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Ch Recommendations: The September sun Saviour

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 and gives Ch recommendations.

We will look back on 2007 wine 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’. Steven Spurrier gives Bordeaux Ch recommendations.

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 oncapital. 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.

https://www.decanter.com/premium/decanter-interview-thomas-duroux-405071/

THE MEDOC

Médoc

The most northern of the Left Bank wines and therefore later ripening than the others. These were often lean andgreen 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, Merlotdominates. 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 purplered. 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 longest lived wines in the Médoc, was a little less to the fore.

https://www.decanter.com/premium/pauillac-2017-wines-ratings-in-bottle-431736/

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 andlength. 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 offloral. 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 justa 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. Cleanand 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 haspotential 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 anddensity. 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. Goodacidity 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 purple black. 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) Medium bodied. 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. Long lasting 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 lemonyacidity. 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, Sauvignon dominant 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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