Bordeaux’s primeurs week ended for me, as it began, in St Emilion. While perhaps 2014 will be seen as a vintage for the Cabernets and therefore the Left Bank, there is in fact a lot to like about the texture and freshness of the best wines from Pomerol and St Emilion. Cyrille Thienpont who works with his father at many Right Bank properties [including Berliquet, Larcis-Ducasse and Pavie-Macquin], said it was as much the terroir that mattered [well drained, clay-limestone] as the variety [Merlot/Cabernet] in St Emilion. These thoughts were echoed in Pomerol by his cousin Alexandre Thienpont at Vieux Château Certan [the 2014 VCC is an intellectual beauty by the way]. What pleased him was the marriage of the Merlot and the Cabernet on his property. The vintage, he believes, allowed the elements to combine well, and that the strength of the wine [and perhaps the vintage?] was in the combination rather than in any of the particular elements here on the Right Bank.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Haut-Bailly’
There is no doubt that 2010 is a great vintage in the classical sense for the reds of Pessac-Léognan. These are long-term wines, in many cases it was as if they were being woken up rather too suddenly, bleary eyed to present themselves. If 2009 screamed out coquettishly from the glass, these 2010s took much longer to assess at the same age at the MW Institute. Clearly profound wines of great depth, they still needed to be coaxed in the glass to show their qualities, and because of the remarkable gravity of fruit, you needed to spend more time than usual to get your bearings as to just how [incredibly] good many were. Château Haut-Bailly and Château La Mission Haut-Brion were tops for me – Haut-Bailly is an absolutely stellar effort. Château Haut-Brion vies with an extremely impressive Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Domaine de Chevalier and Château Bouscaut are both gorgeous, while Château de Fieuzal, Château Malartic-Lagravière and Château Carbonnieux [tasted separately] are concentrated and dense.
The MW Institute’s Annual Claret tasting of over one hundred top chateaux held last November was a good opportunity to assess how the 2010 Bordeaux vintage is developing. There is no doubt that this is a great vintage for many reds. It has been pretty consistent from cask to bottle, a vintage generally much more classical than the precocious and forward 2009, but of similarly prodigious quality. Taken together these two vintages make an exceptional back-to-back duo for Bordeaux, especially so on the Left Bank and in Pessac-Léognan. The same can also be said for Sauternes and Barsac. Pomerol and St Emilion once again have made many excellent wines in 2010, often extremely well endowed and big framed, though sometimes too much so in St Emilion when they nudge sixteen degrees.
The red and white wines of Pessac-Léognan are looking good now they are in-bottle. The whites have good aromatic profiles, plenty of flavour and nice acidity. The reds are medium bodied, forward and attractive. 2012 would appear to be an early-maturing vintage for both styles. Top of my list for red and white would have to be Château Smith Haut Lafitte. It had produced two very impressive wines. Close behind are Château Bouscaut [two outstanding efforts from this property], Château de Fieuzal, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Domaine de Chevalier and Château Pape Clément. Château Haut-Bailly has made an impressive, masculine red, and Château Olivier and Château Carbonnieux have made lovely vibrant whites.