Today I was walking along a small road in front of the vineyards of Lafleur in Pomerol, munching on a sandwich for lunch after tasting about 30 wines in various châteaus on the right bank, and I started to think about something Alexandre Thienpont said to me as I was tasting his 2006 Vieux-Château-Certan.
We were tasting the wine and talking about how tricky the growing season and harvest was and how you had to do everything possible to make good wines. He said that he left about 20 percent of his crop in the vineyards before the grapes arrived at the winery. But most importantly, he said that his 2006 was a wine “qui donne envie de le boire.”
Believe me, it sounds a lot better in French, but the idea is that it is so attractive and beautiful that it makes you want to drink it. It’s sort of like seeing a beautiful blonde and wanting to ask her out, or something. Anyway, I think you get the idea. And it’s an important one in 2006.
Many of the wines I tasted were good to very good quality, but they showed aggressive tannins, even dry ones. Or they had hollow midpalates. They gave no “envie de le boire.” They were most likely overextracted during maceration, or worse, their winemakers may have used concentrating machines. But I can’t say for sure.
Anyway, the best wines of the vintage are not the darkest, most powerful, most tannic, baddest red wines ever made, they are those that show the most balance between ripe tannins and attractive fruit. And Thienpont’s VCC as well as Jacques and Sylvie Guinaudeau’s Lafleur were just that. They had seamless textures of fine tannins and crystal clear fruit. They were the best reds I tasted today. I gave them 95-100 points.
I also thought that Gerard Perse’s Pavie was top of the charts. It was dark-colored but it was all in fruit and fine tannins. It was not overextracted, even though I am sure that some will incorrectly say that it is. I think people should taste his wines and leave their personal differences outside of the winery. Anyway, that’s another column. Here is my note on the Pavie: Full-bodied yet balanced and silky. Solid and rich, but not aggressive. Long and beautiful. Pure fruit. Less muscular than Pavie normally, but a beauty. Seductive. 95-100.
It was funny that both Thienpont and Guinaudeau made comparisons to cooking when they spoke about making their 2006s. Thienpont said that it was like cooking an excellent steak, “You want to sear it quickly on both sides. If you leave it too long, it gets charred.” Guinaudeau said it was like making a pot of excellent tea. “If you have a top-quality tea, you don’t want to brew the tea leaves too long in the pot. It gets tannic and you ruin the tea.”
I think that winemakers who overextracted during the fermentation and maceration processes made a mistake in 2006. Granted, their wines are probably still 85-88 in my ratings, but they could have made friendlier, finer wines if they had not overdone it.
Maybe they just used the same techniques as they did in 2005? It’s sort of human doing the same thing you did before because it was a big success. And again, I love the 2005s! I tasted a handful today and they are gorgeous. So, so good. I couldn’t spit the Le Pin 2005 this morning.
Anyway, I also liked what wine merchant François Thienpont, Alexandre’s cousin, said: “My late father, George, used to always say that with a good young wine you need two bottles—one for tasting and one for drinking.”
That’s the point: At the end of the day, it is all about drinking wine and enjoying it. Isn’t it?
Chris — Edmonton, — April 2, 2007 3:56pm ET
James Suckling — — April 3, 2007 2:58am ET
Brian Greenglass — Toronto, Canada — April 7, 2007 5:50pm ET
James Suckling — — April 9, 2007 4:36am ET
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