Château Troplong-Mondot 2001
The theme for the strange void that comes between Christmas and New Year chez Winedoctor is 2001, with a selection of wines from this vintage, now all twenty years old.
I start today with a look at 2001 Château Troplong-Mondot, one of the most impressive wines among a selection of 2001 Bordeaux pulled from my cellar during December. I will come to the other wines tomorrow, in a short tasting report featuring half a dozen reds from the vintage, mostly classics from the left bank, followed by somewhat more than half a dozen sweet whites from Sauternes and Barsac. Then, later in the week, I will be taking a look at a fairly random selection of other wines from this vintage, with representatives from Germany, the Rhône Valley, Rioja, Tuscany and more, not to mention a trio of top-notch sweet wines from the Coteaux du Layon.
Recounting the history of Château Troplong-Mondot in recent years is a somewhat awkward undertaking. There is no doubt in my mind that if we look back twenty or thirty years, the property was turning out some very good wines. In the hands of the Valette family since 1936, Christine Valette and her husband Xavier Pariente poured their souls into the estate, and their efforts were rewarded with elevation from grand cru classé status (as seen on the label above) to premier grand cru classé in 2006. Of course, that classification was annulled, but the promotion was reaffirmed in 2012. In the meantime, however, the style had veered away from the deliciously savoury style I found in older vintages such as 2001 to a high-alcohol parody of the appellation. Several vintages declared 15.5% on the label, and in some vintages the true figure was higher (the 2010 vintage was 15.8%).
No doubt these wines had their fans but they did not appeal to me. The end of this turbocharged era came in 2017 when, after the untimely passing of Christine Valette, Xavier decided to sell the property. The buyers were SCOR SE, an insurance company, and the talented Aymeric Gironde was installed to turn things around. The new owners were presumably influenced in their choice by Aymeric’s track record at Château Cos d’Estournel, where he had been instrumental in restoring the property’s reputation after a similar dalliance with the high-alcohol style. If searching for inspiration, I think Aymeric could do worse than look back to some older vintages such as this 2001, although I doubt very much that Aymeric is in need of it; the most recent vintages here are already much improved.
The 2001 Château Troplong-Mondot has a surprisingly fresh colour in the decanter and in the glass, with a dark core fading out to a dense cherry red rim. It has a great nose, showing some complexity, with layers of dried blackcurrants, cranberry, tar, rosemary, white pepper and soot. It is still convincing on both nose and palate, even at twenty years of age, and I think if I had tasted this completely blind I would have guessed it to be a lot younger than it is. Through the middle it feels supple, with dark and delightfully savoury flavours like the nose, with touches of pepper and liquorice. This savoury substance continues through the finish, supported by texture, smoke, peppery and a spicy length. There is still a backbone of ripe tannin showing here, but it is almost entirely melted away, so it sits well within the wine. Overall a delicious, integrated, savoury and delicately grained wine, this is a delight, and it has many years ahead of it yet. I certainly don’t feel the need to rush with my last few bottles, so I look forward to checking this out again in five or ten years from now. Drink or hold. The declared alcohol is a very modest 13.5%. 94/100 (27/12/21)
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