"You can't make a great wine every year, or at least as great as 2005," I said last night to a number of château owners during a cool dinner party at the house of wine merchant Pierre Lawton and his wife, Sophie, in Bordeaux.
They looked slightly annoyed. Frédéric Engerer of Latour said that he made an excellent wine after severely selecting the first-growth's best grapes and wines. "But I will let you judge it for yourself, James," he added.
Bruno Borie of Ducru, Hubert de Boüard of Château Angélus, Alan Vautier of Ausone, Jean-Guillaume Prats of Cos (who is also a Wine Spectator guest blogger), and some others at the party were all bullish on their 2006s. They said they made excellent wines. I haven't tasted them yet. But I will.
"What about all the rain during the harvest?" I asked. "I was here in September when it was raining. I remember being at one estate in Pomerol and the winemaker said they had a bit of everything, from rotting grapes to perfectly ripe ones."
Borie said that Bordeaux has a long history of harvesting with some rain. "It's not a problem," he said. "We know how to handle it."
And he's absolutely right. I tasted about 15 wines on Sunday, after arriving from my daughter¹s birthday party in England, and I found most of the wines verging on outstanding. They showed good dark colors, lovely and fruity perfumes, medium to full body, with fine tannins and medium to long finishes. The only problem I found that a number had slightly hollow or diluted midpalates. This suggests that the rain definitely had an effect, but not that much. None of the wines were green or herbaceous or had angular tannins.
Of course, 15 wines are hardly enough to make generalizations. But they were an indication already. The top names in Bordeaux inevitably made very good to outstanding wines in 2006. But are they great wines? We will see. There very well could be a few, or even many.
We drank a number of interesting wines at dinner, including an excellent bottle of 1996 Haut-Brion, a slightly unfocused but outstanding 1989 Cheval, a delicious magnum of 2002 Hospice de Beaune Beaune Premier Crus selected for Joli Soter of El Bulli, and a gorgeous 2002 Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon. The 1993 "naked" label Mouton was also very good, though slightly herbal and starting to dry out a bit.
The most interesting wine, however, was the 2005 Cos-d'Estournel white. Yes. White. Not a joke. It is 61 percent Sauvignon Blanc and the rest Sémillon, and it was bright and fruity, with zesty lemony character and an underlying melon quality. Prats said they made 3,000 bottles and they were not sure if they were going to sell it or not. He said, "We want something along the lines of a great Loire white."
Was it great? Not completely sure. But it was very, very good!
Anacleto Ludovic — paris france — March 26, 2007 11:09am ET
James Suckling — — March 26, 2007 12:16pm ET
Roberto Cassis — Guayaquil - Ecuador — March 26, 2007 2:43pm ET
Morten Zabel — Denmark — March 26, 2007 5:41pm ET
David Allen — Lufkin, Texas — March 26, 2007 9:14pm ET
Courdurie Pierre — London — March 30, 2007 10:11am ET
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