Let's get back to quality from prices and the doom and gloom of the financial world. I was in London about a week ago for a tasting of 2005 Bordeaux organized by wine merchants Farr Vintners. It was the chance to revisit a number of wines that I hadn't tasted for a while. Many I had not seen since I first tasted them from bottle last December. Some of the same wines will be served during my 2005 tasting at the Wine Experience in New York on Saturday afternoon.
Check out my video from the London tasting.
Many of the top names were in the Farr tasting, including the first-growths and a number of hot Right Bankers such as L'Evangile and L'Eglise-Clinet. If I can generalize about the wines, I was impressed how in balance they all were. The tannins in the wines were not hard and aggressive. They were ripe, velvety-textured and in harmony. They were a joy to taste. In fact, they were so good that they made you want to drink them. That's what great wine is all about.
I think that some people spend too much time saying how this or that wine is going to be great in 10 or 20 years, because they are too tannic or too concentrated now. But my experience over the years is that wines that are overly extracted tend to never balance out. It's not that they're, bad but they always remain a little dumb or slightly out of balance.
There was a vote taken at the end of the tasting. There must have been close to 100 people. All were keen customers of Farr Vintners and they obviously had bought cases of 2005 Bordeaux, both as futures and in bottle. I thought it was pretty close to a draw between the Margaux and the Haut-Brion as the first wine. But the room decided that the Margaux had a slight edge that night. I gave both of them perfect scores, so it didn't really matter.
I slightly preferred the Haut-Brion because it showed slightly more complexity and richness than the Margaux. But who knows which will be better in 20, 30 or more years. I might not be around anymore to make a judgment call on that!
The wines were not served blind, so the labels influenced everyone. I thought all the wines were showing exceptional. The one major exception was the L'Eglise Clinet. It seemed a little dumb and disjointed that night. Nonetheless, I had tasted the wine a couple of weeks before in the cellars of the château in Pomerol and it was magic. So perhaps we had a slightly off bottle or the wine was going through a weird stage? I am not worried. It's classic quality.
Here are my tasting notes in the order that the wines were served:
Château Canon (St.-Emilion): Dense and juicy, this wine shows intense fruit with a velvety texture. Chewy. Very grapey. Fresh acidity. 94 points, non-blind.
Domaine de Chevalier: Very typical for the appellation with tobacco, berry, blackberry, floral, and stony character on the nose and palate. It's full and round with very polished tannins. Very open. 93 points, non-blind.
Château Rauzan-Ségla: This is very modern, clean and precise, with beautiful fruit and just the right amount of new wood. Smoke, raspberry and crushed berries with flowers and just a touch of vanilla on the nose and palate. Full-bodied, with a dense palate and soft-textured, ultrafine tannins. Very long. 97 points, non-blind.
Château Langoa Barton: I liked this slightly less than in the past. The stewed fruit character was a little annoying. Full, round and soft tannins with a dense finish. A bit dumb now. 89 points, non-blind.
Les Forts de Latour: The second wine from Latour, and fantastic in its own right. This is racy on the palate with cedar, raspberries and blackberries. Full and dense with steely tannins and lots of structure. 94 points, non-blind.
Château Léoville Barton: Starting to close up now, it's very, very clean and sleek with silky and racy tannins. A pretty combination of dark chocolate, currants and berries on the nose and palate. 96 points, non-blind.
Château Lynch-Bages: Even richer and thicker than I remember, almost fat but there is tone and structure to this. Holds it together. Very ripe nose with lots of blackberry and chocolate character. Full and caressing. 93 points, non-blind.
Château Pontet-Canet: This is always one of my favorite wines of the vintage for its classic quality and relatively good price. The tannins are amazingly textured, like velvet. They are so long and caressing. Gorgeous. Beautiful fruit. Tight yet dense. 96 points, non-blind.
Château Pichon-Longueville-Lalande: I am not sure why this had a less than outstanding reputation. I have always found it outstanding. It's dense and rich with floral and licorice character, lots of currants and hints of spice. Full and velvety textured. Ripe tannins. 93 points, non-blind.
Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron: This has a little more kick and structure than its neighbor above. Loads of currant and blackberries with hints of minerals. Full and chewy with excellent tannin structure. A little better than I remember. 95 points, non-blind.
Château Cos-d'Estournel: Always an impressive and clearly classic quality wine with thick and very, very rich mouthfeel and aromas, and flavors of leather, currants and raspberries. Long and powerful. Dense and very rich. Big and powerful. Chewy. 98 points, non-blind.
Château Angélus: This is hard not to drink now. It is so fruit-forward and flashy, even sexy in character. Dense and powerful with soft and velvety tannins. So juicy and exciting with layers and layers of ripe fruit. 96 points, non-blind.
Château Cheval-Blanc: Very racy and refined still, but if you dig down, you see the layers of fruit and tannins for the long term in this. May be the new 1982? Blackberries, light vanilla and fresh flowers on the nose and palate. Full, tight and racy tannins on the palate. All there. All in structure and finesse. 97 points, non-blind.
Château La Conseillante: This remains the modern benchmark for this fine Pomerol. Wild fruits and flora with beautiful aromas. What balance and beauty, with so much finesse and length. I love the quality of the tannins. Gorgeous. 97 points, non-blind.
Château L'Evangile: An electrifying glass of young wine. It's breathtaking. Aromas of black olives, blackberries, licorice and ripe fruit. Extremely aromatic. Very powerful. Concentrated yet balanced and seamless. So long. So beautiful. Everything there. Perfect wine. 100 points, non-blind.
Château L'Église Clinet: I tasted this recently in Bordeaux, and it showed better then than in this London tasting. Floral and rose petals with blackberries and mint. Full and silky, but closed and dumb now. Slightly disjointed. Outstanding but can't get excited tonight about it. (Don't worry. It's classic quality!) 92 points, non-blind.
Château La Mission-Haut-Brion: This may be even better than I scored it for the magazine. Aromas of sweet tobacco, Indian spices and blackberries; it's full and layered with gorgeous fruit and ultra-ripe tannins. The aftertaste shows berries, warm stones and iodine. So typical. Talk about terroir. 98 points, non-blind.
Château Haut-Brion: I am in awe when I taste this. Good God. What a nose. It's so complex and exotic. Just as I remember it. I am in love. Rich and concentrated but layered and complex. It shows blackberry, floral, coffee bean, vanilla bean and Chinese spices on the nose and palate. Silky and caressing, it lasts so long. 100 points, non-blind.
Château Margaux: This wine touches your heart and soul when you taste it. It shows amazing aromas of flowers, ripe fruit and minerals with an underlying spice and floral character. It's so full-bodied, yet ultra-balanced, with a beautiful core of fruit and long caressing tannins. It's just closing down now. 100 points, non-blind.
Château Mouton-Rothschild: Just as I remember it, with ultra-fine tannins and a caressing texture combined with lead pencil, currants and flowers on the nose and palate. Balanced and very pretty. 95 points, non-blind.
Château Lafite Rothschild: This is starting to close down, yet it's dense and powerful with strong and beautiful tannins. Subtle with floral, berry and cedar character. Full and long in the palate. Lasts a long, long time. Turns lightly decadent in the finish. 98 points, non-blind.
Château Latour: Just a baby still showing the freshness of youth. Almost like a barrel sample still. Some new wood yet the floral, blackberry, currants and cherries come through beautifully. Very focused and precisely structured with layers of ripe tannins and a long flavorful finish. Turns chewy and powerful on th finish. 99 points, non-blind.
With all the wines above, I would not touch them for a good seven to 10 years more of bottle age. But there is something so interesting in tasting them in their youth. There's a quality in them that makes you understand why they are some of the most moving young wines I have ever tasted in my career. If you have tasted any 2005 Bordeauxs recently, I would love to read your impressions. Post some of your notes below.
Eric Swanson — Westlake — October 13, 2008 4:04pm ET
Mark Reinman — NJ — October 13, 2008 5:15pm ET
Horacio Campana / Butler Me — Monterrey, Mexico — October 13, 2008 8:04pm ET
Jim Nuffield — Toronto — October 13, 2008 9:30pm ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — October 14, 2008 3:30am ET
John Lin — TW — October 14, 2008 9:13am ET
Mark Reinman — NJ — October 14, 2008 1:37pm ET
Gary Cohn — Cardiff by the Sea, Calif. — October 14, 2008 3:33pm ET
Vittorio — Italy — October 15, 2008 12:08am ET
James Suckling — — October 15, 2008 12:10am ET
Evandro Pereira — Sao Paulo — October 15, 2008 6:35pm ET
Chris Tenggren — Elburn, IL — October 17, 2008 9:45am ET
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