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Château Kirwan

Address: Cantenac 33460

Telephone: +33 (0)5 57 88 71 00



Classified a Fourth Growth in 1855, Château Kirwan takes its name from an Irishman Mark Kirwan who owned the estate in the eighteenth century. This Margaux property been in the hands of the Schyler family since 1925. Very impressive wines here since the mid 1990s. Lots of extract and style, seemingly harking back to the great historic reputation of the estate in the late 19th Century, when some immortal wines were produced, including the legendary 1899. A French wine enthusiast friend tells me that it is still drinking well [he has three bottles left!]. Recent successes include the 2005, very deep and concentrated, and the 2009. Some vintages have felt a shade over-extracted [2008, 2006] and some lean and hard as in 2011 and 2013. Second wine here is Les Charmes de Kirwan.

Vineyard/Soil: 35 hectares located on the Cantenac plateau with Medoc gravel and clay limestone soils. Planted with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. Crop thinning, hand picking and sorting at the chais.

Winemaking/Elevage: Fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel and then aged in oak, 35% new, for approximately 18 months.

  • 2015 Mid depth; stalky blackcurrant aromatics; some cherry; palate harmonious and balanced; has a roundness not found in recent vintages; mid palate has texture; a more caressing effort at Kirwan than other recent vintages. A nice change of direction here – past vintages have been distinctly ‘stern.’ [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.9% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 89-91+
  • 2014 Deep, saturated colour; tight to the rim; purple; some oak lift but emphasis on the fruit; ripe too; menthol, spices and some cassis tones; blackcurrant fruit; good emphasis on the fruit also on the palate; bright blackcurrant flavours; grip and structure but flesh [good to see some flesh on offer at Kirwan]; crisp finish; nice length; this should fill out and feels far more positive than any Kirwan since 2010. Still serious but there has been attention paid to mid-palate here. [58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 13% alc]. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted 31 March, 2015 at UGC. 89-91+
  • 2013 Mid depth; lightish at centre; little stalky blackcurrant notes; bit reductive; blackcurrant fruit; very sappy style with quite pronounced acidity than Giscours or du Tertre; feels a bit stretched at the end with a dry finish. Hope it fills out. [61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2017-2023. Tasted UGCB April 2014. 84-86
  • 2012 Mid depth; some resin and blackcurrant with chocolate notes; quite serious in feel; there is fruit here but palate feels a little stretched towards the end. May improve in bottle. There’s a lot of investment going on at Kirwan but the wines are still tending towards an overly serious style. May fill out. Drink 2018-2025. 86. UGC Oct ’14 [Earlier note] Deep and saturated; tight to edge; lush and layered; lots of fruit here; some minerality; quite dense, serious with lots of material; layers again on the palate; lots of material; some oak influence and chew but plenty of fruit. Much better showing than earlier. 90-92 Tasted UGC Thursday, April 11, 2013. [Earlier note] Deep and extracted look; some vibrancy at the edge; slightly higher toned than some [though a cool sample bottle]; some cassis, blackcurrants and layers; quite tight; lots of fruit, quite layered and nice extraction; ripe and fine tannin. Grip on the finish. 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. 13.3 degrees, 45% new oak. 88-90 Drink 2018-2028
  • 2011 Mid depth; spicy dusty nose, little dumb; angular stalky Cabernet on the palate; lots of acid here and tannin. Very puckering finish. Chewy at best. Disappointing effort to be honest. Drink 2016-2026. 84? UGC Oct ’13 [Earlier note] Deepish; more freshness here than expected; nice Cab; layers to the nose; red fruits here too; quite stalky  and earthy note too [undergrowth]. Chewy and a little dry on the finish. 87-89 Drink 2018-2025
  • 2010 Deep and dark looking; blackcurrants, wet rocks; mineral notes; resin; methol and spices too; blackcurrant purity on the palate; firm and clean; deep and structured. Lots of stuff here. Good lively finish with crisp acidity. Good effort from Kirwan, still in a serious style, but plenty of depth to this effort. Drink 2018-2030. 91+ MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Deep and saturated; layers of flavour; cassis and black fruits; some plum; opens up on the palate; clean blackcurrant fruit with chew and density and grippy acid; lots here. Perfume too. Looks like a slight change of gear here to a fresher, less extractive worked style. Good news. Little dry finish but it will fill out further. 90/100 UGC Oct ’12 [Earlier] Very deep and saturated; strong, whiff of animal; cassis and blackcurrants; plushness and concentration; great entry, layers and concentration and material; grip and structure too; fruit coes back to soak the tannin [of which there is plenty]. Strong wine, tannic and big. 91-93/100 [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot 13.9 alc] Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC [Second tasting] Deep and dense; quite plush and plump on the palate; full, some velvet; ripe concentrated wine but with some violet notes; quite thick on the palate and dense but with freshness. Chewy and tannic at the end but extract and fruit seem to dominate the oak. Consistent notes. 91-93+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC. Drink 2018-2030+
  • 2009 Very deep and saturated; inky blackcurrants and some spice; little meat when it opens up; layers; lots of depth and structure, structure more evident than the fruit which is a little closed at present. Serious if maybe a little too so for its own good. Drink 2019-2030. 90 MW Institute Nov ’13 [Earlier note] Dense red; depth; fruit and density; ripe and deep; red fruits here; some jam; thick; palate good, nicely done; blackcurrants and violet tones but with structure, density and chew. Tannic and extracted but works. 91-93+/100 UGC Oct ’11 [Earlier] Deep; vibrant at edge; little closed; stone fruits but layers of extract beneath; palate intense, little hard at present; tannic too; good grip and acid; bit awkward at this stage. Will settle. Little mocha on the finish. 90+/100 [Second ] Vibrant and deep in colour; stone fruits and violets on nose; palate quite sweet and attractive; tannic but deep. Freshness but also some sour cherry, savoury edge;  palate sweet and ripe; pretty big;  quite extracted but sweetness here from the fruit. Coffee and mocha. Some alcohol and tannin on finish. Big wine style. 92+/100 [13.9 degrees, 56%  Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 13.5% Cabernet Franc 6% Petit Verdot] Tasted 30th March and 1st April 2010. Drink 2015-2030+
  • 2008 Deep and saturated; some earthy, peaty notes with some meal/cereal tones; chewy, dense palate which feels a little overworked and tired. Lacks vibrancy. Chewy, woody and extracted. What will emerge? 86? MW Institute Nov ’12 [Earlier] Mid red; some purple; pretty nose; some coconut, blackcurrants and toast; bit of resin too; lots of fruit here and richness but also tannin; fruit and oak tannin and the palate ends up feeling quite dry and a bit over-extracted. 86/100 Drink 2015-2020 UGC Oct ’09
  • 2007 Deep and dark; ripe, mineral, wet rocks, slightly Northern Rhone-ish; blackcurrants; some ripeness  here; blackcurrants on the palate, quite angular, green tannin but reasonable effort. 86/100 MW Institute Nov ’11 [Earlier] Mid-red; attractive, perfumed nose; violets and perfume; attractive palate – well done in terms of mid-weight and layers of fruit without the over-extraction. Coffee and mocha notes. Pretty good.  89-90/100 Drink now-2020 UGC Oct ’09
  • 2006 Mid depth; quite hefty nose, some strawberry and coconut, but frankly feels a bit tired; some chocolate; lacks flesh and feels a bit overdone and over extracted; tannic and dry; in fact very dry and extracted on the palate with an extremely dry finish. Not a patch on the glorious wine made here the year before in 2005. 86?/100 Drink 2015-2017 MW Institute Nov ’10
  • 2005 Deep black red; very classy nose; some tobacco and spice, really intense; layers this is very good; creamy and glossy with resin from the oak; some coconut; big and bold on the palate; chewy wine with lots of black fruit intensity and tannin [fruit and wood] plenty of fruit to support the extractive winemaking- big and intense; quite tannic but very good. Potentially excellent and quite enjoyable now for the sadomasochists. 90-92+/100 Sept ‘09 Drink 2015-2030

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