Well, it has now started! I have just returned from the first major tasting of an intensive week of judging assessing and weighing up the 2014 barrel samples in Bordeaux.
Quite a few journalists have already been in Bordeaux in amongst the barrels tasting at various Chateaux. There are probably about 500 of the top wines that need to be tasted in order to get a real feel for how the 2014 wines will develop. Out of these 500 there are probably about 100 Chateaux that will be seriously traded as en Primeurs (futures), if the pricing and quality is correct.
It is always a fascinating week, which I look forward to. It is a time to meet up with old friends in the wine trade from all around the world. To taste, to chat, to eat together. This is one of the best aspects of wine.
Tonight I was invited to an interesting tasting at Chateau Guiraud, Premier Cru Classe, Sauternes. The Chateau is jointly owned by Xavier Planty (who also runs the day to day activity), Stefan von Niepperg (who also owns some excellent estates in and around St.Emilion), Olivier Bernard (who owns the magnificent Domaine de Chevalier as well as some other exciting Chateaux) and Robert Peugeot (whose family has been making cars for a long time).
I met up with Adrien Bernard, who is the suave son of Olivier Bernard. Adrien has spent quite a few years in Shanghai and Hong Kong and it is fascinating hearing about the ups and downs of this market. Xavier Planty was, as always, on very jovial form along with the very positive and always exquisitely attired Stefan von Neipperg.
These were the wines tasted:
G de Guiraud 2014, Bordeaux Blanc
A delicious grapefruit zesty style of dry white made in Sauternes at Chateau Guiraud. Stone fruits give this wine a good backbone. Slightly one dimensional but ready to quaff now as an aperitif.
Clos des Lunes- Lunes Blanche 2014, Bordeaux Blanc
Dry white made by Hugo Bernard near Chateau d'Yquem. A fresh crisp medium intense white that almost had a petillant spritz.
Clos des Lunes-Lune d'Argent 2014, Bordeaux Blanc
Bolder style with interesting greengage hard fruits and rounded pear character. Almost a spicey cinnamon note as well. Very stylish.
Clos des Lunes- Lune d'Or 2014, Bordeaux Blanc
Harder pear nose, Not as elegant as the 'Argent' but a rich mouthfeel and higher intensity of fruit.
Chateau Lespault-Martillac Blanc 2014, Pessac Leognan
Another wine from the Bernard family, as Adrien mentioned they only have 1 hectare for the whites. They took over the estate in 2009. This was and excellent spring fresh crisp white. A real expression of Sauvignon Blanc. Zingy racey acidity but balanced with fruit intensity and very clean.
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2014, Pessac Leognan
A subtle delicate style with initial hints of blossom and pear. The mid palate was packed with lime zest and developed further richness. Not as overt as Lespault Martillac, but subtle and will develop very well.
Clos Marsalette Blanc 2014, Pessac Leognan
Stefan von Neipperg's Graves estate. Very intense pear drop character with high acidity lends me to think that this was a faulty sample.
Chateau Guiraud 2014, Premier Grand Cru Classe, Sauternes
Creamy textured intense lemon marmalade fruits style. Citrus zestiness from the Sauvignon Blanc. An excellent balanced Sauternes.
Chateau du Carpia Rouge 2014, Bordeaux
Very soft juicy fruit. An easy purple hued quaffer. The private organic estate of Xavier Planty.
Chateau d'Aiguilhe 2014, Cotes de Castillon
Good dark cherry intense fruit and stylish almost kirsch intensity.
Clos de l'Oratoire 2014, Grand Cru Classe, Saint Emilion
Elegant, polished style. The oak is quite evident but the dark intense core balanced well.
Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere 2014, Premier Grand Cru Classe, Saint Emilion
Very intense almost stewed fruit. Too extracted style and tasted hot fruit. Looking forward to re taste this wine later in the week, as the sample was odd.
La Mondotte 2014, Premier Grand Cru Classe, Saint Emilion
A stunning wine. Excellent creamy texture with a deep dark core. An elegant and very well balanced wine with grippy character. Clean afterwards and very polished.
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2014, Pessac Leognan
Not too powerful. Restrained style but the Cabernet Sauvignon element to this wine showed very well. A firm stamp of a wine that is not a blockbuster but similar to the white has a subtle classiness which will reveal over time.
All in all it was an excellent small introduction to the 2014 Primeurs. Not too many wines and a general high quality standard.
Over some interesting nibbles I tasted Clos des Lunes- Lune d'Argent 2013, Chateau Guiraud 2004, Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere 2008 and Domaine de Chevalier 1985.
My plans for the rest of the week:
Monday...tasting in and around Saint Emilion and Pomerol.....lots of the Grand Cru wines, as well as an interesting tasting of all the wines made by Stephane Derenoncourt, as well as an appointment at Chateau La Conseillante in Pomerol.
Tuesday....tasting at Chateaux Canon, Pavie, Cheval Blanc, Vieux Chateau Certan, L'Evangile, Figeac, Angelus, Clos Fourtet and L'Eglise Clinet as well as tasting all the other top Saint Emilion and Pomerol wines at two group tastings at Petit Village and Clos des Jacobins
Wednesday....tasting at Chateaux Grand Puy Lacoste, Mouton Rothschild, Montrose, Lafite Rothschild, Cos d'Estournel, Calon Segur (lunch at) Pontet Canet, Latour, Leoville Lascases, Ducru Beaucaillou as well as all the other top Pauillac, Sainte Estephe and Saint Julien wines at Leoville Poyferre and Lynch Moussas
Thursday....tasting at Chateaux Palmer and Margaux and all the top Margaux wines at Dauzac, then tasting at Haut Bailly as well as all the Sauternes Chateaux.
Friday....tasting at Chateau Haut Brion, Climens and Yquem.
An enjoyable week ahead.