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First growths come into their own: Spurrier

The First Growths – including Mouton – are pre-eminent this year, Steven Spurrier says.

Having tasted the five top wines – Chateaux Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion – Decanter’s consultant editor says these wines show tremendous ‘polish and depth’.

Mouton – often accused of under-performing – is included in his praise.

‘They are so “First Growth”. All of them, and finally Mouton, demonstrate the vast amount of expense that goes into making them.’

And even more expense this year, with vineyards requiring constant attention with an expanded workforce. According to Frederic Engerer at Latour, the cost of the 2006 harvest was 60% more than 2005.

Spurrier added, ‘Mouton is fantastic, and Petit Mouton [the second wine of the chateau] is the best second wine of the entire vintage.’

Haut Brion was also singled out for particular praise – especially for its white wine, the aromatic Laville Haut Brion, made up this year of 86% Semillon and 14% Sauvignon Blanc.

Spurrier called it ‘beautiful’ and suggested it ‘sets a new benchmark for Bordeaux whites’, outclassing all its competitors in the Graves.

He was impressed with the blockbusting, 14.3% alcohol, La Mission Haut Brion, and found the first wine of the chateau ‘extraordinary’.

As for the rest of the Medoc, the vintage is difficult to characterise, Spurrier says.

‘Margaux has been much less up and down than in previous years but – with the exception of Chateau Margaux and Palmer, I still found it difficult to award more than three stars.’

He agreed that the best performing appellations were Margaux and St Julien.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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