Bordeaux: The September sun saved Bordeaux 2007

bordeaux,september,sun People & Places Articles
  • Friday 6 June 2008

Many expected Bordeaux ’07 to be a washout, until sun – and
fortune – shone. STEVEN SPURRIER finds a charming vintage,
but not one for the long term

We will look back on 2007 as the comeback kid, though I prefer the title ‘turnaround vintage’, which I borrow from Bill Blatch’s annual report he writes for clients of Vintex, the Bordeaux négociant. The sentiment was echoed by Jean-Philippe Delmas of Haut-Brion, who, by the 29 August, ‘had given up on 2007’. The following day, the high-pressure system returned and the sun shone – and would shine constantly, apart from a few showers at

the end of September and early October – until early November. As Blatch remarked, ‘this sudden and lasting Indian summer was an amazing, unexpected, welcome phenomenon and it saved the fortunes of the 2007 vintage’.

Rare for Bordeaux, everyone had the same story. April was the warmest month in the past 58 years, high rainfall in May got the vines off to an early and vigorous start, the flowering was one of the earliest on record. Then June, July and August ushered in a period of wet weather that only constant work in the vineyards with state-of-the-art technology was able to combat. Paul Pontallier of Château Margaux was clear: ‘Mildew started early and stayed on; 20 years ago we would have lost half the crop; 50 years ago probably all of it.’

The autumn ripening was so necessary that most châteaux resisted picking, grabbing every day of sun they could get. Until the weather broke, the comparative sunshine, temperature and rainfall figures made depressing reading (see box, p33). With the French saying ‘août fait le moût’ (August makes the must) more vital due to global warming, even this turnaround couldn’t make a great vintage. But it did save it. Harvest time On the Right Bank, the Merlot ripened quickly but in most cases repaid waiting, while the Cabernet Franc came into its own in early October; on the Left Bank, the thicker-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon kept on gaining complexity. Most people agree that ‘charming’ sums up the style of the vintage. ‘A refreshing style of wine with fine tannins,’ said Mark Walford of Richards Walford; his partner Roy Richards adding: ‘If you tried to extract too much, all you got was a rough vegetal wine with a common finish.’

2007 was not a year to impress with weight. Pontallier said, ‘Vinification was as usual – this is the easy part. The hard part is getting the grapes ripe and healthy, then the blending.’ It was evident that in such an unsatisfactory summer there would be a big difference between great and lesser terroirs, but it was vital for winemakers not to look for what wasn’t there. In St-Emilion and Pomerol, opinions were divided on whether to pick early or late. Christian Moueix admitted he had the first disagreement with his winemaker, Jean-Claude Berrouet, in 38 years, he preferring to pick from mid-September, Berrouet preferring to wait. Moueix’s aim was to produce an easy, pleasant style, as ‘there was nothing we could do to replace the lost summer sun’. Yet Dominique Decoster at Fleur Cardinale harvested between 10–30 October with impressive results. In Pomerol, Alexandre Thienpont declared that ‘Cabernet Franc had made the vintage’ to the extent that Cabernet Sauvignon was excluded, apart from one barrel of press wine, from his final blend of Vieux Château Certan.

Fronsac, Canon-Fronsac and Lalande-de- Pomerol, appellations that have been on a roll this decade, were attractively fruity, without losing character but, with few exceptions, Right Bank wines will be drunk before their 10th birthday. In the northern Graves, where wines

often have a hint of greenness about them en primeur (that they lose in bottle), there was sufficient fragrance and depth to show vineyard character. They seem to have caught what Moueix described as ‘an artificial ripeness’, one produced in weeks rather than months, and I even found a Burgundian seductiveness to Domaine de Chevalier. The Médoc, if such a large stretch of vineyards can be considered as a whole, benefited from the long hang-time of the Cabernets. Frédéric Bonnaffous of Dourthe said there had been ‘50% less cellar work at our châteaux than in 2006, and 30% less new oak, as we didn’t want to mess up the already delicate fruit’. The better wines had an attractive, crunchy expression, keeping, as Frédéric Engerer of Latour described it, ‘the smiling side of the fruit Mother Nature had given us’.

Here again, even for the greatest wines, it is a vintage that will show well just a year or two after bottling and not ‘shut down’ as the 2005s have and the 2006s will. Actually, 2007 was a white wine vintage. A cool summer is always good for the Sémillon and particularly for Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The drying north-easterly wines from the end of August managed to prevent rot spreading, while the sun provided the requisite sugars, the previous months having conserved the acidity. But according to Blatch, ‘Sauternes had the best of the vintage. Comeback vintages are not unusual in Sauternes, where the autumn is by far the most important part of the year. Remember 1997? Anyone still around who remembers 1983?’ My tasting of 26 classed growth Sauternes on the openingafternoon was an absolute delight. So successful was Yquem, Pierre Lurton modestly suggested to Robert Parker that he create a 200-point scale to rank it. So what about prices? Producers agree this is a vintage for drinking, not for speculating in – one that will give pleasure while the 2005s, 2006s and even the 2000s come to maturity. Quality is deemed slightly less good than 2004, yet better than 2002. The UK merchants I spoke to said prices would have to come down considerably to make it worthwhile. John Kolasa at Rauzan-Ségla (and also wearing

his négociant hat at Ulysse Cazabonne) was forthright: ‘We have to drop 30% to respect our customers. If we come out too high, we will not sell’. Such an idea would not gel with Palmer, nor Ducru- Beaucaillou and certainly not Léoville- Las-Cases, all of whose wines stand out.

Palmer’s Thomas Duroux said ‘Because our coffers were full from previous vintages, we were determined to make an exceptional wine this year.’ They have. Simon Farr claimed Kolasa was ‘morally right but economically wrong’ for he had been told that Palmer does not intend to sell for less than it thinks its wine is worth. So perhaps not much will be taken up en primeur, with châteaux relying on the fact that buyers will recognise the value later. This means the châteaux will shoulder the risk, as they have shouldered the expense, and that

although the négociants will be used for sales, the châteaux will be in control of the speculation. More and more top echelon estates can afford to act this way. 2007 is not an investment vintage. The old folks in Bordeaux say a year with 13 moons in it can never be good, and you have to go back to 1947 to find a year ending in 7 that showed any return on

capital. For drinkers, while there are some charming wines for early drinking, anyone with earlier vintages from the 2000s in their cellar can sit out the en primeur market this year.

THE MEDOC

by Steven Spurrier

Médoc

The most northern of the Left Bank

wines and therefore later ripening than

the others. These were often lean and

green in the past, but today’s châteaux

have the determination (and often

money) to rise above climatic adversity.

Generally nice, straightforward wines,

most with good character.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Goulée (16+/20) Deep colour, full and

spicy with really good flesh and depth. Not

green but not too flashy, either. 2011–17.

Ch Rollan de By (CBS) (16+) Fine deep

colour, good supple fruit. Quite polished

and classy – none of the greenness of the

vintage. Elegant. 2011–17.

Ch Fontis (CB) (16) Fine, deep colour.

Elegantly smooth with expressive fruit,

good balance and length. 2012–18.

Ch Greysac (CB) (16) Fine purple red. Ripe

crushed berries nose. Good crunchy fruit,

nice length and balance. 2011–17.

Ch La Cardonne (CBS) (16) Deep colour.

Lovely blackcurrant nose. Fruit in Pauillac

style. Classy and evocative. 2012–17

Ch La Tour de By (CBS) (16) Deep purple red.

Concentrated blackcurrant nose. Deep

earthy fruit, a touch green, tannins

evident, but should soften. 2012–17.

Ch Les Grandes Chênes (CBS) (16) Fine

purple red. Good, chunky, well-extracted

ripe fruit, new oak, concentrated fruit but

will show well. 2012–17

Ch Lousteauneuf (CB) (16) Fine deep colour.

Nice concentration of blackcurrant fruit,

polished vinification and elegant

extraction. Modern. 2011–17.

Patache d’Aux (CB) (16) Deep purple red.

Fine extraction of blackcurrant fruit, good

depth and firm finish, classic and quite

classy. 2012–17.

Ch Potensac (CBE) (16) Dark colour. Big

meaty wine with good earthy grip. Still a

bit severe, but good depth. 2012–17.

Ch Ramafort (CB) (16) Good colour and

fruit. Finesse, elegance and a good

medium-term future. 2011–16.

Clos Manou (16) Dark red. Full of

blackcurrant fruit and none of the

greenness. Oak present. Fine pure

expression and good length. 2011–16.

Ch Lacombe-Noaillac (15.5) Nice but not

deep colour. Quite classy red berry fruit.

Oak present. Straightforward wine with

elegance and character. 2010–16.

Ch La Tour St Bonnet (CB) (15.5) Good broad

fruit and savoury flavours. A bit green but

classic. 2011–16.

Ch Vieux Robin Bois de Lunier (CBS) (15.5)

Light style – pleasant and fruity, good

origins, with more elegance than

concentration. 2011–16

Ch Grivière (CB) (15) Good colour. Pleasant,

supple flavours and nice balance for the

short term. 2010–14.

Ch Haut-Condissas (15) Slightly tobacco

fruit with blackcurrant overtones, Merlot

dominates. Pleasant, supple. 2011–16.

Ch Les Ormes Sorbet (CBS) (15) Good colour,

lively fruit, charming but light. 2010–15.

Haut-Médoc

With vineyards running from north of

St-Estèphe to well south of Margaux, this

is always a mixed bag. Many châteaux have

fine reputations and have held up well in

this vintage. Those who waited for the

Cabernet to ripen have done better than

those who relied on Merlot. Prices vary,

but some of the Médoc’s best values are

found in this appellation.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch Bellevue (17) Huge colour, yet elegant

floral elements are there above the

concentrated blackcurrant fruit, which is

beautifully extracted with both charm

and complexity. Fine terroir (near La

Lagune) lots of savoury flavours and good

length. 2012–20.

Ch La Lagune (3G) (17) Deep plummy colour.

Richly extracted, yet shows lifted florality

on the nose. Fragrant and elegant fruit on

the palate and a touch of new wood. A

supple, seductive and sophisticated wine,

very good for the medium term. 2011–17

Ch La Tour Carnet (4G) (17) Intense, deep

red. Slightly smoky nose – Cabernet

intensity shows through. Good ripeness

and lift despite the concentration.

Well-made and serious. 2013–20

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Belgrave (5G) (16+) Intense black-red.

Smoky, quite fleshy nose. Well-extracted,

quite robust fruit, still with a green edge,

but fleshiness and robustness dominate.

More power than elegance. 2012–17.

Ch Cantemerle (5G) (16+) Good deep colour.

Attractive, fragrant fruit. Full and nicely

ripe on attack. Just a touch green in the

middle, but very well-made for 2007, with

more weight than usual. 2011–17

Ch Gironville (16+) Huge black-red colour.

Elegantly lifted blackcurrant fruit with a

finely expressed richness on the palate and

good oak to add complexity. Modern style,

yet still classic. 2011–17.

Ch Lamarque (CBS) (16+) Good solid colour.

Fragrant fruit – shows an elegance and

purity that is rare this year in the crus

bourgeois. An attractive wine with good

middle fruit and unexpected breed. 2011–17.

Ch Bernardotte (CB) (16) Deep colour. Full

and really good spicy, plummy fruit.

Tannins still quite firm, but good Pauillacstyle

Médoc with more ripeness than

many. 2012–18.

Ch Cambon La Pelouse (CBS) (16) Purple

black. Closed but dense blackcurrant

nose, clean and tightly packed fruit, good

length and good future. 2012–18.

Ch Camensac (5G) (16) Good solid colour.

Leafy, open blackcurrant fruit. A touch of

severity from the Cabernets, but nice

intensity and quite good length. 2012–17.

Ch Comtesse du Parc (16) Dark red. Good

solid, plummy fruit with balance and

length. 2012–17.

Ch Coufran (CBS) (16) Solid colour. Plummy,

soft and spicy Merlot fruit. Broad flavours,

greenness in the middle, but enough

ripeness to see it through. 2011–17.

Ch d’Agassac (CBS) (16) Deep colour. Nicely

made wine with attractive lift and length

in the southern Margaux style. 2011–16.

Ch D’Aurilhac (CB) (16) Purple black. Rich

and supple blackcurrant fruit, nice touch

of oak. Good plummy wine. 2011–17.

Ch de Villegorge (CBS) (16) Deep colour.

Good, solid ripe fruit. Even, spicy and

succulent. Fine and classy. 2012–17.

Ch Liversan (CB) (16) Dense purple-red. Fine

blackcurrant fruit with earthy depth.

Serious, old-fashioned claret. 2012–18

Ch Sénéjac (CBS) (16) Floral, elegant fruit.

Restrained now but shows charm and

elegance. Forward, classy wine. 2011–16.

Ch Sociando-Mallet (16) Deep colour.

Discreet nose. Fleshy fruit and good

structure on the palate. Classy if rather

severe and foursquare at the moment.

Good in time. 2013–20.

Ch Citran (CBS) (15.5) Deep purple-red.

Pronounced blackcurrant fruit. Tannins a

little green but there’s good vibrancy of

fruit for the wine to show well in the

medium term. 2011–16.

Ch Charmail (CBS) (15.5) Deep colour. Good

crunchy fruit. Charming and supple with

good tannins. Straightforward but

pleasant. 2011–16.

Ch Malescasse (CBS) (15.5) Good colour. Less

intense than most but showing fragrant

blackcurrant fruit. Quite smooth and

even charming. Good grip behind but a

forward style. 2011–16.

Ch Maurac Vignes Cabeleyran (CB) (15.5)

Dense colour. Spicy and floral Cabernet

nose. Good density of fruit and fine

natural tannins, showing the slight

greenness of the vintage. 2011–17.

Ch Pontoise-Cabarrus (CB) (15.5) Deep

colour. Firm fruit with good length for the

medium term. 2011–16.

Ch Beaumont (CBS) (15) Light purple colour.

Pleasant fruit in an easy style. Not fully

ripe but nice enough. 2010–15.

Ch Lieujan (CB) (15) Fine violet red. Ripe,

crunchy fruit, nice weight and a good

elegance. 2010–16.

Ch Mille-Roses (15) Deep colour. Good

smooth fruit in a nice style. Lightish but

pleasant. 2010–15.

Ch Real (15) Deep colour. Good fruit with

quite a firm character, though a little

hollow in the middle. 2010–15.

Ch Reysson (CBS) (15) Good deep colour. Nice

fruit showing some elegance but a bit

lightweight. 2010–14.

St-Estèphe

Despite its geographical variety,

St-Estèphe is usually more of a piece but

this year I found great variation and less

quality overall. The heatwave vintage of

2003 suited the more clayey soils of the

northern Médoc, but in 2007 many

châteaux didn’t get enough ripeness.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch Cos d’Estournel (2G) (18) Dense purple

red. Plummy, fleshy, spicy, exotic fruit,

with unusual firmness. About as ripe as

you could get this vintage, with fine

length and potential complexity. 2012–25.

Ch Montrose (2G) (18) Black red. Smoky

Cabernet nose. Fine concentration of ripe

berry fruit, with good terroir expression

and masses of fruit in reserve to open up,

backed by fine tannins. 2015–25.

Ch de Pez (CBE) (17) Superb deep colour.

Real depth, character and structure with

the fruit lifted by Cabernet Franc. One of

the best wines of the AC. 2013–20.

Ch Cos Labory (5G) (16.5) Fine intense red.

Smoky/meaty nose. Ripe, plummy fruit

with firm yet elegant finish. Expressive

and good for the medium term. 2012–17.

Ch Tronquoy-Lalande (CBS) (16.5) Dark red.

Deep, spicy fruit, but lifted, elegant and

expressive. Good bright style with depth.

Polished and elegant. Potential. 2011–17.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Haut-Marbuzet (CBE) (16+) Deep colour.

Ripe blackcurrant fruit lifted by new oak.

Attractive, supple and seductive. 2011–17.

Ch Ormes de Pez (CBE) (16+) Intense red.

Tightly knit red berry fruits with no

greenness. Depth and class. 2012–17.

Ch Tour des Termes (CB) (16+) Deep black

red. Smoky, oaky nose. Seductive spiced

plum fruit with good length and fine

tannins. 2012–18

Ch Lafon-Rochet (4G) (16) Rich colour. Good

concentrated blackcurrant fruit showing

intensity and elegance. Ripe with firm

finish. Will flesh out with age. 2013–20.

Ch Le Boscq (CB) (16) Dark colour. Rich wine,

with good expression and smoothness of

flavour. Fine and modern. 2011–17.

Ch Le Crock (CBS) (16) Good colour. Elegant

Cabernet fruit. Supple with elegant

tannins. Nicely balanced. 2012–17.

Ch Lilian-Ladouys (CBS) (16) Deep black

red hue. Red berry fruit, concentrated

palate – quite rich but balanced.

Positive character. 2012–17.

Ch Phélan-Ségur (CBE) (16) Fine intense red.

Smoky, faint bacon nose. Good broad fruit

and attractive open style. Not robust but

sophisticated and stylish. 2011–16.

Ch Serilhan (16) Good colour. Blackcurrant

and floral wine of elegance and precision.

Plump; nice weight and length. 2012–17.

La Dame de Montrose (2L) (16) Dense

velvety colour. Floral Cabernet nose.

Poised and still tight; not as lush as in the

past. Precise if firm finish. 2012–18.

Les Pagodes de Cos (2L) (16) Purple red.

Plummy nose. Classy, broad fruit but just

a touch of leanness on the finish. 2011–16

Ch Clauzet (CBS) (15.5) Good deep colour.

Blackcurrant nose, then solid meaty fruit.

Just a bit lean. 2012–17.

Ch Haut-Beauséjour (CB) (15.5) Good deep

colour. Crunchy plum fruit on the palate.

Elegant, Merlot-based wine in a forward

style. 2010–15.

Tronquoy de Ste-Anne (2L) (15.5) Deep

colour, attractive Cabernet nose. Firm but

not lean, polished winemaking. 2011–15.

Ch Beau-Site (CBS) (15) Good colour. Less

full-bodied than many. Spicy red berry

fruit. Nice early drinking. 2011–15.

Ch de Côme (2L) (15) Supple fruit, quite

elegant, but on the light side. 2011–15.

Ch Tour de Pez (CBS) (15) Deep colour. Good,

firm fruit but a bit lean. 2012–16.

Pauillac

Often Pauillac, led as it is by three first

growths, stands out as the benchmark

commune in the Médoc, something that

is easier to achieve in riper vintages.

While the quality of the wines in 2007 is

still high, the variations in style – what

the châteaux were trying to or could

achieve – was marked, and the typical

density of Pauillac, boasting the longestlived

wines in the Médoc, was a little less

to the fore.

5 STARS ★★★★★

Ch Lafite-Rothschild (1G) (18.5) Black red

colour. Big, almost velvety. Violet nose –

expressive yet restrained. Firm, even a bit

old-fashioned compared to the fruit

bombs of recent years. A wine of great

purity, length and breed. 2015–30.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch Mouton-Rothschild (1G) (18) Black red.

Exotic blackcurrant fruit, but more

restrained than usual. Great clarity and

class with more precision of fruit than in

the 1990s. A very fine wine that will give

enormous pleasure. 2013–25

Ch Latour (1G) (17.5) Black red. Full of

crunchy, spicy fruit with great purity and

length. Not yet showing the power of its

91% Cabernet Sauvignon – still almost a

baby but will gain weight and depth in

barrel and bottle. 2014–25.

Ch Pontet-Canet (5G) (17.5) Intense deep

red. Nose closed, but palate shows fine

intensity of concentrated plums on the

middle palate. Smoky, complex and long.

Good for this vintage. 2013–20.

Ch Clerc-Milon (5G) (17) Black red. Smoky

blackcurrant fruit that shows fine, if

restrained, ripeness. Broad palate of

seduction and charm. 2012–18.

Ch Duhart-Milon (4G) (17) Dense colour.

Pronounced Cabernet nose. Smoky, even

leathery density of fruit. Elegance over

power, but power is there. 2013–22.

Ch Lynch-Bages (5G) (17) Deep purple red.

Depth of blackcurrant Cabernet on nose.

Finely expressed fruit on palate; discreet

(for Lynch-Bages) yet all there. Good

length, balance and ripe tannins. 2012–20.

Ch Pichon-Longueville (2G) (17) Black red.

Pronounced smoky blackcurrant nose.

Freshness of fruit with good length and

grip, classy for medium term. 2012–20.

Ch Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de

Lalande (2G) (17) Purple red. Smoky

seductive nose. Slightly gamey fruit,

should gain complexity in barrel. 2012–20.

Carruades de Ch Lafite (2L) (16.5) Deep

colour. Elegant fragrance. Fine expression

of fruit on the palate. Firmness balanced

by great purity and charm. 2012–17.

Ch d’Armailhac (5G) (16.5) Purple red.

Smoky blackcurrant fruit. Velvety and lush

compared to some. Cabernet Franc lift;

pure, expressive and elegant. 2012–17.

Ch Haut-Bages Libéral (5G) (16.5) Intense

red. Blackcurrant fruit with a touch of

floral. Firm and a bit lean, but good

length and precision of flavour. 2012–17.

Ch Haut-Batailley (5G) (16.5) Deep colour.

Nicely expressive fruit, well-poised with

elegance, style and length. 2012–17.

Le Petit Mouton (2L) (16.5) Dark red. Spicy

and seductive. Exotic, supple fruit but just

a bit hollow in the back. 2011–17.

Les Forts de Latour (2L) (16.5) Deep colour.

Supple, rounded fruit. More gentle style

than in previous years Attractive and

should fill out in barrel. 2012–17

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Pibran (CBS) (16+) Black red. Blackcurrant

fruit. Fleshy and supple with good grip on

the finish. Stylish. 2012–17.

Ch Batailley (5G) (16) Good deep colour.

Elegant blackcurrant fruit. Good purity

and nice expression, but lighter than in

past years. 2011–17.

Ch Croizet-Bages (5G) (16) Good, solid

colour. Ripe blackcurrant fruit. Attractive

and quite open in style. Has charm and a

certain elegance. 2011–17.

Ch Lynch-Moussas (5G) (16) Good colour.

Floral, vanilla nose. Attractive fruit, floral

style. Light and elegant. 2011–16.

Les Tourelles de Longueville (2L) (16) Dark

colour. Full smoky blackcurrant fruit.

Precise and balanced. 2011–15.

Pauillac de Ch Latour (3L) (16) Dark

colour. Fresh blackcurrant fruit. Clean

and classy with soft acidity. Ready

soon. 2010–15.

Réserve de la Comtesse (2L) (16) Dark red.

Full, plummy and seductive, but lacks the

usual élan. 2011–15.

Ch Bellegrave (15.5) Dark red. Red fruit

nose. Robust and upfront, good length.

Nice and solid. 2011–16.

Ch Fonbadet (CBS) (15.5) Deep colour. Floral,

lifted blackcurrant nose. Earthy yet has

potential elegance. 2011–16.

Ch Grand-Puy-Ducasse (5G) (15.5) Bright

purple red. Upfront fruit – persistent and

lively – but does show some greenness.

Finishes a little lean. 2012–16.

Ch Haut-Bages Montpelou (CBS) (15.5) Solid

colour. Plummy spicy fruit and good

expression of the AC. 2011–16.

Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste (5G) (15) Dense black

red. Floral, lifted blackcurrant fruit. Pure

and expressive with fine precision and

density. 2013–20.

St-Julien

I usually take it as given that St-Julien,

with 90% of its appellation made up of

classed growths, will be without

disappointment, but this year some wines

lacked density and follow-through.

Overall, though, the quality was good.

5 STARS ★★★★★

Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou (2G) (18.5) Intense

black red. Really good depth and lots of

warm fruit. Big, fleshy and spicy, with

richness and powerful elegance. 2013–22.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch Léoville-Las Cases (2G) (18) Purple black.

Intense, fragrant, pure fruit aroma. Great

length, precision and depth on the palate.

Fine-grained tannins. Big future. 2017–30

Ch Léoville-Barton (2G) (17.5) Intense black

red. Restrained but well-expressed spicy

concentration. Lovely personality, depth

and precision of fruit. A keeper. 2014–25.

Ch Léoville-Poyferré (2G) (17.5) Deep purple

red. Nose of fresh berry fruit. Great purity

of expression. Full of charm yet fine

length and balance. 2013–22.

Ch Branaire-Ducru (4G) (17) Fine purple red.

Vibrant fruit, fine elegance and lively

style. Good vineyard expression. A precise

wine, balanced with length. 2012–20.

Ch Gloria (17) Full, spicy, floral, with classy

expression. Nice depth of fruit. Very good

for the medium term. 2012–18.

Ch Langoa-Barton (3G) (17) Fine black red.

Precise, ripe blackcurrant fruit with cedar

notes. Elegant, long flavours; not green.

Very good in a lean year. 2013–22.

Ch St-Pierre (4G) (17) Full colour. Deep,

smoky, leathery nose. Full-bodied with

good weight and grip, and fine depth of

fruit that will carry through. 2013–20.

Clos du Marquis (2L) (17) Dense colour.

Really ripe blackcurrant fruit. Lots of

expression with good grip and length.

A classy wine. 2013–20.

Ch Gruaud-Larose (2G) (16.5) Good solid

colour. Fleshy, spicy fruit. Good length and

expression, but lacks some complexity

and depth. 2012–17.

Ch Talbot (4G) (16.5) Intense deep red. Good

intensity of fruit; slightly floral and lifted.

Meaty middle palate and lovely ripeness

For the medium term. 2012–18.

La Croix de Beaucaillou (2L) (16.5) Very

good colour. Attractive spice and lift. Real

vineyard character. A sophisticated and

classy wine. 2012–18.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Beychevelle (4G) (16+) Deep colour.

Fragrant peonies and black fruit on the

nose. Nice extraction and elegance. Not

great length or fruit, but good. 2012–17.

Ch du Glana (CBS) (16) Deep black red. Good

solid fruit, meaty expression and firm

tannins. 2012–17.

Ch Lagrange (3G) (16) Crushed berry fruit.

Smooth and ripe with attractive balance

and weight. Lighter, forward style. 2012–17.

Ch Lalande-Borie (15.5) Deep colour. Good

spice and fruit. Nicely made – even

seductive. 2011–16.

Listrac

Less favoured in geographic terms than

Moulis, Listrac has to try harder to rise

above its rustic reputation. Its efforts are

becoming more and more evident.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Clarke (CBS) (16+) Deep purple red. Fresh,

concentrated blackcurrant fruit. Deep but

not over-extracted; ripe yet a touch green.

But enough depth to carry it. 2012–18.

Ch Fonréaud (CBS) (16+) Fine purple red.

Smoky, elegant Cabernet fruit. Lean but

enough flesh and elegance. True vineyard

character. Good future. 2012–18.

Ch Fourcas Dupré (CBS) (16) Fine purple red.

Elegant, lifted, smoky blackcurrant fruit.

Smooth extraction. Elegant. 2011–17.

Ch Mayne Lalande (CBS) (16) Vibrant colour.

Floral red berry fruit. Clear expression,

good balance and silky finish. 2012– 17.

Ch Saransot-Dupré (CBS) (16) Bright colour.

Shows life and lovely florality. Elegantly

made. 2011–17.

Ch Ducluzeau (CB) (15.5) Good plummy

colour, nice and ripe for Listrac, nice easy

wine for the medium term. 2011-16.

Ch Fourcas Hosten (CBS) (15) Light but lively

blackcurrant fruit and some greenness

that needs to soften. 2010–15.

Moulis

Usually one of my favourite communes

in the Médoc. Quality has been less regular

this year, but a few wines shine out.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch Chasse-Spleen (CBE) (17) Fine, deep

purple-red. Very well extracted

blackcurrant Cabernet fruit – rich, almost

velvety. Vibrant yet smooth with tannins

that will blend in. A classy wine with

crunchy fruit and elegant finish. 2012–20.

Ch Branas Grand Poujeaux (16.5)

Deep purple-red. Spicy blackcurrant nose,

good depth and nice touch of new oak.

Smoky flavour, good length, very

attractive, supple wine. 2012–17.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Dutruch Grand Poujeaux (CBS) (16) Dark

red. Lovely fleshy fruit and length. Classy.

Good oak and origin. 2012–17.

Ch Poujeaux (CBE) (16) Deep purple red.

Ripe blackcurrant fruit – broad and chewy.

Tannins need to soften to blend with the

big, fleshy flavours. Potential. 2012–18.

Ch Brillette (CBS) (15.5) Deep colour. Quite

ripe, earthy fruit. Good solid wine for the

medium term. 2011–16.

Ch Moulin-à-Vent (CBS) (15.5) Dark red.

Bright fruit with a supple style. An honest

terroir wine. 2011–16.

Ch Maucaillou (CBS) (15.5) Fine purple red.

Rustic, meaty fruit. Broad straightforward

flavours but slightly hollow. 2011–16.

Ch Duplessis (CB) (15.5) Very dark. Fleshy

fruit but a bit foursquare. 2011–16.

Margaux

Generally less regular than the other top

communes in the Médoc, possibly due to

being more spread out. I found the 2007s

more homogenous and the quality higher.

Some say that as the southernmost

commune Margaux gets better weather,

but perhaps many châteaux are now

achieving a price for their wines that allows

constant investment and attention to detail.

Also, perhaps the early-drinking charm of

the year suits the style of the appellation.

5 STARS ★★★★★

Ch Margaux (1G) (18.5) Superb colour, nose

of crushed red berry fruit, with all the

depth but none of the hardness of

Cabernet Sauvignon; very long, very pure

fruit, a wine of great class that will open

up young yet last well. 2012–30.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch Palmer (3G) (18) Black red. Lovely, very

rich concentration of velvety, spicy fruit

with great depth but not over-extraction.

Impressive persistence with good density

of tannins to back it up. 2015–25.

Ch Rauzan-Ségla (2G) (17.5) Intense purple

red. Fine fragrance of lifted Cabernet fruit.

Lovely florality and elegance. Very good

depth of fruit, combining ripeness, purity

and precision. Already shows extremely

well and can only improve. 2013–25.

Ch Giscours (3G) (17+) Dense purple red.

Well-extracted, assertive Cabernet fruit.

Powerful yet restrained, almost leathery

fruit, fleshy and intense. Very good

weight without losing elegance.

Impressive with a good future. 2012–20.

Alter Ego de Palmer (2L) (17) Deep velvety

colour. Lovely Merlot nose showing spicy

blackberry fruit, already smooth with

blended, suave tannins and lovely length.

Strikingly attractive. 2011–17.

Ch Brane-Cantenac (2G) (17) Deep purple

red. Restrained blackcurrant nose but

shows depth and breed. Classy extraction.

Elegant and poised and will blossom out

to gain fruit and complexity. 2012–20.

Ch Boyd-Cantenac (3G) (17) Black red. Floral

blackcurrant fruit, fleshy yet complex, a

finely concentrated expression that will

gain elegance in bottle. 2013–20.

Ch Cantenac-Brown (3G) (17) Intense black

red. Concentrated Cabernet fruit on

palate. A big, chewy wine of a weight rare

in this vintage. Pure, impressive fruit with

more power than elegance. 2012–20.

Ch Dauzac (5G) (17) Black red. Smoky, quite

concentrated blackcurrant fruit, richly

extracted but balanced. Shows good

vineyard depth in a rather foursquare

style. Good future. 2012–20.

Ch d’Issan (3G) (17) Black red. Good crunchy

fruit; elegant and expressive. Shows

charm, purity and length. 2012–18.

Ch Durfort-Vivens (2G) (17) Deep purple

red. Lifted blackcurrant fruit, already

elegant. Good length; tannins will blend

in. Balanced, expressive wine with depth

and potential complexity. 2012–20.

Ch du Tertre (5G) (17) Black red. Smoky,

concentrated blackcurrant. Smooth, even

chocolatey. Good natural ripeness and

none of the greenness of the vintage.

Attractive, plummy, classy wine. 2012–20.

Ch Lascombes (2G) (17) Intense black red.

Solid concentration of Cabernet fruit,

extracted but not heavy. Ripe, impressive

palate of good depth. Potentially complex

and very good medium term. 2012–17.

Ch Malescot-St-Exupéry (3G) (17) Fine

purple red. Lifted blackcurrant fruit of

natural and pure expression. Good depth

of fruit on palate, not showing much yet,

but has potential. 2013–20.

Pavillon Rouge de Ch Margaux (2L) (17)

Good colour. Fragrant fresh red berry fruit

nose that starts discreetly and grows. A

wine of breed and balance. 2011–18.

Ch d’Angludet (CBS) (16.5) Deep black red.

Well-extracted, well-expressed nose of

crushed black berry fruits. Big, plummy,

fleshy flavours, restrained by the firmness

of the Cabernet. Touch green, but the

broad fruit will show through. 2012–20.

Ch Marquis-de-Terme (4G) (16.5) Black red.

Concentrated blackcurrant fruit. Broad,

fleshy wine with good ripeness and a

good future. A touch hollow. 2012–18.

Ch Monbrison (CBS) (16.5) Deep purple red.

Full, vibrant Cabernet fruit, vigorous and

lively on the palate. Elegance and grip – a

good future. 2013–20.

Ch Pouget (4G) (16.5) Black red. Dense

blackcurrant fruit, masses of extraction

and a good future. More brawn, less

elegance. 2014–22.

Ch Prieuré-Lichine (4G) (16.5) Deep purple

red. Plummy, soft blackcurrant fruit, good

elegance and nicely balanced. Will be an

attractive, supple wine. 2012–17.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Desmirail (3G) (16+) Fine purple red.

Discreet but plummy, fragrant Cabernet

fruit. Fine extraction and elegance. Classy,

but could have more complexity. 2012–17.

Ch Kirwan (3G) (16+) Deep purple red. Floral

and blackcurrant nose. Shows elegance

and grip. A little green on the finish but

should turn out well. 2012–18.

Ch Rauzan-Gassies (2G) (16+) Black red.

Ripe and extracted, straightforward depth

of Cabernet fruit. Could be more complex,

but long and well-made. 2012–18.

Ch Deyrem Valentin (CB) (16) Purple red.

Pure and fragrant nose, but charming,

fleshy and elegant. 2012–17.

Ch Ferrière (3G) (16) Deep purple red. Ripe

blackcurrant fruit. Straightforward; smoky

oak. A bit green on the finish. 2012–17.

Ch Labégorce (CBS) (16) Deep purple red.

Ripe, smoky blackcurrant nose. Smooth

concentration of fruit. Broad flavours,

good but a bit foursquare. 2012–18.

Ch La Gurgue (CBS) (16) Deep ruby. Ripe

supple fruit with charm and depth. Lovely

for the medium term. 2011–17

Ch La Tour de Bessan (CB) (16) Good fruit

and elegant spicy flavour, a bit dominated

by new wood. 2012–16

Ch Siran (CBE) (16) Black purple red. Even,

foursquare, solid Cabernet fruit, a little

over-exaggerated and big. Tannins are

not yet blended in but the ripe fruit gives

it potential. 2013–18.

Blason d’Issan (2L) (15.5) Good colour and

good fruit on nose and palate. Elegant

Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine in quite

a forward style. 2010–15.

RIGHT BANK

by James Lawther MW

Most of the Right Bank wines lacked the

depth and intensity of a top year, seeming

light in weight and substance. What they

did have, however, was deep colour,

lower alcohol levels and acidity, and the

potential for fruit-driven charm. ‘This was

not a year to over-indulge in extraction

but to go for the fruit, producing wines

that will probably be ready for bottling in

March 2009 and for drinking four to five

years later,’ said Cheval Blanc’s consultant

oenologist Gilles Pauquet.

St-Emilion

This was an average and variable vintage.

A constant battle was waged against

mildew but the big problem was bringing

the grapes to full maturity. Those that

achieved ripeness have an attractive red

fruit expression; those that didn’t a vegetal

streak. Where the producer has gone for

over-ripeness the Merlot often has a dull,

flat edge. The Cabernet Franc was

generally successful, giving a lift to wines.

Estates on the top terroirs (limestone

plateau and slopes) were better placed to

avoid the inconveniences of the vintage.

5 STARS ★★★★★

Le Dôme (GC) (18.5) Intense colour. Still

brooding, but wonderful, fragrant

expression of Cabernet Franc. Lush palate,

combining ripeness with the liveliness of

the vintage. Great purity and perfect

balance. 2012–20. (Tasted by Steven Spurrier)

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch Ausone (1GCCA) (18) Impressive wine but

less tannic power than 2005 or 2006.

Cabernet Franc gives perfumed aroma

and freshness. Tannins are long, linear

and silky and there’s a solid depth of fruit.

2015–30.

Ch Pavie (1GCCB) (18) Deep purple-black hue.

Lovely, rich, spicy, dark fruit aroma.

Concentrated, layered fruit on the palate

with firm but fine tannins. Fresh,

balanced finish. Harmonious wine with

both power and finesse. 2015–30.

Chapelle d’Ausone (2L) (17.5) Polished

wine with 50% Cabernet Franc in the

blend. Close to Ausone in style and

stature. Has the depth and intensity

many wines lack in 2007. Full and fresh

with a fine tannic line. 2013–25.

Ch Angélus (1GCCB) (17.5) Deep, dark hue.

Layered fruit on the palate with

surprising freshness and vivacity. Lovely

cassis perfume and flavour. Oak present

but integrated. Superior to both 2004

and 2006. 2014–22.

Ch Pavie-Macquin (1GCCB) (17.5) Deep

colour. Slightly austere but intense, dark

berry fruit aroma. Firm, fresh, layered fruit

on palate with liquorice and blackcurrant

notes. Chalky, minerally finish. Solid and

harmonious. 2015–25.

Ch Tertre Roteboeuf (GC) (17.5) Wonderfully

luxurious, sensuous texture and flavour.

Unique. Burgundian floral, red fruit and

spice aromas. Soft, rich, velvety fruit and

rounded tannins. 2011–22.

Le Carré (GC) (17.5) Massive, dense colour.

Terrific extraction of fragrant fruit. Pure,

with perfect vineyard expression. Delicacy

and power; a great success in this

vintage. 2011–20. (Steven Spurrier)

Les Astéries (GC) (17.5) Dense purple red.

Robust, velvety, smoky nose. Rich flavours

with a touch of minerality from the

limestone soil. Very good length and

purity. 2012–20. (Steven Spurrier)

Ch Beau-Séjour Bécot (1GCCB) (17) Deep,

crimson. Harmonious wine with fragrant

red berry aroma. Integrated chocolatey

oak, supple fruit on the mid-palate and

length on the finish. Smoother than 2006

and possibly finer in style. 2012–22.

Ch Cheval Blanc (1GCCA) (17) Trademark

elegant bouquet which shows a poise

and freshness from the 55% Cabernet

Franc. Smooth, suave, textured palate

with a crisp tannic edge. The finish is a

little less polished than the rest.

2013–20.

Ch Destieux (GCC) (17) Quite a wine for the

vintage. Modern, sweet-fruited with quite

big extraction but it works. Loads of fruit

and more depth, intensity and structure

than most this year. 2014–22.

Ch Grand Mayne (GCC) (17) Dark, full and

intense. ‘Fat’ fruit extract and present but

integrated oak. Firm but fine tannins and

a freshness that gives balance. Consistent

and good for the vintage. 2014–22.

Ch Laforge (GC) (17) Black red. Smoky,

earthy, plummy nose. Lovely rich slightly

caramelly fruit with black cherries. Good

acidity to keep it fresh. Fleshy, briary

finish. 2011–18. (Steven Spurrier)

Ch Larcis-Ducasse (GCC) (17) Fine with a mix

of elegance and power. Long and linear

with pretty red berry fruit and a minerally

stamp of terroir. Fresh, firm finish.

Definite ageing potential. 2013–25.

Ch Pavie-Decesse (GCC) (17) Dark purpleblack.

Red fruit and chocolate notes. Not

the concentration of Pavie but ripe fruit

and fine, firm, building tannins balanced

by a minerally freshness. Powerful and

long for the vintage. 2015–25.

Ch Troplong Mondot (1GCCB) (17) Rich, dark

and powerful with layered fruit and firm

tannic frame. Impressive. Builds on the

palate. Has staying power. 2014–22.

La Mondotte (GC) (17) Powerful and

brooding. Monolithic structure but more

open fruited than 2006 and 2005. Tannins

ripe but firm on the finish. 2013–22.

Ch Bellevue (GC) (16.5) The last vintage made

by the Thienpont-Derenoncourt team.

Good fruit but there’s backbone behind.

Lovely balance and freshness. 2012–22.

Ch Cadet-Bon (GC) (16.5) Elegant wine, racy

with a clear expression of its limestone

terroir. Fragrant red berry aroma. Ripe,

layered fruit, minerally freshness, good

length and persistence. 2012–22.

Ch Canon-la-Gaffelière (GCC) (16.5) Lively,

fresh and fruit-packed. Pure expression.

Round and supple with medium length

and fine tannins. Elegant but without the

intensity of big years. 2012–20.

Ch de Pressac (GC) (16.5) Serious

pretensions. Rich, dark fruit. Attractive

expression. Good length and depth with

firm, ripe tannins. 2012–20.

Ch Fleur Cardinale (GCC) (16.5) Dark, rich

and spicy. Sweet maturity. Lush texture

and weight but harmonious. Sensuous,

modern St-Emilion. 2012–20.

Ch l’Arrosée (GCC) (16.5) Dark berry and

cassis nose. Sweet, ripe, layered berry fruit

followed by balancing freshness and

length. Harmonious. 2012–20.

Ch Valandraud (GC) (16.5) Deep colour. Fine,

expression. Lovely texture with round

tannins and attractive mid-palate fruit.

Long, fresh finish. Less concentration than

in the past but more elegance. 2013–22.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Beauséjour (1GCCB) (16) Robust tannic

frame gives this wine solidity. There’s a

freshness and persistence on the finish

with aromatic dark fruit and cassis notes.

2012–22.

Ch Canon (1GCCB) (16) Berry fruit aromas.

Medium weight. Supple attack and

texture with mid-palate sweetness. Fresh

finish. Lacks some intensity but a fine,

harmonious wine. 2012–20.

Ch Fonplégade (GCC) (16) Not up to the

2006 but the ambition of the new

owners is clear. Gentle and supple with a

generosity of fruit and chalky minerality

adding freshness on the finish. 2011–18.

Ch Grand Corbin-Despagne (GCC) (16)

Plump, ripe, supple fruit. Almost Pomerol

in texture and weight. Well integrated

oak. Full, clean finish. Delicious. 2011–18.

Ch Grand-Destieux (GC) (16) Deep colour.

Lovely fragrant Cabernet Franc nose. Fine

direct fruit – sappy and succulent – with

a fine dry finish. 2011–17. (Steven Spurrier)

Ch La Dominique (GCC) (16) Deep colour.

Attractive ripeness with good fruit

intensity. Tannins fine but firm. Fresh

finish. Polished. 2012–20.

Ch Laroque (GCC) (16) Firm, minerally and

fresh. Misses the fruit expression of 2006

but there’s ageing potential. 2013–22.

Ch La Tour Figeac (GCC) (16) Seductive fruit

– quite Pomerol in style – with freshness,

harmony and length. Better than 2006

and good for earlyish drinking. 2011–18.

Ch Le Prieuré (GCC) (16) Limestone terroir

backed by attractive red berry fruit. Clean,

fresh, minerally and long. Consistent with

the advance in 2006. 2013–22.

Ch Soutard (GCC) (16) Harmonious, medium

body with attractive red berry fruit and

minerally freshness. Firm signature of the

limestone plateau. 2012–20.

Ch Trottevieille (1GCCB) (16) Less austere

than 2006; Cabernet component shows.

Crisp, fresh and balanced with soft fruit.

Gentle winemaking but misses the depth

and length of top years. 2012–20.

Clos des Jacobins (GCC) (16) Deep, dark hue.

Fragrant red berry notes. Good depth of

layered fruit, energy and length. In tune

with the vintage. 2011–18.

Ch Bellefont Belcier (GCC) (15.5) Competent

and assured for the vintage. Spicy, dark

fruit notes. Fresh, long finish. 2012–20.

Ch Dassault (GCC) (15.5) Well-handled fruit

extraction – just the right amount for this

vintage. Supple and fragrant nose and

palate with depth and length. 2011–17.

Ch Jean Faure (GC) (15.5) Round, supple and

fruit-driven. Harmonious and balanced.

Delicious for earlyish drinking. 2011–18.

Ch Monbousquet (GCC) (15.5) Dark purpleblack.

Rich, compote of ripe to overripe

fruit. Has weight and texture but lacks a

little zest and vigour this year. 2011–18.

Ch Rol Valentin (GC) (15.5) Sweet compote

of red fruits on nose. Supple, mid-weight

wine. Balanced and fresh. 2012–18.

Ch Teyssier (GC) (15.5) Dark red. Clean and

fresh fruit; fragrant and well-contained.

Good length and savoury balance. Nice

sense of place. 2010–15. (Steven Spurrier)

Clos de l’Oratoire (GCC) (15.5) Fragrant and

fruit driven with violet, red berry and

chocolate notes. Round, suave texture

and long finish. As good as 2006. 2012–18.

Ch Figeac (1GCCB) (15) Gentle raspberry, red

fruit expression on the nose and palate

with the oak a little imposing. There’s

freshness and length in what appears a

fairly soft, mid-weight wine. 2012–20.

Clos Fourtet (1GCCB) (15) Red fruit and plum

notes. There’s an obvious sweetness and

ripeness (even overripe) with a pinch of

alcohol on the finish, but the fruit seems

a little tired and flat. 2011–18.

Ch Franc Mayne (GCC) (15) Fine, delicate

style. Soft red fruits with a freshness on

the finish. Well balanced and pleasurable.

One for early drinking. 2011–18.

Ch Haut-Sarpe (GCC) (15) Big, black colour.

Tight and firm. Cassis, liquorice notes.

Solid, extracted but within reason. Length

and freshness on the finish. 2012–20.

Ch La Gaffelière (1GCCB) (15) Minerally and

discreet. Good body and length on the

finish but the wine misses a little depth

and panache. 2012–20.

Ch Larmande (GCC) (15) Well balanced with

supple red berry fruit. Fragrant and fresh

finish. Harmonious for 2007. 2011–18.

Ch Laroze (GCC) (15) Fine, fresh and elegant

in style. Lightweight but fruity and

balanced for early drinking. 2011–18.

Ch La Serre (GCC) (15) Dark hue. Sweet

fruited. Tight, firm extraction but supple

with a fresh mineral finish. 2012–20.

Ch Belair (1GCCB) (14.5) Soft red fruit

expression. Supple palate, a touch of

sweetness on attack but light and fluid.

Misses mid-palate depth. 2011–20.

Ch Berliquet (GCC) (14.5) Supple and fruit

driven but really misses that inner core

and intensity. 2011–18.

Ch Cadet-Piola (GCC) (14.5) Pretty nose and

palate. Mineral-cassis aroma and flavour.

Seems light and airy and in need of extra

weight. 2012–20.

Ch Cap de Mourlin (GCC) (14.5) Dark fruit

and liquorice notes. Has decent weight of

fruit but a touch too extracted for the

vintage. 2012–18.

Ch Grand Corbin (GCC) (14.5) Spicy, red fruit

nose and palate. Light to medium body.

Tannins a bit dry on the finish. 2011–17.

Ch La Couspaude (GCC) (14.5) Fragrant red

berry fruits on the nose. Palate supple,

warm and fruity but it’s a bit one

dimensional and flat. 2011–18.

Ch Magdelaine (1GCCB) (14.5) Mediumbodied,

round and supple but there’s an

absence of fruit depth and length. The

minerality gives a fresh finish. 2011–20.

Ch Moulin du Cadet (GCC) (14.5) Supple red

berry and plum fruit. Tidy tannic frame

but a little one dimensional. 2011–18.

Ch St-Georges Côte-Pavie (GCC) (14.5)

Simple, supple, fruity expression.

Limestone terroir gives it lift. 2011–18.

Couvent des Jacobins (GCC) (14.5) Mediumbodied.

Soft berry fruit. Clean. A lack of

depth but redeemed by the fruit and

freshness. 2010–16.

Pomerol

Pomerol has had a reasonable degree of

success in this hard year The earlierripening

terroir clearly helped, but this

does not belie the work needed in the

vineyard. The bulk of Merlot for the

grands vins was harvested the week before

the downpour of 22 September and the

Cabernet Franc (a successful and important

component) in the last days of the month.

Top estates on the warmer gravelly soils of

the plateau have impressed in the context

of the vintage, which is one of good

colour, fruit, charm and early drinking.

5 STARS ★★★★★

Ch Lafleur (18.5) Elegant, harmonious

with a firm but fine tannic frame. The

owners feel the 43% old-vine Cabernet

Franc made the difference. Doesn’t have

the power of 2005 or persistence of 2006

but shows great purity and charm which

will doubtless age well. 2014–30.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch l’Eglise-Clinet (18) Serious, although

the easy charm of the vintage shows. Has

the inner depth and tannic core many

lack in 2007. The fruit and minerality

provide a harmonious whole, while

aromatically there’s a complex mix of

dark fruit, liquorice and smoke. 2014–28.

Ch La Conseillante (17.5) Back to the

traditional style, with fruit and finesse to

the fore (less power than 2006 and 2005).

Lovely purity of fruit and just the right

balance for the year. 2012–20.

Ch Pétrus (17.5) Sweet fruited and

balanced with red berry and spice

aromas. A depth of fruit but not the

power and intensity of the previous two

vintages. More elegant in style with a

long, clean finish. 2015–30.

Clos l’Eglise (17.5) Rich and elegant with a

lilac, Burgundian nuance often associated

with Le Pin. Lovely depth of fruit on the

palate, tannins fine but firm. Definition

and persistence on the finish. 2013–22.

Vieux Château Certan (17.5) Grapes from

the 30-year-old, not 60-year-old, vines

made the final selection (only 50% made

the grand vin). Cabernet Franc gives the

wine a crystalline edge. Fresh, pure and

tender with a delicate tannic structure, so

not for the long haul. 2012–20.

Ch l’Evangile (17) Big wine in the context

of the vintage. Palate full, sweet and

warm with firm but finely edged tannins.

Maturity at the optimum. The 16%

Cabernet Franc adds an extra note of

elegance and length. 2014–22.

Ch Trotanoy (17) Impressive colour. The

notes of prune and dark fruits suggest a

good level of maturity. Smooth and rich

on the palate with balancing acidity and

length, the tannins fine rather than

forceful. Quite supple in style. 2014–22.

Ch Hosanna (16.5) Attractive pitch of red

berry fruit. Pure and fine with an almost

minty freshness. Palate shows good

depth for the vintage. Long finish. True to

the house style. 2013–22.

Ch Le Pin (16.5) Deep colour. Abundant

fruit on the nose while the palate is rich,

suave and full. Misses an extra dimension,

though, and that trademark floral,

Burgundian stamp. Could improve with

further maturity. 2013–20.

Ch Petit-Village (16.5) A hard vintage and

good winemaking means more finesse

than in past vintages. Smooth, textured

palate, tannins rounded, attractive fruit.

Elegance rather than power. 2012–18.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Clinet (16) Dark, spicy fruit character.

Ripeness pushed to the limit. Soft, layered

fruit. Good extract but misses a touch of

vivacity on the finish. 2011–18.

Ch Feytit-Clinet (16) Deep colour. Lovely

fruit extract; supple in style. Oak present

but well integrated. Continues the newfound

consistency of this estate. The

weight of 2004 but purer fruit. 2012–18.

Ch Gazin (16) Appealing wine, earlyish

drinking. Medium-bodied, supple fruit

with a touch more zest than many this

year. Cassis notes. 2011–18.

Ch Guillot (16) 30% Cabernet Franc gives

freshness and extra dimension. Medium

bodied with cassis aromas. Long finish.

Only 25,000 bottles made. 2011–18.

Ch La Fleur Pétrus (16) True to style;

harmony and finesse. Lovely purity of

fruit and a defined minerality. Just misses

a little mid-palate intensity. 2012–20.

Ch Nénin (16) Good colour. Round and

supple on the palate. Attractive fruit.

Juicy, fresh and balanced. A well-gauged

expression of the vintage. 2011–18.

Ch Providence (16) Open and charming.

Attractive plum, red berry fruit but

doesn’t hit the heights of 2005 or 2006.

Supple but balanced. 2012–18.

Ch Rouget (16) Attractive fruit expression.

Harmonious. Just the right amount of

extraction. Good length and finely honed

tannins. 2011–18.

Ch Vray Croix de Gay (16) Supple and

forward with a purity of fruit and energy.

Restrained nose but structured palate

with fruit and fine, long tannins. 2012–18.

Clos du Clocher (16) Deep colour. Intense

with good depth of fruit. More rigour

than many in 2007. Firm, fresh, persistent

finish. Good effort. 2012–18.

Ch Le Bon Pasteur (15.5) Fruit-driven nose

and palate. Sweet, supple and forward.

Well-handled extraction. Light but ripe

tannic structure. 2011–2018.

Ch Moulinet (15.5) A likely bargain for

Pomerol. Not the intensity of the major

estates but attractive, fleshy fruit and

fresh, grippy tannins. Oak a little invasive

but there’s enough fruit to carry it. 2011–17.

Ch Bonalgue (15) Good depth of fruit.

Clean and fresh on the finish. Fine tannic frame. 2011-2017

Ch Certan de May (15) Deep colour.

Chocolatey, red berry notes and assertive

oak. Sweet fruited and supple but a touch

drying on the finish. 2012–18.

Ch La Cabanne (15) Doesn’t hit the heights

of 2006 but has attractive fruit, a certain

persistence and tidy tannins. Better

winemaking than in the past. 2011–18.

Ch Vieux Maillet (15) Pretty wine with

gentle red berry fruit. Delicate in form but

has freshness, fruit and poise. 2011–17.

Domaine de l’Eglise (15) Attractive, ripe

red fruit. Medium-bodied with finesse.

Drink before the 2006 or 2005. 2011–17.

Duo de Conseillante (2L) (15) The first vintage

of La Conseillante’s second wine. Just 500

cases so watch out for the price. Fruitdriven

and fresh. Enjoy young. 2010–15.

La Petite Eglise (15) Expressive and

forward. Sweet fruited with red berry

aromas and smooth tannins. 2011–17.

Pensées de Lafleur (2L) (15) Pretty wine but

nowhere near the grand vin this year. Soft,

succulent and pure but misses some

mid-palate weight. 2011–17.

Blason de l’Evangile (2L) (14.5)

Supple, round and fruity. A little bit

one dimensional but will give pleasure

early on. 2010–16.

Ch Beauregard (14.5) Dark hue. Soft,

supple and fleshy. Appealing in an easy

drinking way but lacks punch. 2010-15

Ch La Grave à Pomerol (14.5)

Aromatic with notes of blackberry and

hedgerow fruit. Supple and easy in style.

A touch fluid. For early drinking. 2011–17.

Ch La Pointe (14.5) Soft, supple fruit. Short

on the finish but will make pleasant early

drinking. 2010–16.

Ch Latour à Pomerol (14.5) Representative

of the vintage. Attractive fruit, light

structure and a supple style for early

drinking. 2011–17.

Ch Mazeyres (14.5) Light, easy and

fragrant in style. Good fruit for

pleasurable early drinking. 2010–2016.

Lalande de Pomerol

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Laborderie Mondésir (16) Only 2.15ha,

so a tiny production. More depth than

others. Attractive, Pinot-like cherry-red

berry fruit with a touch of spice. Fresh

and vigorous on the finish. 2010–16.

Ch Les Cruzelles (15.5) Supple, aromatic

with good intensity. Smooth tannic line,

balanced and fresh. Enjoyable. 2010–16.

Ch Perron, La Fleur (15) Attractive red

berry fruit and freshness. Has a little

more energy than many this vintage

Harmonious. 2010–16.

Ch La Sergue (15) Dominant oak but a

generous quantity of fruit behind. Warm,

supple and ripe to overripe. 2011–17.

Ch Siaurac (15) Clean, crisp and fresh.

Unpretentious but well made. Longlasting

fruit. 2010–16.

La Fleur de Boüard (15) Deep hue. Supple

with sweet fruit. Competent but less

exciting than previous years. 2011–17.

Ch Pavillon Bel-Air, Le Chapelain (14.5)

Same team as Beauregard in Pomerol.

Soft, supple, clean and fresh. Perhaps

a touch of dryness on the finish.

2010–16.

Fronsac, Côtes and

satellites

The indifferent summer weather and

permanent pressure from mildew meant

an ongoing battle for ripeness in 2007.

The satellites generally have later ripening

terroirs, so the harvest date was primordial

(some were picking right up until the

end of October). Quality in the resulting

wines is uneven, some showing a vegetal

streak, others fruity and round (if a little

light), and others dry and astringent

where the extraction has been severe. It

was a vintage to aim for fruit, with the

overall style being early-drinking wines

of good colour, supple fruit and lower

acidity and lower alcohol.

Fronsac

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch du Gaby (16.5) The most serious

Fronsac of 2007. Layered fruit with length,

depth, structure and mineral complexity.

Builds on the palate. 2012–18.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Moulin Haut-Laroque (16) Equal to or

better than 2006. Seductive fruit with a

spicy, exotic note. Good length and depth.

Smooth tannins. Expressive. 2010–16.

Ch Dalem (15.5) Supple with smooth

tannins and attractive fruit, but less

purity and intensity than 2006. 2010–16.

Haut Carles (15.5) Deep colour. Firm

extraction. Supple fruited, warm and

round. Big wine but less balance, length

and poise than usual. 2010–16.

Ch Moulin Pey-Labrie (15.5)

Attractive red berry fruit. Has a certain

energy and minerality. Doesn’t have the

power and substance of 2006. 2011–17.

Ch Fontenil (15) Dominant oak grip but

there plenty of fruit behind. Sweet, supple

but a little short on the finish. 2010–16.

Ch Haut Ballet (15) Fresh, fruity with a

minerally note. Supple mid-palate fruit.

Grainy tannins on the finish. 2010–16.

Ch Les Trois Croix (15) Crisp red fruit. Fine,

linear style. Lacks volume but has energy

and length. 2010–16.

Ch Cassagne Haut-Canon, La Truffière

(14.5) Lighter weight as always and higher

Cabernet component this year. Fragrant

fruity cassis notes. Forward. 2010–15.

Ch de La Dauphine (14.5) Fruity with a

minerally edge but much lighter and

more fluid this year. 2009–14.

Ch de La Rivière (14.5) Supple, round and

fruity in style. Little complexity but

pleasurable early drinking. 2009–14.

Ch La Vieille Cure (14.5) Awkward now but

a good track record so should improve.

Medium body, supple with a certain

persistence. 2009–14.

Côtes de Castillon

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch d’Aiguilhe (17) Fruit and finesse rather

than power. Deep colour, fragrant spice

and red berry aromas, layered fruit on the

palate with a fresh minerality on the

finish. Delicious. 2011–18.

Clos Les Lunelles (16.5) Dark purple.

Impressive depth of fruit. Smooth texture.

Ripe, firm and round tannins. 2012–18.

3 STARS ★★★

Clos Puy Arnaud (16) Depth and energy

with attractive fruit. Good weight and

length. Polished, smooth tannins. 2011–18.

Domaine de l’A (16) With 8ha this is no

longer the micro-cuvée of early years.

Lovely layered fruit. Textured, with firm,

fine tannins. On a par with 2006. 2011–17.

Ch Joanin Bécot (15.5) A good effort from

this leading Castillon estate. Vibrancy and

length and attractive red fruit character.

Grippy finish. 2011–16.

Ch Veyry (15.5) Dark fruit with chocolate

oak. Palate smooth, round and supple.

Fine tannins, fresh finish. 2011–16.

Ch Cap de Faugères (15) Edgy but generous

dark fruit and good length. 2010–2015.

Ch Clos l’Eglise (15) Clean, fresh and fruit

driven. Good length and definition.

Attractive fruit character. 2010–14.

Côtes de Francs

3 STARS ★★★

Ch de Francs, Les Cerisiers (14.5) Round,

supple and aromatic for early drinking.

Violet nose. Plump, sweet palate but falls

away on the finish. 2010–14.

Ch Marsau (14.5) Round, fruity and clean

but perhaps a little one-dimensional.

Zesty finish. 2010–14.

PESSAC-LEOGNAN

AND GRAVES

by Beverley Blanning MW

There are some very good wines from

these regions and they will be ready to

drink soon, but prices will need to

be competitive to justify buying them –

particularly en primeur – when there are so

many other delicious early-drinking wines

from elsewhere in the world. The reds

show soft, primary fruit and noticeably low

acidities. In the best, sensitive tannin

management allows this fruit to shine; in

others, winemakers have tried to

compensate for low acidity by extracting

excess tannins, making for tough,

unyielding wines. Some commentators are

hailing 2007 as a great white wine vintage.

The wines certainly have lovely pure and

delicate Sauvignon-dominant fruit – perfect

for early drinking – but it’s not clear if they

have the acidity or fruit concentration to

be long-lived.

Pessac-Léognan reds

5 STARS ★★★★★

Ch Haut-Brion (1G) (18.5) Dense, purple-red.

Spicy cherry and coffee nose. Voluptuous,

silky fruit, good ripeness and firm tannins

with a touch of greenness. Lovely weight

and excellent balance. Easier, shorter

term wine than recent vintages. 2015–28.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch de Fieuzal (CC) (18) Dense, inky. Lightly

perfumed – not intense. Sweet, ripe fruit,

with complexity. Savoury, bitter (but not

green) tannins add savoury edge. Elegant,

understated style. Very good. 2014–23.

Ch Haut Bergey (18) Inky dark. Mineral,

smoky, sooty nose. Sweet fruit and firm

tannins. Good concentration. Very good

fruit sweetness and ripeness allied with

fresh acidity. Very stylish wine. Long,

fruity, mineral finish. 2016–23.

Ch La Mission Haut-Brion (CC) (18) Medium

ruby-purple. Smoky, oaky nose. Silky fruit,

good depth, spice and freshness. Deep

cherry fruit and cedar spice flavours. Very

long and fresh mineral finish. 2013–23.

La Clarence de Haut-Brion (2L) (17.5) Fresh,

velvety nose. Juicy, crisp palte. Balanced

and elegant. Savoury finish. 2013–18.

Ch Haut-Bailly (CC) (17) Deep ruby. Coconut

oak nose. Savoury, mineral fruit, with

good intensity. Good persistence, ripe

fruit and well handled oak. One for

mid-term drinking. 2012–20.

Ch Les Carmes Haut-Brion (17) Smoky

nose with bright, cherry fruit. Sweet

cassis fruit and crisp structure. Sour apple

character at the back, but mostly pure

fruit. Elegant, mid-weight style. 2013–20.

Ch Smith Haut Lafitte (CC) (17) Deep

purple-red. Sweet cassis and oak nose.

Well-structured palate with refreshing

acidity. Brisk, fine-grained tannins. Lovely

cassis fruit palate. Mineral, stony finish.

For the longer term. 2015–23.

La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion (2L) (17)

Bright, purple-red. Chalky, mineral nose.

Fresh palate with crunchy red fruits.

Excellent freshness. Midweight and

elegant. Stylish and balanced. 2013–18.

Ch Latour Martillac (CC) (16.5) Mid-purple.

Light, floral nose; coconut oak. Palate has

noticeable vanilla and coconut oak, but

not overdone. Decent weight of ripe fruit

and good acidity. Alcohol quite high. Juicy

and appealing, with nice length. 2014–23.

Domaine de Chevalier (CC) (16.5) Deep ruby.

Lightly nose. Mid-weight, structured but

not overly. Nice acidity and sweet fruit.

Everything in place. Not outstanding, but

very pleasant, classical style. 2014–20.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Branon (16) Oaky, black fruit nose. Dry

palate but shows depth of flavour. Tarry

tannins. Nice length and interest. 2011–16.

Ch Haut-Gardère (16) Fresh, blackcurrant

nose. Juicy and attractive. Nice structure

and balance for the short term. 2011–16.

Ch Pape Clément (CC) (16) Bright purple.

Toasty, oaky nose. Sweet-fruited palate,

with supple structure and refreshing

acidity. Elegant style, but slight greenness

at the finish. Good. 2016–23.

Ch Baret (15.5) Juicy, plummy fruit. Soft,

ripe, easy, highly drinkable. 2011–13.

Ch Brown (15.5) Spicy nose and juicy, fresh

palate. Soft fruit, supple tannins and a

mineral finish. Pleasant, easy drinking for

the short term. 2010–14.

Ch Lespault (15.5) Good depth of flavour.

Savoury fruit. Nice character. 2011–16.

Ch Malleprat (15.5) Sweet,ripe fruit,

attractive style. Not very complex, but

good. Balanced and elegant. 2012–17.

Ch Pontac Monplaisir (15.5) Rich, fleshy

fruit, nice ripeness. Has depth and

interest. Good. 2012–16.

Domaine de la Solitude (15.5) Floral, fresh

aromas. Chalky structure; quite crisp. Fine

fruit, with attractive, stony flavour and

floral freshness. Good. 2011–16.

Ch Baulos-Charmes (15) Fresh and spicy,

palate with some grip and interest. Nice

fruit ripeness. 2011–14.

Ch Cantelys (15) Plummy, juicy fruit. Soft

and quite short, but very pleasant. Low

acid. For the short term. 2010–13.

Ch Carbonnieux (CC) (15) Cherry and oak

nose. Sweet fruit palate with firm tannin

and good acidity. Mineral finish. 2014–20.

Ch Le Bruilleau (15) Meaty and mineral

wine, with rich, savoury character. Good,

with supple structure. 2010–14.

Ch Malartic-Lagravière (CC) (15) Dense

aroma of ripe blueberry and cassis. Palate

has good concentration (though feels

forced) and firm tannin, with quite low

acidity. Finishes flat. 2012–16.

Clémentin du Pape Clément (2L) (15) Deep,

purple-black. Meaty, black fruit nose. Easy,

soft fruit. Quite oaky. Low acidity and a

short finish. Good but short term. 2011–16.

Ch La Louvière (14.5) Deep colour. Oaky

nose. Attractive, bright blackcurrant and

oak. Raw finish but solid quality. 2015–20.

Graves reds

3 STARS ★★★

Ch Poumey (15.5) Rich, plum aroma with

tobacco. Mid-weight cherry and plum

fruit. Easy, for the short-term. 2011–16.

Ch Ferrande (15) Dense, bright hue. Lifted,

spicy, oaky nose. Fresh with good weight

of ripe blackcurrant fruit. Savoury, mineral

finish. Succulent, stylish, good. 2012–18.

Ch Rahoul (15) Smoky, toasty, sooty nose.

Silky, fresh palate with warm, ripe fruit.

Good acid balance but still soft. Mineral

finish, round tannins and decent length.

Appealing; for the mid-term. 2012–18.

Pessac-Léognan whites

5 STARS ★★★★★

Ch Haut-Brion (18.5) Gentle, oaky, waxy

white flower nose. Palate has spiky fruit

with crisp acidity. Silky palate with lovely

honeyed flavour. Long, delicious. 2016–23.

Ch Laville Haut-Brion (CC) (18.5) Peach,

honeysuckle and waxy, lanolin aromas.

Lemon-fresh palate with mid-weight

peach fruit and limey acidity. Delicious,

honeyed finish. Austere; for the long term.

Excellent. 2016–23.

4 STARS ★★★★

Ch Larrivet Haut-Brion (17.5) Sweet nose:

honeyed, floral, complex. Crisp palate

with sweet, ripe, honeyed fruit and lovely

texture. Big and rich, but not at all heavy.

Long and intensely flavoured. Very good;

for the long term. 2013–23.

Ch Pique Caillou (17.5) Sherberty nose.

Palate crisp and fresh, with lovely lemony

acidity. Pure fruit. Some oak, but not

overdone. Excellent length of flavour.

Very good. 2012–20

Domaine de Chevalier (CC) (16.5) Light

aroma. Crisp and fresh, with nice, sweet

fruit and a fine seam of acidity. Appealing,

with good fruit and balance. Long, crisp

finish. Medium to long term 2012–20.

3 STARS ★★★

Ch de Fieuzal (16) Nettle, leaf aromas, lanolin

and honey. Soft, round texture; complex,

good balance. Interesting, fresh. Not intense

but well judged, if a bit short. 2011–16.

Ch de France (16) Delicate, floral aromas.

Palate has creamy, sweet, rich fruit. Nicely

balanced. Understated style. Acidity quite

soft but good length. Mid-term. 2012–18.

Ch Malartic-Lagravière (CC) (16) Intense,

honeyed aromas, with some gooseberry

fruit. Sweet palate with a green prickle at

the back. Acidity quite low and fruit

rather sweet. Good intensity of flavour,

though. 2012–20.

Ch Smith Haut Lafitte (16) Honeyed

aromas. Palate shows sweet fruit,

moderate acidity and noticeable oak. Easy,

and fresh, with some complexity.

Honeyed and appealing. 2012–18.

Ch Baret (15.5) Tropical, fresh and rich.

Short term but attractive. 2010–13.

Ch Brown (15.5) Honeyed nose. Tropical

fruit and nettle character. Attractive and

crisp. 2010–13.

Ch Malleprat (15.5) Honey and lemon

aromas. Fresh, characterful palate.

interesting and sweetly fruity. 2010–14.

Ch Pape-Clément (15.5) Bright gold.

Creamy, oaky nose. The broad, oaky palate

is a little tiring. Some nice fruit, but not

enough for the oak. 2013–18.

Domaine de la Solitude (15.5) Crisp and

fresh. Attractive but fairly simple. One for

the short term. 2010–13.

Ch Bouscaut (CC) (15) Open, expressive,

oaky nose. Oaky palate with moderate

weight of ripe, leesy fruit. Honey and

lemon flavours with herbal Sauvignon.

Interesting. Finish is a bit dilute but good

nonetheless. Short to midterm. 2011–16.

Ch Carbonnieux (CC) (15) Grassy aromas.

Nice sweet fruit with nettly flavours.

Drops away on the finish but pleasant.

For the short term. 2011–14.

Ch Haut-Bergey (15) Oaky nose. Palate

also oaky but nice weight of fruit. Creamy

and rich with good freshness. Tannins on

the finish are a little dominant. 2012–18.

Clémentin du Château Pape Clément (2L)

(15) Milky, creamy aromas. Palate oaky

with noticeable tannins. Nice Sauvignon

freshness. Good – if a little oaky. 2011–14.

Ch Latour Martillac (CC) (14.5) Bright

Sauvignon fruit on the nose. Attractive

palate but fairly soft. Drink early. 2011–13.

Graves whites

3 STARS ★★★

Ch La Garde (15.5) Crisp, Sauvignondominant

palate with nettly fruit. Green

flavours but attractive. 2011–14.

Clos Floridene (15.5) Round, oaky nose.

Brisk palate. Not complex but nice

freshness. Good. 2011–14.

Ch de Chantegrive (15) Intense

grapefruit aromas and some

elderflower. Palate has sweet fruit – less

zingy than the nose but still good

grapefruit flavour. Light acidity. Simple

and fresh. Short term. 2010–12.

Ch Rahoul (15) Nose shows fresh, green

Sauvignon character. Palate has sweet,

ripe fruit, moderate acidity and decent

length. Pleasant. 2011–16.

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