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Château Brown 2007

Château Brown 2007

As the end of the year fast approaches, this is the final 2007 Bordeaux – now ten years old of course – that I have pulled from my cellar during the course of 2017. This is the third of just three bottles from this vintage in my cellar (excluding Sauternes and Barsac, I stress, where the vintage was tip-top and I certainly have more than a mere trio of bottles) which I mentioned when I drank bottle number two, which was just a few weeks ago. Well, it feels like a few weeks ago; as it turns out I popped the cork on the 2007 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion back in August, three months ago.

The 2007 was (warning – newsflash!) a weak vintage in the Bordeaux region for red wines, the summer having been blighted with damp and cool weather which retarded ripening and maintained a high disease pressure in the vineyard. Spraying equipment which is normally packed away when summer gets going was still in use in July, as the vineyard workers fought to keep mildew at bay. It was only the sudden turn in the weather on August 30th that saved the vintage, warmer and drier weather through to harvest finally allowing the vines to do their job. The wines have always reflected this disadvantageous season, but this does not mean the vintage as a whole should forever be ignored. This is why I wrote up a retrospective tasting of the vintage at ten year’s of age, back in August; it was a tasting which showed that there were some decent wines in this vintage.

Château Brown 2007

Indeed, when it comes to weaker vintages I think it pays to approach them with an open mind, to assess them wine by wine, rather than writing them off in entirety. This was a thought fresh in my mind when I headed down to the Institute of Masters of Wine a few weeks ago (and I really mean a few weeks this time) for a tasting of the 2013 Bordeaux vintage at four years of age. It was a very poorly attended tasting, and apart from the inimitable Oz Clarke, who I don’t mind admitting shaped my early understanding of wine, I don’t recall see another big-name wine journalist or critic there. I can only conclude they were happy with the opinions formed at the primeurs, or during the immediate post-bottling tastings, the vintage now written off as not even worthy of their time. It must be galling for those responsible for the good wines (and there were a couple) to think that these supposedly inquisitive writers and critics didn’t even bother to turn up and taste them.

Back to the 2007 vintage now. I am pretty sure Jean-Christophe Brown, the proprietor of Château Brown, told me that in this vintage he delayed the picking until November, desperate to gain even a micro-ounce of ripeness after the dismal and damp summer weather. Provided my memory serves me correctly (because despite having checked I can’t find a written note here on Winedoctor confirming this), such great commitment and effort would help to explain the charming confidence this wine displays now, at ten years of age. In the glass the 2007 Château Brown has a fresh appearance, with only early maturity in terms of colour. The aromatic profile is just charming, with filled with macerated black plums, veering into mature notes of liquorice, black olive, smoke and perfumed, violet-tinged touch of gravel. The palate is fairly lean and lacks a little textural confidence, in keeping with the style of the vintage, but there is a gentle but supple cushion in the middle, supporting flavours of macerated plum and blackcurrant flavours, with some low-key floral and spice complexities around the edges. The tannins feel fairly well resolved, while the acidity remains an important defining feature of the middle and finish, which has a crisp delineation. Overall, this is a charming example of what could be achieved in this difficult vintage. 15.5/20 • 91/100 (27/11/17)

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