Tasting Pomerol and Saint Emilion again.

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For the second time we tasted some of the best from Saint Emilion and Pomerol with Munich Wine Club. We chose to check on some great vintages and classics as well as on some good, sort of under the radar, vintages.
In seven, vintage-specific flights we compared a total of 15 wines from the different appellations in a blind tasting setting.

1998 was, after 1990, probably the best vintage in the 90´s with wines of boldness, power as well as structure.
Chateau Le Gay
appeared dark and deep with aromas of blackberry, vanilla sweetness, some minty freshness and earthy characters. Beautiful and juicy on the palate with fine, yet present tannins and a long finish.
Ripeness, opulence and substance in a classic Pomerol. 1998 Chateau Gazin showed less substance and depth than the Chateau Le Gay with red fruits of raspberry and red currant, some plums, tobacco, present green notes and licorice spiciness. Still tight and a little edgy, while lacking density and juice. Honestly, I´m not sure what the future will bring for this wine.

Chateau L’ Evangile and Chateau La Conseillante represented the distinct styles of their Chateau´s perfectly with a dark, concentrated and rather robust 1994 Chateau L‘ Evangile on the one side and a fine, almost feminine and harmonious 1994 Chateau La Conseillante on the other. Both wines characterize the ripeness of the 1994 vintage that was challenged by rains before and during harvest. With aromas of dark, black fruits, florals (violets), dried herbs, leather and forest floor 1994 L´Evangile showed vital and robust on the nose, while it remained harmonious, present and a little dirty on the palate. Dark fruit, earthy layers and spiciness- especially on the long finish- create a delicious and exciting package. In this condition, the wine holds for 5+ years easily. 1994 Chateau La Conseillante has a bouquet of fine, red and dark fruits, perfume, florals, delicate green layers and some lactic notes. While the wine is very elegant on the nose, it´s immensely present and young on the palate. With brittle tannins, fine acidity and depth it has everything necessary to evolve for another decade. Beautiful, long finish with tons of dark fruits and peppery spiciness.

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1990 Chateau Lafleur presented itself elegant, almost quiet, but immensely complex with aromas of cherry, dried herbs, plum, green tea, tobacco, ethereal layers, hints of Port and fine sweetness. Pure power and substance in perfect balance on the palate. Very fruit-driven, even mineral and sweet with fine, but dense tannins and filigree acidity. Endless finish. Monumental and hedonistic while sophisticated and young. Is this one expression of a perfect wine? Absolutely.
1990 Chateau Certan de May took the hard challenge to compete with this legend. And, while being lengths behind, it still surprised us! A very complete wine showing all the ripeness and structure you would expect from a beautiful 1990 Pomerol. Expressive aromas of dark fruit, herbal spiciness, little oak and delicious sweetness. Harmonious and full of substance on the palate with dark fruit and more herbal spiciness. Delicious, compact and at its best now!

1988 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus was opulent, concentrated and a little rustic with black fruits, tobacco, leather and herbal spiciness. Great smoothness, even charm, and depth on the palate. Cool with character and a dark, punchy finish with drive. 1988 Chateau Certan Giraud was on a par with the La Fleur-Petrus and similar to the bottle we had last year with aromas of blackcurrant, tobacco, fresh, green herbs and distinct notes of iron. A little tighter and leaner than the La Fleur-Petrus, but of good balance, harmony and precision. Good stuff!

After having many outstanding 1985s over the last months, we had great expectations regarding tonight´s 1985 flight, but the wines couldn´t fully meet our expectations. 1985 Chateau Beausejour came with sweet fruit, hints of tobacco, dried fruits, fresh herbs and notes pastry. Unfortunately the palate was dominated by present acidity and lacking substance. Obviously past its prime, but still nice to drink with red fruits and herbal notes. Drink now!
1985 Chateau Troplong Mondot lost most of its charm and showed only very little sweetness, but lots of caramel, mushrooms, coffee ground and some herbal freshness. Lacking harmony and balance, it´s very dark, oxidative and bumpy on the palate with very little sweetness of remaining fruit. Certainly a weak bottle.

1979 is a Right Bank vintage I like very much. There are still many fine, smoothly textured wines with vibrant acidity around- recent examples were an amazingly fascinating 1979 Chateau Magdelaine and a stunning 1979 Chateau L`Evangile. Today´s bottle of 1979 Chateau Magdelaine didn´t perform and slightly oxidative notes gave proof that this was not a perfect bottle. Very dark on the nose with little black fruit, olives, ground coffee, dark chocolate and raisins. Light-weight and fine on the palate with nice acidity and length. Lacking substance. Good thing we had three bottles in this flight- and the other two were really shining bright! 1979 Vieux Chateau Certan came in strong with fine, but fresh aromas of dark fruits (blackberry and cherries), mixed herbs, vegetable layers, hay and peppery spiciness. Precise, elegant and fresh on the palate. Great depth and drive! 1979 Clos Fourtet appears with tons of fresh fruit as well. Aromas of red and black currant, little citrus, delicate spiciness, earthy characteristics, little leather, iron and herbaceous notes. Balanced, focused and elegant on the palate where vibrant acidity gives live. Nice finish of red fruits, freshness and iron. Textbook 1979 Right Bank.

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As expected, or at least hoped, was the 1971 Chateau Cheval Blanc another highlight of the tasting.
From this vintage of richness and opulence with good acidity many of the top wines are still shining today- and so did the Cheval Blanc with ethereal freshness, fine, sweet red-berry fruit, delicate spiciness, tobacco, iron and little truffle. Very fine, elegant and intriguing! Cool and elegant with finest sweetness on the palate. Finished very long with a cool and spicy punch. Fantastic wine!
1971 Canon la Gaffeliere came in second in this flight, but showed great as well with dark sweetness, herbaceous notes, licorice, earth, pencil lead, caramel, little honey and traces of smoke. Very round and balanced on the palate with fully integrated tannins and fine sweetness. Decent length.

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Fascination of Bordeaux

Bordeaux never loses its greatness and fascination-
a fact recently proved in a beautiful tasting of old wines I hosted and, furthermore, underlined in following events over the last weekend.

IMG_3814Here are my brief notes on the wines tasted:

2011 Chateau Le Boscq – Juicy, youthful with dark fruit of spicy cassis, cedar and earth.
Still a little green and bumpy on the finish.

2009 Chateau Gaudin – Ripe and powerful wine with tons of fruit. Typical 2009 Pauillac.
Masculin, deep, concentrated and perfectly structured. Already approachable, balanced and beautiful to drink.

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1995 Chateau ´d Armailhac – Tight, focused and a little dusty. Decent (light) red fruit and first tertiary characteristics.
Pencil lead, dark chocolate and herbal spiciness. Charming, but still young.

1997 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal – Healthy structured clean and focused wine with edgy tannins and fine acidity.
Black Berries and some Cherries, Leather and Dark Chocolate. Nice, but not amazing.

1989 Chateau Certan Giraud – A little closed, but intriguingly complex and fresh. Silky texture of great depth and precision. Black, ripe fruits, green tea, tons of (fresh) herbs. A gentle wine of impact, presence and great finesse. Fantastic!

1988 Chateau Clos Fourtet – This one´s also just starting to open up. More tight than juicy. Cool, fresh and red fruit.
Fresh herbs, peppery spiciness. Another highlight!

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1986 Haut-Bages Liberal – Unfortunately this wine was corked.

1979 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou – Sadly this was corked as well :/

1976 Chateau Haut Batailley – Obviously over its peak, but still beautiful. Light-weight, elegant and almost Burgundian.
In a quiet way, fine and multi-faceted. Red berries, even gooseberry, road tar, anise and spiciness.

1976 Vieux Chateau Certan – In the beginning a little boisterous, then more and more precise and even polished. Harmonious, bone-dry and focused. Still a lot of fruit and freshness (!). Especially in contrast to the 1976 Haut Batailley, a brightly shining star and example for the success of the left bank in 1976 vintage. Black, ripe fruit, power and spiciness. Excellent!

1970 Chateau Montrose – Ripe, powerful and- for a Montrose- surprisingly open, soft and smooth at this “early” stage.
Deep, dark core of ripe, black and candied fruit, pepper, coffee and cigar box. Very good length, complexity and surprise!

1970 Chateau Beychevelle – Still strong, finely-spun and filigree wine. Black currant and more dark fruit, green pepper, delicate spiciness, distinct coal and earth. A wine that whispers in all languages. Truly remarkable, fascinating and simply amazing. Wine of the evening!

1982 Chateau Phelan Segur – Full-bodied, present and now peaking wine. Typical 1982 that still shows a lot of fruit and sweetness. Ripe and bold fruit, pencil shavings, forest floor, tobacco, some leather and a mix of herbs.
Attractive, generous and long, but maybe lacking excitement and fascination.
Well, don´t get me wrong, this is a beautiful wine J

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1982 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal – Another legendary 1982, but this one is more focused, deep and complex.
Black and dark core of fruit, pencil lead, earth and dried herbs. Perfectly structured with dancing acidity and fine tannins, thereby, with some future ahead. Distinct Pauillac and one of the best Haut-Bages Liberal I ever had.

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1995 Chateau Haut Bailly (from Magnum) – Harmonious, very approachable and fruit-driven crowd pleaser.
Red fruit, fresh herbs and some coconut in a silky, juicy textured package with distinct, fine minerality. Beautiful now!

1989 Chateau Giscours (from Magnum) – Youthful, dense and distinct Giscours!
Animalistic and balsamic aromatics with cassis, tobacco and earth joining in. Fresh and deep on the palate.
Great complexity, finesse and excitement. Fantastic wine of detail, amazing density, length  and a fascinating development over the time of drinking!

1979 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou (from Magnum)- And another star: Ripe, red and black fruit, fresh mint and herbs of all kind. Intriguing! Very alive on the palate, with present acidity and fine tannins. Red fruit, some green bitterness, leather, chocolate. A vibrant wine of freshness and substance.

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1977 Chateau Lafite – Dark ruby with delicate light-red fruits, chocolate and an intriguing mix of herbs and spices.
Laurel, nutmeg, vegetables and parsley. Some dark spiciness comes with freshness of eucalypt and cedar.
Super-fine, elegant and delicate aromatics. Truly fascinating!
Medium-bodied, healthy structured and of substance. Long finish with harmony and a great play of spiciness, sweet and tart. Gentle, complex, and quiet wine of balance, fascination and harmony!

1977 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion – Dark-red, purple. Candied fruit, leather and dark chocolate in a generally darker and more robust wine (compared to the Lafite). “Raisiny” traces of oxidation, but still nice.
Fully integrated tannins, vital acidity and decent depth. Distinct traces of iron, earth and herbs on the palate.
Good finish with capacity, spiciness and dark earth.

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Tasting Note: 1979 Chateau L` Evangile

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  1. Introduction:
    With 22 hectares (54 acres) under vine  Chateau L` Evangile is located in the southeastern part of the Pomerol plateau where surface gravel mixes with sandy clay soil over a sub-soil rich of embedded iron.
    The typical varietals Merlot (~80%) and Cabernet Franc  (~20%) are grown.
    While the Medoc struggled to harvest Cabernet Sauvignon at proper ripeness, 1979 certainly was a “right bank vintage” with ripe Merlot and some good Cabernet Franc resulting in lovely rich textured wines in St. Emilion and, especially, Pomerol.
    Our 1979 Chateau L´ Evangile is in perfect shape (high fill & healthy cork). No decanting.
  2. Appearance:
    Dark-red, Ruby. Vital and brilliant, yet little transparent.
  3. Nose:
    Intense aromatics right from the start with a lot of Tobacco Leaf, Forrest Floor, Leather, Black Tea, and Animalistic Notes. After a while, Fine, Light-Red Berries took over. Black Currant, Black Cherries and Fruit in Rum. Elegant, sophisticated and multi-faceted with Decent Freshness of Mint and Fir Needles. Sweet Vanilla, Cedary Wood, some Bitterness of Orange Zest, and traces of Vegetables. Fantastic development over three to four hours of drinking with harmony, great complexity and surprise!
  4. Taste:
    Integrated Ripe and Dark Fruit on the palate. Berries and Black Cherry. Orange Zest.
    Elegant, silky, and even light, but powerful and very present with tons of Dark Chocolate, Leather and (mostly) Tobacco Leaf and Dried Herbs. Hints of Vanilla Sweetness. Healthy structured with a backbone of dusty tannins and fine, alive acidity. Perfect Finish with finest Dark fruit, little Licorice and an intriguing play of sweet and tart. Amazingly harmonious, complex and truly fascinating!
  5. Opinion:
    Balance, harmony and finesse in an exceptional wine, where sophistication and elegance meet power and presence. Continuously evolving and, by that, showing detail and endless complexity.
    A memorable drinking experience!

Tasting Note: 2001 Chateau L´Evangile

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1. Introduction:
After being the majority stockholder since 1990, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) took over Chateau L´Evangile in 2000. During this process DBR (Lafite) already made investments to improve quality by a more refined selection in the vineyard, a restoration and renovation of winery and vineyard and by establishing a second wine “Blason de L’Évangile” not only to maintain, but to emphasize L´Evangile´s distinct quality and character.
Chateau L´ Evangile´s 22 hectares (54 acres) under vine are located in the southeastern part of the Pomerol plateau where surface gravel mixes with sandy clay soil over a sub-soil rich of embedded iron. The typical varietals grown are 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
After a longer than usual growing season with late, uneven ripening in Pomerol in 2001, the wines were generally full-bodied and very concentrated.
Our 2001 Chateau L´ Evangile consists of 79% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc and is in perfect shape w. high fill & healthy cork. 13,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deep, dark red/ crimson. Dense and vital.

3. Nose:
Aromatics of Ripe, Black and Red Fruit. Fruit in Rum. Notes of Plum, Dark Chocolate and Licorice. Traces of Vanilla and a lot of Dried and Fresh Herbs with a Freshness of Mint and delicate Peppery Spiciness. Fine traces of Wood.
Deep, ripe and powerful nose!

4. Taste:
Powerful and concentrated structure on the palate with intense flavors of Ripe, Dark Fruit. Herbal and Green notes with Exotic Spices.
Some Leather, Forest Floor and Mushroom.
Fine, smooth and little chalky tannins and approachable acidity.
Long and comforting finish with more Ripe, Dark Fruit, little acidity and Herbal Spiciness.
Intense and concentrated, but multi-layered and sophisticated!

5. Opinion:
A great and harmonious wine from a challenging vintage.
Superb fruit of enormous intensity and concentration packed in a solid structure of great future potential. While elegant, deep and complex, it might be lacking some finesse at the moment, but time will tell…
Yet, this is certainly among the best from Pomerol in 2001!

Tasting Note: 1999 Chateau La Conseillante

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1. Introduction:
Chateau La Conseillante sits in the North- Eastern part of Pomerol neighboring most of the appellation´s famous Chateaus, e.g. Petrus, L`Evangile and Cheval Blanc in Saint Emilion. Their 12 hectare (30 acre) vineyard consists of 18 mini-plots and is planted with 80% Merlot, which grows predominantly on clay soil, and 20% Cabernet Franc, growing mostly on gravel soil. The overall subsoil is composed of red clay (iron dross).
In addition to typical Pomerol characteristics of depth and smoothness, created by Merlot, and freshness and structure, due to the Cabernet Franc component, the wines of Chateau La Conseillante are considered to be especially delicate, fine and aromatical.
By reason of a rather challenging vintage with high yields, high sugar levels and constant rain, many wines were lacking concentration.
Our 1999 Chateau La Conseillante is flawless. 13,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Dark crimson. Brilliant and vital.

3. Nose:
A cloud of Sweet Baking Powder and Vanilla allures you at first sight.
Then Red Fruit takes over with light Cherries and Raspberries at first.
With some air and time the fruit turns darker to Black and Blue Berries and Cherries.
Multi-layered with Perfume and Florals (Violets (!) and some Roses).
Green Moss, Forest Floor, Fresh Mint and other Herbs.
Present, truly fascinating and continuously developing!

4. Taste:
Dark, Red Fruit as well as lighter Raspberry and traces Strawberry.
Exotic Spices, a bunch of Dried Herbs, Liquorice, Dark Chocolate and little Road Tar.
Perfect smooth, velvety texture, soft mouthfeel and incredible, cool depth.
Finishes very long and vivid with Ripe, Dark Berries, polished tannins and filigree, Herbal Spiciness.
Elegant, very alive, fresh and complex!

5. Opinion:
Very memorable and a paradigm for the greatness of Pomerol.
The 1999 La Conseillante is soft, harmonious and of great depth and complexity, while it`s fine, fresh and present.
With its smooth tannins and fine acidity it is beautiful and simply a joy to drink now;
yet, with potential for 5+ years.