This year one of the opportunities of having samples sent to you is the extra time you can spend tasting them. There are benefits. Rocking up to a château, tasting for fifteen minutes and speeding off to the next property can get a bit Formula One. The grower spends all year making their wine and you make notes in a few minutes with one eye on the clock to keep on track for the next appointment. In primeurs week what else can you do? You want to taste as much as you can but have a finite time to do it. This year samples have turned up at my front door steadily over a couple of months. Yes, it has taken me longer to work my way through the wines and come to an overview this way. There is also a risk that samples won’t be as impressive as when tasted in situ, and there is the chance of spoilage in transport. But being able to taste a wine over a two or three-hour period, I feel confident in the conclusions I am able to draw about the individual wines this year, despite not being able to travel to Bordeaux. Zoom and other video conferencing have allowed winemakers to fill in the gaps in a less hurried way, too.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau d’Aiguilhe’
2019 looks like a strong vintage for the properties of Stephan von Neipperg. His right bank estates, headed by La Mondotte and Château Canon-la-Gaffelière have succeeded well. The vintage here reminds me of the freshness and balance of the wines in 2016. La Mondotte has all its usual plush beauty, but there is great depth to this wine. For me it is up there with the very best St Emilion in 2019. Clos de l’Oratoire has produced another excellent wine. It is laden with sumptuous black fruits but also has joy and life. In fact, all these 2019s show freshness across the board. At the trail-blazing Castillon property, Château d’Aiguilhe, another fine red has been produced. It has excellent depth and minerality, alongside a racy Sauvignon Blanc. Over in Pessac-Léognan, Clos Marsalette has deep, earthy blackcurrant tones and produced a full-bodied, candy and pear drop scented white.
If you want a great introduction to the hedonistic pleasures of the Bordeaux 2018 vintage, then look no further than the Côtes de Bordeaux. Wonderful wines have been made in Castillon, Francs, Blaye and Cadillac. For me Francs and Castillon lead the pack with some fantastically plump, rich reds that retain harmony and balance. If occasionally some wines lack a little zip, the colours are deep, the fruit is beautiful and the tannic profiles are supple and not overly extractive. This is a vintage that really reminds me of 2009 at its finest. Yet there are less of the late-picked qualities of that year, nor the more evident extractive cellar chicanery of that winemaking period. Outstanding wines have been made in 2018 at Château Alcée, Château d’Aiguilhe, Château Côtes Montpezat, Château de Laussac [Cuveé Sacha] in Castillon at the top end. In Francs, Thienpont’s Château La Prade and Château Puygueraud are brilliant. Château Reynon is also seriously impressive in Cadillac.
I tasted a good range of Côtes de Bordeaux at the annual Grand Cercle tastings during primeurs, held at Château Montlabert in St Emilion. First impressions of Bordeaux 2016 on the right bank was of a vintage defined by impressive texture and freshness with slightly more modest alcohols than usual. It is an interesting companion piece to the beautiful 2015 vintage. Excellent flowering conditions [in an otherwise damp start to the growing season] encouraged a good fruit set. The drought conditions which occurred in the high summer were relieved by period of brief but productive rain on 13 and 20 September. October was sunny and dry. Castillon stood out for me with very impressive efforts from Château Alcée, Château Cap de Faugères and Château d’Aiguilhe in particular, but there are some very good wines in all the Côtes de Bordeaux appellations. I was also struck by the quality of the wines in Francs from Nicolas Thienpont at Château La Prade and Château Puygueraud, as well as at Château de Franc. There a few wines that were characterised by comparatively high acidity and grip. I think these will settle nicely though and I’d be interested to see them further down the track.