Dispatches from Bordeaux – Vintage 2015: Part II

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

It’s Tuesday morning and today we are heading to the right bank for a tasting at the offices of JP Moueix in Libourne.  This is always a thrilling tasting with all of the iconic properties in the Moueix family stable. Highlights of the morning’s tasting: 2015 Clos St Martin This has a very exotic, flamboyant nose of kirsch, ripe and candied.  Despite the ripeness of the nose, the palate is all business, nicely firm and well-structured, nicely polished.  The quality of this microscopic terroir really shines in the top vintages and this is one of those years.  Less than 500 cases produced, a great buy if you can find it. 2015 Chateau Plince A nice blend of red fruit and earthy, mocha notes on the streamlined nose.  This has more depth and density than usual, lots of dark fruit tones and a hint of walnut on the palate.  An excellent vintage for Plince. 2015 Chateau Hosanna The nose is a bit shy at first but with a little time in the glass there’s some beautiful complexity here, a mélange of dark fruits mixed with a spicy, savory olive note.  Nice weight with a rock solid midpalate and lots of substance.  […]

Dispatches from Bordeaux: 2015 Vintage – Part I

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized, Wine

by Geoff Pattison, Wally’s Bordeaux Buyer There’s something distinctly different about the feeling in Bordeaux during the good vintages.  There’s a sense of anticipation as you step off the plane.  Coming into the city everything feels a bit more vibrant. There’s a spring in the step of the people you meet.  Even when it rains, people are smiling.  Having read the early weather reports I already had a sense that the wines would be special.  There were whispers from negociants and vignerons in the months after harvest.  These insiders are usually in the business of having to “sell” a vintage so when they stop spouting superlatives and say “just wait til you taste the wines,” you know they’ve got the goods. It’s Monday morning and once again Wally’s President Christian Navarro and I are here to taste another new vintage.  It’s a special year for both of us as this is my tenth year tasting en primeur and for Christian his 25th.  And what a year it looks to be.  The early reports have been extremely promising.  Beginning in April, a warm, even spring allowed perfect flowering across the region.  As the summer arrived, June and July were extremely hot […]

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Recap and Top Picks

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized, Wine

It’s been a few months since my last blog entry and, as the campaign wraps up, I thought I’d put together a review of the top wines of the vintage and best buys now that we know all of the pricing and can take a full view of the 2014 vintage. These are my insider recommendations based on my tastings in Bordeaux during En Primeur with an eye on the wines that provide the greatest value. Let’s take a look at a few lists, beginning with the best of the best: The Finest Wines of the 2014 Vintage 1) 2014 Chateau Cheval Blanc ($459.99, 96-99 WS) 2) 2014 Chateau Haut Brion ($319.99, 95-98 WS) 3) 2014 Chateau Mouton Rothschild ($319.99, 95-98 WS) 4) 2014 Vieux Chateau Certan ($137.99, 95-97 WA) 5) 2014 Chateau Montrose ($114.99, 95-97 WA) Based purely on quality I believe these are the wines that reach the highest heights in 2014. Cheval Blanc really stands alone at the top, it is a stunning wine with a level of class and luxurious sophistication that even the firsts don’t quite reach. It’s effortlessly pure and balanced, with an incredibly silky texture and extraordinary complexity. Wine of the Vintage, full […]

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 5

Posted on Posted in Wine

Thursday, April 16th 2015 Today is the last day of the trip and our morning is reserved for a comprehensive tasting at one of Bordeaux’s largest negociant firms. While we always try to make it to as many properties as we can, it’s just not possible to visit them all in person, so this sort of “cattle call” tasting is a necessity to get a full picture of the vintage. Prior to the tasting we’re able to request barrel samples from a list of hundreds of chateaux throughout the region. The day before our tasting the samples arrive fresh in 375ml half bottles, ready for our consideration. I usually try to schedule this at the end of the trip so we are able to form a general opinion of the vintage “on the ground” and then fill in the gaps, as it were. Over the course of 2 ½ hours the parade of half bottles both confirms and fleshes out our early impressions of the vintage. Some of the top highlights include: 2014 Chateau Gazin -Charming nose of earth and blueberries, firm and structured on the palate, medium bodied. A nicely balanced expression that should age well. 2014 Chateau Beychevelle […]

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 4

Posted on Posted in Wine

Wednesday April 15th 2015 Another early morning today as Christian, Michael and I head out to the Right Bank for the first time in this vintage. The reports around Bordeaux are that this vintage is stronger in the Left Bank than the right. More substantial rainfall in Pomerol and Saint Emilion coupled with the fact that Merlot did not benefit from as much of the Indian summer mean that things are supposedly less uniform on this side of the Gironde. Today we will see for ourselves if these wines can match the stunning 2014s we’ve tasted thus far in the Medoc. Our first appointment is 9:15 am at one of our favorite properties in the world: Vieux Chateau Certan. This is a magical terroir is located directly adjacent to Chateau Petrus and one could make a case that they have surpassed their neighbor in several recent vintages. We are welcomed warmly by our old friend Alexandre Thienpont who has shepherded VCC since he took over for his father in 1986. There is only one wine to taste: 2014 Vieux Chateau Certan -Pure, deep, soft red fruit on the nose. There is a lovely purity to the red fruit and fine […]

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 3

Posted on Posted in Wine

Tuesday, April 14th Another early start today, heading out of Bordeaux at 7:45am to return to the Medoc. Today we will visit the rest of the major Left Bank chateaux, beginning with morning appointments at Leoville Barton, Montrose, Calon Segur, Latour, Leoville Poyferre and Rauzan Segla. Highlights of this morning’s tastings: 2014 Chateau Langoa Barton -A complete, deep, open knit nose of dark red fruit with hints of spice box. This is medium bodied but classic Langoa with accessible exuberant fruit for a St Julien. Very nice. 2014 Chateau Tronquoy Lalande -A somewhat reticent dark fruit and dusty stone driven nose. Really good weight and richness on the powerful palate, tannic. This is a more muscular Tronquoy Lalande, really shows the quality of St. Estephe in this vintage, clearly their best since the 2010. 2014 Chateau Montrose -A lovely beguiling nose. Pure, fine dark fruit and crushed stones, sensual on the seamless palate. Velvety with very good weight, but not overly heavy. Gorgeous texture, the tannin and oak are well integrated. Powerful, terroir-driven and polished. Montrose has really gone to another level over the past few years and this is nearly as good as the 100 point 2010. Clearly one […]

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 2

Posted on Posted in Wine

Monday, April 13th 8:15am…Christian and I head out from the center of Bordeaux up the D2 toward the storied chateaux of the Medoc.  This morning we are in Pauillac and Saint Estephe with appointments at some of the most famous estates in the world:  Grand Puy Lacoste, Lynch Bages, Pichon Lalande, Cos d’Estournel, Mouton Rothschild and Pontet Canet.  Highlights of the morning’s tastings: 2014 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste -A deep, classic Pauillac nose of gravel, fine leather and pure cassis fruit.  Sleek and balanced in the mouth, satin textured with excellent freshness.  Medium bodied.  Lovely. 2014 Chateau Ormes de Pez -A round, seductively spicy nose of earthy dark fruit.  Good volume on the palate, this is big with a lot of dry extract.  A great Saint Estephe.  This chateau gets better every year and is really delivering well above its asking price. 2014 Chateau Lynch Bages -A classy, polished nose of ripe cassis.  Suave on the palate, huge tannic structure as usual.  This is generally one of the more backward wines to taste en Primeur, but it has really nice texture this year with unusually silky tannins.  A classic vintage of Lynch Bages. 2014 Chateau Pichon Lalande -65% Cabernet Sauvignon, […]

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 1

Posted on Posted in Wine

It’s morning in Paris.  Once again I’m headed to Bordeaux to taste the brand new 2014 vintage with Wally’s President Christian Navarro.  Christian has been making this trip since 1991.  This will be my ninth year having started tasting en Primeur in 2007.  It’s always a thrilling prospect to be among the first to taste the new vintage and 2014 has had some major buzz with early word that this is the best vintage since 2010 and may stand among the best vintages of the past few decades.  A week from now we will know for ourselves. A scheduling snafu has us staring down a four-hour layover at Charles de Gaulle, an airport with a serious dearth of options for killing four hours.  Christian and I commiserate over our situation.  A four-hour layover…you could drive to Bordeaux in five!  This gets us thinking and a few minutes later we decide, to hell with it, let’s rent a car.  We can be there roughly around the time our connecting flight would leave and we can have lunch in the Loire and a great story to tell. Off we go speeding down the E5 in a Citroen Picasso, headed for Orleans.  The […]

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2013 Dispatches – The Conclusion

Posted on Posted in Wine

Editors Note – The following entry was submitted by Wally’s Bordeaux buyer, Geoff Pattison Thursday May 15, 2014 Today is thankfully a slightly later start. After an energizing breakfast I head out to Libourne to meet with Christian and Edouard Moueix at their offices. I love tasting here as they always leave you in a room to taste alone. At most appointments you have the winemaker watching you taste, eager to read your expression, so it’s sort of refreshing to get to taste and make notes in solitude. After a short meeting with Edouard we head to the home of Christian and Cherise Moueix. A beautiful spot on the banks of the Dordogne, we enjoy Champagne in the garden while I tell them about Wally’s upcoming store in Beverly Hills. Lunch is a supremely civilized affair and we spend much of the time discussing current events in Napa Valley, home of Christian’s Dominus. Wines for lunch include 1989 Chateau Magdelaine (a beautiful, elegant, mature St. Emilion drinking perfectly right now) and a pristine half bottle of 1950 La Fleur Petrus (Deep and still very much alive with notes of dried plums, black tea, iron and sandalwood). Very special indeed. After lunch […]

Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2013 Dispatches – Part 4

Posted on Posted in Wine

Editors Note – The following entry was submitted by Wally’s Bordeaux buyer, Geoff Pattison Wednesday May 14, 2014 This in many ways is the most daunting morning of the trip.  I have a 9am appointment with a Bordeaux negociant to taste through barrel samples from nearly 100 different chateaux.  Though I try to make an effort to visit as many properties as possible, ultimately it’s necessary to have at least one of these sorts of laundry list tastings to get a complete picture of the vintage.  It’s an exercise that tests the limits of your palate and system.  Though I won’t be drinking a drop, the presence of all that alcohol on your palate over a course of a few hours does work its way in and then there’s about a dozen Sauternes to put a sugar rush on top of it all.  Brace yourselves folks, this is intense professional wine tasting at its finest. Arriving at the negociant’s warehouse I am given a smock and list of wines to be tasted.  Then a parade of half bottle samples begin to arrive at the table, all sent from their respective chateaux within the last 24 hours.  Spending about 30 seconds […]