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Bordeaux St Estèphe 2005: Chateau Haut-Marbuzet v Chateau Ormes de Pez

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Chateau Haut-Marbuzet and Chateau Ormes de Pez are two of the most popular and tasty St Estèphe crus bourgeois you can find. They head up the bevy of excellent non-classed growth wines in the St Estèphe appellation and it was interesting to see how they both faired in the 2005 vintage.

Certainly Henri Duboscq at Haut-Marbuzet pushes things to the limit in the vineyard and in the cellar and there was almost something Tuscan about his wine in ’05. The very full, very ripe, low acid style suggested that picking was pushed as late as possible in the vineyard to extract every ounce of ripeness. The palate was concentrated, with thick, ripe sweet fruit, which was also saturated in oak – not surprising given the 100% new oak treatment that has been a characteristic of this property for 30 years or more.  Despite this forward, decadent low acid style I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it ages well. The old vintages of Haut-Marbuzet attest this – the 1975 and 1978 were both tasty wines when tasted at thirty or so years of age and would probably still be in good shape today.

By contrast the Ormes de Pez, part of the Cazes stable that includes the Pauillac super second Lynch-Bages, seemed fresher, more composed with greater acid and more emphasis on the fruit and minerality. This is not to say that a toasty edge didn’t indicate a fair use of new oak but the Ormes de Pez felt less over-blown in style than the Haut-Marbuzet and overall I preferred it. This should make really complex and strong St Estèphe with another 5-10 years of age.  Chalk and cheese here with clearly different choices being made at these two estates. A head to head horizontal of these chateaux over a ten year period would be fascinating.

Chateau Haut-Marbuzet, St Estèphe, 2005

Mid red; some depth; legs; initially some VA lift here; brooding meaty quality at first; later almost Spanish or Italinate notes of super-ripe fruit surrounded by oak, rich and concentrated; fat palate, lots of ripe fruit, with tar, chocolate and lashings of oak, resinous notes; very full style. Lots of extract. Felt a little heavy in comparison with the Ormes de Pez but a more concentrated wine. 88+/100

Chateau Ormes de Pez, St Estèphe, 2005

Mid red; legs; some earth, ripe notes, some menthol and herbs, wet stones and minerals too, full, with mocha notes and some roasted oak at the back; full lush palate, quite sturdy and concentrated; again some burnt notes with oak; structure and ripe tannins here, but more acid than Haut Marbuzet makes the wine feel fresher and more agile on the palate.  More grip and freshness overall.  90+/100

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