Decanter's John Stimpfig attends Philippe Dhalluin and Mouton Rothschild's stable tasting and discovers the best of the Chateaux vintages.

An invite to a Château Mouton Rothschild tasting at Spencer House is not to be sneezed at, especially when it is tutored by Philippe Dhalluin, Mouton Rothschild’s brilliant winemaker and MD – and mid-harvest, I might add.

The last time I went to Spencer House was some years ago, before its restoration programme had begun. Today it is back to its magnificent best as one of the greatest 18th Century houses in London. The wines were also in excellent shape.

The first flight of three Château D’Armailhacs (2014, 2009 and 1999) was dependably good, with the ripe and chocolatey 2009 taking top marks. This is almost ready to drink now. The more leafy and classical 1999 is certainly mature. So if it’s sitting untouched in your cellar, I would start to pull the cork.

My hot tip for a superb classed growth claret punching above its weight is Château Clerc Milon. This for me was the biggest surprise of the tasting. The 2014 is already dreamily delicious. Sweet raspberry coulis, roasted coffee, cream and juicily ripe and balanced, this was a joy.

Mouton-Rothschild tasting was held by Philippe Dhalluin

Mouton-Rothschild tasting was held by winemaker and MD, Philippe Dhalluin

The 2005 has lithe tannins, graphite notes, a moreish cassis black fruit profile, liquorice and an emerging hint of forest floor. This is superb now and will only get better. As for the 1998, I would drink this now as it is approaching its prime. Grainy tannins, savoury sous-bois and red fruits mingle with cigar and cedar.

Still in cask, Le Petit Mouton 2014 is intensely aromatic with a lovely floral lift of cassis, damsons and violets. On the palate, there’s brightness, sweetness and a vivacious acidity, which is utterly beguiling. Ditto the even more impressive 2010 with its darker blackberry fruits, savoury tapenade, dense tannins and a point acidity. Quite outstanding.

Last in the flight came the 2005. Again terrific texture and balance, with mocha, tobacco and sweet ripe black cherry. A strong case for broaching the odd bottle now and certainly for the next ten years.

As for the main event, Dhalluin and Mouton did not disappoint the assembled throng. The 2014 is gorgeously aromatic with loganberries, blackberries and raspberry sweetness, combining power, purity and elegance: a wine of the vintage. The 2005 is more fleshy and flamboyant with notes of sandalwood, kirsch, coffee, cola, ripe black fruits. It finishes imperiously long, with an undertow of ripe, grainy tannin, offset by stunning acidity.

I did have a bottle of the 1996 Mouton in my cellar, but rashly opened it some years ago at a Mouton-Rothschild tasting. On the basis of yesterday’s bottle, this was a big mistake. If you’ve got some 1996, it is just starting to open up with effortless ease. This is my kind of claret: fresh, leafy, cassis-laden and a whiff of mushroom and sous-bois. This classical Cabernet vintage is all elegance, complexity and drinkability; an absolute thoroughbred of a wine.

(Editing by Hannah Seaton)

The Wines from the Mouton-Rothschild Tasting

Chateau D’Armhilacs 2014:

USA $17.54 Millesima (NY), $32.94 JJ Buckley (CA)

UK £19.17 Grand Vin Merchants UK, £10.42 Millesima (IB)

Chateau D’Armhilacs 2009:

USA $49.99 Flickinger Wines (IL)

UK £21.25 Millesima (IB), £34.00 Fine+Rare

Chateau Clerc Milon 2014:

USA $49.50 MacArthur Beverages (DC),

UK £27.00 Millesima (IB), £26.67 Grand Vin Merchants UK (IB)

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2014:

USA $309.99 Grand Vin Merchants US

UK £208.33 Albany Vintners (IB)