The 2008s are a pleasure to taste. I reviewed wines on the Left Bank today and visited a handful of wineries, including Margaux, Palmer, Malescot-St.-Exupéry, Rauzan-Ségla, Leoville Barton, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Branaire-Ducru and Gloria. Almost all the wines I tasted showed lovely perfumes, ripe and subtle fruit, refined tannins and fresh acidity. I think you would enjoy tasting most of them.
They are not hard to taste for barrel samples. I have certainly had more difficult Bordeaux barrel tastings over the past two decades. I think that the 2007s, for example, were much more tannic and austere and brutal to taste than the 2008s this year. In fact, the 2007s, for the most part, do not seem to be developing well in barrel. Many I have tasted are lean and short and appear to be wines for early consumption. But I will give you a full report on them in December when I do my tasting from bottle samples. I am glad most Americans did not buy them en primeur, or as futures, as I recommended.
I was thinking about tasting barrel samples yesterday morning while visiting Le Pin, the tiny pure Merlot from Pomerol. The 2008 Le Pin is perhaps the wine of the vintage. It is so, so beautiful and exquisite. It shows complex aromas of blackberry, cherry, chocolate and violets. It’s very Burgundian in aroma. It’s full-bodied, with a wonderful texture and sweet fruit. There’s so much chocolate and fruit character and fine tannins here. It’s mesmerizing. I can still almost taste the wine as I write this. Check out my video on the visit.
But a great wine is always great. It’s wonderful from the barrel. It’s wonderful from bottle and it’s wonderful years later in your glass. It makes you want to drink it the moment you taste it from barrel. And that’s what I experienced with Le Pin and a number of others over the last couple of days including Ausone, La Fleur-Pétrus, La Mondotte, Cheval-Blanc, Pétrus, Léoville Las Cases, Trotanoy, Malescot-St.-Exupéry, Rauzan-Ségla, La Conseillante and others.
It’s a shame these wines are being tasted during the worst economic times of our life (or so far). “We have seen buyers from all over the world over the last few weeks,” said John Kolasa, the head of Rauzan-Ségla and Canon. “The problem is that they don’t have much of a smile.”
They probably are smiling a lot more after tasting some of the 2008s. They are very good. Some may even be outstanding. Of course, they are not 2005. And nobody says they can be compared. I usually hear 2001, 2004 or 2006 as comparisons to 2008.
I am already tired of the conversation about prices and how the first-growths and second-growths and a number of other blue-chip wines have to go down in price. And how they have to be careful because of the stocks wine merchants have of 2007 or 2006 and blah, blah, blah. Of course prices have to come down on the expensive wine or nobody will buy them as futures! But I think this is an issue with the wine trade. I think it affects very few consumers. At least in the United States, consumers did not buy the 2007s and 2006s as futures. Why would they buy 2008 futures?
I am pretty sure that few consumers in their right mind anywhere in the world will buy 2008 en primeur. SO I AM NOT WORRYING ABOUT IT ANYMORE. Maybe Bordeaux should have skipped this vintage as futures?
I am also not going to worry about the quality of 2008 either. There are some very good to excellent wines from the vintage and one day we will all buy them and drink them. Just when and where we do this is the big question mark.
Read my complete 2008 Bordeaux barrel tasting package for all my scores and full tasting notes.
Mark Antonio — Tokyo — April 2, 2009 8:49pm ET
James Suckling — — April 3, 2009 12:55am ET
Mark Antonio — Tokyo — April 3, 2009 3:23am ET
Horst Beekhuizen — The Netherlands — April 3, 2009 3:54am ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — April 3, 2009 8:27am ET
Chris Tenggren — Elburn, IL — April 6, 2009 3:30pm ET
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