Château Laulan Ducos 2005
Right now it might seem that Bordeaux doesn't really need any publicity. With prices climbing ever skyward, the rich and sometimes titled châteaux proprietors can only be raking it in. The prices of many wines are, certainly as far as the 2005 vintage is concerned, more than double what we might have expected only a few years ago.
Although largely correct, this point of view is, of course, a generalisation, and a false conclusion. It results from erroneously extrapolating the obvious success enjoyed by the top one hundred or so properties of the Médoc, Graves, St Emilion and Pomerol in order to describe the activities of the whole of Bordeaux, and of course nothing could be further from the truth. Bordeaux is a huge wine region, a message usually reinforced by pointing out that it generates more bottles of wine per annum than the whole of Australia. It would be very simple of us to assume that all the vignerons of the minor regions around Castillon, St-Georges, Montagne and Lalande de Pomerol, Bourg, Blaye and the Entre-Deux-Mers, as well as those of the under-publicised, under-appreciated estates with slightly grander appellations, such as the many Cru Bourgeois châteaux of the left bank, are all experiencing the same pigs-rolling-in-mud feelings as the proprietors of the Cru Classé châteaux. The truth, I think, is far from it. Here there are numerous smaller estates in many cases turning out admirable wines (in many cases not, admittedly, but in this Bordeaux is no different to any other region of France) that do not command a massive price, but which reflect their origins, and which are worth seeking out.
This week's wine is from one such estate. Beyond the grand estates of Pauillac and St Estèphe on the left bank of the Gironde lie the vineyards of the Médoc, the source of some lovely wines, such as Preuillac and Potensac, but also many of those lesser known estates mentioned above. Such as Château Laulan Ducos, where Brigitte, Frederic and Julien Ducos harvest the fruit of about 20 hectares of vines. It is a serious operation, with stainless steel fermentation and a decent proportion of new oak every year. It shows through in the wines, which have a very firm, classic style, sometimes a little denser and more giving depending on the vintage, but they always, in my experience, have plenty of appeal. Fans of classically structured wines such as Potensac would like these, and the 2005 from Laulan Ducos is as good a place as any to test out this theory. It has a deep, glossy but dense hue, and an array of pure and spicy aromas are released from the glass, a melange of liquorice and cassis fruit backed up by smoky cherry, sweetly composed but also serious and gritty. On the palate a similar purity comes across, carried by a rich texture underpinned by a fine grip. There are just piles of ripe tannins, within a core of lip-smacking savoury quality which carries through to the finish. Fresh and balanced, this is approachable now, but will certainly give yet more pleasure in a few years time. Excellent potential. 17+/20 (13/8/07)