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Bordeaux Value from Blaye

More Bordeaux values today, this time from Blaye. One of Bordeaux’s larger appellations, Blaye (or Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux to give it its Sunday name) sits on the right bank of the Gironde, directly opposite the famous communal appellations of the left bank. The major difference is that instead of deep gravel beds the soils are more typically clay over limestone, and correspondingly Merlot dominates rather than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Château Magdeleine Bouhou, which has been in the ownership of the same family since the late-19th century, is a leading estate in this appellation. I first tasted its wines a few years back with Stéphane Derenoncourt, who has consulted here since 2010. I was recently glad to have the opportunity to taste some subsequent vintages of the grand vin, as well as Boha, a Merlot-dominant entry-level wine, that I thought rather good.

Château Magdeleine Bouhou

Here are a couple of other tasting notes on the grand vin:

Château Magdeleine Bouhou 2012: A dark, matt, black-tulip hue. A fascinating warm and welcoming nose, with rose petals, smoke, violets, degraded fruit, and a lightly macerated character. There follows a cool, fresh, correct and balanced palate, with roasted and degraded fruit notes, quite savoury, set against a lean, cool and stony backbone, with a twist of vanilla flower, a delineated endpalate, and a short finish. 15/20 (March 2017)

Château Magdeleine Bouhou 2011: An opaque black-tulip hue, with a bright, dusty, claretty rim. Lightly roasted berry fruits on the nose, bright, with peppered confit cherry, charming and expressive. A cool start, well measured, with supple weight and a slightly chalky texture to the fruit. A dry, savoury and fairly grippy style, with a substantial but ripe tannic structure, and it is still carrying some toasted, charcoal oak. Lots of lovely fruit wrapped around it though, with red cherry, red plum, soft, textural and veering towards plush in the finish. Nicely poised now, but with potential too. 16/20 (March 2017)

These are clearly good wines which I will look out for in future.

Bordeaux Value from Listrac

I’m always on the look-out for good value in Bordeaux, which can mean looking outside the most famous appellations. On the left bank, Moulis, Listrac, the Haut-Médoc and Médoc appellations are all potential hunting grounds.

I was happy to have the opportunity recently, courtesy of Château Fourcas-Dupré, to taste a few samples. I was impressed with the Château Fourcas-Dupré Blanc 2015, a wine which marks a revival of white winemaking on the estate, and in the region.

Here are notes on a couple more samples:

Château Fourcas-Dupré Cuvée Hautes Terres 2012: A dusty hue, with a moderate depth of colour intensity, with a cherry red tinge. The nose is all smoky, with dry-grilled berry-skin and stem. There follows a softly composed palate, with a touch of candle grease texture, smoking fat, and a bitter structure beneath. A bit lean, with a very old-school feel throughout the middle and end, culminating in a short, peppery finish. 13/20 (March 2017)

Château Fourcas-Dupré

Château Fourcas-Dupré 2011: A dark and dusty hue to this wine. The nose is full of roasted fruit, with some savoury notes of leather, liquorice and black pepper, with a white limestone freshness. There follows a charming and similarly savoury palate, the fruit touched by black olive and currant, with a soft, plump, easy-going texture, fixed in place by a ripe and sweet backbone of tannin. Long, grippy, a pithy finish, with a textured and yet dry substance. Good. 15.5/20 (March 2017)

I think it is fair to say on this occasion I preferred the 2011 grand vin to the more entry-level Cuvée Hautes Terres, and I would happily drink a little more from this domaine. I think it is the white I liked best though.

Disclosure: These were samples received from the estate.

A Taste of 2016 Bordeaux

The impending arrival of the Bordeaux primeurs in a few week’s time brings, in a potentially good vintage as we have in 2016, a sense of anticipation. If you’re interested in Bordeaux, that is.

The official primeurs tastings kick off during the first week in April, and I will be flying out the weekend before for eight days of visits and tastings. Of course, some critics are already out there, determined to be the first with their notes and scores. Good luck to them.

Château Brown Rosé 2016

While barrel samples are already being poured in Bordeaux, so über-embryonic that even Nietzsche would have been scratching his head searching for the right term, I had my first taste of 2016 from bottle over the weekend. Yes – from bottle!

The 2016 Bordeaux Rosé from Château Brown has a very pale pink hue, much more in the Provençal style than most pink wines coming out of Bordeaux. This delicate colour does not reflect the intensity of aroma though, which is rich yet pure, the nose defined by leafy fruit, clean and bright, with notes of creamed strawberry, raspberry and vanilla flower. This translates into a fresh, crisp and bright style on the palate, with pretty and peppery summer berry fruits, white pebbles, the overall feel dry but substantial. There is some really nice grip here, delicately framed fruit, but with nice structure, underpinned by a tingling acid wash. An impressive Bordeaux rosé, surely one of the best I have tasted. 17/20 (March 2017)

Roll on the primeurs (in a couple of weeks).

Chateau Latour: 2017 Releases

News has been released today of the latest late-release wines from the cellars of Château Latour. In the words of the Latour press release:

“For several years now we have been selecting wines from our cellars that we consider ready to drink. Whilst they can already be enjoyed by connoisseurs of the Estate, they also have excellent cellaring potential.

This year we have chosen to release the Grand Vin de Château Latour 2005 and Les Forts de Latour 2011.

2005 is a landmark year for Château Latour.. The Grand Vin is an exceptional wine that is result of a harvest carried out in perfect conditions and it possesses all the hallmarks of an outstanding vintage. After undergoing twelve years of aging during its early youth in our cellars, this racy, opulent and full-bodied wine is starting to reveal the full depths of its magic and complexity. Its impressive structure, fine tannins and wide range of aromas will continue to evolve and surprise us in the decades to come.

2011 was a more challenging year to deal with, due to a hot spring and an uncharacteristically cold and wet summer season. However, as it is often the case, a hot and dry September enabled us to harvest perfectly mature grapes. Les Forts de Latour 2011 is an elegant, fruity and pure wine. Having reached its first stage of maturity, this wine unveils a deliciously fruity and delicate structure.

These two wines will be released onto the market mid-March via a selection of Bordeaux wine merchants. They will join the Pauillac de Château Latour 2012 (offered for sale at the beginning of the year), which is the first wine of this vintage to be released by the Estate.”