It was no surprise that the 2008 Decanter Man of the Year Christan Moueix, president of the négociant house Etablissements Jean-Pierre Moueix and at the helm of numerous Pomerol estates as well as Dominus in Napa Valley, should attract a sell-out masterclass. But he was keen to let the 100 enthusiasts present know that there was more to Pomerol than just Pétrus, of which he has been general manager since 1970. by Tina Gellie
‘When you look at all the horses in your stable, which includes one excellent, beautiful stallion, you sometimes forget to look at the other thoroughbreds which may not stand out as much, but they are still fantastic,’ he said, before inviting them to start tasting the 1998s and 2001s from five of his ‘other’ Pomerol greats.
‘“What’s the first quality of a wine?” my father used to ask me. “Abundance,”, he’d say, “we should drink as much as we can!”’. But things have changed now, Moueix told the audience. ‘I say the first quality of a red is to be red. There are so many inky black wines out there now, you can’t tell what you are drinking or where it is from.
‘In my youth, terroir equalled just soil, which didn’t seem enough. Then it became soil plus climate – that’s where I stand today. Some people now want to include the human factor, but I don’t agree. Humans are extremely important in the making of fine wine, but we should never think we are more important than what nature has given us.’
And nature has certainly bestowed Pomerol, and Moueix’s properties, with numerous great terroirs, which he highlighted through the 10 wines that followed.
Highlight of the day: The biggest surprise for Moueix was the elegance of La Fleur-Pétrus 2001 – ‘What a delicious wine!’ – although two-thirds of the audience preferred the more powerful 1998. But all agreed the best wine of the day was the Trotanoy 2001 ‘Oh gosh,’ said Moueix. ‘This surprises even me!’
Quotes of the day: ‘We show our wines too young at en primeur. The process is completely wrong these days. If I was totally serious, I would show my wines six months later [than the en primeur tastings in March]. It’s not fair on the professionals who come to taste – how can they be objective?’
‘The fashion is to be biodynamic or organic. This is impossible in Bordeaux with our weather. If I was organic, I’d lose the crop in three out of every four years. It’s true that organics has helped us think more about viticulture and use less chemicals, but we are not California. If you try to box in a category that’s not yours, you are sure to lose.’
‘Perfect maturity is gambling – it’s all down to personal taste.’
Comment of the day: ‘Will you come back next year with some Pétrus?’ one man asked. ‘It’s a deal,’ said Moueix. ‘The best wine amateurs in the world are in England, so to share my wines here is as much of a learning occasion for me as it is for you. So, if Decanter invites me again, I’ll serve Pétrus.’ There were more than 100 people in the room who will be holding him to that promise.
Château Magdelaine, St-Emilion 1er GCC 2001
Rich, creamy, plummy nose; charming. Ripe palate of cherry, redcurrant and plum fruit. Elegant and well balanced. Delicate and easy to appreciate now, but with a long life ahead. Refined and fresh. ‘Serve with white meat,’ says Moueix.
Château Magdelaine, St-Emilion 1er GCC 1998
Stylish leathery, spicy, heady peppery nose. Round, full savoury body, warming alcohol and a long, weighty palate of chocolatey tannins, grippy structure and ripe, juicy red fruits and refreshing acidity. Moueix: ‘Better with red meat.’
Château Latour-à-Pomerol, Pomerol 2001
Floral perfume, full and elegant with a lifted mineral edge. Light, rounded palate of delicate crunchy red fruits, white pepper, white flowers and soft but evident tannins. ‘Things don’t have to be heavy to be noticeable,’ says Moueix.
Château Latour-à-Pomerol, Pomerol 1998
Beautiful, earthy, seductive note, with a touch of barnyard characters. Delicate, ripe savoury fruit and juicy acidity – big flavour but not dense. ‘It just flows. It’s not impressive, but very pleasurable – it makes you feel good,’ says Moueix.
Château La Fleur-Pétrus, Pomerol 2001
Moueix: ‘I could have produced a monster from this to get lots of points from some people, but that’s not my aim.’ Complex, exotic passion fruit nose, deliciously inviting. Approachable palate, that is very big and ripe, but not to excess. Drinking well now, bit has years ahead of it.
Château La Fleur-Pétrus, Pomerol 1998
‘We finished picking grapes for this wine an hour before a terrible storm,’ says Moueix. ‘Those who didn’t lost everything.’ Rich, juicy redcurrant and cranberry fruit nose. Bold, dense and concentrated black fruit palate with firm chocolatey tannins and a long finish. Very moreish.
Château Hosanna, Pomerol 2001
Very minty, euclaypt-like nose, along with lifted violet perfume. Fresh and inviting. The palate shows more lively menthol notes along with chocolate bramble fruit and grippy, tight structure. ‘The Cabernet Franc brings more complexity – it brings out the poetry of the wine,’ says Moueix.
Château Hosanna, Pomerol 2000 (the estate was only acquired in 1999, so there was no earlier vintages to show)
Unusually mature nose – savoury plums and leather. Lovely round palate of black and blue fruits, coffee-toned oak and ripe tannins. Delicious flavours but lacking vibrancy. Moueix: ‘This is the only wine I have unfined and unfiltered, so this will drop sediment. Perhaps the slight flatness is due to that?’
Château Trotanoy, Pomerol 2001
‘Last year 24 wines in Pomerol were more expensive than this. This is so gorgeous – maybe I’ll review the pricing!’ says Moueix. Dense, rich red plum and blackberry fruit characters. Very deep and concentrated yet graceful and terroir-driven. Fine, grainy tannins and great length.
Château Trotanoy, Pomerol 1998
‘Closed, brooding nose, with hints of anise and blackberry fruit. Spicy liquorice plate, minty cassis fruit. Quite exotic. Grippy, structured tannins. Great potential, even though it is sombre now. ‘Trotanoy is all about density, but density that does not force itself on you,’ says Moueix.