As a country mouse, I try to avoid spending evenings in London these days for a few reasons…. the lights became a little too bright for me a couple of years ago and I am sure if Samuel Johnson had had his face regularly pressed into someone else’s armpit on Northern Line, he would have been a little quicker to tire of London. Combined with Great Western Railways personal vendetta against me to prevent me getting home on time….. I feel it’s safer to make a break for it at the end of the working day and get back home.
So it takes a special evening to keep me up in town. Last Thursday night Goedhuis was lucky enough to host a spectacular tasting and dinner with Monsieur & Madame François-Xavier Borie, who were showcasing a range of wines from Ch Grand Puy Lacoste and Ch Haut Batailley in Pauillac.
Perhaps the most overused but consistently accurate statements made in the wine press is that these two chateaux remain quintessentially Bordeaux and terrific value. Once again they proved this to be true
The venue was 28 Portland Place, a historic town house near Regents Park, fittingly built in 1775 which was the same time that Grand Puy Lacoste first started to produce wine from its current vineyards. Ornately decorated Regency rooms lent an air of grandeur to these aristocrats of Bordeaux.
Our guests were rewarded with a glass of Louis Roederer NV on arrival. My lack of enthusiasm for champagne is well documented, but this wine is very good champagne indeed and clearly had a little age on it which gave it a remarkable complexity and those honeyed biscuity flavours that I adore.
The tasting consisted of the following vintages:
Ch Grand Puy Lacoste 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2001, 1999
The 1999 and 2001 were the most popular wines here, due to their accesabilty. The 2005 & 2006 showed their Breeding, but are some years off their true Potential.
Ch Haut Batailley 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2001, 1999
Again the 1999 showed extremely well, with the 2003 showing why this vintage gives so much pleasure now and that Bordeaux needs such atypical vintages to extend its appeal. The 2005 was closed and not giving much away, but time will coax it from its shell
During dinner, François-Xavier introduced each wine with the eloquence and enthusiasm that only 200 years of family history brings. Like any father, he clearly has no favourites and loves each chateau for their different qualities. Fortunately, but not surprisingly, there were no embarrassing incidents on the night and both wines behaved impeccably.
He explained that Grand Puy Lacoste is always denser, full bodied with more muscle and structure and one for the ages. The more feminine Haut Batailley is a lighter on its feet, quintessentially elegant, medium bodied but always abundant in fruit, with classic Pauillac characteristics of cigar box and cedar.
La Source Blanc 2006
One of the evening’s stars, this white lit up the first course. Aromatic and refined this had me constantly making suggestive eyes to the waitress for more. Unfortunately I think my eyebrows were more Patrick Moore than Roger Moore and had to hunt around in the kitchen for a re-fill.
Ch Haut Batailley 2000
I found the wine beautifully made, but closed for business at the moment. It has a lovely lightness of touch, but its structure and complexity are hidden away. Do not be put off though; this wine is not difficult, just a little shy at the moment. Another 5 years will help.
Ch Haut Batailley 1996
Sensational, and always has been. It will continue on its journey for another 10 years and then might start to dip in form.
Ch Grand Puy Lacoste 1995
In my opinion, this is one of the greatest wines made at this estate. Patience is still needed and will reward the owner with something very special. When one compares its value with wines of similar quality, this is a sensational glass of wine.
Ch Grand Puy Lacoste 1990
When one considers the reputation of this wine and Grand Puy Lacoste’s glacial evolution, I was surprised that this wine was so accessible and mature. A great Pauillac, but to me the 1995 is a far better buy at half the price
We would like to thank the Bories for their incredible generosity with wines from their cellars and for joining us for the evening. It is always so special for our clients to meet the people behind the wines which bring so much pleasure into their lives.
Xavier Borie’s charm and warmth are not only a highlight of any Bordeaux visit, he is one of the most respected and important figures in the region and we at Goedhuis were honoured by one of his very rare visits to London.