Editors Note – The following entry was submitted by Wally’s Bordeaux buyer, Geoff Pattison
Monday, May 12, 2014
An early start this cold, grey morning. After a quick breakfast I leave my hotel at 8am for a drive up the Medoc to St Julien. This morning’s tasting appointments include Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou with proprietor Bruno Borie, Chateau Pichon Lalande with director Nicholas Glumineau, Chateau Latour with Frederic Engerer and Chateau Lafite Rothschild with Director Charles Chevallier.
The standout wines of this morning’s tastings are:
2013 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou – Sporting a fragrant, pure, fresh nose of crème de cassis and herb tinged blackberry fruit, this has nice texture, good length and admirable density. A softer more feminine expression of Ducru.
2011 Chateau Pichon Lalande – It’s refreshing to get another look at this just released vintage which is already drinking incredibly well. The nose is deep with ripe dark fruits, truffle and a classic Pauillac gravelly mineral character. The palate is supple and savory with fine balance and energy.
2013 Les Forts de Latour – The nose is pure class with a complex and refined bouquet of mineral, plush fruit and leather. This is much more open at this stage than the Grand Vin and while it lacks some of the muscle of the big brother it has beautiful texture, good freshness and nice density. This wine gets better and better every year and it’s a real surprise in this vintage.
2013 Chateau Lafite Rothschild – Deeply pitched with lots of cassis fruit, tobacco and leather. This has excellent volume and texture for the vintage and while it lacks the intense minerality you usually see here, the pedigree is clear and there is an unmistakable sense of mid-palate vigor that comes straight from the terroir.
After Lafite it’s off to lunch at the very popular Café Lavinal in Bages with a local Bordeaux negociant. We discuss the vintage over a light bistro lunch that refreshes my palate for another round of tastings in the afternoon.
After lunch I head up through the windswept plains of St Estephe to Chateau Calon Segur. This beloved estate is under new ownership and beginning a very ambitious renovation that will see a complete overhaul of their winemaking facilities as well as replantings of some major vineyard parcels. It’s a major project that will take the better part of a decade to complete. Heading back down the Medoc I stop at Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Leoville Las Cases, Chateau Leoville Barton and Chateau Giscours.
The standout wines of the afternoon:
2013 Aile d’Argent – Mouton’s Bordeaux Blanc features an explosive bouquet of toasty coconut, pineapple and white floral notes. The palate is generously weighty but with a lot of power lying in its acidic backbone. This is a bold style of Bordeaux Blanc and very compelling for the price.
2012 Chateau Langoa Barton – This is a real sleeper of the vintage offering a precocious nose of exotic red fruit (strawberry?). This is a stylishly sexy Langoa that will drink well early with beautiful integration and a sense of voluptuousness with effortless balance. A steal at under $50, buy this wine on futures now.
2013 Chateau Giscours – A flamboyant, complex nose of leather, wood spice, red fruit and floral perfume leads into a lithely textured, silky palate. This is well focused with admirable structure for the vintage.
Dinner tonight is at Chateau Rauzan Segla a second growth jewel that has reached new heights under the leadership of John Kolasa who previously ran Chateau Latour for many years. I have an opportunity to taste the 2013 Rauzan Segla before dinner and it is a striking success for the vintage. Beautifully balanced, this Rauzan has managed to capture the feminine, elegant spirit of the vintage with plenty of floral red fruit character and a real sense of charm and grace. It’s one of the best ‘13s I’ve tasted thus far.
Dinner is an elegant affair with the standout pairings being a delicious Mushroom Stuffed Chicken paired with 2001 Chateau Rauzan Segla (now beautifully mature, this understated vintage is providing so much pleasure right now. Exquisitely balanced and displaying lovely secondary notes of tobacco and truffles). Second and perhaps most memorable, a selection of cheeses is paired with the very fine 1988 Chateau Canon (deeply pitched with mature, musky notes of dried plums, mocha and cigarbox). John is a gentleman and a scholar, full of insight into the current state of Bordeaux seen through a very sharp lens that comes with a career of experience in the business. His honest comments about the past, present and future of Bordeaux are refreshing and inspiring to hear. Off to bed now, another full day in the Medoc looms tomorrow.
To be continued…
– Geoff Pattison