As tomorrow is a Bank Holiday in France we have a little breathing space from new releases and have rounded up some of the better value Left Bank releases of the past couple of weeks; Lafon Rochet in St Estephe, Clerc Milon in Pauillac, Langoa Barton in St Julien and, new out today, Ch d’Issan in Margaux.2014 Ch Lafon Rochet 4eme Cru St Estephe: £220 per 12 In Bond
Basile Tesseron’s stunning 4th growth really hits the mark in 2014 in terms of quality and price. This was one of our St Estephe highlights of 2014, powerful and concentrated with exquisite balance.
Hints of plums and damsons, this is a firmly structured Lafon Rochet with masses of power and weight. Still tasting very young, but surely has lots of potential. Drink 2021-2028.
Score: 88-90. David Roberts MW
The Château Lafon-Rochet 2014 is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot picked from 1 October until 15 October. Basile Tesseron explained that there was 25 and 35mm rain between 7 and 9 October at which point the Cabernet was not able to ripen further due to the lack of water. This gave the ripeness another spurt and destroyed the pyrazines. Pumping over was about 0.5 to 1.5 the volume per day over a long period to avoid extracting any harsh tannin (especially from the seeds) with a short cold maceration. It has a complex bouquet: brambly black fruit, touches of dark plum mixed with black olive and incense. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, crisp acidity, a little chalky in texture with a precise, quite pointed finish. This 2014 continues a run of fine form for the estate.
Score: 90/92 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (218)
2014 Ch Clerc Milon 5eme Cru Pauillac: £320 per 12 In Bond
The (Mouton) Rothschild stable was incredibly successful in 2014 and Ch Clerc Milon have produced their finest release since 2010. A wine of immense structure and volume that showcases just how brilliantly well Pauillac has performed in 2014.
Sweet dark whole berry fruit aromas. A weighted wine, which immediately fills the mouth with its volume and intensity. Lots of concentration, with broad black fruit and cocoa flavours, and hints of vanilla and spice on the finish.
Score: 90-92. David Roberts MW
The Château Clerc-Milon 2014 contains less Merlot than usual as the old vines produced just 15 hectoliters per hectare. The blend consists of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere. Like the d’Armailhac ’14, there is a sense of opulence on the nose, ripe blackberry intermingling with black olives. The palate is rich and quite tangy on the entry. This is a “full-on” Clerc-Milon, quite extravagant in the context of the vintage, not a shy Pauillac, perhaps due to that expressive old vine Merlot? There is a pinch of soy on the finish that continues onto the aftertaste. Feisty Clerc-Milon for those who want a bit of va-va-va-voom in their Pauillac.
Score: 90/92 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (218)
2014 Ch Langoa Barton 3eme Cru St Julien: £285 per 12 In Bond
St Julien is famed for its consistency and the 2014 is a very fine example of the commune’s success. Langoa always expresses its charm and openness at a very early stage and the 2014 is no exception. Anthony Barton has done it again, producing a beautifully balanced classic claret.
This lovely bright purple coloured Langoa is a wine full of charm and harmony. A very generous feel of sweet cherry fruits, a deliciously giving style which will give huge pleasure to all lovers of fine Claret.
Score: 89-91. David Roberts MW
The Château Langoa Barton 2014 is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc cropped between 25 September and 8 October and raised in 60% new barrels. It has a backward nose that is tightly buttoned down: hints of blackberry, briary and cedar developing with time. The palate is harmonious with fine tannins, good density here for a Langoa Barton with new oak beautifully interwoven and filling out the finish. This is an impressive Langoa Barton, one of the most under-rated crus in Saint Julien. It’s one that will surprise a few people once in bottle.
Score: 91/93 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (218)
2014 Ch d’Issan 3eme Cru Margaux: £295 per 12 In Bond
Emmanuel is credited with turning around the quality of this impressive 3eme Cru since taking it over as general manager in 1998. It is, and always will be, one the stars of Margaux and a firm favourite of Goedhuis & Co. The 2014 will evolve into a beautiful wine and should feature in everyone’s cellar.
High class Cabernet Sauvignon, which contributes 77% of the final blend. Striking damson and sloe fruit aromas. This is harmonious, with good mid-palate density, focusing on true Margaux finesse, with an attractively bright and full finish.
Score: 91-93. David Roberts MW
The Château d’Issan 2014 is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot picked between 25 September and 15 October and matured in 50% new oak. It has a very precise, quite minerally bouquet that has that tradamark violet touch that pins down the appéllation. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins and good acidity; appreciable depth with chewy black tarry fruit towards the finish. This is a guttsier d’Issan that will probably be one of the longer lasting Margaux crus of the vintage. I’ve been smitten by recent vintages from this glorious Margaux estate, but I detected just a mote of greenness on a couple of samples that I hope will vanish by the time of bottling. If it does then it will merit a higher score. Tasted three times.
Score: 89/91 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (218)