|The impressive new barrel cellars at Chateau Montrose|
It has been an exceptionally busy week tasting the 2013 Primeur barrel samples. This is always a highlight of my year as we assess the quality or style of the previous vintage. This year it was particularly interesting as the growing season had been very difficult during 2013, as detailed here.
My week was basically:
Monday: Tasting at many small tasting on the Right Bank near Saint Emilion and Pomerol. Tasting the wines made by Stephan Derenoncourt and Michel Rolland as well as many others.
Tuesday: Individual Chateau visits at Pavie, Canon, Cheval Blanc, Vieux Chateau Certan, L'Evangile as well as many group tastings organised by the Union des Grands Crus (UGC)
Wednesday: Individual Chateau visits at Calon Segur, Montrose, Cos d'Estournel, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Grand Puy Lacoste, Pontet Canet, Leoville Las Cases, Ducru Beaucaillou as well as covering all the main St.Estephe, Pauillac and St.Julien wines at the UGC tastings.
Thursday: Individual Chateau visits at Palmer, Rauzan Segla and Margaux as well as tasting all the Grand Cru Classe Margaux and Pessac Leognan and Sauternes wines.
Friday: Visit and tasting to Haut Brion, Climens and Pape Clement.
|Tasting at Chateau Mouton Rothschild.....always a pleasure.|
My overall impression is that there have been some pretty, fruity wines produced. There are some strong styles and definite distinctive 'terroir' characters that come through. However there are also some real disappointments. There are some incredibly soft and very light wines that resemble the deep rose called 'clairet' rather than the dark crimson deep ruby wines that are age worthy. And that is the crux of the question: Will these wines age at all?
There are also some wines that are hollow and are awkward to taste. When we taste barrel samples we are looking for a balance of acidity, fruit and tannins. We are tasting for potential rather than immediate enjoyment. I will be intrigued to taste these wines after the 12-18 months barrel age, when the wines are in bottle. I think some of these wines will need to be delicately handled if they are to survive.
The best wines produced in 2013 were the sweet wines from Barsac and Sauternes as well as the dry whites. Unfortunately these are a small percentage of the total production of Bordeaux. However they are terrific. Chateau d'Yquem is sublime and will last 50 years. Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2013 has all the minerality , flinty fresh character and pure class that you expect from this estate. Clos Haut Peyraguey is a beautiful balanced sweet wine and Guiraud and Coutet are delicious.
|The new cellars at Chateau Angelus in Saint Emilion.|
|A white horse ploughing some vines in front of the cellars at Cheval Blanc!|
|The tasting at Chateau Haut Brion in the Orangerie.|
|Some old bottles at Chateau Gruaud Larose. Not sure that the 2013 wines will last 200 years let alone 20.|
My selection for favourite wines from the 2013 barrel samples tasted last week:
Grand Puy Lacoste
Domaine de Chevalier
Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge
Clos Haut Peyraguey
Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc
We are now starting to trade these wines. It might not take that long as there will not be high demand and the prices will not be very high and there is not much quantity.
Lets look onward and upward for a better quality 2014. The sun is shining today on 8th April 2014 and the buds have burst on the vines and if we do not have any frost, hail, rain, disease, rot, rain, snow, hail or problems everything will be fine for 2014!! Fingers crossed........