First impressions mean just about everything—especially in wines. And I can say that what I tasted today made a very big impression on me. I visited and tasted at Montrose, Cos, Lafite, Pontet-Canet, Latour, Pichon-Lalande, Léoville Barton, Gruaud-Larose, Léoville Las Cases and Mouton. And I tasted some fabulous reds. What is impressive is the quality of the tannins and the freshness in the wines. They already have wonderful and complex aromas of ripe fruit and flowers. In the mouth, they are rather subdued at the beginning, but then they slowly build on your palate and develop to ripe, silky and refined young reds.
“It is very powerful,” said Charles Chevalier of Lafite, regarding the 2005 vintage. “But there is a wonderful harmony. When you put it in the mouth, it is not that impressive at first. But then it starts showing its strength, and the finish is excellent.”
The best reds I tasted today had some of the exuberance of the 2003 vintage, yet maintained the serious and powerful structure of the wines from 2000. They are classy, sexy reds. My favorite wines were the Latour and Las Cases, as well as L’Evangile, which I tasted at Lafite because they share the same owners.
I heard lots of comparisons today as I stood in tasting rooms—to 1982, 1986, 1989, 1996 and 2000. I have been tasting barrel samples in Bordeaux for 22 years now, and I am not sure I remember a vintage like this. The young wines have wonderful aromas, lots of richness in fruit (alcohols are 13 to 14.5 percent), silky tannins and bright, fresh acidity. This doesn’t happen very often, but all the wine producers agree that it happened due to the hot days and cool nights during the summer. There was also a drought, which reduced the size of the crop. As Anthony Barton of Léoville Baron said, “We had two kinds of grapes in 2005—small and smaller.”
Whatever the reason, the 2005s are tasting well at the moment. In fact, I tasted many wines three or four times while standing in wineries. They are intellectual wines that need understanding. You need to spend a while with them. “You better take some time with these wines,” said Chevalier. “People who are in a hurry are going to make some mistakes. They are going to miss the wines.”
That would be shame because these young reds are attractive, sensual wines that make you want to taste them—and almost to drink them already. It’s that first impression that always means that it is an outstanding young vintage in Bordeaux. I had the same feeling tasting 1982, 1989, 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2003 a few months after each harvest. Can’t wait for my tastings and visits tomorrow.
Noble Yip — March 21, 2006 3:34am ET
Ik Joon Lee — March 21, 2006 6:19am ET
Kirk R Grant — Ellsworth, Maine — March 21, 2006 2:06pm ET
Steve Wyman — The Woodlands, Texas — January 19, 2008 4:13pm ET
James Suckling — — January 19, 2008 4:17pm ET
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