I am feeling slightly hazy this morning. I tasted 60 wines yesterday, and I have another 60 to face this morning in blind tastings at my hotel Cordeillan-Bages in Pauillac. I also feel like I ate a ton of lead last night at dinner with Michel Rolland. As delicious as it was, lamproie (some sort of big disgusting eel that attaches itself to the sides of other fish) in red wine sauce is very heavy, not to mention the steak afterwards.
But the visit to the legendary consulting winemaker was enlightening. Rolland makes wines for more than 100 clients in 14 countries around the world. He has a global view, to say the least. He also makes his own wines – Pomerol’s Le Bon Pasteur and Fronsac’s Fontenil – among others. He has been instrumental at such well-known names as L’Evangile, L’Angelus, Troplong-Mondot, and Pavie. He still takes the time to help with the final blending of these wines.
In any case, I tasted about three dozen wines in his tasting room before dinner and a number of them were really excellent – particularly Pavie and Certan de May. The latter has been underachieving for years and was one of my favorite wines in the 1980s. I have had great Certan de Mays from the 1940s and 1950s, so it was a shame that the wine was not up to par for many years. The 2005 should place it back in its rightful place. Rolland has been making the wine since 2002.
The Pavie 2005 is extraordinary. Here is my note: I am speechless tasting this. The essence of crushed grapes. Full-bodied, with masses of fruit and big silky tannins. Goes on and on. Amazing. Full throttle. A wine at 200 miles per hour.
I still don’t understand what all the fuss was about this winery a few years ago during the 2003 futures tastings. Some people said that the 2003 Pavie was not good quality. Wrong. A number of British wine merchants and writers obviously have a prejudice against this wine, or the owner. But it doesn’t really matter. Apparently, 50 percent of the production goes to the United States anyway.
The good news, besides Pavie and Certan de May, was that I tasted numerous very good to excellent wines from lesser appellations like Bordeaux Superior and Fronsac. Rolland’s own Fontenil is a winner, as always. It remains one of my favorite value Bordeaux out there. It sells for about $25 a bottle. The 2000 and 2003 are excellent, 91 and 90 points respectively. I also normally put Fronsac’s La Vieille Cure (American owned) in the same league. And the 2005 Cure is very good indeed.
Rolland thinks that 2005 is one of the greatest vintages ever. “I have only seen one vintage like this in my career and that was 1982,” he said. Rolland has been making wine for more than three decades in the region. “The 2005 is even better than 1982 because the grape yields were much lower, so you have more concentration.”
I am still not sure if 2005 is better than 1982, but there are certainly many outstanding to great wines. Let’s wait and see with more tasting.
Alex — Fort Worth, TX — March 22, 2006 9:36am ET
Steven K Orloff — March 22, 2006 12:43pm ET
Dan Miller — March 22, 2006 1:38pm ET
James Suckling — — March 22, 2006 1:47pm ET
Jeff Chan — March 22, 2006 2:16pm ET
Evan Carlson — March 22, 2006 2:50pm ET
Scott Young — Richmond, Va — March 23, 2006 10:01am ET
Tristan Sjoberg — London — March 23, 2006 10:02am ET
James Suckling — — March 23, 2006 11:30am ET
Antonio Pires — March 23, 2006 5:48pm ET
Eric Kim — Prince William — March 23, 2006 11:57pm ET
Curt A Hawley — March 29, 2006 8:00pm ET
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