Château Rahoul Graves Blanc 2019
Two weeks ago I made a flying trip to London for the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting, which always features the most recently bottled vintage. The last time I attended this annual event was two years ago, for the 2017 vintage, but I missed out on last year’s tasting as I was in quarantine at the time (haven’t we all, at some time or another, over the past two years?). So understandably I was delighted to have been able to travel to the 2019 tasting this year, especially as I found this vintage to be showing very well at the moment.
Just one week ago I made the journey once again, this time for the annual Cru Bourgeois tasting. The format of the tasting has changed over the years, keeping step with the evolution of the Cru Bourgeois classification itself. I thought this year’s concept, looking at forty wines (give or take a few) from each of the 2018 and 2019 vintages, was a good one. I reported on many 2018s back in January this year, and I have to say the extra time in bottle has been of benefit to this vintage, which was tasting better across the board. And again, the 2019 vintage showed well, just like their Union des Grands Crus counterparts.
So 2019 Bordeaux is the flavour of the month, and a week from now I will be back in the region, my first trip to Bordeaux in nearly two years, in order to taste a few more 2019s from the top châteaux. The schedule is coming along nicely, with just one or two reticent proprietors still to be cajoled into accepting a visit. Fingers crossed that Covid-19 doesn’t step in to ruin my trip before it even begins, with illness, or a travel ban, or some other unanticipated curveball.
In keeping with my anticipated 2019 reports, this week’s Weekend Wine also hails from this vintage, and from the Graves appellation. I have encountered the wines of Château Rahoul many times over the years, quite possibly by virtue of the estate’s membership of the aforementioned Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, nevertheless it is one I have not yet profiled on this site. Perhaps this reflects the very recent history of the estate; although the property has ancient origins, dating back to at least the 17th century when Guillaume Rahoul built the château, it was only during the 1970s that the property began château-bottling its wines. This was under the direction of its owner at the time, an Englishman named David Robson. It has since passed through several pairs of hands, most recently coming into the possession of Alain Thiénot, perhaps better known for Thiénot Champagne. The management of the property, however, is entrusted to Dourthe, perhaps best known for their tenure of Château Belgrave.
Recent vintages in Bordeaux have tended to feature dry and warm summers, and although they have not been without difficulty (2018, for example, was ravaged by mildew) the conditions have tended to be favourable for reds. For whites, however, your opinion of he vintage is likely to depend on the style of wine you enjoy; If you like flavour, texture and phenolic bite in your dry whites, no problem. If you prefer a little minerality and a brighter backbone of acidity, you might be left wanting. The character of the 2019 white from Château Rahoul certainly leans towards the former description. In the glass it displays a bright and shimmering hue, and the nose is bursting with ripe fruit, especially melon, grapefruit, lemon peel and sweet touches of mango, along with a waxy richness and a soft and sandy minerality which feels very typical of white Graves. The palate is correspondingly rich in orange, grapefruit, melon and pear fruits, underpinned by a pithy substance and grip which in a vintage such as this is a major contributor to the structure of the palate, the acidity remaining rather shy. All in all this is a wine of delicious flavour, a soft structure and modest acidity, which will provide good drinking over the next couple of years. 89/100 (22/11/21)
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