On Monday 7th October Rob treated the group to six classic red Bordeaux. Serving blind in 3 pairs, Rob challenged us to guess from which Bordeaux bank they originated and which of each pair was the older. This proved more difficult that it sounded, I think for everyone – although I personally found the former question much easier than the latter, or to more exact – a proximate question of which wines were Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon dominated? Part of the reason – I’m sure – for inaccurate guesses was the distraction offered by the pleasure of the wines…
Here are my notes:

CHÂTEAU BATAILLEY Pauillac, 5ème Cru, 2009 
Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) 70%; Merlot (M) 25%; Cabernet Franc (CF) 3%; Petit Verdot (PV) 2%.
Nose of dark fruit and a slightly smoky wood hint, a faint floral (lily?) hint too with some pungency. The palate is quite grippy with damson fruit prominent, a little grainy… satisfying in a heavy sort of way.

CHÂTEAU HAUT BAGES AVEROUS Pauillac Cru Bougeois, 2005
CS75%; M17%; CF6%; PV2%.
More restrained but typical claret nose, sharper fruit and some cedary herbs.and a lighter touch. Palate is sweeter and more supple than the previous wine with a lighter feel supplied by the fresher acidity. Very balanced and pleasurable.

The wines were not that far apart, the first wine slightly “muddier” and a browner rim (falsely) leads one to the think it’s older…

LE GRAND CHAI  Montagne St. Emillion, 2015
M / CF – probably about 70:30.
Sweet nose, with red fruit and an earthy hint. Palate is sweet plum fruit with a long acid line. Easy quaffing – which probably implies maturity or simplicity…

CHÂTEAU LAROQUE St. Emillion Grand Cru Classé, 2010
M87%; CF11%; CS2%.
This has a heavier, darker nose with crunchy darker fruit. Palate is firmer with much deeper flavours and a chocolate hint, quite rich with a spicy element… not quite integrated yet but very nice…

This pair clearly have a Merlot imprint, and the not-quite-ready depth of the second wine is a function of its quality and the excellence of the year, not of relative youth….

CHÂTEAU CAMBON LA PELOUSE Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois, 2005
M52%; CS44%; PV4%.
Fragrant red fruit with some floral hints. Palate is soft and sweet but with a drying underlying structure, which frames the fruit well. Very well balanced with a plum finish. Classy though – it turns out – quite soft for the appellation.

HORTEVIE St. Julien Cru Bourgeois 2009
CS70%; M25%; PV5%.
This is more forest floor and mushrooms on the nose, and a darker overall impression. The palate is drying with a harder edge. Slightly lighter bodied and very different fruit/tannin balance. A little hard – is that youth or vintage or appellation?

This was a hard pair to resolve, if anything I thought the first was Merlot  and the second Cabernet Sauvignon ((in fact they were – but not from different side of the rivers), but the former wine certainly seemed more evolved.

A very enjoyable tasting showing many aspects of classic claret. In the end, for me the tasting spoke more of the vintages than the areas. The 2005s (2 & 5) were lovely: ready, enticing and complex. The 2010 was a lovely wine but a little young IMO. The 2009s (1 & 6) quite big, a little “hot” and unresolved maybe, very enjoyable but probably not in line to attain the elegance involved in the other 2 vintages.

Thanks Rob  for a generous and interesting tasting.

À Bientôt