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The Big Event

Posted: Mar 30, 2006 5:08pm ET

One of my last stops in my 2005 Bordeaux wine tour today was L’Eglise Clinet, the highly rated Pomerol estate. The owner, Denis Durantou, was standing just inside the door of his small winery waiting for me. It was about 10 a.m. and lightly raining. He looked sort of stressed, or like he had been out partying all night with friends. Then we walked into the room before the entrance to his cellar, and I saw lots of half-bottles that he was filling with wine.

"They are samples, James,” he said, looking even more stressed. “I have to prepare them for the coming week. Everyone is coming to taste my wine. I hope it shows well.”

Over the next few weeks, thousands of wine merchants will be coming to Bordeaux to taste the elite wines of the region from the 2005 vintage. According to the Union des Grands Crus, the association of many of the top-name wine estates, more than 5,000 people will be attending its tastings of the 2005 during the first week of April. “The difference with a year of 2004 is that we may only have 500 or so people that come, but this year the whole world is coming!" said Patrick Maroteaux, the president of the UGC and also the head of Branaire-Ducru, which made a very successful 2005 this year (I scored it 92-94 points).

The pressure is on! The next three weeks mean a lot of money to many chateaus. “We know that most people don’t know what the *!&# they are doing tasting barrel samples,” said one winemaker, whose name I would rather not mention. “It's more of a party and PR promotion than anything else, but it is very important for us.”

Regardless, most wine merchants are going to decide whether to buy or not to buy certain wines over the next three weeks or so. And both large and small wine producers such as Durantou know this. They are all worried. But they shouldn't be because 2005 is a great vintage and just about all of them made very good to excellent wines.

By the way, the 2005 L’Eglise Clinet is excellent – racy, refined and well structured. I scored it 95-100 points. You can find more of my tasting notes in my full report on 2005 Bordeaux.

Guus Hateboer
Netherlands —  March 31, 2006 3:58am ET
On the tasting notes of all that are listed, no chateau scored below 80 points.Is this a new schedule, is 2005 really that good so nobody messes up, or are the real weak wines not listed?
Guus Hateboer
Netherlands —  March 31, 2006 4:02am ET
...oops sorry, found one: Liber Pater: 75-79 points.
James Suckling
 —  March 31, 2006 6:29am ET
That's like what I wrote Guus...a great vintage in Bordeaux is when almost everything is good to exceptional quality. Exciting. No?
Espen Erlandsen
March 31, 2006 2:09pm ET
But does't Guus nevertheless have a point; Your scores appear in general to be centered in the two upper deciles on the WS' 100-points scale. Even if the Bordeaux 2005 is, as you judge it really a remarkable vintage, a priori I would have expected larger dispersions between those in the 80-84 range and those in the 95-100 range. Does this indicate a need for a more refined or revised schedule?
Guus Hateboer
Netherlands —  March 31, 2006 2:09pm ET
Very much so! Thanks for the great effort. ¿have seen you have tasted a lot of wines from small producers as well. Very helpful! Luckely there are quite some wine shops in the Netherlands that sell en primeur. Your notes are of tremendous help in picking and selecting, and leaving the not-so-good grapes for what they are...although...almost everything is great. I will be filling my cellar. Thanks again and keep the blogs coming, from wherever!

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