Château Brown Blanc 2013
Being British, I like to talk about the weather now and again. In fact, I’m not sure that people the world over don’t also like to talk about the weather, but there does seem to be a standing joke that suggests it is a uniquely British trait, so I will go with the flow on this one. And I have become accustomed, over the years, to being betrayed by overly optimistic weather forecasts. If it says sunshine is on the way, you can bet it will be cloudy and dull. If a little cloud and rain is predicted, you can be sure the sky will be a cauldron of tumbling black clouds, the heavens will unleash rain, hail, snow and the occasional downpour of frogs and fish, while the winds uproot trees and overturn cars. I may be exaggerating a little, but you get the picture.
Over the past couple of days, however, my relationship with the weather forecast has improved. It is still just as inaccurate, but my feelings towards it softened when a rather pessimistic forecast turned into two days of warm and sunny weather. Suddenly, my weekend was transformed. I could actually spend more than half an hour in the garden without getting frostbite. I washed my car, a very traditional British weekend activity. I would have cut the grass too, if I hadn’t just done it last week. You see, my entire weekend has been one long, middle class, British cliché. What other hackneyed activities could I fill my weekend with? Ahh, yes, a barbecue.
In truth, it has been a weekend filled with great eating and great drinking. Last night, slow-roasted leg of lamb with garlic, and what was almost the last of my 2005 Loire wines being tasted (and drunk) for my forthcoming Loire 2005 report. And what a wine; one sniff, one sip, and I was suddenly reminded why Clos Rougeard has a legion of fans the world over (all talking about Saumur-Champigny and not the weather, no doubt). Afterwards, a tarte tatin made from home-grown Braeburns, which picked at this time of year still have very good acidity and are perfect for cooking. A botrytis-touched Vouvray from François Pinon kept me company here. The previous evening, my barbecued salmon fillets and chicken satay seemed happy enough with a Sancerre from Vincent Gaudry. And also this wine, from Château Brown.
I suddenly realised last week that I need to return to Bordeaux to revisit the 2013 vintage, although I suspect for the red wines this will be something of an academic exercise. Regardless of how well the wines have turned out in such a difficult vintage, I think there will continue to be a huge gulf between quality and price. With this wine, however, we are reminded that there is more to the region than red. The white wines, both dry and sweet, did very well in 2013. And the prices were more than reasonable; I even bought some (Château Coutet and Château Climens, if you are interested) even though it is quite obvious that I have more than enough Sauternes tucked away as it is. Those wines haven’t even arrived yet, but one that has is the 2013 Pessac-Léognan from Château Brown. This wine has a pale yellow brightness in the glass, certainly showing some confidence here. The nose is delightfully classic in its style for Graves, with a scent of creamed-corn richness over fruit notes of passion fruit and lime, and the suggestion of a sandy, crystalline succulence. Indeed, the palate feels cool and polished, succulent even, with a sweet, lightly candied fruit intensity, following the lead of the nose with notes of lime again here. It has fine structure, a lovely pithy bite, certainly very vibrant and fresh. With great sweetness of fruit and texture, set against a deliciously bright frame of acid, this must surely be top tier in this appellation in this vintage. 17/20 (7/9/15)
Disclosure: this bottle was a sample sent to me by Château Brown.