The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2011

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Page 22 of 120

STEVEN SPURRIER’S LETTER FROM LONDON Touring Bordeaux I n late May, I headed up a group of 12 people—six from Los Angeles, seasoned wine collectors but their fi rst visit to Bordeaux—under the theme Bordeaux En Primeur. The fi rst day began with Pierre-Antoine and Olivier Casteja at Joanne—one of the very largest merchants on “La Place,” as the local vinous stock exchange is called and the most specialised in crus classés—and their peers. Daniel and Florence Cathiard of Smith Haut-Lafi tte were present, and their honeyed yet dry 1994 white from magnums showed how well the northern Graves age. Also very good was their 2004 red, and the quality of this vintage was confi rmed again with Brane-Cantenac. Entering its second decade, Lynch-Bages 2001 was still fi rm and young, the 1995 still ripe and full, both classic Pauillacs. Finally, the Casteja family’s own second growth Barsac Doisy-Védrines showed fi ne quality from the rainy 2002 vintage and utterly superb crème brûlée/orange peel fl avours from the magnifi cent 1989. That evening was at Angélus in Saint-Emilion, preceded by a tasting of all 13 premier grand cru classé “B” châteaux from 2010, confi rming for me the superb quality of Figeac, followed closely by Angélus, Canon, Clos Fourtet and Pavie-Macquin. At dinner a fresh and fragrant Bellevue 2008—a small vineyard adjoining and above the Angélus vines that Hubert de Bouard de Laforest has recently purchased—was followed by terroir-driven Angélus 1995 now nearing its peak, then a superb Angélus 2000, reminiscent of the splen- did 1990 with sumptuous elegance, still very young. The following day, after tasting at Le Bon Pasteur and the re-energised La Pointe in Pomerol, lunch was at Martin Krawjevski’s Ch. de Sours in the Entre- Deux-Mers, whose famous rosé has now gone sparkling as well and whose top cuvées, named La Source (white, rosé and red), are most impressive. Lunch lasted an enjoyably long time, and we 22 / the tasting panel / july 201 1 only just made our 6 p.m. appointment to taste with Christian Seely at Pichon- Longueville, where we were to spend the next three nights. It being the 35th anniversary to the day of the Judgement of Paris, I had brought with me two bottles of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV 2007, which Christian obligingly served blind against Pichon from the same year, the former taking it on a show of hands. Three Pichons followed: 2005, terrifi cally complex with a great future, then 2001, showing clarity and depth, more elegant than the richer 2000, after which decant- ers of wild violets and licorice Quinta do Noval 2003 were circulated. Tastings at Palmer and Margaux confi rmed the exceptional quality of their 2010s, then it was off to lunch with Anthony Barton at Langoa-Barton. A really lovely Langoa 2002 led into a 1999 Léoville that had more colour and depth of fruit than most wines from this rather over-rated year, then a beautifully poised 1988, perfect now. The 2010s were not offered at Latour, but the 2004 showed classic precision and depth for the long term. Lafi te presented their 1995, superb colour for 15 years old, still reserved but with balance and precision, a beautiful wine with two decades in front of it. The fi nal day found us in Saint-Estephe, where Calon-Ségur’s 2010 and 2009 were totally different and both superb. Lunch with Jean-Guillaume Prats in the new cellars at Cos d’Estournel began with a brilliant 2008, followed by a most expres- sive 2004, which both Jean-Guillaume and I preferred to the more exotic 2000. An afternoon visit to Branaire-Ducru did not disappoint, with a lovely 2008 and a very, very good 2005. Finally, dinner at Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse once more proved the quality of 2004 with the Haut- Médoc Bernadotte; the 2003 Réserve de la Comtesse was delicious still with a good future and the concentrated coffee-bean 2001 seemed to me to be a minor version of the legendary 1986. Next month it is back to Bordeaux for Vinexpo. PHOTO: DECANTER

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