I have to say that I am glad it is over. I finished tasting all my samples of 2005 Bordeaux last Friday and spent the weekend in Paris not thinking about Bordeaux. In fact, I drank mostly Beaujolais during my free time with friends in restaurants and at parties. The thought of young Bordeaux almost made me sick!
Check out my video with a little "before" and "after" action and the cameo appearance of Jo Cooke, my tasting coordinator and loyal friend. I couldn’t have done it without him. I tasted close to 900 wines in the end during my 12-day trip to Bordeaux.
What a vintage. I can't believe all the wonderful wines, from first growths like Margaux and Haut-Brion to simple petite châteaux, or even wine merchants’ blends. It the sign of a great vintage when quality is high across the board. Moreover, the dry and sweet whites are excellent.
Off the top of my head, it’s hard to generalize. I can’t say that any one appellation is better than the other. Perhaps Margaux came through particularly strong, just as I remember when I tasted them from barrel in Spring 2006. I also have a real soft spot for Pomerol. The top estates on the clay knoll of the appellation made some monumental wines.
The top 2005s are not wines that blow you away with their concentration, like so many highly rated wines in the world. Instead, they impress you with their completeness. They seduce you from the start with their complex aromas of ripe fruit, minerals, and light earth. These enticing aromas seem to constantly evolve in the glass. They are mesmerizing, like subtle perfume on a beautiful woman.
Their palates are dense yet agile, with superripe, seamless tannins and long, fresh finishes. It’s rare to find such structured Bordeauxs so light-footed and crisp. That’s why many of the top wines almost seemed drinkable. In fact, Jo and I drank the rest of a bottle of 2005 Haut-Brion one night with a juicy grilled steak at our hotel.
I remember doing the same during my first trip to Bordeaux back in the summer of 1983. The late Alexis Lichine invited me to his château for lunch with some of his friends, including Anthony-Barton of Léoville-Barton, Bruno Prats of Cos d’Estournel, and Jean-Eugene Borie of Ducru-Beaucaillou. It was my first lesson in tasting barrel samples and it was with the 1982. We drank some of the samples with lunch after the tasting.
That’s a telltale for a great vintage. A great year is one that producers great wines that are always great, no matter when you drink it – young or old.