The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2014

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22  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2014 The Old and the New 1985 CLARETS Every three years, Johnny Goedhuis of fine wine merchants Goedhuis & Co, organises a tasting and din- ner around a single Bordeaux vintage at London's Savoy Hotel, attended by 300 generous wine lovers and benefit- ting three charities—MacIntyre, Carefree Northants and Families for Children. This year the vintage was 1985, the wines coming directly from the first and super-second growth châteaux. Long gone from my own cellar, I found them sensationally good in their 29th year. Here are my brief notes from the tasting: SAINT-ÉMILION Ch. Magdelaine, fine and fragrant with lovely texture, 17; Ch. Canon, quite deep fruit but a bit raw on the finish, 16; Ch. Figeac, full slightly earthy, still sweet fruit, a fine wine, 18+; Ch. Cheval-Blanc, fine fruit and perfect balance, more classy than Figeac, 18.5. POMEROL Ch. L'Evangile, fine depth of iron-based fruit, robust yet elegant, 18+. GRAVES Domaine de Chevalier, deep red, slightly leafy, still firm but good presence, 17; Ch. Haut-Bailly, impressively ripe, slightly earthy fruit, very good, 18; Ch. Haut-Brion, recognisable wild roses bouquet, almost taffeta texture, a beautiful wine, 18.5. MARGAUX Ch. Rauzan-Ségla, fragrant Margaux nose with elegant charm, 17; Ch. Palmer, deep colour, rich classy depth of fruit and fine tannins for the future, 18.5; Ch. Margaux, more Cabernet Sauvignon to Palmer's Merlot style, good depth and firmness of fruit, 18+. SAINT-JULIEN Ch. Léoville-Barton, young fine Cabernet fruit, firm yet open, a classic Leoville-Barton, 18+; Ch. Ducru- Beaucaillou, rich fruit on nose and palate, quite a robust St-Julien, 17.5. PAUILLAC Ch. Lynch-Bages, still young and firm fruit, classic pencil-lead Pauillac, 17.5; Ch. Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, fragrant and seductively succulent fruit and fine tannins, 18; Ch. Mouton-Rothschild, ripe and spicy fruit, very Mouton, lacks a little precision, 18-; Ch. Latour, good middle sweetness and earthy tannins, good future, 18+; Ch. Lafite-Rothschild, fine "clarety" Pauillac with all the depth and finesse of Lafite, 18.5. SAINT-ESTÈPHECh. Montrose, deep Cabernet fruit, long and elegant, a finely grained wine, 18.5; Ch. Cos d'Estournel, broad and briary fruit with more richness than elegance, 17+. As an aperitif, magnums of Moët & Chandon 2002 with very fine bubbles and Chardonnay lift were served before sitting down to a beautifully made Jean-Philippe Fichet 2009 Meursault Les Gruyaches with pan-fried diver scallops, to be followed by a suprème of guinea fowl with seared foie gras escalope with two more 1985 clarets: Ch. Léoville-Lascases, densely coloured, pure St-Julien/Pauillac nose with firm fra- grance, surprisingly rich concentration on the palate, for me the best wine of the evening, 19; Ch. La Mission Haut-Brion (offered by Prince Robert de Luxembourg, whose opening speech reminded us that his family had taken over their neighbours in 1983), good earthy nose, showing a little age, 17.5. With the dessert, Prince Robert had also offered a sumptuously rich Clarendelle Amberwine Monbazillac 2003, which helped encourage high bids for the impressive lots at the subsequent auction. Those readers still with 1985s in their cellars are very lucky. WINES OF ARGENTINA AWARDS In February, I spent a week in Mendoza as one of the 12 inter- national judges for the 2014 Wines of Argentina Awards. The other highly skilled judges were Suzana Barelli (Brazil), Li Demei (China), Colu Henry (USA), DJ Kearney (Canada), Andreas Larsson (Sweden), Tommy Lam (China/Hong Kong, Jorge Lucki (Brazil), Bruce Schoenfeld (USA), Nicolas Siu (China/Hong Kong), Edwin Soon (Singapore) and Patricio Tapia (Chile). There were six tables of three judges, the third being the owner or head winemaker of one of the top wineries. Wines were tasted in small flights within their varietals or blends across five price categories on the local market: up to $13, $14–$19, $20–$29, $30–$49 and $50+. Each flight of wines was judged by two panels, the Golds being retasted on the final day to be retained, downgraded to Silver, or upgraded to a potential Trophy. From just 660 wines there were 70 Golds, 12 Trophys and 4 Regional Trophies, these last being: Valles de Mendoza – Monteviejo 2009 Lindaflor Malbec; Valles del Norte – Bodega El Esteco 2011 Serie Fincas Notables Malbec; Valles de San Juan – Finca Las Moras 2012 Paz Blend; Valles Patagonicas – Bodega del Fin del Mundo 2010 Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc. The idea of Argentina as a two varietal country, Torrontés for white and Malbec for red, still holds true in volume and branding, but blends and other single varietals are increasingly to the fore. The very welcome surprise was the emergence of Cabernet Franc, gaining one Regional Trophy, two Trophies and two further Golds. Cabernet Sauvignon also showed well with one Trophy and five Golds. Malbec still dominates with two Regional Trophies, four Trophies and 31 Golds, with Red Blends taking one Regional Trophy, three Trophies and 14 Golds. There is a lot going on in Argentina and judging by these wines, it is all good. STEVEN SPURRIER'S LETTER FROM LONDON PHOTO: DECANTER TP0414_001-33.indd 22 3/21/14 11:53 AM

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