If 2019 is a Cabernet year, and the conditions certainly favoured the Cabernets, then there is no greater expression of this variety than in Pauillac. The Pichons – Château Pichon Baron and Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande – make for intriguing comparisons each year, competitors set opposite one another over the D2 on the outskirts of the town of Pauillac itself. Château Pichon Baron has produced a thrilling wine in 2019. It is surely the equal of the wines made here in 2009 and 2010. There is power and purity to the Grand Vin and it has the most fine-grained tannins. It is stunning. There are two additional wines that come from this seventy-three hectare estate, Les Tourelles de Longueville, which traditionally is Merlot dominant, and the new Les Griffons de Pichon Baron, more evenly split between Cabernet and Merlot. They represent twenty-eight and twenty-three percent respectively of the estate’s production. Both look very promising in 2019. Château Pibran is the other property AXA Millésimes own in Pauillac. It has produced a wonderfully fresh and appetizing wine which should be on everyone’s radar given the price.
What a vintage for Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. The Grand Vin has extraordinary depth in 2019. It is a giant in terms of extract and structure. The fruit is so compelling and the tannins so supple, it must surely vie to be amongst one of the wines of the vintage, along with that other left bank stunner Pichon Lalande [more on that wine shortly]. This Ducru is clearly a legendary wine in the making. It feels more evidently tannic than the other potential ‘hundred pointers’ in 2019 but what a wine. It’s a fitting tribute for the 300th anniversary vintage here [yep Ducru has been around since 1720]. La Croix de Beaucaillou looks really good in 2019 too. It is wonderfully plush and refined. There are also some additions to Bruno Borie’s line up here with the release of St Julien Le Petit Ducru [effectively replacing Lalande Borie] and a new Haut-Médoc, Madame de Beaucaillou, both of which also impressed.
The Grand Cercle sent half a dozen wines from its members in the Graves region from 2019 vintage. The Graves is an excellent district to find good value Bordeaux and this is evidently true in 2019 which is clearly a successful vintage here. Since the creation of the Pessac-Léognan appellation in 1987 the Graves appellation faded into the background a little, as all the region’s historic and well-followed properties were decanted off into the new appellation. I’m most familiar with the Château Rahoul, Château Ferrande and Château de Chantegrive in this district, all members of the Union des Grand Crus, as well as Clos Floridene through the UK’s Wine Society. Château Brondelle, Château Crabitey, Grand Enclos du Château de Cérons and Château Haura were new to me. I have also included notes on Le Prélat de Pape Clément from Bernard Magrez and Château d’Uza, sent by Jean-Luc Thunevin.
Château Pape Clément has produced very impressive red and white wines in 2019. This property always packs a lot of joy and appeal into its wines. The white is seductive with plenty of depth and style while the red displays fabulous creamy black fruits and has super length. I was also impressed by both versions [white and red] of Clémentin de Pape Clément this year. I’ve written separately on Smith Haut Lafitte and the super fine quality of the wines there. Amongst other wines tasted from Pessac-Léognan, amongst the reds Clos Marsalette and Château Haut Bacalan impressed. Enjoyable wines have also been made at Château Haut-Lagrange, Château de Rouillac, Château de Rochemorin and Château de Cruzeau. Amongst the whites Clos Marsalette also stood out for its finesse. There was plenty of zap and life in the white Château de Cruzeau and Château de Rochemorin, while Château Haut-Lagrange produced a white with weight and substance.