I have been meaning to post about this for awhile but needed to find the time. My wife and I attended our local wine society's annual Bordeaux release tasting about two weeks ago. This is the third consecutive year we have attended the local Bordeaux-release tasting. The 2005 wines were more approachable in their infancy than the 2004's, IMO. Not that they should be consumed at this point, but I cannot wait to see how they evolve (I realize that statement is an oxymoron, because I will simply HAVE to wait to see how they evolve!)
The hype around 2005 Bordeaux has obviously been huge, with Parker saying it was the best vintage he has ever tasted and glowing accolades from WS, Decanter, etc...Unfortunately, the huge amount of hype has meant huge prices. What was enjoyable about the tasting that we attended was the focus on affordable wines from the Cotes de Blaye and the Cotes de Bourg. We were able to taste both value wines and classified growths. At this early point in their lives, the less expensive wines were more approachable than the heavy hitters.
1) Ch. Haut-Vigneau, Pessac-Leognan. The least expensive wine we tasted that night, it was fairly closed, with heavy tannins on the palate. However, I detected blueberry and mocha notes on the nose, with milk chocolate, licorice, and coffee on the palate. $27.99 in BC.
2) Clos Mansio, Cotes de Blaye. This 100% Merlot was more expressive than the first wine we tasted, with aromas of pencil lead, coffee, and mint; vibrant berry flavours, and a moderately long finish (perhaps 15-20 seconds?). Still fairly closed, but promising, and reasonably priced at $33.99.
3) Cailleteau Bergeron, Cotes de Blaye. This merlot/cab franc blend was one of the most approachable wines of the night. I detected orange/almond spice aromas (think marzipan with hints of orange pekoe tea) and bright fruit flavours of strawberry, boysenberry and, oddly enough, pomegranate. The phrase "gobs of fruit" comes to mind. Perhaps some would find this wine too new-world-y; the abundant fruit flavours verged on being sweet. At $33.99 in BC, it is certainly a bargain for quality Bordeaux.
4) Segonzac--Cotes de Blaye. A heavily perfumed bouquet with orange and potpourri notes; milk chocolate, blackberry, and black pepper notes on the palate. $37.99 in BC.
5) Feret Lambert--Bordeaux Superieur. A nose of allspice with a medicinal/herbal dimension (almost eucalyptus/menthol-like). My notes are sparse here; I indicated that there are ripe berry and vanilla flavours on the palate. $45.99 in BC
6) Rouselle Prestige, Cotes de Bourg. One of my favourite wines of the night. Aromas of pencil lead, cedar, vanilla, cocoa; on the palate, quite minty with stewed plum, vanilla, and milk chocolate flavours. Long finish. Still closed, with mouth-puckering tannin, but I would be excited to see what this tastes like ten years from now. $47.99 in BC.
7) Ch. Kirwan, Margaux. Unmistakable aromas of cola and sasparilla, with pencil lead and mineral on the palate. I wasn't sure what fruit flavours I tasted here, but the wine was very closed and very tannic. Needs time. $99.99 in BC.
8) Cadet Piola, Saint Emilion. Menthol/medicinal aromas with a spicy-sweet palate hinting at cinnamon heart candies, ripe blackberries, and mocha. $99.99 in BC
9) Ch Lynch-Bages, Pauillac. This seemed very closed. This is probably not a 'technically correct' tasting note, but the nose made me think of fizzy orange pop (i..e. orange crush) and not much else (I admit I do not have the best sense of smell, and I'm sure there is a lot more going on here). I detected vanilla and raspberry flavours but the finish was dominated by mouthpuckering tannin. I'm thinking this needs two decades to come out of its shell. $149.99 in BC.
10) Ch. Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac. Seems a shame to taste such an expensive wine so early in its evolution (not my call...) Still, there's lots going on with this wine even at this early point, with a nose of cinnamon, incense, and violets and with flavours of pencil lead, prune-plum, cinnamon, vanilla, candied orange, and dark chocolate. Long finish but massively tannic. RP says that this wine will start to peak around 2040 and beyond. $1100.00 in BC.
Surprisingly (to me), this wine actually started to shut down as the evening wore on, especially on the nose. I am used to wines becoming MORE expressive the longer they have been poured.
1) There ARE good deals from Blaye, Bourg, and other less prestigious appellations.
2) Some of the wines are ready to drink NOW, especially with a few hours of decanting. No doubt they will improve with age.
3) Despite the hype, 2005 is an excellent vintage for Bordeaux by any standard.
4) The speaker that night, Robert Simpson, one of the most knowledgeable wine figures in BC, said that nearly ALL of the wines we tasted were built to last, and that many of the less expensive wines would age well for 20-30 years or longer. This came as a surprise to me.
Note: all prices quoted are in CAN dollars; the wines are likely 1.5-2 times as expensive here as they would be in the US. Which means good deals if you can track some of these down.