The SOMM Journal

June / July 2018

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90 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2018 { steven spurrier's letter from london } FOR MORE THAN 20 years, the major buyers of Bordeaux "en primeur" and a few wine writers have met in the little British coastal town of Southwold to taste across Bordeaux vintages as they enter their fifth year. At this point, the reds have been in bottle for roughly 30 months. The team of 20 tasters now gathers in the offices of fine-wine traders Farr Vintners to take part in the event, called Southwold on Thames. Over two days in January, we tasted exactly 240 wines from the 2014 vintage in 20 flights, all decanted and served blind. With very few exceptions, two bottles of each wine are provided free by the châteaux in exchange for our feedback. Our rankings on the 20-point scale (with half-points permitted) were added and divided by the number of tasters, with the highest and lowest marks eliminated in the final results. (The merchants tend to be a little less generous than the writ - ers—in this case Jancis Robinson, William Kelly, Neal Martin, and myself.) Read on for the results of this year's tasting. THE TOP FIVE 2014 WINES IN EACH MAJOR APPELLATION: Saint-Émilion: Tertre Roteboeuf, Canon, Quintus, Figeac, Troplong Mondot Pomerol: L'Eglise Clinet, Gazin, Vieux Château Certan, Le Gay, La Conseillante Pessac-Léognan: Domaine de Che - valier, Smith Haut Lafitte, Pape Clément, Malartic-Lagravière, Haut-Bailly Margaux: Palmer, d'Issan, Rauzan-Ségla, Brane-Cantenac, Pavillon Rouge Saint-Estèphe: Cos d'Estournel, Mon - trose, Calon-Ségur, Meyney, Capbern Saint-Julien: Léoville Barton, Léoville Poyferré, Langoa Barton, Léoville Las Cases, Ducru Beaucaillou Pauillac: Lynch-Bages, Pichon- Longueville Baron, Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Les Forts de Latour THE TOP FIVE FIRST GROWTHS (Judged Separately): Mouton-Rothschild, Latour, La Mission Haut-Brion, Angélus, Ausone THE 2014 VINTAGE OVERALL: Stephen Browett, Chairman of Farr Vint- ners, observed that "2014 has the struc- ture and style maybe of 1996," adding that it "does seem to be at its best in Pauillac and, especially, Saint-Julien and Saint- Estèphe." Jancis Robinson, writing in the Financial Times, agreed; however, he found a positive surprise in the Saint-Émilions, which "tasted less aggressively extracted, less obviously alcoholic, more harmonious, and more expressive than they used to." I cer tainly concur. The 2014s from both banks confirmed that exaggerated wines made to impress rather than express are going out of fashion. The key to a fine wine is harmony, and it was refreshing to find it present in so many of the bottles we tasted. Following this tasting, Browett tabulated the group's scores from 2005 to 2014 to see which châteaux had performed best over the decade. Here, with our averaged scores, is the result: Left Bank First Growths: Mouton- Rothschild 17.96; Latour 17.75; Margaux 17.71; Haut-Brion 17.67; La Mission Haut- Brion 17.58; Lafite-Rothschild 17.25 Right Bank First Growths: Le Pin 17.52; Pétrus 17.43; Ausone and Cheval- Blanc 17.17; Lafleur 17.08, Angélus 17.05 Left Bank Super Seconds: Pichon- Longueville Baron 16.89; Cos d'Estournel 16.85; Léoville Poyferré 16.64; Les Forts de Latour 16.55; Lynch-Bages 16.52; Léoville Barton 16.50 Margaux: Palmer 16.36; d'Issan 16.04; Brane-Cantenac 15.95; Rauzan-Ségla 15.88 Saint-Julien: Léoville-Poyferré 16.64; Léoville Barton 16.50; Ducru-Beaucaillou 16.48; Léoville Las Cases 16.37; Langoa- Barton 16.16 Pauillac: Pichon-Longueville Baron 16.89; Les Forts de Latour 16.55; Lynch- Bages 16.52; Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 16.37; Grand-Puy-Lacoste 16.27 Saint-Estèphe: Cos d'Estournel 16.85; Montrose 16.18; Calon-Ségur 16 Pessac-Léognan: Smith Haut-Lafitte 16.11; Domaine de Chevalier 16.09; Pape Clément 15.87; Haut-Bailly 15.78 Saint-Émilion: Tertre-Roteboeuf 16.60; Figeac 15.83; Canon 15.75; Valandraud 15.64 Pomerol: L'Eglise Clinet 16.90; Vieux Château Certan 16.74; L'Evangile 16.64; Le Gay 16.43 A 1996 Kind of Style EVALUATING RED BORDEAUX FROM THE 2014 VINTAGE

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