As is so often the case in the wine world, the classical reserved vintage following on from a highly acclaimed vintage is so easily overlooked. It happened with the 62 after 61, 83 following 82 and most definitely with the very profound 2001’s following the much and rightly eulogised millennium vintage of 2000.
Last night, at Goedhuis & Co’s biennial charity wine dinner at the Savoy in aid of Carefree Northants, The Place to Be and Young Epilepsy, we had the opportunity to comprehensively review some of the very greatest wines of the 2001 vintage including all the 1st growths, a selection of stunning Sauternes and a strong representation from St Emilion and Pomerol.
The 300 guests were not to be disappointed; ten years on the slightly backward Cabernet based wines tasted en primeur are evolving to show all the characteristics of a very fine vintage indeed, and the charm of the Right Bank Merlot based wines remain within them and are beginning to give a huge amount of pleasure.
In such a tasting, when 30 of Bordeaux’s finest estates are tasted, it is almost impossible and indeed unfair to pick out the best, but some as always caught my eye over and above the others. As would be expected the most consistent appellation was certainly Pomerol, which by some chance just happened to be my table! The four wines of Trotanoy, Vieux Chateaux Certan, L’Evangile and La Conseillante were each beautiful in their own right, all expressing their own terroir-based individuality. I do have to admit to having a real soft spot for the La Conseillante which for me was an absolute delight.
For the serious tasters who followed the tasting sheet order, they would have known the treat in store as there was no better way to start off the evening than with the beautifully understated and refined Domaine de Chevalier Rouge. Delicate, sweet and charming and, even better, ready to go now! In St Julien I loved the contrast between the three Léovilles: the Poyferré with its rich sweetness of fruit, the masculinity of the Barton and the weighty poise of the Las Cases. In the Pauillac and St Estèphe camp a number if wines were quite backward and will benefit from further integration in bottle. St Emilion was a glorious contrast between the reserved composed class of Ch Canon and the opulent succulence of a delicious Ch Angelus; both were real beauties.
And now to the 1sts – each really highlighted their own unique individuality. The brooding structure of Ch Latour posed an amazing contrast to the breathtakingly elegant Ch Margaux, which was an absolute star. The most talked about pair was unquestionably from the Haut Brion stable. Half the guests were won over by the reserved and integrated class of the outstanding La Mission Haut Brion, whilst the others felt the long term potential of the Haut Brion was immense. Both were exceptional and a real joy to taste on the night.
The stars of the night I have kept till last! No, not one of the reds but the absolutely stunning sweet wines. 2001 arguably has the potential to be considered the greatest Sauternes vintage ever. A near perfect selection of wines – Doisy Védrines and Suduiraut were truly delicious; tasting the Rieussec I thought this couldn’t be bettered, but boy how it was when I hit the Yquem. One of the greatest wines I have ever tasted I asked myself? I think it might be. Sheer perfection in a glass whose flavours 24 hours later as I write this still linger with me. Long may they last….
To conclude this was a very special evening indeed. A huge thank you must go to all the fabulous Chateaux owners without whose immense support such an evening would not be possible and their generosity in providing many of the wines for the tasting and dinner was hugely appreciated, as was the vintage overall.
David Roberts MW
In appellational order the wines tasted on the night were.
Ch Cos d’Estournel, 2ème Cru, St Estèphe
Ch Lafite Rothschild, 1er Cru, Pauillac
Ch Latour, 1er Cru, Pauillac
Ch Mouton Rothschild, 1er Cru, Pauillac
Ch Pichon Baron, 2ème Cru, Pauillac
Ch Pichon Lalande, 2ème Cru, Pauillac
Ch Grand Puy Lacoste, 5ème Cru, Pauillac
Ch Lynch Bages, 5ème Cru, Pauillac
Ch Pontet Canet, 5ème Cru, Pauillac
Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou, 2ème Cru, St Julien
Ch Léoville Barton, 2ème Cru, St Julien
Ch Léoville Las Cases, 2ème Cru, St Julien
Ch Léoville Poyferré, 2ème Cru, St Julien
Ch Margaux, 1er Cru, Margaux
Ch Rauzan-Segla, 2ème Cru, Margaux
Ch Palmer, 3ème Cru, Margaux
Ch Haut-Brion, 1er Cru, Pessac-Léognan
Ch La Mission Haut Brion, Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan
Domaine de Chevalier, Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan
Ch Haut Bailly, Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan
Ch d’Angelus, 1er Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion
Ch Canon, 1er Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion
Ch Cheval Blanc, 1er Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion
Ch La Conseillante, Pomerol
Ch Trotanoy, Pomerol
Vieux Château Certan
Ch d’Yquem, 1er Cru Supérieur, Sauternes
Ch Rieussec, 1er Cru, Sauternes
Ch Suduiraut, 1er Cru, Sauternes