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Château Quinault L'Enclos 2004

Chateau Quinault L'Enclos 2004The 2004 vintage for Bordeaux has been hailed as many things. Most disheartening of all, perhaps, is its current putative reputation as the last affordable vintage. With the prices of many wines of 2005 having long ago burst through the roof, with a target seemingly somewhere beyond the clouds, this label may indeed have some merit. The 2006 vintage is not far behind; the 2007 is still an unknown, albeit one with which I will be able to get to grips when I visit Bordeaux for the primeurs in a month's time. With these thoughts foremost in my mind I have been working to try and increase the coverage of the 2004 vintage. A number of wines came up for inspection in April 2007 and there has been the occasional wine creep up here and there since then. A number have appeared in the cellar, including this week's featured wine, and I also had a look at another cohort of wines last November. Before the year is out I anticipate another intensive look, including the first growths.

This week I am looking at an interesting wine, one that seemed - at least from where I was sitting - to burst onto the en primeur stage just a few years ago, to considerable acclaim from some quarters, notably Parker. Reviewing the history of the estate, a change in ownership in 1997, when the property was acquired by Alain Raynaud, a friend of Robert Parker, was perhaps the starting point for this miniature revolution. Raynaud is the man behind La Croix de Gay in Pomerol, and he has been heavily involved in the more recent redirection of Château Lascombes. He did much to turn things around at Château Quinault, a St Emilion Grand Cru, with both the vineyards and cellars coming in for some much needed attention. Quinault L'Enclos - the newly added suffix indicating that the vines reside within a walled vineyard, and adding a certain cachet I think - fetched high scores and thus higher prices; the domaine's future was assured.

Chateau Quinault L'Enclos 2004My experience with the wines has been non-existent, and so this tasting does much to increase my knowledge of the domaine, as well as the wines and appellations of the 2004 Bordeaux vintage as a whole. The 2004 Quinault l'Enclos has quite a fresh hue in the glass, and quite a dense core, although it is not at all opaque. The nose has some nice interest; underneath a layer of new, smoky, vanilla-tinged, sweet and spicy oak there is plum fruit with notes of rocket and black pepper which provide an attractive combination. The palate has a medium body, showing quite a little flesh through the midpalate too, stretching out to a more lean character towards the end, revealing its structure here a little. It possesses a fresh style and it has a nice presence, and although there is some gentle acidity tripping across the tongue, rounding up a little on the finish, there is a slightly jammy, rounded quality to the fruit. The tannins are quite austere but well covered by cream and soft blueberry fruit, with a very, very slight cola and charcoal tinge to them. Without over-analysis, this makes for attractive drinking. It has freshness to the style of fruit, but not the entire composition, thanks to fairly quiet acidity. Most importantly, although a softer and seductive style it does have a structure underneath it all, but it does not display any symptoms of the St Emilion disease, over-extraction. It is a style that lacks definition, but it is easy to drink, and will cope well with a limited degree of ageing I think. 16.5+/20 (10/3/08)

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