As we head into the new year, we were stunned to realize that it’s almost time for one of our favorite wine events! Having made our New Year’s resolution to post more, we’ll start by catching up with an update from last year’s Fete du Bordeaux.
The Fete du Bordeaux always comes around in January just after the holidays. It is not just a chance to taste the new releases from Bordeaux, but a chance to visit with the people who represent and/or own the Chateaux, many of whom we have gotten to know over the past ten years. It is always good to catch up with them and hear about what is going on in Bordeaux.
There have been so many amazing changes that have taken place in the wineries throughout Bordeaux over the last 5 to 6 years and their wines are the better for it. While there were many great wines produced in Bordeaux through the 80’s and 90’s, they pale in some respects to the quality that is being produced in Bordeaux today. Today’s technology, like optical sorters and satellite imagery, were only dreams of the past. Combine this with more rigorous vineyard management and stricter quality standards, and the end result for consumers and collectors is consistently better wines – even in less than outstanding vintages.
This year’s Fete du Bordeaux was again held at the restaurant One Market in San Francisco and was a tasting of the new 2013 releases:
2013 Chateau Langoa Barton, St. Julien
2013 Chateau Leoville Barton, St. Julien
2013 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac
2013 Chateau Ormes de Pez, St. Estephe
2013 Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion
2013 Petit Figeac, St. Emilion
2013 Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol
Christina and I visited Bordeaux in 2013 during the harvest. I can tell you that it was not ideal weather for the end of the growing season or harvest, with fairly frequent rain showers throughout the region. Unfortunately, the wines of 2013 also show the difficulty of the growing season that the winemakers had to work with. While the growing season of 2013 may have produced poor wines if they had been made in the 70’s or 80’s, today’s improved vineyard technology and winemaking practices produced some very pleasant wines. The 2013’s are not the big blockbuster wines of 2005, 2009 or 2010, but you won’t have to wait as long for them to mature either.
The wine of the flight for the 2013’s was the newcomer to the group, Chateau La Conseillante. Michel Rolland is the consulting winemaker for Chateau La Conseillante and the wine is made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cab. Franc. This is a very nice wine for the vintage, medium bodied, with elegant dark fruit and fairly fine tannins on the medium long finish. (92 pts.)
As we moved into the main dining room of the restaurant, we had a nice glass of Champagne from Franck Bonville – Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV. I have had this particular Champagne on several occasions and I have always enjoyed it. It reminds me of Salon in style, but slightly smaller in stature. It is creamy in texture with good acidity, white fruit, green apple, lemon and a chalky mineral streak running right through the medium-long finish. This is definitely a great QPR champagne at $35. (90 pts.)
To start the dinner off we tasted the 2014 Blanc de Lynch Bages white Bordeaux, which is produced in small batches. I have always enjoyed this wine throughout the years, and it is one of my wife’s favorite whites. It is very crisp with honey dew melon, green apples, lemon and a slight stoniness on the nice clean finish. It is a perfect wine for summer if you can find it. (92 pts.)
To go with our grilled calamari salad and roasted duck dinner, we had two flights of four wines:
2005 Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion – Dark red/black fruit with a slight green pepper nose. Nice dark fruit with good acidity, a hint of spice, medium bodied and a medium long dark fruit finish. (92 pts.)
2005 Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol – Very dark bing cherry and blackberry fruit nose. Very dark fruit in the mouth, lively acidity, and very fine tannins. Nice long dark cherry fruit finish. This wine is already very elegant and still on the young side, with upside potential. This wine has a long life ahead of it. (95+ pts.)
2005 Chateau Langoa Barton, St. Julien – Ripe red cherries and some black fruit on the nose. In the mouth, red cherries and black currant, decent acidity, but a little monolithic at this point on the medium long cherry fruit finish. Maybe this just needs more time in the bottle. (90 pts.)
2005 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac – Dark fruit and a little autumn leaves on the nose. Nice dark bing cherry, some blackberry and a little walnut in the mouth. Very nice acidity keeps this lively in the mouth, while the dark fruit continues on to a nice medium-long finish. While there is still a fair amount of tannin here to work out, the wine is still young and should be good for the long haul. (94+ pts.)
2000 Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion – Ripe dark red fruit on the nose. In the mouth, red currants and cherries, with slightly grainy tannins and not quite as concentrated as the 2005. Finishes with nice red cherry fruit of medium length. (92 pts.)
2000 Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol – Black currants and blackberries on the nose. In the mouth a mixture of black currants and dark bing cherry/blackberry pie. Good acidity and some spice notes starting to show up. Again the elegance comes through on the medium-long dark fruit finish. Still young, but this wine is starting to show a little of what it has in store for the patient collector. (94 pts.)
1995 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac – Ripe dark red fruit and a little forest floor on the nose. In the mouth, black cherries and red currants combine with roasted nuts and some spice. Soft in the mouth with a little tannin still present. Nice acidity and sweet dark fruit carry through to the medium-long finish. (93 pts.)
1995 Chateau Leoville Barton, St. Juilen – Nose of the night, with red and black fruit, forest floor and baking spices. In the mouth, nice sweet dark cherries, red currants and some blackberry combine with grilled nuts and forest floor. This has good acidity and is very silky in the mouth. Very nice sweet dark fruit on the long finish. (95 pts.)
For dessert, we had a pear brown butter tart and a wine to go with:
2007 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes – Nice and light melon, tangerine and a touch of honey on the nose. Good fruit in the mouth, melon, pears and some bees wax. Decent acidity with a hint of spice on the medium-long sweet honey finish. (92 pts.)
It was another wonderful evening spent with friends from afar. While I may not be buying a large quantity of wine from the 2013 vintage, there were some good wines made that you could enjoy while you are waiting for the 05’s, 09’s and 10’s to come to maturity.
Next year, the wines of 2014 should be a noticeable step up over the 13’s. We look forward to the next tasting in just a few short weeks!