Langton's will be offering a selection of 2005 en primeur wines in the forthcoming weeks. It is likely that the top wines will be very limited in supply. It will be a question of first in best dressed. You can be assured that this is a tip top vintage at every level.
Andrew Caillard MW, Langton’s Sydney director, is recently returned from Bordeaux sampling the wines and making selections for Langton’s en primeur offer. These are his diary and tasting notes from the frontline in Bordeaux.
First entry: 10.30pm Wednesday 5th April, Saint-Emilion
"I don't remember the 1947 vintage, but this is the best vintage of my lifetime." Christian Moueix, Chateaux Petrus
There is an extraordinary buzz happening in the annual primeur tastings in Bordeaux at the moment. The 2005 vintage is being compared to the great 1961 by the Bordelais. Merchants from all around the world are being treated to museum examples of the vintage to prove a point. I have already seen the First Growth 1961 Margaux (en magnum) and the Fifth Growth 1961 Batailley. These, and other same vintage bottles of exquisitely aged wine, are no doubt weapons of mass persuasion. The world wine trade is bracing itself for the opening prices of the 2005 vintage. There is talk that some first growth Chateau will offer wines at over 300 euros a bottle. If that's true, it will be a great pity.
Certainly, the 2005 vintage has pulled almost every wine merchant out of the woodwork each hoping that allocations will be reasonable and that prices are fair.
With limited (or perceptions of limited supply) there is an uneasy stand off between negociants and wine buyers. No one quite knows how much wine will be released en primeur. There is a feeling that the First Growths and Super Seconds will limit the offer to help keep prices and margins buoyant. As you can imagine the smiles are generously large in the towns and villages of Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Libourne, Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estephe.
Putting all the hype aside, there is no doubt that 2005 is a bloody outstanding vintage and the world will shortly (if it hasn't already) learn that the pointy end of Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux is more than alive and well. The sheer energy and reputation of the wines will take the wine world by storm.
I have tasted around 200 wines since I arrived here on Monday. I have seen an overview of the vintage, visited a few chateaux and tasted through a truck load of wines from Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and St Estephe. I haven't yet read any of the reviews from the influential wine press, so the following overview of the vintage is purely my own, first hand impressions.
The 2005 vintage is significantly different to the 2003 because of the wide range of diurnal temperatures during the growing season. Warm to hot days were followed by a significant drop in temperatures at night. I had half expected the wines to look like a new world vintage but this one crucial factor has meant that these powerfully, aromatic and concentrated wines are also classic in structure. The 2005 vintage is impressive to say the least, right across the classic regional board of Bordeaux.
Generally, I am most taken by the wines of Margaux and Saint-Julien. While I haven't seen some of the heavy hitters yet (that's next week) the wines I have seen appear beautifully aromatic with plump fruit and lacy ripe tannins. Leoville-Poyferre, Brane-Cantenac, Cantenac-Brown, Durfort-Vivens, Malescot-St-Exupery and Rauzan Segla (some of which should be offered at reasonable prices) are really good examples. Braniare-Ducru is lovely and Beychevelle has produced a tip top wine this year.
I prefer the wines of Pauillac to Saint-Estephe. They have wonderful fruit volume on the front palate followed by fine chocolaty tannins and a tremendous persistency. Chateau Pichon-Baron, Lynch-Bages and Pontet-Canet are also glorious examples. I will see Pichon-Lalande and the various First Growths next week. The Saint-Estephes are very polished wines with massive concentration and chalky, muscular tannin structures. The Cos d'Estournel is an incredibly dense wine with enough stuffing to last decades. It's an outstanding wine but not quite in the same league as Saint-Julien's Ducru-Beaucaillou, which is simply magnificent and at this point one of the most beautiful young wines I think I have ever tasted.
Saint-Emilion is as usual quite dysfunctional. The best wines are linked to the philosophy of the wine producer rather than strictly to the terroir. As I was walking out of a tasting I heard a couple of English wine merchants saying that they didn't get Chateau Canon. I was tempted to tell them that's because the wine had ripe tannins. Certainly this factor is of major importance to the top wines of the region. These wines have tremendous fruit volume, sweet plummy fruit, and loose-knit chalky tannins. I loved Troplong-Mondot, Canon and La Dominique. L'Angelus has tremendous vivacity and presence – much like the hugely animated and charming winemaker. Figeac is gorgeous as well.
I have seen a few Pomerols and will see more in a few days time. These are quite dense wines with lovely plummy concentration and slinky fine tannin structures. La Pointe and L'Evangile are impressively concentrated and beautifully made wines.
Ducru Beaucaillou's Lalande de Borie is a wonderfully aromatic wine and should sell at attractive prices. There is no question that this will be the most talked about vintage since 1982 and certainly one of the greatest vintages on record!
Second entry: 7.30pm Thursday 6th April, Saint-Emilion
The hype of the 2005 vintage continues unabated. The outside media is now taking interest as news reaches the press that this is an exceptional year. Some are even speaking of the best vintage in 100 years or mentioning the great 1945.
There are smiling assassins everywhere. Lunch at Domaine de Chevalier today had a festival atmosphere as wine merchants partook in their last supper before the campaign gets underway.
Sauternes and Barsac have enjoyed an exceptionally strong vintage in 2005 as well. It is fairly unusual to see these wines perform so well in the same year as the Medocs. Some say it's a once in 30 year event. Certainly it is a bloody good year with wines of extraordinary powerful aromas, marvellous concentration and fresh acidity. The more delicate but beautifully aromatic wines include de Fargues, Doisy Daene and Suduiraut.
Sigalas Rabaud, Rabaud Promis and de Rayne Vigneau are substantial wines with classical structures and underlying savoury oak. Filhot is wonderful, with tremendous finesse and persistency. Coutet was difficult to read and may have been a dull sample. It should have been more convincing. La Tour Blanche is a highlight and quite frankly gives the outstanding and extravagantly proportioned d'Yquem a run for its money. The latter is certainly a great vintage perhaps on a par with the 1971.
I have to admit that I struggled through the wines of Pessac Leognan and Graves. The wines will no doubt benefit from the pull of the Medoc, St Emilion and Pomerol. However they were hardly glorious wines. Indeed they may get a reputation as the bitter end of the 2005s. The wines do not have the volume nor the generosity of the Medoc. The tannins are muscular at best and in some cases aggressive and pippy. Frankly this is a year where winemaking attitude and philosophy plays an important role.
The highly perfumed and finely textured Domaine de Chevalier and the very chocolaty and rich Pape Clement were the strongest cards in a relatively weak pack. I have yet to see Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion but I understand these wines are strong performers. The whites from Graves are fresh and waxy with plenty of fruit power and flavour length. From an Australian perspective these are really curios. The wines of Domaine de Chevalier, de Fieuzal and Pape Clement were the better examples.
The increasingly controversial Chateau Pavie will no doubt raise a few eyebrows once again. This is a wine that is completely different to the St Emilion vernacular. It is an incredibly essency wine with musky plum apricot aromas and lashings of mocha oak. The tannins are ripe and chocolaty. Its stable mate Pavie Decesse is of a similar genre. These powerfully built wines, loaded with sweet fruit have more in common with Barossa Cabernet or even Shiraz than St Emilion. Despite this, the wines are lovely and I sincerely look forward to the earnest debate that will no doubt unfold.
Vive terroir, manipulation and la difference!
Last entry: 9.00pm Wednesday 12 April, Saint-Emilion
The picturesque medieval town of St Emilion with its narrow cobbled streets and ancient buildings is beautiful but strangely lifeless despite the daily traffic snarls and aimless wanderers that swell the population during daylight hours.
At night the town – replete with 46 wine shops and one bakery – empties out. There are few children. This is the domaine of middle aged wine tourists and garagistes. Behind the facade of non-descript terrace houses are small garage wineries that make wines like Valandraud and Gracia. This year I have heard a number of negociants suggest that the garagistes are garaged. Certainly there does not seem to be the buzz of only a few years ago. But anything could happen.
The 2005 Pomerols are perhaps more impressive and consistent than the St Emilions. There are essentially two styles. The loose-knit, plummy wines of Rouget and La Pointe and the more profound and dense wines of Latour a Pomerol and Petrus. Belair, Magdelaine, Certan de May, Vray Croix de Gay, La Fleur Petrus and Trotanoy are all very impressive with a common thread of fruit volume, fine chocolaty tannins and flavour length. My top wines were Belair and Latour a Pomerol. These profoundly deep wines lying on long tables with white linen table cloths were dwarfed and sandwiched by two huge late 19th century paintings by Princeteau of oxen ploughing in muddy fields. The presence of these massive pictures evoked Emile Zola's The Earth and no doubt hang as a reminder that such august wines are both a result of terroir and the cycle of agricultural life. The opening prices will no doubt shock us back to the reality of the forces of the market rather than nature.
The 2005 First Growths are excellent. As usual there will be some debate about which is the best this year. Margaux is certainly the most perfumed and buoyant. Although the tannin density is enormous compared to other vintages, the wine is generous and pristine. There is an elegance and lightness of touch which will have plenty of appeal.
This year the grand vin represented only 37% of the crop. Yields were below average. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this vintage. Lafite is power and finesse. It is so utterly Pauillac in nature with it cassis cedar violet aromas, dense gravel tannins and superb flavour length. The wine has a minerality on the palate and the fruit completely subsumes the oak. I suspect this is the great wine of the vintage.
Mouton is excellent with plenty of blackcurrant fruit and mocha complexity. The tannins are supple and velvety. Underlying nutmeg oak gives a further layer of aromatics and texture. Certainly it’s bloody good but if we can split hairs for one moment it is not quite perfect like Lafite.
Latour is a revelation. It is a deep and brooding wine with blackcurrant black olive aromas, substantial fruit concentration and muscular but grainy tannins. The power in this wine is remarkable. Once again the oak is in the background. In some respects this is irrelevant anyway as there is more oak maturation to happen. However the wine is sinuous and harmonious. It’s a top vintage for Latour. Only 140,000 bottles have been made so there will be pent up demand.
Haut Brion is a brilliant wine this year. The wine is quite ethereal with deep, plummy, dark chocolate aromas and strong powerful tannins. But there is fruit richness and immense flavour depth. Certainly it is a classic vintage. The crop is only 9,000 bottles this year which will not doubt fuel the fire. La Mission Haut Brion is incidentally a great wine as well, with creamy blackberry aromas, cedar/dark chocolate notes and dense chalky tannins.
Cos d'Estournel has made a very good wine in 2005. However I have the feeling that it is trying too hard to impress everyone. There appears to be something of an inferiority complex emerging at this estate. While there is banter about the vineyards just lying across a ditch from Chateau Lafite, is it possible that the owners actually believe that they make wine of First Growth quality? The opening prices are expected to be very scary indeed. On the other hand Montrose, with its odd corkscrew flagpole, will probably be offered at a much more reasonable price. If so, you should know that I think it is an evocative wine with lovely aromatics, puissance and minerally complexity.
Pichon Lalande is looking very classical with wonderful blackcurrant pastille aromas and sweet brambly palate. The tannins are dense and chocolaty and the fruit just crescendos to the finish. Leoville Lascases is especially dense with a fair whack of oak. I have tasted Leoville Barton five times now. I am convinced that this will be a great buy – if we can get it. Anthony Barton whose family is the oldest contiguous owner of a classed growth estate has a reputation for fairness and a firm hand on the tiller. Grand Puy Lacoste is the great sleeper of the vintage. It is a remarkably beautiful wine with intense blackberry cedar ginger aromas, fine supple tannins and mocha dry finish.
The talk is that the campaign will be late. That was last night and I notice one chateau (Marquis d'Alesme) has already set a price. The whole en primeur campaign is like one massive poker game. Chateau owners wait for their competitors to make their first move. This is a game of psy-ops where image, opportunity for margin and aggrandisement is everything.
It’s easy to be impressed by the sheer scale and grand facades of Bordeaux. The success of this campaign will depend on whether consumers will buy into the premise that this is a very great vintage. While some buyers will want to secure First and Second Growths there is a real opportunity to find value in some of the up and coming growths. Durfort Vivens and Grand Puy Lacoste are good examples.
Generally 2005 is a very fine if not great Bordeaux vintage. The strength is in many of the left bank wines especially Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux. The wines all show strong sub-regional definition and a compelling generosity of fruit. The first growths are outstanding and highlight the sheer brilliance of Pauillac in a top vintage. These wines will no doubt attract strong opening prices. However there are many other Pauillac wines which deliver this year. The St Juliens have lovely fruit definition, concentration and overall balance. Ducru Beaucaillou, Leoville Las Cases, Leoville Poyferre and Leoville Barton are very classical modern wines. Again there are others which will provide better value. Branaire Ducru is a good example. The wines of Margaux are not as powerful but they have plenty of finesse and elegance. Chateau Margaux is beautifully poised. Palmer, Rauzan Segla and Durfort Vivens are marvellous wines. St Estephe is impressively muscular but ripe and full of fruit concentration. Cos d’Estournel is the commune’s sentinel again this year, but Montrose – in my opinion – has more charm and minerality.
The wines of Graves and Pessac Leognan are not as strong as expected. Leaving aside the wines from the stable of Haut Brion, only the elegant Domaine de Chevalier and new world looking Pape Clement appear to deliver strongly. The very agricultural and charming Les Carmes de Haut Brion – a neighbour of Haut Brion – is also showing well.
The wines of Pomerol are fleshy and strongly flavoured with plenty of plummy fruit and loose knit slinky tannins. This is a very strong Pomerol year. Cheval Blanc – which is strictly St Emilion, is an incredibly generous and evocative wine but is quite reminiscent of the Pomerol style – the vineyards are not far away from La Conseillante and L’Evangile.
St Emilion has plenty of top performing wines this year. However, the wine styles are erratic reflecting innovation, personalities and vineyard site. There is an attractive energy and generosity of spirit in this commune. I loved Figeac, Canon and L’Angelus. A chacun son goût.
Langton’s will be offering many of the 2005 Bordeaux wines en primeur. For those who do not traditionally buy these wines, this vintage promises to attract strong interest from collectors all around the world. Certainly the wines promise excellent cellaring potential. The offers are likely to start in earnest during May. If you are interested in buying these wines but need more information, please contact us.
BORDEAUX 2005 TASTING NOTES
The following tasting reviews are gleaned from over 450 samples tasted at various locations over a seven day period. In some cases wines have been sampled up to four times. All the wines are of course barrel samples and essentially unfinished wines. All the 2005s will spend more time in barrel.
Oak pick up is fairly dramatic in the early stages of maturation but this is only one aspect of the aging process. Tannins will further soften and the wine will become more complex and evolved. Furthermore, some samples of the same wine varied, depending on when the wines were drawn from barrel or how the bottles were prepared. It was not uncommon to find stale samples at one location and fresh samples at another.
There is an extraordinary focus on 2005 Bordeaux by various influential media. These notes are based on personal perceptions of the wines and given entirely in good faith. It was not possible to taste the wines blind. However, even in such circumstances, these notes and scores are based on considerable comparative tastings and thought.
Collectors will often just focus on wines with scores of 95 and above. However a score of 85 can also suggest a very decent and enjoyable wine. The 2005 Bordeaux vintage will be regarded as one of the greatest and most perfect on record. The sheer quality and definition of the wines perhaps eclipse the hugely hyped 2000 and 1982 vintages. Certainly old-timers are suggesting the wines are as brilliant as the legendary 1961s and 1947s.
2005 Bordeaux, however, should be seen as a unique vintage where the confluence of supra-natural growing conditions and contemporary winemaking philosophy has resulted in wines of remarkable vivacity, fruit definition, density and structure. Ultimately buyers should read more than one opinion.
These are the wines which impressed the most.
Ch Bahans Haut Brion – Pessac Leognan
Deep crimson. Earthy/ blackcurrant/ chocolate aromas with hints of lanolin and flavours and cedar. The palate is deeply concentrated with concentrated blackcurrant/ sweet fruit and grainy tannins. Excellent flavour length. 2018-2028.
Ch Batailley – Pauillac 5me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Crème de Cassis/ dark chocolate aromas. Ripe sweet fruit/ brambly wine with fine dense chalky tannins and savoury nuances. Finishes firm and tight. 2014-2022.
Ch Belair – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep colour. Ripe scented blackcurrant/ plummy/ brambly aromas. The palate is sweet and dense with fleshy blackcurrant/ plummy/ aniseed tobacco flavours, fine grainy tannins finishing cedary and long. A wine with plenty of energy and vitality. 2018-2026.
Ch Beychevelle – St Julien 4me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Cassis/ cedar aromas. Sweet juicy palate with blackcurrant/ plummy flavours and fine chalky lacy tannins. Finishes sweet and savoury. A very well concentrated wine with plenty of cellaring potential. A successful vintage for Beychevelle. 2010-2024.
Ch Branaire Ducru – St Julien 4me cru classe
Deep crimson. Very successful wine with intense liquorice/ brambly/ plum aromas. Lovely fruit sweet wine with brambly/cassis/ aniseed flavours, fine chocolaty/grainy tannins and savoury/cedar nuances. Very classical wine. 2018-2028.
Ch Brane Cantenac – Margaux 2me cru classe
Deep crimson. Lovely intense wine with blackcurrant confit/ plum / berry aromas with touches of violet. The palate is beautifully concentrated with blackcurrant fruit, fine grainy tannins and some cedary notes. Lovely extract at the finish. 2016-2024.
Ch de Camensac – Haut Medoc 5me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Juicy mulberry/dark chocolate aromas. The palate is sweet and ripe with mulberry/ dark chocolate fruit and fine savoury tannins. Finishes firm with plenty of flavour length. Very successful wine. 2016-2021.
Ch Canon – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Absolutely tip top wine although a few English wine merchants were heard nodding their heads saying they "didn't get the wine". I thought it was beautiful with plummy/ cedar/ mocha aromas and flavours, ripe chocolaty tannins, underlying new oak finishing savoury and long. A lovely concentrated wine with excellent persistency. 2018-2026.
Carruades de Lafite – Pauillac
Deep crimson. A very masculine wine with black olive/ blue berry aromas. Rich concentrated wine with black olive/ blueberry flavours, touches of bitumen and fine firm chalky tannins. Excellent flavour length. Some mineral notes. 2016-2025.
Ch Certan de May – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Dark chocolate/ dark cherry aromas. The palate is very potent with deep-set plummy/ dark chocolate flavours and fine slinky but muscular tannins. Finishes brambly and firm. 2016-2026
Ch Cheval Blanc – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Profoundly dense and potent wine with rich blackcurrant/ mocha/ liquorice aromas with touches of bitumen and spice. The palate is deep and concentrated with blackcurrant pastille/ mocha flavours, ripe forceful tannins and underlying savoury notes. Finishes long and sweet. A very fleshy sinuous wine with superb cellaring potential. 2020-2035.
Ch Clerc Milon Rothschild – Pauillac 5me cru classe
Deep crimson. Intense creamy blackberry mocha aromas. The palate is gorgeously concentrated with sweet blackberry fruit, fine slinky loose knit tannins, plenty of mocha oak nuances, finishing chalky and long. Lovely wine. 2016-2025.
Ch Clinet – Pomerol
Medium deep crimson. Very perfumed wine with plummy/ herb garden aromas. The palate is dense and fleshy with plenty of fruit sweetness, chocolaty fine tannins and underlying cedar notes. The wine has lovely fruit volume and flavour length. 2015-2025.
Clos du Marquis – Margaux
Deep colour. This property is not the second wine of Leoville Lascases. Rather it has an identity of its own. Vineyards are located betwixt Leoville Poyferre, Talbot and Leoville Barton. It has intense dark chocolate/ brambly aromas. The palate is richly concentrated with dark chocolate/ plummy flavours, fine chalky/grainy tannins and underlying spicy/ malty notes. Finishes long and sweet. 2018–2028.
Clos Fourtet – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep crimson. A very dense wine with dark chocolate/ mocha aromas, concentrated dark chocolate/ plummy flavours and ripe loose knit tannins. Finishes long and sweet. 2014–2020.
Ch Cos d'Estournel – St Estephe 2me cru classe
Deep crimson. Very perfumed muscular wine with violet/ cassis/ meaty aromas. A deep brooding palate compressed with blackcurrant/ plum/ mulberry fruit and touches of bitumen. The tannins are firm, savoury and powerful giving strength and energy. Underlying oak. This is a wine of tremendous volume and flavour length. Some will say its brilliant, others classic. Certainly it is ultra correct St Estephe in its most forceful and impactful guise. 2020–2035.
Ch Dauzac – Margaux 5me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Cedar/ smoky almond/ plummy aromas. The palate is dense and fleshy with plum/cassis/lead pencil characters, fine grainy tannins, plenty of concentration and flavour length. 2016–2022.
Domaine de Chevalier – Pessac Leognan cru classe
Medium deep crimson. A very classical elegant wine with cherry stone/ earthy/ chocolaty aromas, mocha/ dark chocolate flavours, fine slinky tannins and underlying sweet fruit. Not as concentrated as many other Graves but the tannins are ripe. A very nice wine. 2014–2022.
Ch du Tertre – Margaux 5me cru classe
Deep crimson. Black currant/ dark chocolate aromas with some smoky cedar notes. The palate is rich and flavoursome with deep set pure blackcurrant fruit and chocolaty fine tannins. Finishes firm and cedary. Tasted several times and always came up trumps. 2014–2022.
Ch Ducru Beaucaillou – St Julien 2me cru classe
Deep crimson. One of the top wines of the vintage with superb puissance and balance. This is an utterly ethereal wine with cassis/ blackberry/ plummy aromas and cedar complexity. The palate is dense and powerful with deep-set cassis/ blackberry/plummy fruit with touches of savoury/ spicy oak and chocolaty fine tannins. Finishes firm and tight. A brilliant wine which evokes the quintessence of St Julien. 2020-2035.
Ch Duhart Milon – Pauillac 4me cru classe
Deep crimson. Lovely cassis/ mint/ violet aromas. The palate is packed with ripe cassis/ violet/ plum/ fruit pastille flavours, fine lacy but grainy tannins and some cedar notes. Finishes firm and tight. Classical wine. 2018-2025.
Ch Durfort Vivens – Margaux 2me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Lovely plum/black currant pastille/ rhubarb aromas. The palate is richly concentrated with plum/cassis flavours, savoury oak and fine loose knit slinky tannins. Finishes dry with excellent flavour length. This lesser known 2nd Growth has made its 2005 vintage entirely at the chateau - the first time since 1937. At one stage during the 1920s and 1930s some vineyard parcels went into neighbouring Chateau Margaux. This is a top notch classical Margaux style with excellent cellaring potential. 2016-2024.
Ch Figeac – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Wonderful wine with intense floral/ sweet fruit/ spicy/ plummy aromas and hints of violets. A substantial palate with deep plummy/ sweet fruit flavours, ripe dense tannins and underlying savoury oak. Marvellous persistency and fruit volume. 2016-2026.
Ch Fombrauge – St Emilion grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Mocha/ dark berry aromas with some rose petal notes. Sweet well balanced wine with dark berry/ mocha flavours and chalky firm tannins. Excellent intensity and concentration. Quite new world in style. 2015-2025.
Ch Grand Puy Lacoste – Pauillac 5me cru classe
Deep crimson. A lovely wine which will probably represent one of the top values of the vintage. Intense blackberry/ violet with some savoury/ ginger notes. The palate is beautifully concentrated with plenty of sweet fruit and savoury cedar/ ginger characters, fine supple tannins finishing chalky firm with plenty of mocha flavour length. Top notch wine. 2018-2026.
Haut Bages Averous – Pauillac 2nd wine of Ch Lynch Bages
Medium deep crimson. Intense aniseed/ violet/ plum aromas. Sweet chocolaty/ plum flavours with fine sweet tannins. Finishes firm and minerally long. 2014-2024.
Ch Haut Brion – Pessac Leognan 1er cru classe
Deep crimson. Very elegant and ethereal wine. Intense plummy/ chocolate/ violet aromas. Sweet concentrated plummy/ chocolate fruit, lovely mid-palate richness, strong savoury dry tannins and underlying new oak notes. Finishes dry with plenty of flavour length. This is a beautifully made wine with positively ripe tannins and wonderful finesse. It is still very elemental but will develop into a classic. 2020-2035.
La Croix de Beaucaillou – St Julien
Deep crimson. Intense classical blackcurrant/ liquorice aromas with some cedar oak/ brambly complexity. A deeply concentrated wine with liquorice/ cedar/ cassis flavours fine chalky/ grainy tannins finishing dry and savoury. 2016-2024.
La Dominique – St Emilion grand cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Very fresh vivacious wine with black cherry/ rosehip/ blue berry/ aniseed aromas and flavours, lovely concentration and fruit volume, loose knit grainy tannins, underlying cedar oak and plenty of flavour length. Very nice wine. 2016-2025.
La Fleur Petrus – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Ripe mulberry/plum/ dark chocolate aromas. The palate is fine and slinky with sweet mulberry/ plum dark chocolate fruits and chalky firm tannins. Excellent concentration and flavour length. 2018-2026.
Ch La Lagune – Haut Medoc 3me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Violet/cassis/dark chocolate aromas with touch of herb garden. Deep set cassis/ dark chocolate flavours with muscular fine tannins. Finishes chalky dry. Powerful wine with plenty of cellaring potential. 2016-2021.
Ch La Mission Haut Brion – Pessac Leognan cru classe
Deep crimson. Dark chocolate/ tobacco aromas with creamy blackberry notes. The palate is immensely concentrated with dark chocolate/ tobacco flavours and dense chalky tannins. Finishes firm and long. This is a very powerful wine with plenty of fruit sweetness and balance to achieve long term cellaring. 2028-2040.
Ch La Pointe – Pomerol
Medium Crimson. Lovely ethereal wine with black plum/ musky aromas and some liquorice notes. The palate is fleshy with plum/ violet/ chocolaty flavours and fine velvety tannins. Finishes long and sweet. 2014-2024.
La Serre – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Intense plummy/ dark chocolate aromas with some sweet fruit notes. The palate is superbly concentrated and refined with plummy fruits and chalky firm tannins. Should build up further complexity with age. 2016-2026.
Ch Labegorce – Margaux cru bourgeois
Medium deep crimson. Liquorice/blueberry/dark chocolate aromas. Generously proportioned wine with deep set dark chocolate/dark berry fruit, fine slinky tannins finishing firm and chalky. Good persistency. 2018-2023.
Ch Labegorce Zede – Margaux cru bourgeois
Deep crimson. Intense dark cherry/ blueberry aroma. Well balanced wine with lovely dark cherry/ blueberry flavours, fine grainy tannins and plenty of flavour length. 2018-2024.
Ch Lafite Rothschild – Pauillac 1er cru classe
Deep crimson. This beautifully made wine must be a contender as wine of the vintage. It is a completely ethereal and complex wine with intense liquorice/ cedar/ violet/ cassis/ mocha aromas. The palate is both powerful and composed with immensely deep black currant liquorice fruit flavours and dense plush ripe granulated tannins. There are some savoury/ spicy nuances which are virtually subsumed by fruit sweetness and concentration. It finishes so long and sweet that there is almost no vanishing point. There is an everlasting quality to this wine. It will outlive us all – although thankfully optimum drinking during our life time is a certainty! 2025-2045.
Ch Lafleur Gazin – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Intense plummy/ dark chocolate aromas. The palate is densely packed with dark chocolate/ paneforte flavours, granular/ muscular tannins and underlying savoury nuances. Finishes long and sweet. 2016-2024.
Lalande de Borie – St Julien
Medium deep crimson. Gorgeous pure black currant pastille aromas with some cedar notes. The palate is beautifully concentrated with buoyant and sweet cassis fruit, savoury/ cedar tannins finishing slinky and long. This is a lovely standard wine from Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou. 2014-2022.
L'Angelus – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Lovely wine with intense liquorice/ blackcurrant/ plummy/ cedar aromas. The palate is dense and powerful with sweet juicy blackcurrant/ brambly/ aniseed fruit, chalky firm tannins and marvellous persistency. One of the best St Emilions of the vintage. 2016-2024.
Ch Langoa Barton – St Julien 3me cru classe
Deep crimson. Lead pencil/ cedar/cassis/ wet stone aromas. Very fine supple palate with cassis/ cedar flavours and fine velvety tannins. Finishes firm and chalky but excellent fruit concentration and persistency. 2016-2024.
Ch L'Arrosee – St Emilion grand cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Beautiful wine with plum/ cherry/ camomile aromas and some bisquity oak. The palate is rich and concentrated with plum/cherry flavours, ripe tannins and underlying cedary/ oatmeal oak. Finishes up firm and long. Top notch vintage. 2016-2024.
Ch Latour – Pauillac 1er cru classe
Deep crimson. This is a deep brooding vigorous wine with powerful black olive/ blackcurrant/ bitumen aromas. The palate is deeply concentrated and muscular with inky/ black currant/ spice flavours, tightly knit grainy tannins and underlying savoury/ cedar oak. The wine finishes chocolaty firm with long minerally notes. Another wine of the vintage contender, this is classic Latour with a profound sense of place and marvellous cellaring potential. Only 140, 000 bottles made. 2025-2040.
Ch Latour a Pomerol – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Fresh powerful brambly/ raspberry aromas. The palate is fruit driven and plush with creamy raspberry/ brambly fruit and long chocolaty tannins. Finishes long and sweet. Beautiful wine with remarkable volume and intensity. 2020-2035.
Le Petit Cheval – St Emilion 2nd wine of Ch Cheval Blanc
Deep crimson. Fresh violet/ chocolate/ cassis aromas and flavours. Lovely fine chocolaty/ al dente tannins, beautiful concentration and flavour length. Excellent second wine of Cheval Blanc. 2015-2025.
Ch Le Prieure – St Emilion grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Lovely plummy/ red cherry/ black currant aromas. The palate is dense and sweet with deep set plummy/ liquorice/ cassis flavours and fine slinky tannins. Finishes chalky dry but excellent persistency. 2016-2026.
Ch Leoville Barton – St Julien 2me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. A very seductive and classical St Julien with intense dark cherry/ plummy aromas and some chocolaty notes. The palate is beautifully balanced with deep set cassis fruit and fine cedary tannins. Finishes long and sweet. Bloody nice wine. 2016-2022.
Ch Leoville Lascases – St Julien 2me cru classe
Deep colour. Intense liquorice/ camomile/ violet/ black berry aromas. A richly concentrated palate with violet/ blackberry flavours and savoury oak nuances. The tannins are fine and slinky building up firm and chalky at the finish. This is a wine looking more like Pauillac than St Julien with its sheer power and finesse. 2020-2030.
Ch Leoville Poyferre – St Julien 2me cru classe
Deep crimson. Well concentrated wine with classical cassis/ liquorice aromas. The palate is fresh and fleshy with cassis/ aniseed flavours and chalky lacy firm tannins. Lovely flavour length. 2015-2025.
Les Forts de Latour – Pauillac
Deep crimson. Again the proprietors go to great lengths to distance this wine from the idea of being a second wine. The vineyard parcels lie adjacent to Pichon Longueville Baron, Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Talbot and Batailley. It is a striking wine with lovely cassis/ red cherry aromas with some cedar/ vanilla notes. The palate is fine and grainy with plenty of fruit depth and brambly notes underscored by cedar oak notes. This is an impressive wine which will no doubt achieve further complexity with age. 2018-2026.
Ch L'Evangile – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Lovely plum/ mocha-berry aromas with some garrigue notes. The palate is fresh and supple with sweet plum/ mocha flavours, fine slinky tannins, underlying savoury oak and marvellous flavour length. 2016-2026.
Ch Lynch Bages – Pauillac 5me cru classe
Deep crimson. An impressive and powerful wine with inky/ violet/ cassis aromas. The palate is immensely concentrated with deep set cassis/ violet/ dark fruit flavours, fine powdery/ chocolaty tannins and roasted almond nuances. Finishes firm and long. Top notch. 2018-2026.
Ch Magdelaine – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Lovely perfumed wine with floral/ red cherry aromas and musky plum nuances. The palate is beautifully structured with dense floral/ camomile/ redcurrant flavours and supple fine tannins. Builds up firm and tight. 2016-2026.
Ch Malescot St Exupery – Margaux 3me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Plummy/ liquorice/ cassis aromas. The palate is sweet and plummy with ripe beautifully textured tannins. This is a wine with marvellous fruit definition and volume. Finishes chalky/slinky firm. 2016-2025.
Ch Margaux – Margaux 1er cru classe
Deep crimson. A very generous beautifully proportioned wine with pristine blackcurrant aromas and some garrigue/ chocolaty nuances. The palate is rich and dense with deep-set dark chocolate/ black currant/ cherry fruit, fine chocolaty tannins and savoury/ oatmeal oak. This is a completely unevolved but extraordinarily well balanced wine. This is density and lightness. A remarkably buoyant graceful wine destined for long term cellaring and possibly greatness. 2025-2040.
Ch Marquis du Terme – Margaux 4me cru classe
Deep crimson. Very perfumed wine with plum/ sweet fruit/ meaty aromas. The palate is rich and chocolaty with plum/ blackcurrant fruit, savoury tannins and excellent flavour length. Well balanced wine which should develop further complexity with age. 2014-2022.
Ch Montrose – St Estephe 2me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Wonderful wine with complex violet/ dark cherry aromas and some black olive cedar notes. The palate is highly concentrated and inky with dark cherry/ liquorice fruit and strong lacy fine tannins. There is a mineral quality to this wine which pervades over the palate. It finishes chalky firm with plenty of flavour length. A very decent and evocative St Estephe. 2016-2025.
Ch Mouton Rothschild – Pauillac 1er cru classe
Deep crimson. Rich, powerfully concentrated and vivacious wine with ripe cassis/ nutmeg/ mocha aromas. The palate is densely packed with sweet blackcurrant fruit, mocha oak notes and plush velvety tannins. Finishes long and cedary. This is classical sumptuous Mouton with tremendous fruit definition and energy. 2025-2040.
Ch Olivier – Pessac Leognan cru classe
Deep crimson. Perfumed black olive/ dark chocolate/ sea weedy aromas. The palate is rich and powerful with black olive/ dark chocolate flavours and bitter chocolaty tannins. Finishes grippy and firm. 2014-2024.
Ch Palmer – Margaux 3me cru classe
Deep crimson. Liquorice/ chocolate/ plummy aromas. Sweet juicy blackcurrant/coffee/ liquorice aromas. The palate is supple and sweet with well concentrated chocolate/ plummy flavours and fine slinky tannins. Finishes long and liquorice/ cedary. 2016-2030.
Ch Pape Clement – Pessac Leognan cru classe
Deep crimson. Intense almost new world style with chocolaty black currant fruit and underlying savoury oak. The palate is dense and chocolaty with sweet black currant fruits, ripe gravelly tannins and cedar oak. One of the most successful wines from Pessac Leognan. 2014-2022.
Ch Pavie – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Inevitably this will be a controversial wine with its plum/ musky/ apricot aromas and flavours. It is an intensely New world style crammed with musky plum apricot fruits and dried paneforte nuances. The tannins are dense and chocolaty and perfectly ripe. The wine finishes firm and savoury. The English will hate it but the Americans will love it. Australians should rejoice for this wine is reminiscent of a Barossa Shiraz. It might not taste like a St Emilion but it is marvellous all the same!! 2012-2020.
Ch Pavie Decesse grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Intense exotic plummy/ musky aromas. Lovely ripe sweet fruit flavours and dense chocolaty tannins, underlying savoury oak. Finishes slinky firm, long and sweet. A very modern style that breaks with away from traditional St Emilion style - whatever that is nowadays. 2010-2020.
Pavillon Rouge – Margaux
Medium deep crimson. Intense cassis/ black olive aromas with some dark chocolate/ black cherry. Sweet, silky wine with cassis/ chocolate/ plummy flavours and ripe velvety tannins. Finishes chalky dry but excellent flavour length. 2016-2025.
Ch Petrus – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Fragrant violet/ plum/ raspberry/ mulberry aromas with mocha/ chocolate nuances. The palate is complex and interesting with sweet chocolate/ plummy/mulberry flavours, fine loose knit chalky tannins and underlying spicy notes. This is power and restraint. Should evolve beautifully. 2020-2040.
Ch Pichon Longueville Baron – Pauillac 2me cru classe
Deep crimson. Intense cassis/ dark chocolate aromas. The palate is very sweet and plump with dark chocolate/ cassis fruit and dense chocolaty tannins. Finishes long and cedary. This is archetypal Pauillac with remarkable fruit sweetness, power and finesse. 2018-2026.
Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – Pauillac 2me cru classe
Deep crimson. A very buoyant and appealing wine - again showing the sheer strength of Pauillac in this vintage. The wine is intensely fresh with blackcurrant pastille/ black chocolate aromas and cedar wood complexity. The palate is beautifully concentrated with sweet blackcurrant/ brambly fruit, dense chocolaty/ grainy tannins and cedar oak. It finishes chalky firm but the fruit crescendos over the top. The wine has amazing flavour length. A tip top wine. 2020-2030.
Ch Pontet-Canet – Pauillac 5me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. Very enjoyable Pauillac with sweet cassis/ violet aromas and touches of cedar/ liquorice. The palate is well concentrated and balanced with plum/ cassis flavours, fine loose knit savoury tannins and underlying new oak. Finishes long and sweet. 2018-2025.
Ch Rauzan Segla – Margaux 2me cru classe
Deep Crimson. Beautiful wine with complex dark cherry/ brambly aromas. The palate is sweet and dense with dark cherry/ cassis fruit, savoury/ mocha oak and fine chocolaty sinuous tannins. Finishes dry and firm with plenty of flavour length. A wine with tremendous vivacity and energy. 2016-2024.
Reserve de la Comtesse – Pauillac
Medium deep crimson. Intense violet/ red cherry/ red currant aromas. This is a very open knit and attractive wine with sweet red cherry/ red currant flavours and fine slinky tannins. Finishes firm and chalky. 2016-2025.
Ch Sociando Mallet – Haut Medoc cru bourgeois
Medium deep crimson. Aniseed/liquorice/violet aromas with some coffee notes. The palate is rich and concentrated with mocha/liquorice flavours, firm savoury tannins and plenty of sweet fruit at the finish. A plump fleshy wine with good potential. 2012-2020. 91-93
Ch Saint Pierre – St Julien 4me cru classe
Medium deep crimson. A lovely wine from the same owners as Gloria. Complex mocha/ dark berry aromas with some liquorice nuances. The palate is sweet and textured with mocha/ berry flavours and fine loose knit tannins. Finishes cedary and long. 2014-2022. 93-95
Ch Talbot – St Julien 4me cru classe
Deep crimson. Very concentrated elegant wine plum/ leafy/ touch spearmint/nutmeg flavours, fine grainy tannins which build up leafy and firm at the finish. 2014-2020.
Ch Troplong Mondot – St Emilion grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Very aromatic wine with scented musky plum/ cassis aromas. The wine is well concentrated with musky plum/ black currant flavours, some background new oak, fine grainy/ chalky tannins finishing long and sweet. Slightly new world in style which will no doubt draw some debate. 2014-2025.
Ch Trotanoy – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Intense plummy/ musk/ violet aromas. The palate is dense and elemental with sweet juicy plum/musky/ violet flavours, fine chocolaty tannins and underlying savoury oak. This is an incredibly concentrated and powerful wine which needs time but everything is in balance. 2022-2036.
Ch Trotte Vielle – St Emilion 1er grand cru classe
Deep crimson. Lovely fruit sweet wine with smoky bacon/ lead pencil/ cassis aromas. The palate is plummy and deep with some lead pencil/ cedar notes, loose knit chalky tannins finishing long and sweet. 2016-2024.
Ch Vray Croix de Gay – Pomerol
Deep crimson. Mocha berry, dark chocolate aromas. The palate is thick and chocolaty with deep-set mocha/ dark berry fruit, bitter sweet tannins which build up chalky firm and superb flavour length. Lovely wine. 2016-2025.
The medieval Chateau d’Yquem – complete with underground air conditioning, fully gentrified apartments and professional kitchens – commands impressive views across its sweeping lawns and over a patchwork quilt of vineyards towards Chateau Suduiraut. This ancient fortress remains almost impenetrable to most mortals who dare wander onto the estate (if they can find the right entrance). Appointments are strictly necessary and even on arrival you need to know which door to knock on. There are no dogs barking, pretty women in Thierry Mugler riding boots or theatrical receptionists. But the flower beds are immaculate and the driveways are nicely raked.
It is a rare event for both Claret and Sauternes/Barsac to perform exquisitely in the same vintage year. While the Sauternes Barsac region enjoyed the second driest and fifth hottest growing season in recorded history, intermittent rains at the right time allowed optimal relative humidity in the vineyards. Naturally balanced yields, good levels of botrytis and low disease pressure resulted in an exceptionally good quality harvest. Chateau d’Yquem triaged four times between 26th September and the 12th October first bringing in Sauvignon Blanc from gravel soils and later Semillon off clay soils. Beneficial showers on the 12th and 13th October ensured a well-botrytised final coup de grace triage.
The overall quality of the vintage is impressive. There are few underperforming wines. Only the heavily oaked Caillou and hard acid Saua were real disappointments. I suspect the sample provided by Coutet was not up to scratch; it looked quite ordinary in the line up at Domaine de Chevalier. Certainly it is regarded as one of the stronger wines of the vintage. I did not taste Climens. I thought Latour Blanche was particularly impressive. Filhot and Suduiraut looked very classical. Rieussec was elemental and raw with energy, but highly tuned. Doisy Daene, Rayne Vigneau and Sigalas Rabaud were strong performers. D’Yquem is magnificent and will no doubt command huge interest. But crikey it’s one hell of a wait before it is finally released. Overall 2005 is a wonderful year only eclipsed in recent times by the profound 2001s. The following notes are my highlights.
Ch Bastor Lamontagne
Medium colour. Lovely perfumed apricot/ pear skin aromas. The palate is sweet and minerally with apricot/pear flavours and savoury oak nuances. The wine has lovely fruit definition and viscosity. 2014-2022.
Ch Clos Haut Peyraguey 1er Cru Classe
Medium colour. Intense mandarin/ apricot aromas. Sweet apricot fruit on the palate with plenty of underlying savoury oak and mineral acidity. The wine finishes chalky dry. Lovely concentration, viscosity and flavour length. 2012-2024.
Ch de Fargues
Medium colour. A lovely ethereal wine combining both power and delicacy. Apricot/ Turkish delight aromas. Beautifully balanced palate with apricot/ Turkish delight fruit, crunchy acidity and marvellous flavour length. Top notch wine with excellent cellaring potential. 2010-2030.
Ch de Malle 2eme Cru Classe.
Medium colour. Intense apple/pear/ lemon aromas with some violet notes. The palate is sweet, crisp and minerally with lovely sweet apple/pear/ Turkish delight flavours and fine fresh acidity. 2014-2022.
Ch Doisy Daene 2eme Cru Classe.
Medium colour. Elegant wine with lemon squash/ herb garden/ floral/ honey aromas. The palate is minerally and fresh with sweet and long lemon/ grapefruit/ honey flavours and clear tangy acidity. Top notch. 2018-2028.
Ch Doisy Vedrines 2eme Cru Classe.
Medium colour. Intense lemon curd/ lime/ apricot aromas. Plenty of sweet fruit on the palate with lemon curd/ apricot flavours and savoury mocha oak. Finishes tangy and long. 2014-2025.
Ch d'Yquem 1er Cru Classe
Medium deep colour. Remarkably extravagant wine with intense perfumed dried apricot/ nectarine/ lemon curd/ honey/ garrigue aromas and some savoury oak notes. Powerfully concentrated supple palate with incredibly deep set apricot/lemon curd/honey/ orange peel flavours balanced by savoury/bisquity oak and piercing acidity. A very rich profoundly exuberant wine compressed with fruit and energy. Will develop and last decades. 2020-2040.
Ch Filhot 2eme Cru Classe.
Medium colour. One of the stars of the vintage with intense lemon/apricot/ honey aromas. The palate is densely sweet and concentrated with deep set lemon/ honey/ pear flavours, underlying savoury oak and fresh cutting acidity. This is a beautifully balanced wine with finesse and persistency. 2020-2040.
Ch Guiraud 1er Cru Classe.
Medium colour. Generous pear/peach/ apricot aromas with savoury oak nuances. The palate is rich and concentrated with pear/ peach flavours and fine lively/tangy acidity. Finishes quite oaky firm but has excellent persistency. 2014-2025.
Ch La Tour Blanche 1er Cru Classe
Medium deep colour. Utterly seductive, beautifully intense and opulently concentrated wine with ethereal camomile/ apricot aromas and roasted hazelnut/ almond nuances. The palate is dense and fleshy with plush apricot/almond flavours, camomile/ pear/ violet notes and fine minerally long acidity. The wine finishes savoury dry. This is a very powerful and weighty wine with lovely extract and acid balance. One of the very top wines of the vintage. 2020-2035.
Ch Lafaurie Peyraguey 1er Cru Classe.
Medium colour. Almond/ Turkish delight aromas. Sweet generous fleshy palate with opulent apricot/ Turkish delight flavours and fresh acidity. Finishes dry and long. Delicious wine. 2014-2026.
Ch Nairac 2eme Cru Classe
Medium colour. Lovely wine with Lemon curd/ herb garden/ apricot aromas. The palate is quite sweet - almost sugary - but densely concentrated with lemon curd/ apricot/ garrigue flavours and mineral acidity. It finishes dry and almondy. This will develop really well. 2017-2025.
Ch Rabaud Promis 1er Cru Classe.
Medium colour. Lemon curd/malty aromas. The palate is well concentrated and sweet with lemon curd/ apricot and toasty new oak flavours. Finishes oaky dry but minerally and long. This is a well balanced wine which should develop well. 2016-2024.
Ch de Rayne Vigneau 1er Cru Classe
Medium colour. Almond/ lemon curd aromas and flavours with underlying savoury oak. The palate is sweet and concentrated with plenty of fruit volume and viscosity at the front. Finishes off very minerally and savoury dry at the finish. This could be something of a sleeper. 2014-2025.
Ch Rieussec 1er Cru Classe
Medium colour. A very elemental wine with plenty of power and concentration. Apricot/ lemony aromas with some Turkish delight notes. The palate is immensely concentrated with deep-set apricot/ lemony fruit and plenty of savoury oak. Finishes dry and long. Looks quite gawky as a youngster but has plenty of substance and overall balance. 2018-2026.
Ch Sigalas Rabaud 1er Cru Classe
Medium colour. Very unevolved but well concentrated and balanced wine. Sweet lemon curd/honey aromas with some savoury oak notes. The palate is dense and viscous with lemon/ honey flavours, cutting acidity and underlying savoury oak. 2014-2024.
Ch Suduiraut 1er Cru Classe
Medium colour. Sweet pear/ almond aromas with some savoury oak characters. The palate is beautifully balanced with pear/ apricot/ almond/ brioche flavours and fine indelible/ mineral acidity. Finishes dry and almondy. A very classical beautifully made wine. 2018-2026.
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