The Tasting Panel magazine

Nov 09

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22 / the tasting panel / november 2009 2002 Bordeaux All I recall of summer 2002 was that it was rained off. A closer look, thanks to Clive Coates's The Wines of Bordeaux, shows that it was not so much rainy as cold and that the vintage was rescued at the last minute, as was 1978, by an almost perfect Indian summer from mid-September through early October. But even this could not alter the effects of a catastrophic fl owering towards the end of May, which caused much of the right bank Merlots to be lost. The right bank also suffered from a heavy rainstorm on 20th September, just as they were ripen- ing, which meant that they had to be picked without delay. The late-ripening Cabernets on the left bank were the winners, and there is no doubt that 2002 is a "left bank vintage" and one that gets better the further north you go in the Médoc, with the best wines coming from Pauillac. To see what this ignored vintage was worth, Farr Vintners, the UK's largest traders in Bordeaux, held a tasting of 118 classed growths and their equivalents for a group of 17 of us, writers and merchants, including four from Bordeaux itself. Wines were served blind in ten fl ights of "peer group" and judged on a 20-point scale, the points being averaged to produce an order of ranking in each fl ight. Here are the most notable results. Flight 1: Cru Classé and equivalent Saint-Emilion. Monbousquet, Canon-La- Gaffelière, La Gomerie and Clos Fourtet took equal top places, followed by Beauséjour- Duffau and Larcis-Ducasse, then Roi Valen- tin, Belair and last Reignac. Flight 2: 1er Grand Cru Classé and equivalent Saint-Emilion. With Figeac and Tertre Roteboeuf corked, top marks went to Pavie-Décesse, followed by Le Dome and Canon, then Pavie, Magdelaine and Va- landraud with Angélus last. Flight 3: Pomerol. Despite the problems with Merlot, this was a very successful fl ight. Fleur de Gay led Clinet and Clos l'Eglise, closely followed by La Conseillante and Eglise-Clinet, then Le Gay, Rouget and Vieux Ch. Certan. Flight 4: Pessac-Léognan and North Médoc. Quite good wines, some a little leafy and under-ripe. Top was Malartic-Lagravière, followed by de Fieuzal and Domaine de Che- valier, then Smith Haut Lafi tte and Chapelle de La Mission, with La Lagune equaling La Tour Haut Brion. Flight 5: Margaux. Overall disappointing, although the marks were actually higher than the Pessac-Léognans. Brane-Cantenac led Lascombes, Prieuré-Lichine, Durfort- Vivens and Alter Ego de Palmer, followed by d'Issan and Ségla, then Kirwan and du Tertre. Flight 6: Saint-Estephe and northern Médoc. Very varied, with marks all over the place, placing Calon-Ségur ahead of La Tour Carnet, then quite a gap to Lafon-Rochet, Meyney and Phélan-Ségur, then Sociando- Mallet and Bernadotte. Flight 7: Saint-Julien. Very good wines, with Langoa-Barton way above Léoville-Poy- ferré, then Clos de Marquis and Lagrange, Branaire-Ducru and Gloria. Flight 8: Pauillac. The strongest fl ight so far: Réserve de la Comtesse leading Grand- Puy-Lacoste, Clerc Milon and Forts de Latour, then d'Armailhac, then Lynch-Bages, Haut- Batailley and Duhart-Milon and Petit Mouton. Flight 9: Super Seconds. A great fl ight,many grouped together, with Léoville- Barton just in front of Pichon-Baron, next Cos d'Estournel, then Rauzan-Ségla, then Palmer, Léoville-Las Cases, Pichon-Lalande, then Pontet-Canet, all excellent. Flight 10: The First Growths. Every wine above 17/20 (and the Brits mark low). In order: Margaux, Mouton, Lafi te, Le Pin, Au- sone, Latour, Haut-Brion (brought down by my 16), Pétrus, with Cheval Blanc and Lafl eur tied at 17.1. Steven Spurrier's Letter from London PHOTO: DECANTER

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