Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Day Two: Bordeaux Primeurs

Not as sunny today; a bit grey and overcast with a few splatters of rain, but still no sign of the much-needed rain here in Bordeaux. I started the day by heading for the lovely Château Fieuzal in Pessac-Leognan to taste the 2011 white and reds from Graves and Pessac-Leognan.

The whites were of very good quality and highly aromatic with beautiful balance, good acidity and I think some lovely ageing potential. The reds were more inconsistent, but of a generally high standard and the reputed Châteaux all coming out on top. Please see my very brief tasting comments and scores out of 5:

Graves White
Chantegrive: super aromatic 4.5
Rahoul: good palate, zesty 3.5
Ferrande: very rich, little too creamy 3

Pessac Leognan White
Pape Clement: gun flint, lovely finesse 4.8
Malartic-Lagraviere: very good, its all there 4.6
Chevalier: very aromatic, lots of fruit and acidity 4.5
Smith Haut Lafitte: grassy, limey good weight acid balance 4.5
Latour-Martillac: fab nose, great palate, long 4.4
Carbonnieux: peachy with more acid 4
Fieuzal: good, aromatic 4
Olivier: tight, nettles 4
Bouscaut buttery, good weight 3.8
La Louviere: grassy, zesty, long 3.8
Larrivet Haut Brion: big, richer, lots of body 3.5
Pique Caillou: high acid. Ok 3.8
Haut Bergey: lemony, nice acid, shorter 3

Graves Red
Chantigrive: smoky bacon, Twiglets 3.5

Pessac-Leognan Red
Haut Bailly: perfumed, elegant, rich nice tannins and wood 4.8
Pape Clement: rich, raisons and chocolate, long finish 4.5
Smith Haut Lafitte: delicate, savoury 4.5
Les Carmes Haut Brion: rich, lots of black fruit 4
La Louviere: chewy, smoky 4.2
Fieuzal: elegant all round 4.2
Latour Martillac: savoury, high acid, wood 4
Domaine de Chevalier: concentrated 4
Carbonnieux: lovely fruit, less weight 3.9
Malartic Lagraviere: perfumed nice tannin 3.8
Pique Caillou: red fruit, rich, some acid 3.8
Olivier: meaty 3.5
Larrivet Haut Brion: high pH? But big and rich 3.5
Bouscaut: acid+ tight 3.5

After a wonderful lunch of salmon tartare, succulent chicken breast wrapped around fresh fois gras accompanied perfectly by 2009 white and red les Abeilles de Fieuzal I headed north to Margaux. First stop was Château Kirwan for dessert and a first taste of the 2011 Sauternes.

I was in two minds here and I either loved or not so loved the wines, but what I liked got highly rated, see below:

Rayne Vigneau: honeyed, lovely balance 4.9
Rieussec: delicious, superb 4.9
Doisy Daene: lemon curd and beautifully balanced 4.8
La Tour Blanche: rich and fresh 4.5
Guiraud: lovely but heavier 4.5
D'Arche: finer style, nice acid 4
Suduiraut: good botrytis but shorter 3.7
Lamothe: good nose and better acid 3.5
Ch de Fargues: good marmalade with citrus, full acid low 3.4
Nairac: lemony, rich but simple. 3
Filhot: little reduced, good acidity, simple fruit 2.8

With the palate refreshed the next visit was a couple miles up the road to Château Marquis de Terme for the Margaux tasting. The tasting room was fabulous and led onto the purple lit barrel cellar!

The Margaux wines scored highly and I really liked the consistency and palate weight. Here are my scores:

Kirwan: big ripe 4.5
Rauzan Segla: perfumed orange peach, weight and grip 4.4
Marquis de Terme: perfumed rich, elegant 4.2
Du Tertre: tight, rich elegant 4.2
Prieurie Lichine: fab nose, tight palate good wood 4
Malescot Saint-Exupery: more tannin but good 4
Lascombes: nice wood, vanilla 4
Desmirail: perfumed, elegant 4
Brane-Cantenac: lovely violet and sweet cassis, violets lighter body 4
Giscours: lighter 3.8
Cantenac Brown: cassis, wood 3.7
Angludet: stinky, cassis 3.7
Rauzan Gassies: good nose lighter mid palate 3.7

With blackened teeth I continued a further 20km’s north to the amazing Château Lagrange in Saint Julien for the Pauillac, Saint Estephe and Saint Julien tasting. It was another incredible entrance with endless perfectly stacked barrels greeting you on the way in.

The wines were as expected leaner although I was very impressed with some of the top end wines considering the hail problems of 2011.


Beychevelle: rich, velvet 4.8
Guraud Larose: cassis, sweet fruit finer 4.4
Batailley: richer cassis nice wood 4.1
Branaire Ducru: elegant, soft 4
Lagrange: tighter, elegant, more acid 4
Leoville Barton: chocolate orange, lean 3.9
Langoa Barton: good, lighter 3.8
Clerc Milon: perfumed, tight elegant 3.8
Gloria: lean, 3.7
Talbot: Pencil shavings thin 3.4

Lynch Bages: perfume and fruit, body, big wine 4.5
Pichon Longueville: savoury, cassis, herbs, good weight 4.5
Grand Puy Ducasse: rich cassis, grippy, good weight 4.2
Pichon Comptesse: herbal, rich, tight 4.1
Croizet Bages: perfumed chocolate concentration 4
Grand Puy Lacoste: tight, good length 4
D'Armailhac: savoury, plum 3.9

Pez: rich big good structure 4.3
Ormes de Pez: perfumed, elegant cassis fruit, tight palate 4.2
Lafon Rochet: rich, good weight 4
Clos Labory: graphite, alcohol? Wood+ 3.9
Phelan Segur: closed, lighter 3.6

A long but enjoyable day and with the Bordeaux ‘bouchon’ (the insane evening traffic jam) playing on my mind I left for home, just escaping the traffic I arrived home and inspired by the very good Château Chantegrive 2011 I slipped a 2010 into the fridge for tonight’s dinner! Tomorrow I am staying local and tasting my home wines of Castillon.

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