93

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep and saturated at centre; healthy looking; very attractive blackcurrants, purity and sweetness here; substance here and really nice glossy blackcurrant tones; creamy blackcurrant fruit on the palate with nicely integrated oak; very composed and defined indeed for the vintage; very good balance and good acidity; real delicacy here and very complete; elegant wine; moreish; good length on the finish. Excellent effort in the context. Up there with Lafite and Mouton qualitatively. [80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 75% new oak, 31hl/ha]. Drink 2018-2030. 90-92+ [Second note] Mid depth; creamy and pure on the nose; pretty and attractive blackcurrants and cool blue fruit tones; attractive and pretty; very pleasurable palate; nicely balanced; creamy blackcurrants; real elegance. Very nicely done. Complete. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. Drink 2018-2030. 89-91+

Château Lafite Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep centre core; colour tight to the rim; deep and clean; purity; blackcurrant; graphite; quite strong aromatically; bold in scope on the palate [98% Cabernet this year] but tannin a little on the austere side on the finish; needs to settle; overall palate quite tight and sappy at present. Obvious gravity but fruit is tight and intense and pretty sappy. Elements are there. Tannins a little austere. The vintage speaking… [98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92+

Château Mouton Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep at core; vibrant purple at edge; stalky blackcurrant fruits; some depth; some stones and wet pebble notes; palate has weight and some generosity; quite a serious finish; trifle hard on the end perhaps; this is has weight and solidity but lacks a little charm at this stage. Hopefully will put on more gloss during elévage. [89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92

Château Pontet-Canet, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep and earthy purple; attractive fruit; ripe; red fruits; caressing quality to the palate; very pure and Burgundian in style; what it lacks in depth it makes up for in delicacy; good length at the end. Sincere wine. Yields astonishingly low – crop half the normal in 2013. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 50% new oak, 15hl/ha]. Drink 2018-2030. 90-92+

Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac

Mid depth; purple at edge; tighter and more composed in the glass than the Pauillac; graphite and blackcurrants; chewy and tighter initially on the palate there is also attractive, creamy blackcurrant fruit too; graphite and pencil tones again; fairly tight and classical. [62.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35.1% Merlot, 2.2% Petit Verdot, alc 12.63%, IPT 61, 44.5% of production]. Drink 2018-2030. 89-91

Château Pichon-Longueville, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; vibrant edge; stalky blackcurrant aromas; some depth; creamy note; nice attack with good blackcurrant fruit; good purity; acidity quite marked and sappy; some chew at the end. [82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot 70% new oak]. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. 89-91 [second note] Deep; some cream, blackcurrants; quite pure; pure blackcurrant attack; quite grippy; lots of extract and acidity but there is purity here. 2013 reminds me of 2011 in Pauillac. Needs to settle. Tasted 3/4/14. Drink 2018-2030. 88-90+

Château Duhart-Milon, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; earthy purple at edge; little earthier on the nose; quite tight though; blackcurrants and graphite on aeration; some freshness on the nose; cool entry; quite tight; some chew to the tannins; lacks the gloss of the better vintages phenolically speaking; little dryness; some sap and acidity on the end; lacks a bit of generosity on the finish but will doubtless fill out more during elévage. [80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot]. Drink 2018-2030. 88-90

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; menthol, blackcurrants; attractive aromatics; blackcurrant fruit tones dominate the palate; little stalky and dry on the finish; certain hardness without the Merlot this year. In that sense this is a unique Pichon-Lalande but feels a little savage at this stage. See how it turns out. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. Drink 2020-2030. 87-89+ [Second note] Mid depth; very pronounced Cabernet aromatics [the wine is 100% Cabernet in 2013]; purity and elegance; grippy palate but not over-extracted; acidity gives sappy feel; lively and fresh style certainly. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. Drink 2020-2030. 88-90

Château Clerc Milon, Cru Classé, Pauillac

Vibrant purple; glossy and healthy looking; nice blackcurrant fruit on the nose; cassis; feels fuller than d’Armailhac; oak and fruit on the palate; little compact but has structure; blackcurrants, some wood; lacks a bit of concentration at the back; should fill out. [58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenere]. Drink 2018-2027. 87-89+ [Second note] Glossy look; purple at edge; fresh blackcurrants aromas; some plum too; sweet entry, some oak but pure; grippy but there is texture here; perhaps a fraction stretched at the end? Should fill out. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. 87-88 [Third note] Mid depth; cassis and menthol hints; blackcurrant tones also; softer entry and fruit here; glossier than sibling d’Armailhac; no dryness; elegant for sure and perhaps a little boney at the end. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. Drink 2018-2028. 86-88

Château Haut-Batailley, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; healthy look; earthy purple at edge; attractive and composed on the nose; some perfume and blackcurrant spice; very open aromatically; round and elegant on the palate but with some substance in the middle; little wood here to integrate; blackcurrant fruit and spice; some menthol tones and spicy Cab; good-ish length. Good effort. [76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 60% new oak, 31hl/ha]. Drink 2018-2025. 87-89+

Carruades de Lafite, Pauillac

Deep-ish colour; purple at edge; attractive plum and blackcurrant aromatics; layers; little menthol; structured palate with grip and material; needs to settle; vintage comes through; though good-ish purity; some chew on the finish and perhaps a little loose. Acidity quite spiky. Good-ish. [64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot]. Tasted at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1/4/14. Drink 2018-2025. 87-89

Château Lynch-Bages, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; purple at edge; menthol, cream and blackcurrant tones on the nose; fruit on entry, blackcurrants but feels a little forced; chew and lots of tannins on the end. Also lots of sap too. Bit of a jumble. Needs taming. [72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% petit Verdot 75% new oak]. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. 87-89? [second note] Deep and saturated look; legs; menthol and spice on the nose otherwise a bit closed; bold and chewy palate; feels bit disjointed but there is evidently lots of extract and grip here. Chewy and extracted on the finish. Elévage should settle this brute. Tasted 3/4/14. Drink 2020-2030. 87-89?

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac

Mid depth; glossy; some toast and blackcurrant notes; cool fruit tones; solid palate; compact and sturdy if slightly clipped. Plenty of chew; sturdy if a little four square. Not drop-dead gorgeous as it was in 2012. 2013 looks fairly plain Jane by comparison. [93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot]. Drink 2018-2025. 87-88+

Château d’Armailhac, Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep at centre; purple at edge; vibrant looking; attractive perfume; lift and blackcurrants; cool fruit tones; chewy fruit on the palate; some spice; quite polished; feels bit compact; wood showing a bit; lacks a bit of charm at present; solid; some grip though not puckering; still a bit clipped overall. [59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2018-2025. 86-88 [Second note] Deepish; vibrant at edge; stalky and slightly reductive Cabernet nose; some boiled sweet tones; palate more open and slightly sweeter than at Mouton; more cream this time; blackcurrants on the palate; acidity gives freshness. Good showing. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. 87-88+ [Third note] Mid depth; stalky blackcurrant aromas; bit reductive but clean and fresh; some polish on the palate but also firm and slightly pinched feel; spicy and fresh blackcurrant flavours; fraction austere on the finish. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. Drink 2018-2025. 85-87

Château Batailley, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; purple edge; some cassis and blackcurrant aromas; cream; quite pure overall; nice attack with some polish and refinement; not pushed; little dry at end but the fruit appears to be there; acidity on the finish. Some length. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. 86-88 [Second note] Mid depth; blackcurrants aromas; sense of elegance; cool fruit tones; blackcurrant fruit tones on the palate with some structure evident but there is texture to this Cabernet – lean but not hard; fruit is there though some austerity on the finish. Should fill out a little during elevage. [94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 33hl/ha 13.%]. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. Drink 2017-2025. 86-88+

Château Grand-Puy Ducasse, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep and dense; oaky but with sweet ripe fruit behind; glossy; blackcurrant cassis and some layers; good palate; nice fruit; little integration needed; gutsy but nicely judged extraction. Balanced. [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot]. Tasted Ch Meyney 31/3/13. Drink 2018-2028. 86-88+ [second note] Deepish; vibrant edge; little dumb initially; some cream and whiff of blackcurrants on aeration; palate reasonably full and inky; some chew; needs to settle a bit; acidity more marked than some. Tasted UGC 1/4/13. 86-88 [third note] Mid depth; spices, blackcurrants; very elegant aromatics; palate little dominated by new oak; feels a little dry; needs to fill out; chewy. Has more fruit than Haut-Bages Libéral. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot]. Drink 2018-2028. 86-88

Pauillac de Latour 2013

Mid depth, looser at the edge than the rest; vibrant; clean blackcurrant aromatics; cool tones; some plum and sour cherry; elegant entry on the palate; blackcurrant and plum fruit; round and easy. Blend Merlot dominated. Should be fairly early maturing. [Merlot 53.7%, Cabernet Sauvignon 45.5, Cabernet Franc 0.8%] 12.36 alc, IPT 57 24% of production].Drink 2017-2025. 86-88

Château Pédesclaux, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deepish; earthy purple at edge; some cream and blackcurrant tones; elegance; little coarser on the palate with structure and obvious grip. Chewy tannins but not that bad in the vintage context. [53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 12.96% alc, TA 3.6, pH 3.5, IPT 73 50% new oak, 33hl/ha] Drink 2018-2024. 86-87+ 

Château Haut-Bages Libéral, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; light at edge; cool and fresh aromatics; stalky Cabernet tones; attractive fruit on the palate but lacks density and depth but not too puckering. Softish finish. [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 40% new oak]. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. 85-87 [second note] Mid depth; little dumb; palate angular and acidic; feels very tight and rather thin with pronounced acidity on the finish. Fresh certainly but overall rather meagre. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. Drink 2018-2025. 83-85

Lacoste-Borie, Pauillac

Mid depth; elegant; fresh and lifted; quite jolly; lots of fruit on the nose; grippy palate; fresh and bright. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2016-2023. 85-87+

Château Lynch-Moussas, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; vibrant edge; some cream and blackcurrants but not that aromatic; stalky blackcurrant tones on the palate; elegant and easy; not forced. Finishes a bit short but not trying to be what it isn’t. Honest. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. 85-86. [second note] Mid depth; light at core; gentle stalky blackcurrant aromatics; quite angular and chewy on the palate; grippy on the finish [though this sample bottle was a little cold]. Tasted 3/4/14. [96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 33hl/ha]. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. Drink 2017-2013. 83-85

Château Croizet-Bages, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; some stalky Cabernet aromatics if a little dumb overall; coolish blackcurrant on the palate; some graphite; chewy finish with quite a bit of acid sap. Chewy. Not that bad an effort. Tasted 1/4/14 85-87 [second note] Mid depth; light at centre; soft and light; some blackcurrant and red fruit tones; acidity on the palate and quite structured and grippy; lacks flesh on the bones. [58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot]. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. Drink 2017-2023. 82-84

Château Fonbadet, Cru Bourgeois, Pauillac

Mid depth; some sweetness; soft entry; not over-extracted; easy and quite light. Drink 2017-2023. 84-86


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