Château Larmande: Tasting & Drinking

The wines of Château Larmande certainly seem to have had their fair share of fans over the years. Clive Coates always seemed to wax lyrical about the estate; his comments in The Wines of Bordeaux: Vintages and Tasting Notes 1952-2003 (University of California Press, 2004), in which he wrote of Château Larmande as a “splendidly rich, profound, long-lasting wine” were not atypical. Similarly, another British writer, Roger Voss, wrote of the estate in Decanter in July 2003, “when Saint-Emilion is reclassified in 2006, this is in line to become a first growth”. Of course, no such promotion to the premier grand cru classé rank came, and the whole classification system subsequently collapsed anyway. When the system was finally revived in 2012, the estate remained at the grand cru classé level.

Personally, I am not surprised by this failure to live up to Roger’s hopes and dreams for the estate. While the wines can provide good drinking, there are few estates (or do I mean none at all?) located on this gentle north-facing slope of increasingly sandy soils that set fire to my palate. The wines tend to be solid, consistent, reliable and occasionally tasty, but they lack the perfume, verve and balanced concentration we should expect from a premier grand cru classé estate. These feelings are reinforced by looking through my notes and scores, below; only a handful of vintages, in particular the 2010, 2009 and 2005 vintages, score very highly. Many wines do score well though, even from less exciting years such as 2011, 2008, 2004 and 2001, highlighting the consistency that can be found here. These are reliable wines, unlikely to offer any grand epiphanies, but which offer value and dependability. (11/3/04, updated 7/10/07, 11/11/16)

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