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The “Little Wines” of 2005

Posted: Dec 10, 2007 12:38pm ET

I had dinner last night at Table du Lavoir, which is the relaxed restaurant at the hotel where I am staying to taste the 2005s – Les Sources de Caudalie. I invited some hipster winemakers from the Right Bank, whom I consider some of the best in the business, including Denis Durantou of Pomerol’s Église-Clinet, Alexandre Thienpont of Pomerol’s Le Pin and Vieux-Château-Certan (VCC), and consulting enologist Stephane Derenoncourt, who works at Canon-La-Gaffelière, La Mondotte, Petit-Village and many others.

These are guys that love to drink great wines as much as they like to make them. And that’s what winemaking is all about. Sometimes I think that Bordeaux gets carried away with talking about money and marketshare! So it’s cool to hang out with dudes who like drinking and talking about the best. It was just about wine last night!

So I pulled some amazing samples of 2005s, including Cos d’Estournel, Léoville Las Cases and Margaux. And we compared them against one another along, with some serious steak and fries. What was impressive was the amazing quality of the tannins in these stellar baby reds. They have such power and a seamless texture yet they are ripe and caressing. These are wines that will age for decades but their balance and richness assure an understanding of the greatness of the wines at any early stage. We totally enjoyed drinking them last night.

There was some debate over dinner of which one was the best. Check out my video.

I think that it was a tie between Margaux and Las Cases but this isn’t to say that the Cos was not greatly appreciated as well.

I think that being able to enjoy a young Bordeaux over dinner is a sure sign of the greatness of a vintage. I remember doing the same with 1982, 1989, 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2003. In fact, I remember drinking 1982 from barrel over lunch when I was a younger man with the late Alexis Lichine at Prieuré-Lichine. I still remember loving the young bright Cabernet-based wine in his kitchen with some grilled meat and an open fire.

What was also interesting during last night’s dinner was when I decided to pull out some wines that are going to cost $35 or less at retail in the United States. And this was after those mega-buck reds. Margaux is going to be easily pushing $1,500 a bottle. I pulled out a Puygueraud, Trois Croix and Gigault Cuvée Viva. They were so beautiful with ripe fruit aromas of blackberries, raspberries and hints of wood and full bodies with a complement of round tannins. The Puygueraud was the best with a black truffle and spice complexity. Durantou hogged the bottle.

Everyone was shaking his head in almost disbelief. We all agreed that the force of 2005 in Bordeaux will be all these excellent reds for very, very reasonable prices. Where else in the wine world can you find such diversity, high quality and good pricing? I can’t wait for you to try some! Wish you were here!!

Steven Balavender
Tampa, Fl —  December 10, 2007 4:56pm ET
I wish I was there also!....looking forward to the 05's....glad to hear such good things.
costa mesa, ca —  December 11, 2007 3:17am ET
James,I just bought a case of the Puygueraud. Do you happen to know the varietal breakdown?Thanks
Mark Antonio
Tokyo —  December 11, 2007 4:09am ET
1500 a bottle - you've got to be kidding! I hope you can write an article or two on recommended value wines from the '05 vintage - we are counting on you.
James Suckling
 —  December 11, 2007 4:29am ET
MA: Dude. I am tasting close to 1,000 wines right now and there are 100s of values for you to check out. Stay tuned.
Richard Hawkins
Akron, Ohio —  December 11, 2007 3:35pm ET
"We are counting on you." I'm in. Reviews on 100s of value wines, can't wait. Good work, bro Long live the drinkers.
John Miller
Windsor, CA —  December 11, 2007 5:08pm ET
Glad to hear it James. I will be attending an '05 tasting in January in San Fran. Now you've got me all excited! Looking forward to seeing how your favorites compare to mine.
Wayne Yetter
Bucks County PA —  December 11, 2007 9:57pm ET
James,What are the odds? My wife and I went to dinner this evening at a great BYO place and I pulled a bottle of Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Reserva 1999 from my cellar (enjoyed it!). When I returned home I visited WS online and there was James in Video Theater tasting the 1997 and 2001!P.S. Your blog on 2005 Bordeaux is making me feel really good about my futures that are starting to arrive! What seemed high priced 18 months ago seems pretty good now.Cheers!Wayne
James Suckling
 —  December 12, 2007 2:54am ET
Brian: Here you go. I checked with the chateau:70% Merlot25% cab Franc5% MalbecHow's Costa Mesa? I went to high school at Newport Harbor...
costa mesa, ca —  December 12, 2007 5:53am ET
Small world. I play tennis at Newport Harbor every week. I don't know how Bordeaux is treating you right now, but it was 72 degrees and sunny today here in Costa Mesa; the makings of a brutal winter to be sure. Not much has changed, I imagine, aside from the gazillion people and businesses that now occupy the O.C. You should swing by and check out the old stomping grounds. Give me a heads up if you're ever in the area. I work at Morton's Steakhouse and conduct small private tastings at a killer new restaurant in Tustin. Le Macchiole Paleo will be featured soon. Do you do cameos?
David Weber
Brights Grove Ontario —  December 17, 2007 7:12pm ET
Hi James,I must admit I overlooked this little gem, but after reading your note above I managed to buy a case of the 2005 Puygueraud at $22 per bottle CDN$ - still available on Futures. Thanks, can't wait to get it
Chad Turben
Bentonville, AR —  January 28, 2008 3:48pm ET
James -- quick question...what is the big deal with Vieux-Chateau-Certan? I have seen you reference it many times and I am a Bordeaux lover, but have never tasted it. I am considering buying some 1996. What makes this wine/chateau so great?Thanks, ChadP.S. Thanks for your tips on serving the 1929 Rivesaltes -- it was fabulous!!!
James Suckling
 —  January 28, 2008 3:53pm ET
I love the style of the wine which has the richness of a Merlot based Pomerol but the Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc in the blend gives it backbone. The estate has been making great wines since the mid-1990s, like the fabulous VCC's of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. It is next door to Petrus.
Chad Turben
Bentonville, AR —  January 28, 2008 5:43pm ET
James -- thanks so much for the quick response. I really appreciate your help and insights. Would love to get together sometime and enjoy a great Bordeaux!!!

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