I hosted a dinner in Bordeaux before Christmas at the hotel Les Sources de Caudalie, for the winemakers of four of the five first growths, as well as Alain Vautier of Ausone, which in effect is a first growth. We were talking about the glorious 2005 vintage but they also brought their 2000s to taste together as a reference points. And they were fantastic.
I had the feeling that some were just starting to open up and show the magic they had when I first tasted them in bottle in autumn 2002. Until recently, many had been very, very closed and I was even a little concerned, although that is the usual evolution of a great vintage of Bordeaux in bottle. The winemakers brought their 2000s already decanted. I think they had been opened about three or four hours before we tasted them.
Check out the comments of the various winemakers in my video in this order: Charles Chevallier of Lafite-Rothschild; Phillipe Dhalluin of Mouton-Rothschild, Paul Pontailler of Margaux, Jean-Philippe Delmas of Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, and Alain Vautier of Ausone.
Here are my tasting notes. The wines were not tasted blind:
2000 CHÂTEAU LA MISSION-HAUT-BRION Pessac-Léognan (This is obviously not first growth, but shares the same owner as Haut-Brion): This is even better than I remember. It shows lots of spicy, blackberry, tobacco, and mineral character on the nose and palate. It’s full with lots of velvety tannins and a long, long cherry, medium vanilla, and mineral after taste. Don’t touch it for another four or five years. 94 points, non-blind.
2000 CHÂTEAU HAUT-BRION Pessac-Léognan: This is really coming on as well. It’s so refined and balanced yet powerful and racy. Lots of tobacco, berry, and chocolate on the nose. But you have to dig down a bit to find it all. Still closed. Sexy and subtle. Full, racy and velvety with a long harmonious finish. Gorgeous. 96. Give it another five or six years. 96 points, non-blind.
2000 CHÂTEAU AUSONE St.-Emilion: Man. This hasn’t changed a bit, with a powerful structure yet a silky, beautiful texture. Aromas of coffee, blackberry and mineral. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a big, powerful, ultra-rich palate. Best after 2012. 97 points, non-blind.
2000 CHÂTEAU MARGAUX Margaux: This is massive. Amazing. Every time I taste this I am blown away. It shows fabulous aromas of crushed blackberries, spices, sweet tobacco, cedar and Indian spices that follow through to a full body, with layers of powerful yet polished tannins and a long finish. It’s still a perfect wine. Best after 2017. 100 points, non-blind.
2000 CHÂTEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD Pauillac: What a nose! Super-complex aromas of spices, tobacco, cigar box, cedar, mint and crushed berries with just a hint of black truffles. The palate is full and very velvety-textured from the ripe, polished tannins. Very, very long. Best after 2012. 100 points, non-blind.
2000 CHÂTEAU MOUTON-ROTHSCHILD Pauillac: This is soft and very pretty. It already seems approachable, but will improve with lots of age. It's spicy, fruit and minerally on the nose. Full body, with a soft texture and a silky finish. This was never a classic quality Mouton, but very, very pretty. Best after 2010. 93 points, non-blind.
The big question for everyone is whether the 2005s are going to be better than the 2000s. There is a lot of reputation and money riding on that question. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you but you will know very soon when my tasting report comes out in a few weeks. There are close to 900 tasting notes of the 2005s, including all the first growths and other trophy wines from Le Pin to Pétrus to Ausone.
I can say – and I am not trying to be difficult – yes and no, depending on the estate. I must say that I have a slight preference for the 2005s from the Right Bank over those from the Left Bank. And I really love Pomerols in 2005. Margaux is an excellent appellation as well. But I can’t tell you more at the moment.