Marc... Let me know. I am not sure where I am going to be April 15. But I am 100% booked for dinner in Belgium, Monday, April 16. The theme is probably old Pomerol! What do you think? Can you make it?
Originally Posted by Marc Breitenmoser
I actually just came back from Bordeaux yesterday!
I'd agree with most of the comments above..
Here are some of my thoughts...
We stayed in Bordeaux, where there is much more to do at night. Originally i had thought the drive to each of the different regions we would be visiting would take too much of a toll (i.e. drive time) -- However this was not the case - The drive to each region (Pomerol, Margaux and Pauillac) are really not that bad. I'd strongly recommend using Bordeaux as a home base for every night. Also, bordeaux is such a small city center, it really doesn't matter where you stay. Everything is within walking distance so just choose a hotel that fits your price range.
In total, we visited Lafleur, Cheval Blanc, Margaux, Lafite, and Latour over 3 days.
On the first day, we went to Pomerol and Saint Emilion, visiting Lafleur and Cheval Blanc. On Day 2, we drove to Margaux then Pauillac, visiting Margaux then Lafite. On day 3, we made the drive up to Pauillac once again visiting Latour in the morning and then heading back to the train station. Although i mentioned the drive is really not that bad, you really need to plan your visiting strategy accordingly (i.e. don't drive back and forth).
Arranging a visit with Latour will be tough if you aren't part of the trade - but perhaps Jeff's advice may work. Give it a try.
My personal advice is to not pack your day with visits. For me, 2 chateau visits in one day keeps things loose and allows you to truly understand the vineyard and to ask questions. I would never do more than 3 visits in a day - But thats just me.
Oh, and one important tip no one really ever mentioned anywhere - Try not to arrive in Bordeaux on Sunday - If you do arrive in Bordeaux on Sunday make sure you arrive in the early morning so that you can head to Archachon or something. We arrived at 12pm on Sunday in Bordeaux, and much to our surprise, almost everything is closed with the exception of a few stores and restaurants. There is a farmers market on Sundays but these are held in the mornings only (at least that is what i found)
Finally, it's slow season right now. The roads are not very packed nor are there very many people right now. This is the best time to go and deep dive into each Chateau...
Hope those thoughts help!
Well, the big trip finally came! Unfortunately I was with some non-oenophiles so I had to limit it to 2.5 days, but it was a blast.
2007 La Mission Haut Brion 95
Smokey, animal, chocolate, backed brick - so beautifully typical to LMHB. Not quite so persistent on the palate, but I think this will probably flesh out a bit with time. I think there's the same level of quality here as the HB, but they're both true to what I perceive as their usual stylistic differences in 2007.
2007 Haut Brion 95
Flinty, red fruited nose with a lot of elegance. More expressive on the palate; stony, roasted meat. Not really ready yet (and less approachable than LMHB by quite a lot), but I think this will be very good with time.
2006 Leoville Poyferre 91
Tasted at the chateau after a nice tour guided by Anne Cuvelier. Very plush fruit here; dark, with a hint of anise and animal. Very tannic. Should develop well, but this still needs 5+ years. Very much consistent with the profile of the '01 and '99.
2007 Moulin Riche 90
Tasted at LP. Pencil, oak, tapenade. Very good. Svelte mouth feel and the tannins only show their full force on the finish! I enjoyed this - less glossy and plush than the LP alongside.
2008 Cos d'Estournel 92
Excellent fruit with a dark profile and plenty of wood spice. I think this will sort out nicely but it'll take time (no surprise). Very plush on the palate with velvety tannin. Quite a lot better than the Pagodes, which was a relief. I'll look forward to trying this again in a few years.
2008 Pagodes de Cos 84
Bright fruit with a lovely mineral steak. Fairly open already. Technically, this wine is obviously well made; the balance is good and this should develop over the next few years.
2009 Reserve de Leoville Barton 88
From 375 over lunch in St. Emilion. Dark fruit, ripe but not jammy. I like the oak treatment here, which lends great wood and earth notes and isn't at all overblown (I suppose it's not surprise that the Bartons made a wine even in 2009 with understated elegance). Earth and minerality, pleasantly acidic. Still tannic; oaky finish. Will improve over the next few years.
2008 Margaux 94
Head and shoulders above the Pavillon. Beautiful, fairly typically Margaux nose. Plenty of raspberry, floral, mineral notes here. Fine substance and balance on the palate as well. I think this will develop nicely.
2008 Pavillon 89
Fresh and fruity with some Margaux charm. This is good already, but certainly not mature. Enough promise to be curious to see how this develops.
2011 Pichon Lalande 90-93
I'm actually a little surprised by the excellent substance and balance of this wine given what I've heard about the 2011 vintage. I think there's plenty of potential here, which is perhaps a testament to what PL can do in any vintage. Regardless, I'll look forward to tasting this again in a few years. Very good.
2004 Pichon Lalande 92
Rich dark fruit, chocolate, hazelnut, starting to develop floral notes. Vaguely animal palate. Still some tannins left to integrate. I think that this just requires a little more time to flesh out. I'll wait on my bottle for at least another 5 years.
2004 Lynch Bages 89
Oaky nose, some animal, a little bit of funk (the toast?). Chocolate, coffee on the palate. Still tannic. Not as much charm as I'd expect from Lynch.
2005 Les Ormes de Pez 83
Starting to mature at the disc. Black fruit, oak; still a little reticent. Brambly on the palate and hot. A style without much charm or interest. I don't particularly think this is just an awkward point in evolution, either.
2011 Langoa Barton 89-93
Obviously still a very nascent wine, but a lot of elegance. The usual register on the fruit, well proportioned oak treatment, and great balance. A much less tannic wine than the LB, I think that this will be very pleasant by 7-8 years of age. I'll look forward to re-tasting it in a few years.
2011 Leoville Barton 91-93
I think there is a lot of potential here. While it certainly won't be one of the most remarkable vintages for Barton, it's got plenty of fruit and the body is balanced with the acidity. If anything, it's the tannin that runs the show - but how atypical is that for Barton? I think this will turn out to be a good to very good wine for Barton, but it'll take a long time...
2006 Talbot 92
Plump, plush fruit. Very nice, cigar, animal. Typical Talbot. Oak, chocolate, plenty of fruit on the palate. A bit of mineral. Pleasant finish. Very good and drinking nicely already. A style I'm partial to. Reminds me of their 04.
2008 Talbot 87
Mineral in an iron filings sort of way, lots of verve - cigar, beef blood. Good fruit here if not the richest vintage. Relatively early drinking starting a few years from now. 73% CS.
2007 BLANC de Lynch Bages 87
From half, purchased next to the chateau. Citrus fruits with a honeyed edge and some popcorn. Plenty of fruit on the palate; full, lush. At least technically well made if not special.
2002 Domaine du Chevalier 92
Drunk from 750 with dinner. Beginning to mature at the disc. Beautiful dark fruit, chocolate, very nice roasted component. Very Graves; I like the typicity. A bit flabby on the palate, but I wonder if this was mildly corked.
2010 Carbonnieux blanc 90
Honeysuckle, lanolin, tropical fruit. More mineral on the palate. Good acidity here; a refreshing wine with a persistent finish. Still, for the near-ish term.
2007 Gruaud Larose 90
Earth, coffee, smoke, chocolate. Roasted. I wonder how much toast was on this oak. Tannic and a little animal on the palate. I wonder how the post-2006 Gruaud style will play out in the long run...
2002 Sarget de Gruaud 88
Maturing disc. Good fruit, spice, animal; lots of dirt. I like the style here. Good for a second
2005 Chasse Spleen 89
Just the faintest hint of maturity. Opening nicely on the nose; oaky, rich dark fruit profile, a little brambly, earthy. Clearly one of their better years and a little surprisingly for the '05, drinking very well now. While it'll evolve, I don't think that this needs more time to really improve. Both bottles showed exactly the same. I liked this very much, but then again - when does wine not taste better when it's drunk with such great company?
Marc... SWEET! What was the favorite part of the visit? Which chateau did you enjoy the most?
Marc, fantastic! Look forward to comparing Bordeaux travel notes at our upcoming tasting. I was last there in 2003 (Cordellian Bages) but can't wait to get back. Cheers!
It was an incredible few days. I think my favorite was probably Pichon Lalande. They were closed and not receiving visitors as they're doing some renovations to the facilities. But the woman I got in contact with was so remarkably gracious that she offered to show us around the grounds, cellars, and chateau anyway. I don't know if anyone has been into the chateau - it's really remarkable. They redid it after Roederer took over and now it has a more modern feel, but it's still stunning. So we ended up having a private tour from the cellar to the dome (along with a large portion of their crystal collection)! We capped it off by tasting the '11 (surprisingly good given what I had heard) and the '04 (especially nice since I have only one bottle in the cellar and hadn't been able to gauge maturity). It made the whole vacation for me. I have some photos I can post if anyone is interested.
We also had a great time at Leoville Barton. They were particularly busy the week I visited and my schedule was fairly tight. But rather than turning us away, the woman I was in contact with came in to work almost an hour early just to take the two of us on a tour and get the 2011 barrel samples for Leoville and Langoa. It was extraordinary.
Jamie, the Cordeillan Bages! Very swanky. We stayed at a small place in Macau with a guy who turned out to have been a pupil of Alexis Lichine's. Anyway, it was a lovely time. I'm looking forward to getting back there in a couple years.