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Bordeaux with Bill

I’m cracking on with writing up Bordeaux 2012 notes this weekend. As the campaign already seems to be gathering pace, a pace which is sure to pick up over the coming week, I have decided to jump forward to some of the major communes of the right bank, skipping the wines of the Haut-Médoc, Moulis, Listrac and the Médoc appellations. I will come back to these the following week.

So today I’m focusing on Pomerol, for publication Tuesday, and then St Emilion, hopefully Wednesday, although with it being the largest report of all – I’ve lost count of the number of wines I tasted – I do feel slightly daunted at the prospect of beginning it.

In the meantime, here are five notes on older wines served with some excellent Toulouse-style sausages (I add ‘style’ because they were in fact made by a local butcher in Bordeaux), grilled chicken and rare steak served by Bill Blatch at the very start of the primeurs week. After a tasting of 30 or 40 barrel samples, all 2012 Sauternes and Barsac, red meat and red wine were both very welcome.

Gatepost at Angélus

Château Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan) 2001: A remarkably pure and youthful appearance here, and the aromatics seem to have some sympathy with this first impression, as they show a very defined, rather crunchy style of fruit. There are darker tones beneath though, as well as a streak of black liquorice alongside the smoky, damson and red-black hedgerow fruits. The palate feels very reserved, with a cool character to it, polished but gentle in style. Stony textured, tense, quite long and certainly a wine still full of promise. 17/20 (April 2013)

Château Léoville-Poyferré (St Julien) 1989: Very polished and elegantly maturing aromatics here, the sensitive aging fruit laced with notes of black tea and bergamot. Very classic in terms of style, reserved and yet expressive with what it has, and very correct in character. A rather cool, slightly diffuse composition on the palate, but nothing that is unacceptable, in fact it feels quite stylish and lifted, balanced, and showing a very fine trace of liquorice alongside the tea and maturing fruit here. Surprising backbone of grip underneath it, but still balanced and harmonious. Very impressive. And from before the Cuvelier revitalisation in the 1990s too, I note. 18/20 (April 2013)

Château Angélus (St Emilion) 1989: A touch of roasted fruit to the aromatics here, moving towards a less appealing baked character, Rather bold and solid feel to the fruit because of this, not a wine imbued with finesse at this point at least. I do like the little notes of mature black tea it has though. The palate brings the same character to it, showing a solid and very grippy character, with sweetness to the fruit, and some soft, deeply buried acidity. The finish is rich, but soon shows a dry character. An upside and a downside here. 16/20 (April 2013)

Château Angélus (St Emilion) 1990: A really appealing colour here, deeply pigmented still, very dark. And the aromatics have a very different character to the 1989, as here we have moved away from the iron fist in an iron glove (not a typo) to something more scented and interesting. There are notes of black bean here, tea leaves, black bean and soy sauce, all very savoury and complex. The palate shows the sweetness of the vintage though, with some rather confected fruit draped over a dry and tannic structure. The substance is slightly coarse, the finish rather grippy and blunt, but there is certainly some appeal here. 17/20 (April 2013)

Château La Tour Figeac (St Emilion) 2009: A huge contrast to the wines just poured, all much older. This wine shows some an appropriately rich fruit for such a young and warm vintage. The fruit character veers into the blue fruit spectrum, and it also shows a lacing of toffee and chocolate, most probably remnants of the oak. The palate has all the intensity we should expect, with flavours that match the aromatics, wrapped up in a ball of blueberry fruit. Very primary, quite supple. Not pleasant to drink at present (but then why should it be?) but it does hold promise for the future. 16/20 (April 2013)

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