I tasted the Domaine Clarence Dillon wines last Monday at Chateau Haut-Brion without knowing their vital statistics. Nevertheless I did spot some warmth on Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, but it didn’t worry me particularly. If I hadn’t been sitting down I would have fallen over when I was told at the end that it was over 15 degrees. I’m glad I didn’t know that before because, other than the warmth, La Mission looks really good. Nearly everywhere I went during the rest of the week everyone was saying, ‘Oh but what about La Mission? Fifteen degrees – too much surely?’ Well on paper and maybe if you’ve got a bottle to yourself [though I think I could manage one alone] but I had to say that I didn’t notice La Mission was too alcoholic when I tasted it. That’s the problem with statistics, you don’t judge a wine looking at charts. Nor do you judge a feature film by its running time. If it’s engaging enough even two and a half hours flies by. Acidity is the narrative drama of a wine and it’s what is making 2010 such an interesting vintage. It is yielding wines that defy your expectations. You taste La Mission at fifteen degrees and it works.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Haut-Brion’
Well, all the early signs are that Bordeaux 2010 is indeed a terrific vintage, truly remarkable given that it follows immediately behind the extraordinary 2009s. Early days still of course but tastings today at Chateau Haut Brion in Pessac, Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac and Chateau Cheval Blanc in St Emilion were, shall we say, exciting. I also had a quick look at half a dozen Pomerols at the Cercle Rive Droite’s tasting and I’ll head back again later in the week for a more in-depth visit. All were saturated in colour, full of extract and generally delicious.
Amongst the ’A’ list tasted today Mouton looks to have made a wine better than 2009 in my opinion, full of flavour and concentration yet also with great freshness, Cheval Blanc has produced a beauty worth of its enviable terrior and the Pessac duo of Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion and Chateau Haut-Brion are simply fabulous – La Mission weighing in at 15 degrees but none the worse for it. Their white wines too are impressive and bode well for the overall quality of the whites in 2010, even those that sell at a fraction of their price.
The characteristics in brief are high alcohols, high extract and high tannins. If that sounds a mouthful then be surprised because so far I have been. The acids are OK, cool nights in August and September [it got down to 5C at night in some vineyards] helped preserve acidity and freshness despite the drought conditions. Generally the lack of water led to grapes that were small and highly concentrated, in grape for grape terms lighter than 2009 in some cases, suggesting real concentration. The vintage chosen for comparison by proprietors is more the 2005 than 2009 stylistically because of the former’s structure and tannin, but the 2010 wines look to be even richer and higher in alcohol than ’05 so for me so far it seems to be a hypothetical mix of 2005 and 2009s structure and ripeness, which is pretty exciting.
This is just a snapshot and I’ll report in more depth later. Today’s highlights – Mouton is in the 98-100 point range along with Haut-Brion and La Mission just as fantastic. Cheval Blanc looks 98+ in my book and Léoville Poyferré around 94-96, excellent once again, but maybe not as knockout fab for me as their 2009. I’ll taste it again later in the week, so reserve judgement ‘till then. Certainly it’s concentrated and layered. Tomorrow the Union des Grands Crus start their tastings and St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux along with the Médoc and Haut-Médoc cru classe are in my sights. I’m also squeezing in Cos d’Estournel too. I’ll update soon.
Overall Bordeaux 2006 reds can be summed up as firm, quite strong, structured wines, but for me often a bit joyless. This was certainly my immediate impression having tasted ninety or so wines from the vintage at the Master of Wine Institute’s Annual Claret tasting that took place in the wonderfully oak panelled, if rather gloomy, Vintners Hall last week. The best wines had good structure, acid and enough flesh to make complex wine eventually but the best do need time in bottle. Even mature these will always be firm wines I reckon as in this vintage there is plenty of tannin, albeit it ripe and fine enough. There were also quite a few disappointments and the vintage is not consistent across all the appellations.