I have just come back from an intense couple of days tasting all the best that Bordeaux has to offer this year. 2014 seems to be a real winemaker’s vintage, showing off the skill and knowhow of the vignerons. It comes as no surprise that the châteaux with the best terroirs have made terrific wines with a sense of classic freshness and elegance. When conversing with the winemakers and châteaux owners, “˜Indian Summer’ (a warm September with excellent late ripening conditions), “˜croquant’ (crunchy) and “˜freshness’ seemed to be the key words to a much anticipated Bordeaux vintage.
To quote the grandfather of Edouard Moueix, Jean-Pierre, “great vintages overtake terroir.” While not as voluptuous as 2009, these wines very much show the beauty and mystery of the great terroirs of Bordeaux and will prove to be a real treat for connoisseurs and wine lovers alike.
We kicked off with a visit to St Estephe at 9am on Monday. Château Montrose in particular impressed me with a very dense grand vin, which had wonderful extraction and impressive notes of bramble and black currants. Powerful and hedonistic, this is surely one for the cellar. The estate’s second wine, La Dame de Montrose, seems to be a wine that will provide earlier drinking pleasure. It was showing softer tannins than the grand vin, and yet shared with it a beautiful intensity of black fruits.
Cos d’Estournel has produced wines of great power. Wonderful black cassis packed with spice, tobacco leaves and elegant vanilla notes showed the compelling powerful character of this estate. Highly recommended, and one that will reward patience.
Our next visit was to Pauillac, which was a real treat. It’s not every day that one gets to taste the pinnacles of the left bank, starting with Château Lafite! The whole range of Domaines Baron Rothschild showed as very classy and fresh, with Lafite Rothschild showing hedonistic aromas of beautiful pencil shavings, cedar and cigar smoke nose followed by a beautifully elegant dryness on the palate.
Mouton Rothschild was next with an impressive line-up of well-crafted wines. The wines were very classy with a great balance between power and intense fruit. In short, they were the highlight of the day. Petit Mouton showed really interesting Asian spices, poised and with a very long finish.
Grand Puy Lacoste, one of my personal favourites, showed a fresh nose of perfumed red fruits, a fresh palate with violets, black fruits, tobacco and a hint of truffle: absolutely lovely.
Pontet Canet has been performing so well recently, and 2014 is no exception. Their biodynamic efforts are paying dividends and Pontet Canet has once again produced a wine of seamlessly integrated fruit and oak with a fresh acidity and serious backbone. This is one to seek out.
Lynch Bages showed great power and balance, very aromatic and dense, and is promising to be one of the great 2014’s.
As Château Latour will not release en-primeur, tasting here was a real tease. We had the chance to taste their recently released Les Forts de Latour 2008 and Latour 2003 to start with, which were simply wonderful. At the risk of comparing apples with pears, I nevertheless thought the 2014 outshone the 2003, and whenever the 2014 is released, it should prove to be a legendary wine.
Last but not least in Pauillac, Pichon Comtesse de Lalande was an absolute stunner: feminine, well-structured and beautifully balanced, this is definitely one to seek out.
Up next was St Julien, home of the super seconds. All across the board I was very much charmed by the wines from this appellation, which showed very consistently, and were opulently delicious.
A visit to Mr. Borie at Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou was a great experience. Bruno Borie explained that this year they produced 20% less of their grand vin than usual in order to deliver the best expression of Ducru. Rich, sweet and hedonistic, it pairs elegance with a purity of fruit, and was complemented by a lush, long finish.
From the Domaines de Delon, Ch Potensac was good, and should be enjoyable within a few years. A Goedhuis, and personal, favourite was Ch Léoville Las Cases. Although it had a tight nose, it was elegant, with a certain “˜X factor’. Feminine, silky, serious. It has complex layers and a very elegant finish with soft tannins. Having come directly from barrel it was a bit timid, but should definitely come along with maturity.
At the Union des Grands Cru’s tasting, Beychevelle, Talbot, Léoville Barton, Langoa Barton stood out as having great potential. Gruaud Larose with its powerful character was particularly impressive. This château is consistently respected for its longevity, and its 2014 will be one to seek out.
We were received by Mr. Paul Pontallier at this legendary estate. All wines from the Margaux stable were delightful with Château Margaux potentially vying for wine of the vintage. Incredibly balanced with beautifully integrated tannins and a fruit purity second to none, this was spellbinding.
Ch Palmer has made very balanced, complex wines. With a less traditional blend, they really delivered on both Alter Ego and the grand vin. Lovely chocolate notes expand to a wonderful finish.
A visit to négociant JP Moueix at 9am on Wednesday morning was a real treat. On the Right Bank lots of work was done in the vineyards to encourage the full maturation of Merlot. Green harvesting and heavy trimming of vine leaves was done to make sure the ripening was accelerated at the end of the season. In general the wines showed a very vibrant freshness. La Fleur, Petrus and Trotanoy showed a very classic style, whilst the Bélair-Monange had great power.
The UGC Pomerol event was a very well attended tasting. The Canon, La Gaffaliere, Clinet, and Le Bon Pasteur stood out as elegant well-made wines. Again these wines have an evident freshness and vibrancy to them.
A visit to Château l’Ã‰vangile was very special indeed. Here is a wine of impeccable balance and serious structure showing the beauty Pomerol has to offer.
La Conseillante was equally impressive. “˜Lush’, “˜velvety’ and “˜opulent’ were the key words here, both for their second wine, DUO, and for the grand vin, which were both wonderful and will surely find their way to the market.
Cheval Blanc, quite simply, was the stuff of legends. Broad, expansive and yet balanced. We were received at the super modern new winery for an extremely impressive tasting. And to top off a great day we got to try the Yquem, which was incredibly fresh, complex, expansive, and mysterious all at once!
Saving the best for last, Pavie, Ausone, Le Pin, and Vieux Château Certan for me were the wines that really stood out over the whole trip. Here it became absolutely obvious that 2014 is indeed a vigneron’s vintage. All of these wines, known for their unique terroir, exhibited a certain X factor and, at this stage, already tickle the intellectual curiosity.
To conclude our trip, a visit to Château Haut Brion was a very humbling experience. It’s not every day that one gets to taste such regal wine! I have always had a soft spot for Haut Brion and the wines did show as wonderfully hedonistic, broad, balanced and refined, and are certainly wines to look out for in this vintage. Unfortunately production here was limited, but it should be noted that the Haut Brion Blanc stood out head and shoulders above all the white wines tasted during our trip!
To sum up, these are most definitely wines that are not to be missed for serious wine drinkers, and for collectors, they should prove themselves in the cellar.
A very interesting and delicious vintage indeed!
Floris de Winter – Senior Associate Director of Sales Hong Kong