If you are sufficiently interested in Bordeaux to drink a bottle or two, and especially if your addiction is such you have ended up reading one or more of my profiles, then you must surely have some opinion on favoured – and less favoured – vintages. And if you are fortunate to have drunk the wines of exalted years such as 1945, 1961, 1982 or 1990, then no doubt you look back on such wines with fondness. Truly great bottles, after all, stay with us forever.
In a similar vein, which vintage of Château Poujeaux do you think might come to mind as I reflect on the many glasses I have raised to my lips over the years? There are more than a few vintages to choose from as in the world of Bordeaux this is one of those wines which – in the best vintages, certainly – combines both high quality, in the classic left-bank Cabernet-dominant style, and good value. Would it be the 1990? The 2005? Or maybe the very youthful 2010? They would all be good choices.
The answer, though, is 1997. It is rare that a wine really, really surprises, but the 1997 vintage from Château Poujeaux was one of those wines. It was the only 1997 I bought, so convincing was it. It was textured, fresh, fruit-rich, dark and confident. There was never really a trace of the 1997 dilution, none of the typical 1997 herbaceousness, nor any of that 1997 delicacy and early evolution. It was a masterclass in what can be achieved in weaker vintages, away from the famous names and their great terroirs, their optical sorting machines, and their grand vins which seem to feature only 30% (or thereabouts) of the harvest in the lesser vintages (and sometimes in the good ones too).
It might not be a great vintage, but the memory of that 1997 Château Poujeaux will stay with me forever, just like any great bottle.