On offer ‘En Primeur’ from Langton’s are 2004 Bordeaux. ‘En Primeur’ is the French term for buying wine as ‘futures’: paying for wine before it is released onto the market in order to secure wines that are in short supply or at an advantageous price. For the complete details on how Langton’s 2004 Bordeaux En Primeur offer works, and to place an order, please click on the Order Now button to the right. The 2004 Bordeaux vintage has all the hallmarks of a classic vintage. Allocations are generally extremely limited.
En Primeur wines are offered at first release price and are therefore at the lowest possible price. These wines have a limited availability and most will not be available again for sale. Provenance is guaranteed. Once purchased, prices are fixed and do not change with demand or foreign exchange fluctuations.
THE 2004 BORDEAUX VINTAGE
In early April this year I attended the annual ‘croissant fight’ – also known as the En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux. My objective was to get a first hand impression of the wines so that I would be able to give a personal view of the overall quality of the vintage to our many clients.
This is the first time that Langton’s has made a fixed price futures offering of Bordeaux. However, it makes perfect sense for us to be involved with this method of selling – we have many clients interested in the wines, we have the facilities, the knowledge, hopefully the reputation and also the contacts to get in at the best possible prices.
While this Bordeaux 2004 Report will include comments on the wines from all the major critics, I would also like to give my own perspective on the vintage.
2004 is described as a relatively cool year. After a cool Spring temperatures warmed up allowing excellent flowering. The weather was quite wet and humid in August with some disease pressure. However September was warm and dry with cool nights.
Although it did rain intermittently during early October the vines enjoyed a very long growing season. This seems especially important because the grapes were able to reach good levels of both sugar and tannin ripeness. Inevitably those with strong vineyard management and a quality focus fared better than those with a more laissez faire approach. That is why I believe some very fine wines were made this vintage, even though the politics of opinion will inevitably come into play.
I tasted around 380 wines over the course of four days driving the length and breadth of the Bordeaux wine region. The wines were all barrel samples and had all recently finished Malo-Lactic fermentation. Some of the more prestigious wine critics had been around a few weeks early. I think some of their opinions may have been encumbered by tasting the wines too early. In fact the tasting of such young, unstable wine is something of a lottery. Although some Chateaux had already completed their assemblage many of the samples were a snapshot of the vintage. However I did get to taste many wines more than two or three, sometimes four, times.
My overall impression is that this is a Classic Bordeaux Vintage – in particular the left bank and the core communes of Margaux, St Julien and Pauillac. The wines have beautiful pure cassis aromas and fine-grained, chalky-firm tannins. That chalkiness suggests ripe tannins which means that the wines will soften out gracefully in the cellar. The St Estephes were quiet muscular but had excellent fruit sweetness and concentration. The Graves were often very strongly structured and powerful wines. The St Emilions were a mixed bag. The best had lovely plummy aromas, fruit density and loose-knit but firm tannins. The Pomerols, I tasted were also variable, but the best producers were able to make exquisite wines with beautiful plum, violet aromas and chocolaty tannins.
I didn’t see too many under ripe wines during the course of the tasting although inevitably there were a number of Chateaux who did not keep their yields down or were caught off guard. In some respects this vintage is reminiscent of the English preferred 1985s as opposed to the 2003 comparison to the American preferred 1986s. This kind of statement of course will create a few prickles because of course each vintage has its own character but the analogy is still useful.
2004 BORDEAUX EN PRIMEUR – NOW ON OFFER
(Not a complete list of the wines on offer from Langton’s)
Chateau l’Angelus, grand cru classe, St-Emilion
I think this is a very successful wine. The wine is very deep and concentrated with rich liquorice plum dark chocolate aromas. The palate is very dense and packed with fruit sweetness, lovely blackberry liquorice flavours, savoury oak and fine gravelly tannins. The wine finishes firm and tight and has plenty of flavour length. Australians will love it. 94-96 Andrew Caillard MW
This wine with over 40% Cabernet Franc was picked in various, unhurried stages between 30 September and 15 October. Amazingly deep purple. Good, sappy nose – really meaty. Savoury edge – almost like Italian wine with marked tannins. Very energetic and fresh. Brisk. Round but with lots of fine, sandy tannins. Cool. Not that long. 13.9 per cent alcohol. Hubert Boüard de Laforest claims this is one of the four or five best vintages he has ever made. Non blind: 17 Drink 2013-25. Jancis Robinson
A blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, all harvested between October 5-14. This is a wine of considerable precision, elegance and purity. A deep purple color is accompanied by a vibrant, fragrant bouquet of blue and black fruits intertwined with flower, herb, and mineral scents. Medium-bodied and pure, with a charming texture, an undeniable mineral character to the fruit as well as a clean, long finish. It is not the most powerful wine proprietor Hubert de Bouard has made, but it is stylish, savory and age-worthy. There are 7,500 cases of this beauty. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2020. 92-94 Robert Parker Jr.
Château Bahans Haut-Brion second wine of Chateaux Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan
Lovely, sweet fruit, with berry, chocolate and toasted oak. Medium to full-bodied, with silky tannins and a long, fresh finish. Delicate and refined. 73 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 22 percent Merlot and 5 percent Cabernet Franc. 89-91. James Suckling
Chateau Branaire-Ducru, 4me cru classe, St-Julien
One of the top wines of St Julien to my reckoning. It has lovely intense cassis/blackberry aromas, touches of vanilla and savoury notes. The palate is beguilingly soft and fleshy with deep set cassis blackberry fruit and fine supple tannins. Finishes firm and tight. Bloody good. 93-95 Andrew Caillard MW
A complex, open-knit bouquet offers up scents of camphor, smoke, dried herbs, incense, flowers, sweet cherries, currants, and allspice. The noble aromatics are followed by a medium-bodied wine with sweet fruit, ripe tannin and impressive purity. This is an evolved paragon of finesse, flavor, and complexity. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2016.
90-91 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Brane-Cantenac, 2me cru classe, Cantenac-Margaux
A classical St Julien showing all the hallmarks for medium to long term cellaring. This is a very savoury wine with red cherry blackcurrant pastille fruit and underlying oak, very classical fine grained palate with pure juicy cassis flavours, savoury tannins and lovely persistence. 93-95 Andrew Caillard MW
A complex, open-knit bouquet offers up scents of camphor, smoke, dried herbs, incense, flowers, sweet cherries, currants, and Allspice. The noble aromatics are followed by a medium-bodied wine with sweet fruit, ripe tannin, and impressive purity. This is an evolved paragon of finesse, flavor, and complexity. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2016. 90-91 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Calon-Segur, 3me Cru Classe, St-Estephe
The straight-shooting Madame Gasqueton told me that in late August she thought the entire vintage was “lost,” but the beautiful weather in September saved everything. The harvest began on September 29 (Merlot) and finished on October 11 (Cabernet Sauvignon). This 2004 comes across like their 1988. An unusually high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) was blended with 30% Merlot, resulting in a dense ruby/purple-colored, slightly herbaceous Calon-Segur possessing a tapenade/olive characteristic along with plump, rich black cherries, truffles, underbrush, and black currants. Medium to full-bodied with plenty of sweet tannin, excellent purity, and a broad mouthfeel. It will require 3-4 years of cellaring and should keep for two decades. 90-93 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Canon, 1er grand cru classe, St-Emilion
Winemaking plays a dominant role in this most interesting wine. It flies extremely close to the wind of ripeness. However it somehow succeeds with its aromatic herb garden plum, dried apricot aromas and savoury oak characters. The palate is fruit sweet and fleshy; the oak pokes out a touch, but the tannins are slinky dry. I think this wine will evolve into something really quite interesting. 89-92 Andrew Caillard MW
Dark crimson which glows with health. Extremely bumptious ripeness – almost New World ripeness! Very, very sweet, and soft for a 2004. The tannins are the finest I have come across – one almost has to struggle to find them. A dancing lively wine with real finesse. This is the airiest right bank wine so far. Bravo. Pure pleasure. Although it may not be one of the longest lasting. 17.5 Drink 2010-20. Jancis Robinson
Château Cantemerle 5me Cru Classe, Haut-Médoc
Solid, with a good core of currant and berry fruit and just a hint of minerals. Medium- to full-bodied, with silky tannins and a caressing finish. Seems better than 2003 and 2002. 85-88. James Suckling
Chateau Cantenac Brown, 3me cru classe, Cantenac-Margaux
This was a wine I used to stick labels on when a stagaire in Bordeaux. The Chateau looks curiously like a Tudor Mansion. I really loved this wine with its ripe black cherry vanillin aromas, ripe chocolaty flavours and fine dry slinky tannins. It’s beautifully concentrated and has amazing length. It can only build up more complexity with age. 91-94 Andrew Caillard MW
Carruades de Lafite Rothschild second wine of Chateaux Lafite, Pauillac
Fresh and fruity, with light coffee and toasted oak undertone. Medium-bodied, with fine tannins and a light finish. 85-88. James Suckling
Chateau Citran, cru bourgeois superieur, Haut-Medoc
A very good wine for the vintage and appellation, with currants and berry character. Medium-bodied, with fine tannins and a medium finish. Not overdone, just right for the vintage. 85-88. James Suckling
A good honest wine without any pretensions; red cherry, cassis aromas, supple fruit sweet palate with lovely red cherry/cassis fruit characters and fine chalky firm tannins at the finish. More of an early drinking wine. 84-87. Andrew Caillard MW
Chateuax Cos d’Estournel St-Estephe
Under the brilliant management of young Jean-Guillaume Prats, Cos d’Estournel has been going from strength to strength. An atypically powerful wine (13.6% alcohol), the 2004 is a blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. It is rare to find such a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in a Cos, and the estate tends to look at this vintage as a modern day version of 1986. The harvest occurred between September 27 and October 10. The pure, precise, inky/ruby/purple-tinged 2004 offers up classic Cabernet aromas of sweet black currants intermixed with licorice, cigar tobacco, and smoky wood. Possessing crisp acidity, ripe tannin, and a medium to full-bodied, layered, textured feel, this impressive effort combines power with elegance. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2020. 92-94. Robert Parker Jr.
Clos du Marquis, 2nd wine of Chateaux Leoville Las-Cases, Saint-Julien
51 hl/ha; M 38%, CS 57%, CF 2%, PV 3%; 20% new oak; 66% of the crop. Dark, bright purple. Very floral, aromatic, supple and rather gorgeous. Sophisticated – acidity a bit pronounced – but good density of ripe fruit, suggestion of bitumen but nothing exaggerated. Lots of relatively supple fruit for a wine from the Delon/Las Cases stable. Very well integrated tannins. Quite good but could probably have been better if selection had been a bit harsher. 16.5 Drink 2010-16 Jancis Robinson
Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou, 2me cru classe, St-Julien
Arriving at the Chateau was a bit like walking onto a James Bond Movie set. Two utterly gorgeous girls in riding jodhpurs and knee high boots, who the previous day had bounced me off the property because I was without an invitation, greeted us with disinterested charm. In Australia one normally walks into a tasting room. At Ducru Beaucaillou one is glided through to a vaulted cellar. The very chic tasting room is reminiscent of a New York Night Club and decorated with a couple of graffiti paintings by Keith Hering. Notwithstanding the distractions, this is clearly one of the great wines of the 2004 vintage with very seductive brambly mocha aromas and plush cassis chocolaty flavours, fine chalky tannins, savoury nuances and plenty of flavour length. The wine will cellar for decades. 95-97 Andrew Caillard MW
There is no question that since Bruno Borie took over the running of Ducru Beaucaillou with the 2003 vintage, he has quickly turned heads with the quality that has emerged. As the brilliant 2003 (the finest Ducru since 1982) evidenced, he is pushing for higher and higher ripeness. In 2004 he has again hit pay dirt. Approximately 40% of the crop made it into this blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Merlot. While not quite as big as the 2003, the 2004 is a candidate for one of the finest wines of St.-Julien. Its deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by sweet aromas of flowers, raspberries, black currants, spice and earth. It boasts great fruit, more texture and body than most 2004s and a precise finish revealing tremendous purity as well as depth. This beauty should drink well within 2-3 years and last for two decades. 92-94 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Figeac, 1er grand cru classe, St-Emilion
Chateau Figeac is one of the loveliest Chateaux in all of Bordeaux. Behind the rather grand façade is a comfortable ‘lived in’ family house with toys everywhere and a children’s swing in the garden. The rear façade at night is reminiscent of a Rene Magritte painting. This was the third Chateau to be equipped with stainless steel vats in Bordeaux. The encepagement is quiet unusual for St Emilion with 35% Cabernet Sauvignon 35% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot. Although 100% new oak is used “the oak seasons rather than overwhelms fruit”. This is a very looseknit wine with intense cassis truffle chocolate aromas and touches of violet. The palate is well concentrated and generous with deep set cassis mocha flavours, some savoury oak characters and lacy/chalky tannins. Finishes firm and tight. 90-93 Andrew Caillard MW
Crimson with a light grey rim. Low key but quite well mannered nose. Some ripe red fruit flavours and a bit of roundness on the front palate. The tannins are not excessive. A low key but true representative of the vintage. (These were my comments tasting this wine blind. I urge wine lovers to remember that this is a property that repeatedly hides its light under a bushel early on.) 16.5 Drink 2010-15. Jancis Robinson
Chateau Gloria, cru bourgeois, St-Julien
Chateau Gloria – located opposite Ducru Beaucaillou – is often regarded by Australian collectors as good value St Julien. I was very impressed by the wine with its rich, ripe blackcurrant blueberry cedar graphite aromas, supple dark chocolaty flavours and chalky fine tannins. It finishes up quite firm and tight. I thought this wine more than held itself up against some of the more recognised Chateaux. 92-94 Andrew Caillard MW
Chateau Gruaud Larose, 2me cru classe, St-Julien
To my mind Gruaud Larose will end up being the best value wine of the vintage. This is absolutely classic Pauillac with beautiful cassis cedar aromas and some plummy notes. Utterly delicious but substantial palate with cassis liquorice flavours, savoury new oak and fine chalky firm tannins finishing long and sweet. I saw this wine three times and it always blew me away! 94-97 Andrew Caillard MW
Chateau Haut-Bailly, Cru Classe, Pessac-Leognon
This is an estate to watch now that American banking kingpin, Robert Wilmers, has turned loose a brilliant team that includes the “retired” Jean-Bernard Delmas of Haut-Brion as a consultant. One of the finest Haut-Baillys produced in many years, the 2004 is a wine of great class, nobility, and pedigree. A deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by subtle scents of smoky oak, sweet raspberries and kirsch. It possesses medium body, impressive precision, a beautiful texture, a gracious mouthfeel, no hard edges, and a long, subtle finish. A brilliant effort for the vintage, it should be at its apogee between 2009-2020. 91-93 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol
One of the more impressive Pomerols with intense plum black cherry aromas and plenty of dark chocolate flavours. I really like the structure of this wine. The palate is well concentrated and sweet fruited with plum dark cherry flavours, slinky fine tannins which finish firm and chalky. I can see this developing along classical lines. 89-92 Andrew Caillard MW
Slightly brown tinge to the crimson. Sweet vanilla oak aromas plus a certain briskness. True to the vintage with some freshness and some fruity core before the tannins impinge. Tannin quality not intrusive. Good serviceable representative of the right bank without being a standout. 16.5+ Drink 2013-2020. Jancis Robinson
Chateau Lafite Pauillac
Only 40% of the crop made it into the 2004 grand vin, which is the antithesis of the opulent, powerful, concentrated 2003. The linear, elegant 2004 is a classic Lafite, revealing cassis, raspberry, graphite, and new earth-like characteristics. With terrific concentration, medium body, fresh acidity, and a vibrant, stylish taste, this blend of 90.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot. Should be at its finest between 2010-2030. 92-95. Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Cru Classe, Pessac-Leognon
This is the first vintage under the full control of Jean-Philippe Delmas, who succeeded his father, Jean-Bernard, who produced all the La Missions between 1983 and 2003 (Jean-Bernard succeeded his father, who produced every vintage of Haut-Brion in the twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties). A blend of 55% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Cabernet Franc, the 2004 exhibits a deep ruby/purple color as well as a big nose of damp earth, cedar, smoke, tobacco, black currants, and cherries. There is excellent sweetness, medium to full body, serious muscle, elegance, and finesse in this fine La Mission. It should be at its best between 2008 and 2020+. 91-93 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau La Mondotte, St-Emilion
This concentrated, powerful 2004 is more muscular and virile than most La Mondottes. Its opaque purple color is accompanied by a tight but promising nose of damp earth, blue and black fruits, flowers, licorice, and toasty new oak. Medium to full-bodied, with high tannin, it is an exceptionally fragrant, pure effort from Stephan von Neipperg that should age well for two decades. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025. 92-94 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Latour Pauillac
After a 2003 production of less than 10,000 cases, there are a whopping 15,000 cases of the 2004 Latour. The harvest began on September 23 (Merlot) and finished on October 19. About 51% of the production made it into the final blend (89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc). At this early stage, Latour appears to be the wine of the Medoc, and provides additional evidence of why Latour is pushing slightly ahead of most of its first-growth rivals. It boasts an inky/purple color in addition to a sweet perfume of crushed rocks, black currants, raspberries and hints of wood as well as cold steel. It reveals the most density and depth of any of the Medoc first-growths. Manager Frederic Engerer believes the 2004 is closest in style to the 2002. By the standards of the vintage, which did not produce many big, powerful, deep, full-bodied wines, it is a large-scaled yet elegant wine with sweet tannin and plenty of depth. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2030. 95-97. Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol
A very loose-knit slinky wine with perfumed musky plum chocolate fruit. The palate is rich and generous with plum, chocolate, cedar flavours, fine densely firm tannins and long sweet fruit finish. The wine is still quite unevolved with a fair whack of oak over the fruit but time should bring all the elements together. 86-89 Andrew Caillard MW
One of Michel Rolland’s home properties, the round, ripe, elegantly-styled 2004 Le Bon Pasteur exhibits notes of caramel, mocha, and sweet cherries and black currants. There is good size, medium body, tannin, depth, and a caressing sweetness/lushness. It should drink well for 10-15 years. 90-91 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Leoville Barton, 3me cru classe, St-Julien
One of the most successful wines of the vintage from St Julien. The wine has intense mocha-berry aromas and plenty of savoury oak. The palate is supple and fleshy with deep cassis mocha flavours and lacy fine tannins. The wine finishes firm and chalky. I really liked the understated pure fruit flavours and classy underlying oak. A very pretty wine. 95-97 Andrew Caillard MW
Proprietor Anthony Barton continues to fashion beautifully elegant yet powerful, masculine, virile wines meant for long-term aging. In addition, he exhibits humility in pricing that is both refreshing and noteworthy. The outstanding 2004 comes close to equaling the spectacular 2000. It boasts a dense purple color as well as aromas of forest floor, underbrush, creme de cassis, new saddle leather, and background oak. There is superb intensity for a 2004, wonderful sweetness and a surprisingly fragrant perfume. However, the beautiful bouquet does not mean this wine will be drinkable young as it will require 5-7 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025. 92-94 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Leoville Las-Cases St-Julien
Jean-Hubert Delon has produced an elegant, tannic 2004 that may lack the prodigious depth and texture of Las Cases’s finest vintages, but remains quintessentially pure as well as very St.-Julien. Only 34% of the production made it into the final blend (76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc). Rigid and tight, with a deep ruby/purple-tinged colour, and a sweet nose of black cherries, currants, minerals, and subtle background oak, this medium-bodied 2004 is built along the lines of the 1999. As always, it is a wine of considerable distinction, subtlety, grace, and class. The harvest at Las Cases was relatively late, with all the fruit brought in between October 4-17. 91-93. Robert Parker Jr.
Intense aromas of black licorice, berries and currents follow through to a full-bodied palate, with lots of velvety tannins and a long caressing finish. Builds on the palate. Reminds me of the 1996 Las-Cases. May be better. 95-100/100 James Suckling, Wine Spectator
Chateau L’Evangile, Pomerol
This is one of the most decadent and opulent wines of the vintage with exotic plum apricot camomile violet aromas. The palate is gorgeously concentrated, sweet and fleshy with aniseed apricot violet plum flavours and rich chocolaty tannin. The wine already has fabulous flavour length. Probably more of a medium term wine but this is an utterly seductive wine. 94-96 Andrew Caillard MW
A blend of 89% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc, this deep ruby/purple-colored 2004 boasts a sexy, up-front bouquet of raspberries, black currants, and sweet smoky notes. Lush, seductive, and ripe, although not terribly deep, it offers delicious fruit in its forward, elegant, finesse-styled personality. Think of it as a lighter version of the brilliant 2000. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2017. 90-93 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Lynch Bages, 5me cru classe, Pauillac
This must be another ‘wine of the vintage’ contender. This is quintessential – even slightly exaggerated – Pauillac. The wine is extremely aromatic with pure cassis wetstone aromas and plenty of cedar spice nuances. The palate is densely concentrated with lovely sweet cassis fruit and cedar oak characters and fine granular tannins. This is a very powerful wine with exceptional finesse and balance. 95-98 Andrew Caillard MW
Chateau Margaux, 1er cru classe, Margaux
Always the consummate professional, Paul Pontallier is pleased with the 2004 Margaux, considering it to be a revelation after the final blend was made. The articulate Pontallier called it ‘neo-classic’ to suggest the sweetness of the tannins and a style that he finds similar to 1996. Only 40% of the crop was included in the final blend (78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot) and it has a very high index of polyphenols (tannins). The harvest was completed between October 1-19. The 2004 is a streamlined, graceful example of Chateau Margaux with a deep plum/ruby/purple color and attractive black currant fruit intermixed with notions of white flowers, oak, and cherries. Rigidly constructed, with a lovely, medium-bodied texture and tremendous purity, it will undoubtedly close down and need some time in the bottle. This beauty should be at its finest between 2010-2025. 92-95 Robert Parker Jr.
There is something arcadian about Chateau Margaux – even in the driving rain. It is probably the most pretentious edifice in the whole of Bordeaux yet it somehow sparkles like an emerald citadel. The tastings here are conducted like a military operation but there is a generosity and enthusiasm which pervades the air. And I have to admit it was difficult not to be impressed by this wine; the humidity in the air intensified the wine’s aromas. I tasted this wine unbedraggled. I must admit I was tempted to nick one of their umbrellas, but I thought the better of it. The wine was intensely perfumed with plum cassis star anise aromas and beautiful savoury oak nuances. The palate has lovely volume and weight with deep set plum cassis flavours and fine tempered slinky tannins. The oak runs underneath the wine giving more substance and texture. This is a really lovely, possibly great, wine. 96-99 Andrew Caillard MW
Chateau Meyney, cru bourgeois superieur, St-Estephe
I tasted the Meyney a few times and liked it on both occasions. The wine has lovely intense dark cherry herb garden aromas. I found the palate was richly concentrated with dark cherry savoury flavours, fine chocolaty tannins and excellent flavour length. I found the tannins quite approachable compared to other St Estephe wines. Probably a medium term wine. 91-93 Andrew Caillard MW
Chateau Monbousquet St-Emilion
One of the most profound changes noticeable in Bordeaux is that even those jealous and critical of outspoken Gerard Perse have finally come to the conclusion (based on so many blind tastings by European critics) that no one in Bordeaux, or perhaps France, is more committed to quality wine. Monbousquet has never had a distinguished terroir according to the soil academics, but Perse transcends that with the wines he has made since the mid-nineties. 2004 is another terrific success. Its dense ruby/purple colour is followed by a glorious bouquet of crushed rocks, black cherry liqueur, smoke, and pain grille, a sweet attack, beautiful density, and impressive texture, purity, and overall balance. While not as big and muscular as the 2003, nor as concentrated and profound as the 2000, it will provide plenty of pleasure during its first 12-15 years of life. 92-94 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Montrose, 2me cru classe, St-Estephe
Montrose’s harvest occurred between September 24 and October 15 and an unusually high percentage (73%) of the production made it into the final blend. A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it is a classic St.-Estephe offering a deep purple color, sweet, smoky, blackberry, blueberry, and cassis fruit, medium body and zesty acidity. This pure 2004 is not a blockbuster (such as the 2003 and 2000), but rather a refined, linear, fresh wine that will undoubtedly shut down given its high tannin level. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2020+. 91-93 Robert Parker Jr.
A very worthy follow-up to the famous 2003 even if the style is different – excellent winemaking here at the moment. Blackish crimson and very little nose at first. Lots of sweet fruit on the front palate, then fine tannins. Sandy, not aggressive tannins. Another very gentle, round wine but with obviously more concentration and reticence than the Dame de Montrose. Relatively advanced. Neat well-mannered – quite a statement in the context of many relatively aggressive wines. Elegant and ‘just’ 12.8% alcohol. You certainly wouldn’t come across this sort of wine anywhere but Bordeaux. Relatively light at the moment but the winemaker is convinced it will put on flesh later, like the 1996s. 17.5 Drink 2015-35. Jancis Robinson
Chateau Palmer, 3me Cru Classe, Margaux
A significant improvement over the 2003, Palmer’s 2004 (47% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petit Verdot), which was harvested between September 27 and October 12, possesses a high level of tannin. Only about one-third of the crop made it into this dense ruby/purple-colored effort. Notes of licorice, creme de cassis, smoke, and grilled meats are found in this pure, rich, fat Margaux. Classically structured, medium-bodied, long, and firmly tannic, it should be at its peak between 2010-2025. 90-93 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Pavie-Decesse St-Emilion
Since a large portion of this vineyard was incorporated into Pavie in 2002, Pavie-Decesse is now a small, 9-acre site planted on pure limestone. The 2004, a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc from 43-year old vines, and yields of 28-30 hectoliters per hectare, is a notable achievement. It boasts a ruby/purple/black colour along with a beautiful nose of blackberries, currants, incense, and Chinese black tea, a striking minerality, good underlying acidity, a multilayered texture, brilliant purity, medium to full body, and tremendous length. Sadly, there were only 415 cases produced. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2025. 94-96. Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Pavie St-Emilion
This is a compelling effort. A blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon (cropped at 30 hectoliters per hectare), the 2004 Pavie represents the Lafite Rothschild of St.-Emilion. A wine of great intensity, irrefutable minerality, a wonderful fragrance, and a tremendously long finish, this black/purple-coloured, medium to full-bodied, vibrant effort boasts wonderful sweetness, but more minerality and definition than the blockbuster 2003 (which appears to be taking on more minerality as it ages). The 2004 is similar to the 2001, with additional focus and elegance. A profound effort, copious quantities of black raspberries, cherries, crushed rocks, and violets are followed by medium to full body, a precise palate with laser-like precision, beautiful fruit, a multilayered texture, and a long, sweetly tannic finish. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2025+. 95-97. Robert Parker Jr.
Pavilion Rouge de Chateaux Margaux, 2nd wine of Chateaux Margaux, Margaux
The Pavilion Rouge is the second wine of Chateau Margaux. With such a fine Grand Vin, it is hardly surprising that this is also a very good wine. It is not as dramatic as Chateaux Margaux, but it has plenty of volume and finesse – beautiful sweet plum cassis camomile aromas. The wine is very finely textured with well concentrated long cassis redcurrant flavours, some cedar nuances and plenty of mid-palate richness. The tannins are quite lacy but build chalky firm at the finish. A very satisfying wine with medium term potential. 89-93 Andrew Caillard MW
Medium crimson. Modest but very fresh, clean, neat nose. Rather suppressed on the nose but wonderfully classic and appetising tannins on the pale – this would be a great lesson in fine tannins for any aspiring winemaker. Despite the late harvest, the acid level is very respectable (refreshing). Good fresh, ripe fruit – very classic and will need quite as much time in bottle, if not more, as many Margaux crus classés. 17.5+ Drink 2009-25. Jancis Robinson
Chateau Pichon Baron, 2me cru classe, Pauillac
I tasted this wine on at least three occasions. There is no question that Pichon Baron is in top form. This is every thing one can hope or expect from a top Pauillac estate. The elegant powerful wine is incredibly well put together; it has superb fruit definition, concentration and impeccable balance. The wine has intensely fresh blackcurrant cedar liquorice aromas and flavours. The palate is beautifully concentrated with fine-grained perfectly ripe chocolaty tannins, underlying savoury oak and plenty of fruit sweetness. It finishes firm but the flavours go on and on. This is a really wonderful wine which can only get even better with time. Medium to long term cellaring. 94-97 Andrew Caillard MW
One of the top Pauillacs of the vintage, the 2004 Pichon Longueville Baron exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color along with a big, rich nose of smoked meats, licorice, blackberries, currants, and notions of tar and truffles. The wine is medium to full-bodied with austere tannin as well as abundant fruit, outstanding purity, and a layered mid-palate. Although it can not be compared to such prodigious Pichon Baron’s as 2000, 1990, or 1989, it is a successful effort for the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2020. 90-93 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Pichon Lalande, 2me cru classe, Pauillac
The French are great sticklers for appointments. However I tried my luck at gate crashing this estate with the help of some Singaporean wine friends. I needn’t have been so apprehensive, the mob here were incredibly friendly and welcoming considering the military precision that comes with the deluge of visitors to Bordeaux. This is a very impressive wine with perfumed cassis violet camomile cedar aromas. The palate is very dense and compact with lovely cassis cedar flavours, fine granular tannins finishing chalky and firm. A lovely aromatic foil to Pichon Baron. Difficult to separate them apart I think. Medium to long term cellaring. 94-97 Andrew Caillard MW
Dark blue/purple. Lots of lift on the nose. Round start to the palate – very Pichon Lalande – and then nice, neat integrated tannins, quite precise. Very fine sandy tannins contribute to an extremely dry finish. A true interpretation of both terroir and vintage. Not heavy but I think probably more successful than the other Pichon, thanks to its life and transparency. 17.5 Drink 2015-30. Jancis Robinson
Chateau Pichon-Longueville Lalande, 2me Cru Classe, Pauillac
One can’t say enough about the brilliant work being done by manager Thomas Do-Chi-Nam who started at Pichon-Lalande in 1992. The estate feels the 2004 has much in common with the 1996, but I’m not as convinced. Produced from yields of 50 hectoliters per hectare, with only 55% of the crop making it into the final blend, and a harvest that took place between September 27 and October 14, the final blend was 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petit Verdot. A complex, fragrant bouquet of fennel, black currants, sweet cherries, licorice, and sweet oak (about 50% new oak is utilized) is followed by a medium-bodied Pauillac exhibiting excellent concentration, elegance, and acidity as well as a nicely textured mouthfeel without being anywhere near the size or opulence of the 2003. It appears to be a modern day version of the 1986, with sweeter, riper fruit. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2020. 91-94 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Pontet-Canet, 5me cru classe, Pauillac
To my mind Pauillac has enjoyed a particularly strong vintage. The tannin structures are typically fine grained and the phrase blackcurrant cedar comes up all the time. The tannin structures have a chalky feel to them which suggests that the wines will soften out really well over time. I tasted the Pontet Canet on more than one occasion. The wine showed plenty of liquorice dark cherry liquorice aromas. The palate is rich and minerally with cassis wet stone red cherry characters and fine chalky tannins. It finishes firm and tight. This wine will certainly develop more weight and complexity over time. Medium to long term cellaring. 91-93 Andrew Caillard MW
A brilliant effort from proprietor Alfred Tesseron, Pontet-Canet’s 2004 may ultimately prove to be a better wine than its more famous neighbor, Mouton Rothschild. Medium to full-bodied with a classic creme de cassis-scented perfume, sweet fruit, ripe tannin, tremendous purity, and a personality that suggests no manipulation, no nonsense, and hard work in both the vineyard and winery, this beautiful Pauillac should age for 2-3 decades. It is one of the most concentrated and potentially long-lived wines of the vintage. Is it as good as the 2000, 1996, and 1995? Probably not, but it is a noteworthy effort for the vintage. 92-94 Robert Parker Jr.
Château Prieuré-Lichine, 4me Cru Classe, Margaux
A chewy red, with blackberry and wet earth character. Full-bodied, with angular tannins and a toasted oak and fruit finish. Lots of tobacco. Slightly overextracted. 85-88. James Suckling
Château Rieussec 1er Cru Classe, Sauternes
Bright and fruity with lemon, apricot and lilacs on the nose. Full-bodied, with a lovely intensity and bright acidity. Long and elegant. The palate builds on the finish. Not the 2001 (Wine of the Year) but very good indeed. 92-94. James Suckling
Chateau Troplong Mondot, grand cru classe, St-Emilion
I was quite impressed with this wine. It has dark plum choco-berry aromas and some savoury oak notes. The palate has plenty of volume and fruit sweetness, choco-berry flavours and fine lacy but chalky tannins. The wine has a very understated power and finesse. Medium to long term cellaring. 90-93 Andrew Caillard MW
Another terrific effort from charming proprietress Christine Valette, the dense blue/purple-hued 2004 Troplong Mondot displays a striking nose of acacia flowers intermixed with crushed rocks, black currants, cherries, blueberries, and raspberries. This layered, structured, backward, but enormously well-endowed 2004 is a marvelous demonstration of how to produce an elegant as well as substantially flavored wine. It will need 2-3 years of cellaring and should keep until 2020. 92-94 Robert Parker Jr.
Chateau Valandraud, St-Emilion
Another massively tannic wine from Jean-Luc Thunevin’s garage right in Saint-Emilion Village. There is rich fruit under, with a dark, plummy character. But so tannic! 85-89 Wine International (Anthony Rose, Charles Metcalfe and Derek Smedley MW) June 2005 (Bizarrely the kosher version scored slightly higher: 88-92.)
Andrew Caillard MW
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