En-Primeur 2014

 

En-Primeur 2014
After three consecutive vintages which failed to generate excitement the wines of 2014 give cause for cautious optimism. Weather wise it was far from a perfect vintage but the defining feature was an extended Indian summer lasting from late August through October. This naturally favoured the properties with a high proportion of late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon but there are some excellent Merlot dominant wines too. Having tasted all the significant wines in the first week of April we can conclude that this is a good vintage which shows occasional greatness. When deciding which wines to buy it will be crucial to consider the performances of individual chateaux against their prices.
 
Weather conditions: The year started promisingly with early bud burst after a warm and wet winter. Flowering took place during hot weather in the first two weeks of June. There was a threat of oidium and mildew, requiring work in the vineyard, a theme which persisted through to harvest. July and August were both cool and damp. The saving grace of 2014 was an exceptional period of hot dry weather which allowed ripening in near perfect conditions. Cabernets were not harvested until October, a month which had record sunshine hours.
 
Vintage characteristics: The best red wines show a combination of power, freshness and ripe tannins which will display great complexity over time. This applies to the best wines of the left bank and those right bank wines where the Merlot achieved optimum ripeness. There are some excellent dry whites which combine lovely aromatics with good acidity. Some fine Sauternes were also produced.
 
Buying strategy: As usual we will concentrate on the top performing properties and those we consider to offer the best value for money. We recommend that buyers focus on the merits of individual wines in the context of their pricing.
 
Tasting notes: Our comments and ratings (AWL) as well as those of Jancis Robinson (JR), Neal Martin (WA), James Suckling (JS) and Wine Spectator (WS) are indicated on the following pages
Bottling: Prices are for standard 750ml bottles. Wines can be bottled in half bottles, magnums or other formats for an additional charge. Please provide special bottling instructions before 31st August 2015.

Storage: There will be storage charges if we do not receive any shipping instruction before 30 Nov 2016. The charge will be HKD $240 per annum per case or per large format bottle (9Lcase). Cellarage invoices will be raised on 1 January 2017. If you wish to collect your wine early, we will refund you with the remaining full month(s) storage fee on a pro-rata basis.

Shipping Cost: HKD$180 per case inclusive of insurance. Please instruct us in advance for special shipping arrangements.

Offer: Please note that the following wines are offered ex-cellars Bordeaux. Minimum order is 1 case of 12 bottles (750ml) for each wine. If you need special bottling (half bottles, magnums or other large formats), please let us know at the time of order. They will be available for delivery in Spring/Summer 2017. Payment upon receipt of invoice.

 

Wines ( * denotes Limited Allocation )
Aile d’Argent Alter Ego de Palmer Angelus
Ausone *Beausejour Duffau Belair Monange
Bellevue MondotteBeychevelleBlanc de Lynch Bages
Branaire DucruBrane Cantenac Calon Segur - SOLD OUT
CanonCanon La GaffeliereCertan de May
Chapelle de la Mission Chapelle d’Ausone Cheval Blanc *
Clerc MilonClimensClinet
Clos de L'OratoireClos FourtetCos d’Estournel
Cos d’Estournel BlancCoutetD'Armailhac
D'Issan - SOLD OUTDomaine de CambesDomaine de Chevalier Blanc
Domaine de Chevalier rougeDucru BeaucaillouDuhart Milon
Echo de Lynch BagesFigeacGazin
Giscours - SOLD OUTGloriaGrand Puy Lacoste
Gruaud LaroseGuiraudHaut Bailly
Haut Brion *Haut Brion Blanc *La Clarte de Haut Brion
La ConseillanteLa Fleur Petrus La Mission Haut Brion
La Mission Haut Brion BlancLa MondotteLa Tour Blanche
Lafite *Lagrange - SOLD OUTLangoa Barton - SOLD OUT
Larcis Ducasse LascombesLe Clarence de Haut-Brion
Le Gay Leoville BartonLéoville Las Cases
Léoville PoyferréLes Pagodes de Cos - SOLD OUTLynch Bages
L’Eglise Clinet *L’Evangile Malartic Lagraviere - SOLD OUT
Malartic Lagraviere BlancMalescot St Exupery - SOLD OUTMargaux *
MonbousquetMontroseMouton *
Palmer - SOLD OUTPape ClémentPape Clément Blanc
PaviePavie DecessePavie Macquin
Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux *Petit Village Phelan Segur
Pichon BaronPichon LalandePontet Canet
Rauzan SeglaRieussecRoc de Cambes
Saint Pierre Smith Haut LafitteSmith Haut Lafitte Blanc
SuduirautTalbotTertre Roteboeuf
Troplong MondotVieux Château Certan - SOLD OUT 

 

 

Cotes de Bourg

Roc de Cambes (JR17 WA91-93)
€44.5
JR 17 80% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. pH 3.75. Very voluptuous and sweet and not so dissimilar from Tertre except that there is more obvious structure and it’s a little lighter. Really rather gorgeous but at the limit before it becomes syrupy.
WA 91-93 François Mitjavile's consistently over-performing Côte de Blaye, is blessed with a fragrant, perfumed nose, the fruit a little darker than his Tertre-Rôteboeuf: mulberry and blackberry, crushed petals and incense. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very pure and harmonious with a long sensual finish. You know, this might be the first time that I feel that the Roc de Cambes has the élan of the Tertre-Rôteboeuf and as such, it represents one of the best values you will find in 2014.

 

Bordeaux

Domaine de Cambes -
€29.5

 

St Estephe

Les Pagodes de Cos (AWL 89-91 WA90-92 JS91-92 JR17+)
€30
AWL 89-91
WA 90-92 A clean and precise bouquet, a veneer of blackberry and wild strawberry fruit intermixed with cedar and graphite, the latter becoming more pronounced with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with a silky smooth entry, well-judged acidity with veins of tobacco and allspice emerging toward the finish that gently fans out. There is already a pleasant freshness in situ that I hope will be retained by the time it is in bottle. Very fine. 
JS 91-92 Another refined 2014 with super fine tannins, beautiful fruit and impressive balance. Medium body, bright acidity and a clean finish. Solid core of fruit. 
JR 17+ 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. Dark crimson. Very sweet and charming. A mineral streak and some real freshness too. Not remotely meagre. Very forward and very ripe – St-Estèphe style. Gorgeous already.  13.9%. Drink 2019-2032
Calon Segur (AWL95-96 WA 91-93 JS93-94 WS92-95 JR 17++)
€47.5
AWL 95-96 Deep purple colour. Superb aromatics of black fruit, spices and cassis creme. Fabulous mouthfeel and great minerality. ‎Silky tannins. Clearly a great effort for this estate and the vintage.  
WA 91-93 The first impression is one of the oak because coming straight after the Montrose '14 (élevage in 60% new oak) the wood element is more pronounced here. It is relatively opulent and high-toned compared to its Saint Estèphe counterparts, developing floral scents with time but never quite extricating itself from the winemaking. The palate is medium-bodied with quite firm tannin that lend this more chewiness than either Montrose or Cos d'Estournel. There is a lot of backbone to this wine, well focused with a good line of acidity, but again, I believe a more moderate use of new oak would have allowed the terroir to be expressed in what is a terroir-driven vintage. It is an impressive, you could almost say ambitious Calon Ségur, though I am seeking more personality via the terroir to be articulated. 
JS 93-94 This has a wonderful density and a velvety texture with so much fruit and richness. Full body, fine tannins and wonderful length. Gorgeous. 
WS 92-95 This has a core of lightly steeped plum and blackberry, with alluring tobacco and charcoal notes lining the finish. Shows nice underlying acidity, and seems likely to fill out steadily. This estate is back in form since the ownership change.
JR 17++ 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 19% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. Vibrant dark crimson. Very dense and not that communicative on the nose. But very impressive density, silky texture and refinement. Classic focused stuff with drive. Sufficiently ripe but not at all sweet. Long and truly St-Estèphe. Lots of energy here. Though it certainly isn’t opulent! Lots of tannins and St-Estèphe stoniness on the end. Pretty drying end. Less charm than Capbern but lots more classicism. Just cuts off a little suddenly (perhaps because of those younger vines). 13.8%. Drink 2024-2040


Cos d’Estournel (AWL 94-95 WA93-95 JS96-97 JR18)
€96

AWL 94-95 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc.  Rich fruity nose with minerals, smoke, sweet earth, cassis and dried herbs. Very fresh and elegant with gorgeous texture and density. ‎Crunchy fruit. 
WA 93-95 It has "cool" nose, by that I mean it is not a flamboyant set of aromatics like the 2009 or 2010, but rather "streamlined" and focused, very delineated with black fruit intermingling with incense and iris. It is very controlled. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, but "full" tannins in the mouth that lend this Cos d'Estournel impressive volume. There is an unerring purity here, a gradual crescendo of intensity towards a peppery finish that lingers long. This is an impressive Grand Vin - classic Cos d'Estournel. 
JS 96-97  I love the style of this Cos with so much Indian spices constituting the aromas and flavours here. Full body, fine tannins and an ultra-long finish. Excellent structure and length yet this maintains finesse.
JR 18 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 80% new oak.Dense colour. Really very luscious indeed. A streak of St-Estèphe iron filings but surrounded by the more opulent fruit. Fine and refined. More fun than Lafite! Masses of tannins and density. Shorter than some vintages, such as 2005! 14.2%. Drink 2024-2045


Cos d’Estournel Blanc (AWL 92-94 WA90-92 JS96-97 JR17-)
Coming soon
AWL 92-94 66% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Semillon. Crisp wine with pure passion fruit and white flowers. ‎Lovely wine. 
WA 90-92  It has a clean and fresh, quite "minimalist" bouquet with the Granny Smith apples and granitic scents, but all low-key compared to previous vintages. The palate is fresh on the entry, the Sauvignon Blanc delivering fresh green apple and nectarine notes, a citric thread of acidity and plenty of energy towards the saline finish. It is a delightful Cos d'Estournel Blanc that should drink immediately from bottle, yet should mature for several years if you so wish.
JS 96-97 This is very dense and beautiful with great intensity and length. Loads of sliced pears and apples as well as a creamy texture. Lots of apricots and salty notes. Iodine-like. Goes on for minutes. 66% Sauvignon Blanc and 24% Sémillon. 
JR 17- 66% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Sémillon. Floral, blossomy nose. Bright fresh fruit and sufficient lime-juice pungency on the palate. Racy and floral. Good weight. Emphatic. Neat. A little alcohol on the end.  14%. Drink 2019-2027
Montrose (AWL96-98 WA95-97 JS94-95 WS94-97 JR17)
€99
AWL 96-98 ‎Saturated purple colour. Excellent and exotic nose of black fruit, spices, minerals and creme de cassis. Full-bodied with great texture and ‎energy. Generous, juicy and really impressive. One of the best young Montrose ever tasted. 
WA 95-97 The aromatics represent a clear step in quality from the second wine, attired with far more precision and focus, much more purity with scents of blackberry, boysenberry and blue fruit, now with touches of violet and vanilla. It is beautifully defined and actually, at least at this juncture, closely aligned with Cos d’Estournel 2014. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin that underpin layers of pure mineral-rich black fruit. There is an enthralling sense of energy and precision here and it fans out remarkably on the finish. Dare I say, this is one grand vin that comes perilously close to matching the heights of the 2009 and 2010. This is a brilliant Montrose, one of the best you will find on the Left Bank this vintage.
JS 94-95 This is a fabulous young red with blackberries, currants and wet earth. Full body, firm tannins. Very long finish. It really takes off. 
WS 94-97 As sleek and tightly coiled as they come, with wonderful purity and cut to the red and black currant and red and black cherry fruit. The long iron spine is thoroughly embedded and a gorgeous echo of charcoal lingers at the very end of the lightly pebbly finish. Everything finally seems to be coming together here. 
JR 17 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. Very muted nose. Seems rich and heavy but not that expressive aromatically. Big and bold and ambitious with a good balance between fruit and tannins. Acid reasonably well in check. And very definitely St-Estèphe. Pretty brutal – without the charm and glamour of Cos – but probably very true to the archetype. Good tannin management but nothing at all confected or too modern. Inky finish.  Drink 2024-2040
Phelan Segur (WA 89-91+ WS 90-93 JS91-92 JR15.5)
€ 25
WA 89-91+ The Château Phélan-Ségur 2014 has quite a high-toned bouquet with iodine-scented black fruit, touches of cassis and blueberry coming through with aeration. The palate is rounded and generous on the entry with fine tannin, though I feel it just lacks a little complexity and terroir expression towards the finish. I am aware than this Saint Estèphe improves a great deal by bottling, hence the plus sign. Tasted on three occasions, two showed a little rigidity towards the finish, but that will soften with élevage and bottle age.
WS 90-93 This is alluring, with a velvety feel to the crushed plum and black currant fruit, while perfumy hints of espresso and singed sandalwood line the finish. Presents a pleasant loamy tug. 
JS 91- 92 Soft and silky with very pretty tannins and juicy fruit. Full body, succulent finish.
JR 15.5 Light charred note on the nose. Then something sweet and loose. Then astringent. Not a bundle of fun! Austere. Hollow. 

 

Pauillac

Aile d’Argent (AWL 93-94 WA 88-90 JS95-96 WS89-92 JR17)
€53
AWL 93-94 Fresh and lively. 
WA 88-90 It does not quite possess the complexity of the previous two vintages, but there are fine pear skin and nectarine scents to enjoy. The palate is fresh and citric on the entry: green apple, Conference pear and a dash of lemongrass, leading to a punchy, spicy finish. Fine-but not a top-tier Aile d'Argent
WS 89–92  Fresh, with lemon granita, white peach and chamomile notes backed by a light twinge of tarragon. Bright, pure and refreshing, this wine has quietly improved under Dhalluin's watch.
JS 95-96 Incredible intensity of sea salt, sliced apple and dried pineapple character. Full and racy with beautiful acidity and a long, long finish. Lots of papaya, pears and pineapple. Racy. 
JR 17 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Sémillon. Rather more opulent nose than most. Positively rich! Big success. Zesty and with some body and no excess of tartness. Drink 2016-2021
Echo de Lynch Bages (AWL88-90 WA84-86JS89-90 WS89-92)
€23.5
WA 84-86 It is just missing a little presence on the nose at the moment with light blackcurrant pastille developing in the glass. The palate has a strong salty tang on the entry plus a dash of spice, with a crisp, lively finish that partly compensates for the aromatics. 
JS 89-90 A structured and muscular red with blackberries, blackcurrants and minerals. Full-bodied, chewy and intense. Excellent second wine. Gripping.
WS 89-92 This packs solid dark currant, fig and blackberry fruit, with notes of charcoal and loam, but stays fleshy overall, revealing ample length and definition on the finish.

D'Armailhac (JS91-93 WA93-94 WS90–93 JR17)
€26.5
AWL 91-93 Dark fruit aromas. Rich body‎ with great fruit. 
WA 88-90 The opulence and richness is immediately apparent on the nose with hints of black olive infusing the black fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly grainy tannin, quite dense black fruit with a spicy attack towards the saline finish. It feels a little abrasive at the moment but the rough edges should be rounded by the time.
JS 93-94 Very minerally, silky and refined with a full body, firm tannins and currants, stones and citrus. Racy and fine. This has a little more Merlot in the blend but is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon as always. One of the best Armailhacs in a long time.  
WS 90-93 Bright, juicy and engaging, with a racy damson plum and red currant core striped with singed cedar and vanilla and backed by a good twinge of iron. This is brisk and pleasantly taut. Textbook Pauillac. 
JR 17 Mid crimson. Clean, sweet and mild on the nose, a little toasty and some polish. Correct and not too drying, with some green notes - very un-luscious. A little demanding and austere but with good energy and sleekness. The finish is impressively long. An interesting wine that is so low key that at first I almost overlooked it. Drink 2021-2032
Blanc de Lynch Bages (WA 88-90 JS92-93 WS88-91)
Coming soon
WA 88-90 It has a crisp, fresh pear and green apple-scented bouquet, the oak neatly disguised. The palate has a twist of bitter lemon on the entry, with good weight in the mouth and is lively and quite spicy toward the finish with a touch of lemongrass on the aftertaste. Not bad at all. 
JS 92-93 Dense and tangy with dried pineapples, lemon rind and hints of stone. Full-bodied, flavourful and bright. 
WS 88-91 Fresh makrut lime and white peach flavours mingle here, with a shortbread note adding texture to the finish. Should fill out a touch more. 

Clerc Milon (AWL 92-93 WA 90-92 JS91-92 WS91-94 JR 16.5+)
€39
AWL 92-93 Beautifully fruity nose with a minerally juicy palate. ‎More intellectual. 
WA 90-92  there is a sense of opulence on the nose, ripe blackberry intermingling with black olives. The palate is rich and quite tangy on the entry. This is a "full-on” Clerc-Milon, quite extravagant in the context of the vintage, not a shy Pauillac, perhaps due to that expressive old vine Merlot? There is a pinch of soy on the finish that continues onto the aftertaste. Feisty Clerc-Milon for those who want a bit of va-va-va-voom in their Pauillac. 
JS 91-92 A linear and fine Clerc with iodine, red clay and blueberry character. Full body and fine tannins. Tight and refined. Very straight and racy. 
WS 91-94 Delightfully plump and juicy, with a core of fresh plum, blackberry and cherry fruit, lined with alder and dark tea notes. A long iron note is well-buried, and there's more flesh here than in the d'Armailhac, with the tannins feeling rounder and more supple.
JR 16.5+ Very dark crimson. Mineral lift on the nose. Quite zesty and lifted and savoury - but the fruit is a little raw. Lots of freshness but not too stringy. Although, as for Armailhac, it’s a bit demanding and astringent on the finish. And does not last as long. Astringent finish. Lots of effort and density here. For the moment it’s a bit brawny and angular but it should come right in the end. Drink 2023-2035
Duhart Milon (WA89-91 JS92-93 WS90-93 JR17)
€46.5
WA 89-91 It has a more fruit-driven nose than usual, a little less tertiary and austere than the Duhart's of old perhaps. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, quite sappy black fruit and well judged acidity. Nicely focused as usual here with a touch of salinity coming through on the finish. I feel that it is just missing the sense of dimension and authority that a great Duhart can possess, but it retains the aloofness that I admire so much. I will remain cautious for the time being and see how it fills out during its élevage. 
JS 92-93 This is very solid and muscular with dark berries and blueberries. More merlot than normal but shows a serious structure that underlines the excellence of the cabernet. Small production of Cabernet here with 45% Merlot in the blend.  
WS 90-93 This has yet to soak up its oak and remains a bit raw, but the juniper and alder notes should meld easily enough as the core of plum and raspberry coulis flavours is ripe and fleshy. Shows ample grip through the finish, with a prominent tobacco streak adding texture.  
JR 17 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot. Mid crimson. Lightly floral nose. Then some real substance and palate weight. Masses of tannins well managed to make a pretty competent medium-weight claret. Nothing showy but well done. Very much in Lafite style. Bone-dry finish with some persistence. Drink 2023-2035


Grand Puy Lacoste (WA93-95 JS93-94 WS93-96 JR 17++)
€43
WA 93-95 The aromatics are not as immediate as the Haut-Batailley and demand more coaxing from the glass, but that comes with the territory. It unfurls with each swirl, black fruits at first, then GPL’s trademark, graphite and gravel scents storm into the room. Leaving the glass aside for 10 minutes there is a distant tang of shucked oyster shells. The palate is understated on the entry. This is not a powerhouse Grand-Puy-Lacoste, rather one that emphasizes finesse and precision. It is almost unerringly low-key and yet there is an enormous length already in place. As usual, I suspect that its secrets (or at least some of them) will be unlocked during its barrel maturation. One of the appellation's most cerebral offerings. 
JS 93-94 This is a wine with a dense centre, wonderful fruit, polished and refined tannins and a persistent finish. Full-bodied, long and intense. Beautiful pure cabernet character. Real wine. 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot. Higher percentage of Cabernet than normal.
WS 93-96 Rock-solid, with a gutsy core of plum, black currant, steeped fig and melted liquorice snap, all carried by a gorgeous, charcoal-edged spine. Long, and loaded with fruit and grip. As solid as they come.
JR 17++ 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot. A bit richer than the Haut-Batailley. Something floral on the nose. Polished and straightforward though a little denser and longer term than its stablemate Haut Batailley. Very round and a sort of cross between Pauillac and Pomerol. In fact many of these Pauillacs are richer than many of the Pomerols in 2014. Very solid. Needs lots of time with all that tannin but very honest and a little more refined than the Pontet-Canet. Great minerally finish and lovely purity. Drink 2025-2040
WA 93-95 The aromatics are not as immediate as the Haut-Batailley and demand more coaxing from the glass, but that comes with the territory. It unfurls with each swirl, black fruits at first, then GPL’s trademark, graphite and gravel scents storm into the room. Leaving the glass aside for 10 minutes there is a distant tang of shucked oyster shells. The palate is understated on the entry. This is not a powerhouse Grand-Puy-Lacoste, rather one that emphasizes finesse and precision. It is almost unerringly low-key and yet there is an enormous length already in place. As usual, I suspect that its secrets (or at least some of them) will be unlocked during its barrel maturation. One of the appellation's most cerebral offerings. 

Lafite (AWL 96-98 JS97-98 WS94-97 JR 17.5)
€ 350
AWL 96-98 Saturated purple with black centre. ‎Cedar, black fruit, spices, minerals and violet in the bouquet. Very velvety texture with excellent intensity, depth and length. A brilliant, lively and ripe Lafite that is built for the long haul. 
WA 94-96 The Grand Vin is adorned with surprising richness and opulence on the nose: layers of ripe black plum and juniper, fine definition with even a hint of fig developing with continued aeration. After 5 minutes it turns volte face and becomes much more graphite and cedary - more Pauillac in essence. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin, a potent core of black and blue fruit with a bullish (for Lafite) peacock's tail on the finish. Very long in the mouth, this is a Lafite that yearns to compensate for last year and it accomplishes that with some panache. 
JS 97-98 I love the sexy, perfumed and feminine style to this young Lafite with rose petals, rose stems and currants. Full body, super fine tannins and a wonderful finish. Lasts for a very, very long time. 
WS 94-97 Very backward, with loads of cedar, espresso and juniper out front, while the core of currant and blackberry fruit stays in reserve. Shows ample grip on the finish, but this is fine-grained and exhibits superb cut.
JR 17.5 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Nuanced, very healthy crimson with a ruby rim. Tea leaves on the nose. Rather severe palate with marked tannins quotient. Very Cabernet indeed – but Cabernet that is far from opulent. A bit more stolid than most Lafites. Bone dry and without the beautiful aromatic lift that characterises the best vintages. A bit short on charm. Drink 2025-2040
Lynch Bages (AWL 93-95 WA92-94 JS95-96 WS93-96 JR 17)
€67
AWL 93-95 Deep purple ruby colour. Classic nose of dark fruit, minerals, earth and spices. Good concentration on the silky palate. This belongs to the post 2010 group of Lynch Bages that shows purity and refinement.  
WA 92-94 The nose is well defined with veins of graphite infusing the black fruit: quite strict for Lynch Bages, a little reserved at this early stage. The palate is medium-bodied with chalky tannin, racy acidity although the pH is around 3.7, linear and a little austere on the finish. This is tightly coiled at the moment, gritty in the mouth but I like the Pauillac typicité here – not a million miles away from Grand Puy Lacoste in style. This deserves respect and I suspect it will age with the style of Jean-Charles's father, who turned 80 on the day of my visit. 
JS 95-96 This has fascinating aromas already with blackcurrants and cassis. Hints of spices. It’s full-bodied with ultra-fine tannins and a long, focused finish. Muscular but toned and beautiful. 
WS 93-96 Offers lovely weight and feel, with a big core of plum, blackberry and black currant fruit that manages to show refinement, while ample charcoal and warm stone notes flow underneath. This is displaying terrific depth and purity today.
JR 17 Blackish crimson. Sweet and luscious and almost with black-cherry super-ripe aromas! A note of something charred here. Pretty interesting. Lots of work to overpower the tannins. Should make very good old bones to chew over. Long and glamorous. Tasting it blind, I guessed it was Lynch. Drink 2024-2040

Mouton (AWL 96-98 WA94-96 JS96-97 WS95-98 JR17.5+)
€298
AWL 96-98 Deep purple ruby. Expressive sweet bouquet of spices, earth, eucalyptus and cassis. Notes of cedar, minerals and seductive black and red fruit on the very elegant and juicy palate. ‎Superb finish.  
WA 94-96  It has a classic Mouton nose, the slightly higher percentage of Merlot lending a little flamboyance and flair with scents of blackberry, warm gravel and cigar box scents. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, armed with powerful core of quite rich black fruit interlaced with tobacco and allspice. There is very good structure here, a fine edginess towards the white pepper infused finish. There is almost a nuttiness to this wine, to wit, a fascinating maze-like Mouton in the making and perhaps a more cerebral Mouton compared to recent vintages. 
JS 96-97 This is incredibly minerally with a maritime character as well as red iodine, algae, currants and great intensity. Some saltiness. Almost like a pearl in an oyster shell. This is a true wine of the soil for Mouton. Full body, racy tannins and lingering. Excellent. Unique. 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc.  
WS 95-98 This captures the pure, distilled essence of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a racy core of red and black currant fruits on purity in this wine is what's most impressive over the last several vintages.
JR 17.5+ 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Deep crimson. Fragrant almost soapy nose. (Fine soap!) Good direct fruit and confidence but very much in a minor key. Almost recalls Latour in its lighter, fresher style. No sweetness. No perceptible alcohol. Easy and relaxed. Only medium weight. Certainly not opulent. Brisk finish. I may be underrating this and look forward to retasting it in Bordeaux in July. Drink 2024-2038


Pichon Baron (AWL94-96 WA92-94 JS95-96 WS92-95 JR17+)
€76.0
AWL 94-96 Minerally nose. Gorgeous fruit level, texture and ‎intensity. Long finish with coco bean. 
WA 92-94 It has a tightly wound bouquet at the moment, very "contained" and not as flamboyant as say, the 2009 or the 2010 at this early juncture. But there is remarkable precision here - an aristocratic nose with fleeting glimpses of cedar and pencil lead. The palate is medium-bodied. The acidity is quite noticeable although the pH is 3.8, higher than you would have expected. There is certainly a lot of body and structure (IPT came in at 91) with a precise, almost stoic, graphite finish. If the disappearance of Château Latour from en primeur is getting you down then this will fill that gap nicely. 
JS 95-96 A fabulous young wine with superb depth of fruit and density that shows blueberries, blackberries, oyster shells and stones. Full-bodied, chewy yet with a laser-guided backbone of tannins. Goes on for minutes. Concentrated yet so fine and beautiful. The tannin content analysis is the same as 2009 and 2010 apparently from the winemakers, but the tannin quality is better. Amazing. This could be a remake of the 2010 but fresher. 
WS 92-95 Features a solid core of dark plum and blackberry fruit, backed by judicious toast that allows tobacco and loam hints to emerge in end. This picks up steam through the finish, showing ample base notes.
JR 17+ 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. Very deep blackish crimson. Hint of savoury treacle/molasses on the nose. Then a little dry but with decent mid charge of tannins. Far from opulent. Pretty angular at this stage. A tiny bit hollow. Needs to gain flesh. Drink 2024-2040
Pichon Lalande (AWL93-95 WA93-95 JS93-94 WS92-95 JR17)
€ 71.5
AWL 93-95 Black purple. Black fruit, cassis, spices. Full-bodied yet charming and expressive. Very Pauillac. Straight purity and fleshiness. 
WA 93-95 It has a very pure and precise bouquet with a light marine influencing the black cherries and blueberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with a tense, graphite-tinged opening, a fine line of acidity (pH 3.72) and a silky smooth finish. The Cabernet Sauvignon is very expressive and dominates the Merlot at the moment, although the Merlot is essentially counterbalancing what might have been a much more austere Pichon-Lalande. Under Nicolas Glumineau, this Pauillac estate is really beginning to "motor" and this is an excellent wine, one within touching distance of the First Growths. 
JS 93-94 What a joy to feel the ultra-fine tannins in this wine! It really is like touching fine silk. It’s full-bodied with integrated drip fruit of tar, blackberries, minerals as well as a compacted and very long finish. Polished texture. Strong elegance. Reminds me of some outstanding wines of the 1980s such as 1986. 
WS 92-95 Vibrant, with a blaze of iron running from start to finish, while dark currant, cherry and plum fruit forms the core. The long, grippy, integrated finish shows excellent vivacity.
JR 17 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot. Up to 60% new oak. Very opulent nose. But almost more like a scent than a wine - as though all the effort has been put into the rather exotic perfume. Then quite vigorous and chewy. Rich and glamorous.  13.3%. Drink 2025-2040

Pontet Canet (AWL95-96 WA93-95 JS95-96 JR17)
€73

AWL 95-96 Deep purple ruby. Sweet cassis, spices, fresh plums, cedar and ‎minerals aromas. Full-bodied with great intensity, richness and all-roundedness. Ending with a savoury and minerally finish. This is a classic! 
WA 93-95  It is initially quite reticent, a little broody in the glass. However, it unfolds with each swirl revealing a very pure and I feel, a more contained and classic bouquet compared to the 2013: blackberry, graphite, minerals and a touch of incense. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, quite tensile tannin. The acidity is very well judged – crescendo of flavours that lead to a precise, lightly spiced, quite vivacious finish. What I like here is that it is very Pauillac, in the sense that I feel that recent vintages were flirting with deviating too far away from what a typical Pauillac ought to be. This is unmistakable in terms of where it comes from, but there it retains that sense of focus and mineralité that ensures this is a total success for the vintage. I find this more appealing than the 2013 last year and this 2014 should be a vintage that puts a smile on Jean-Michel Comme's face. 
JS 95-96 The strength of this Pontet Canet is very impressive, making it structured and tannic with a long and intense finish. Yet it turns to bright and vivid fruits. Full body. A modern classic. It builds on the palate. 
JR 17 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. A robust, intense nose. Rich and toasty flavours. Lots of tannin, but very ripe tannin. Quite raw and rude in some ways. Then a great weight of fruit on the finish. Just a little dryness on the end. But distinctive overall. Energetic. Very confident and robust. Not fine and refined but admirably confident. Drink 2023-2035

 

St Julien

Gruaud Larose (AWL 90-92 JS93-94 WS89-92 JR17)
€43.5
AWL 90-92 Elegant fruit with smokiness, earth and herbs. 
WS 89-92 The cassis and black cherry fruit glides along here, with hints of warm fruitcake and licorice. Tarry accents emerge at the very end, giving this some depth and grip. This may fill out a bit more. 
JS 93-94 This is tight and compacted with beautiful fruit on the center palate. Full body, velvety tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Very intense.
JR 17 Rich, perfumed with a suggestion of dried fruit on the end. Very suave on the palate with the tannins only emerging on the finish. Well mannered rather than pushy, but its classic St-Julien. Drink 2024-2038

Langoa Barton (WA91-93 JS91-94 JS92-93 JR16.5+)
€32
 
WA 91-93 A blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc cropped between 25 September and 8 October and raised in 60% new barrels. It has a backward nose that is tightly buttoned down: hints of blackberry, briary and cedar developing with time. The palate is harmonious with fine tannins, good density here for a Langoa Barton with new oak beautifully interwoven and filling out the finish. This is an impressive Langoa Barton, one of the most under-rated crus in Saint Julien. It's one that will surprise a few people once in bottle.
WS 91-94 Sappy kirsch and blackberry coulis notes form the core, with ample tar, ganache and bramble flavors filling in the finish. Displays lots of chewy grip but has the flesh to match. Rock-solid. 
JS 92-93 A beautiful young wine with raspberries and plums. Full, round and juicy. So much berry character. Round tannins and bright acidity.
JR 16.5+ Very dark crimson. Medium-sweet attack on the nose. Luscious fruit and then some inkiness. Relatively juicy rather than tannic though there are lots of tannins too. Solid St-Julien and only very slightly green and astringent.
 
Lagrange (WA 87-89 WS 87-90 JS 91-92 JR16+)
€27
 
WA 87-89 a perfumed nose with blackcurrant pastille. It is well defined with nicely integrated oak, black rather than red fruit with a pleasant touch of graphite. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, ripe black fruit and a keen line of acidity. It does not quite possess the weight and concentration of its peers. It is balanced but it needs to muster more substance during its élevage. A second and third example confirmed my findings, a Lagrange that needs to pull its socks up by the time of bottling.
WS 87-90 An elegant style, with pretty blueberry and warmed cherry notes gliding along the relatively supple structure. Lightens up a bit on the finish, but a good stony edge keeps this honest. 
JS 91-92 A tight and very fine wine with a blueberry and blackcurrant character. Medium to full body, firm tannins. Polished Lagrange style here.
JR 16+ Dark crimson. Rather indistinct nose. Though it seems as though there is a lot hidden here. Just a bit austere. Not the full ripeness that some have achieved. Falls away a bit. Hint of iron filings. Pretty severe finish. 
 
Saint Pierre (AWL 91-93 WA 88-90 JS91-92 WS89-92 JR17)
€34.5
AWL 91-93 Quite round in texture with a nice spicy profile. 
WA 88-90 There is a sense of harmony and focus on the nose: nicely defined with a touch of tobacco developing in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with good grip, quite saline and sappy in the mouth with spice on the structured finish. This is a more masculine Saint-Pierre, but it is well crafted with very good length. It just feels rather conservative compared to some of its Saint Julien siblings.
WS 89-92 There's good flesh here, with layers of fig, blueberry and blackberry pâte de fruit backed by mouthwatering anise and warm fruitcake notes. The long, briary finish exhibits solid density. A strong showing for this generally more elegant-styled wine.
JS 91-92 Pretty depth of fruit with firm and silky tannins. Full body, bright acidity and a clean finish. Chewy finish.
JR 17 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc. Very deep glowing crimson. Very Cabernet on the nose with just a hint of oak. Cool and inky. Very restrained and almost timid but there is a good charge of fruit and tannins and no excess acidity. Just ripe enough but with attractive freshness. Focused and set for the long term. Ambitious and sinewy but restrained and backward now. Hums along and is especially impressive on the finish. Super correct. A little dry but not drying on the end at present. Drink 2024-2040
Gloria (AWL 87-88 WA 89-91 JS92-93 WS89-92 JR16.5+)
€23
AWL 87-88 Classic herbal note with a nice medium-bodied palate.
WA 89-91 A focused, straight-laced bouquet with strict redcurrant and wild strawberry fruit, tightly wound at first but opening with aeration, tobacco and even flint emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with firm, dry tannin, a little chalkiness under those broody black fruit, the foundation of a classic, almost austere finish the nevertheless offers length and sustain. This actually harks back to the fine old Gloria's of the past, a little rustic perhaps, but a wine that I think will blossom in bottle. This will need to prove itself in bottle. 
WS 89–92 Gutsy and slightly chunky, but a fun, mouthfilling style nonetheless, with lots of bramble and briar patch notes around the core of dark plum and blueberry fruit. Shows ample tar on the finish. Shy on refinement, but solidly built. 
JS 92-93 This is the best Gloria in years with amazing dark blackberries, minerals, rose petals and spices. Full body, firm tannins and a very long finish. Seamless. 
JR 16.5+ 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot. Bright crimson. Refined salty-savoury nose. Aromatic and sweetly fresh. Racy and lightly grainy. Lots of freshness but no excess acidity. Light tannic charge on the end with a rich peacock’s tail finish. Full of charm. Real drive to this wine. Drink 2020-2032
Beychevelle (JS92-93 WA91-93 WS91-94 JR16.5)
€48
AWL 92-93 Freshly crushed berries, spices and other sweet fruit. ‎Quite rich. 
WA 91-93  That Merlot governs the aromatics here, the fruit clearly towards the red side of the fruit spectrum: cranberry and wild strawberry, almost Right Bank in style. The palate is ripe and fleshy, nicely defined with tensile tannins. I appreciate the nascent harmony here, with fine precision and a long sustained finish with fine salinity. You could argue that pinning your hopes on Merlot when so many others proselytize Cabernet Sauvignon was a risk however, in this showing it was a risk that was worth taking. "Pomerol does Saint Julien" perhaps? It seems to work on what may be the most seductive Beychevelle for years. 
JS 93-94 A firm and austere young red now but there's serious fruit and mineral character underneath. Full body, chewy tannins and a long finish. 
WS 91-94 Well-packed, with plum cake, bramble, blueberry patch and anise notes, all allied to a graphite edge on the finish. Racy acidity underscores everything. Rock-solid.
JR 16.5 Light nose. Sweet start.. Not one of the most energetic or convincing St-Juliens though perfectly serviceable. Just slightly hollow.  Drink 2022-2032
Branaire Ducru (AWL 91-93 WA 90-92 JS91-93 WS91-94 JR16+)
€32.5
AWL 91-93 Pure, medium-bodied, fine acidity. ‎Very clarety. 
WA 90-92 It has a tightly wound bouquet with black cherries and orange peel aromas, focused if not quite as complex as say, Château Beychevelle. The palate is medium-bodied, sinewy in the mouth with tensile tannins. This is a wine that seems to be making a huge effort in this vintage, but I would like to see more finesse manifested on the finish by the time it is in bottle. You know, I think that will develop. That 12 to 13% vin de presse lends this Branaire Ducru impressive sustain on the finish and I suspect that it will coalesce throughout the barrel ageing in two-thirds new oak (though the sample shown at the château was 100% new oak). 
JS 92-93 This really builds on the palate with round and velvety tannins and a juicy, savoury finish. Layered and complex. Shows real potential. 
WS 91-94 Focused and a touch austere for now, with a charcoal edge to the core of black currant and steeped fig fruit. Tobacco and bramble notes check in on the finish, and there's solid acidity in reserve. Well-built and should evolve nicely. 
JR 16+ Dark crimson. Energetic nose. Fairly light palate without that much concentration. Round, with less tannic charge than most. Serviceable. A little scrawny on the finish. Drink 2022-2030
Ducru Beaucaillou (AWL 96-98 WA94-96 JS96-97 JR17.5)
€ 86
AWL 96-98 Black purple. Spices, cherry liqueur, minerals and cassis. Full-bodied with amazing intensity and such precision. A 50 year wine. One of the wines of the vintage! 
WA 94-96 Compared to recent vintages the nose is more backward, sultry and less explosive although there is still impressive concentration here. It's just "buttoned down" at present. (A second sample showed a little more sous-bois, more complexity than the first.) The palate is medium-bodied and masculine, a little chalky in the mouth with a firm backbone. Bruno Borie has overseen a more classic Ducru-Beaucaillou, one that I suspect will be less approachable than the last three vintages, boasting a Pauillac-like, graphite-infused finish that just needs to gain a little more persistence during its élevage. This is one wine that actually showed better on my second visit, demonstrating more élan and brio, but nuances notwithstanding, it is another magnificent Ducru-Beaucaillou to add to the roster.   
JS 96-97 Stunning aromas of liquorice, blackcurrants, minerals, dried rose petals and wet earth. Full body, incredibly intense fruit yet this remains compacted and toned with tannins. Long, long finish. What a wine.
JR 17.5 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. Very dense crimson. Cedary nose. Scented and more grounded with more density than the other wines from this stable. Firm finish with lots of fine velvety tannin. Masses of tannin). One of the most backward wines.  13.5%. Drink 2026-2043 
 
 
Leoville Barton (AWL92-94 WA92-94 JS92-93 WS92-95 JR17.5)
€49
AWL 92-94 Saturated purple colour. Violet, spices, dark fruit and graphite notes in the bouquet. Full bodied and intense. Long silly finish and rich tannins.
WA 92-94 This is clearly richer and more opulent than the Langoa Barton with small dark cherries, a touch of boysenberry and cedar, more immediate than its "little sister”. The palate is sweet and sappy in the mouth with concentrated black fruit, hints of liquorice coming through on the finish that fans out with a bit of brio. It does not quite possess the clinical precision of Léoville Las-Cases, but there is certainly a lot of substance and length here. Lilian Barton can rightly be proud of this.

JS 92-93 A very fine and linear Barton with bright raspberries and cherries. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a long, beautiful finish. Sleek and racy. 
WS 92-95 Mouthfilling from the start, with lovely plum sauce, steeped fig and blackberry coulis flavours, lined with warm ganache notes and carried by ample but polished tannins. Features a tarry edge at the end, but maintains a rather polished feel overall. 
JR17.5 Dark vibrant crimson. Much sweeter and more opulent on the nose than most St-Juliens. Very firm and rich with real savour and glamour. Smooth texture but no shortage of tannins underneath. A long-term wine.  Drink 2024-2040
Léoville Las Cases (AWL95-96 WA94-96 JS96-97 WS94-97 JR17)
€ 106
AWL 95-96 Saturated ruby and purple. Fabulous bouquet of plums, black spices, creme de cassis and. Full-bodied with a generous profile of fruit. ‎Very ripe and intense. This is a great classic! 
WA 94-96 An intense, graphite-scented bouquet, one of the most Pauillac-like that I have encountered, extremely precise and perhaps less flamboyant than recent vintages. This is very controlled. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, succinctly pitched acidity and an almost pixelated finish that lingers long and tenderly. I love the elegance here – this is an outstanding wine from Jean-Hubert Delon and his team and dare I say, equal to some of the First Growths.
JS 96-97 The aromas to this wine are enchanting with blackberries, dried flowers, blueberries, citrus and stones. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and bright acidity. Citrus skin undertones. Very, very long. Structured. This is 13.8% alcohol meaning the Cabernet was incredibly ripe for the vintage. Yet it remains agile, structured and bright. 
WS 94-97 A pure, coiled and focused wine, with a superdense core of red and black currant fruit, carried by a mouthwatering iron spine. The long finish features gorgeous notes of dried anise and smouldering charcoal, while the fruit stays pure and racy. The grip takes over in the end, big time. 
JR 17 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot. Very dark crimson. Intense nose but much lighter and more transparent than Las Cases of old. A little tough at the moment. Dry finish but neither austere nor overdone. Almost delicate – not an adjective I would normally associate with Las Cases.  13.8%. Drink 2025-2040
Léoville Poyferré (AWL 94-95 WA91-93 JS93-94 WS92-95 JR16.5++)
€ 49.5

AWL 94-95 Oak, grilled fruit, minerals and sweet earth aromas. Modern style but very good. Concentrated and rich with good acidity. 
WA 91-93 It has one of the most opulent set of aromatics of the appellation, with crème de cassis, boysenberry jam and macerated small dark cherries - an extravagant bouquet in the context of the growing season. The palate is full-bodied with great density and power. There is a lot of weight in this Saint Julien, spicy in the mouth with a healthy pinch of white pepper towards the finish that feels long in the mouth, although I would like to see more finesse coming through by the time of bottling. As usual, this is one of the most decadent Saint Julien wines, but one that is well-crafted by Didier Cuvelier. Give this several years in bottle. 
JS 93-94 Very fine and pretty with blueberry, mineral and hazelnut character. Full body, succulent fruits and tannins, as well as a long finish. Savoury. Very polished as always. 
WS 92-95 Very stylish, with blackberry, black cherry and black currant fruit already melded together with subtle charcoal and ganache notes. Offers a velvety feel, but isn't shy on grip or depth. This is sneakily long. A lovely showing.
JR 16.5++…Dark crimson. Meaty with a note of treacle on the nose. Simpler than some. Relatively round and approachable but with lovely balance. The fruit almost hides the tannins – which are certainly there. Just a little spindly on the end. But very appetising. Rather glorious really.  Drink 2024-2038  
 

Talbot (AWL 90-92 WA 89-91+ JS94-95 WS90-93 JR 16+)
€33.5
AWL 90-92 Classic wine with good lift. 
WA 89-91+ A simple bouquet that is missing the sophistication and nuance that is a consistent in Saint Julien wines this year. Aerating the glass for 5 minutes does seem to evolve more delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with chalky tannin. There is a nice line of acidity here, a little hardness towards the finish but an attractive spicy aftertaste that lingers in the mouth. I can envisage this to be a more austere Saint Julien but if it gains flesh during élevage it could be an interesting proposition.
JS 94-95 This is really powerful with excellent depth of fruit and richness. Spices, blueberries and lightly toasted oak now. But it shows really serious structure. Best Talbot in years, maybe decades. 
WS 90-93 Tightly focused and ripe, with a lovely beam of blackberry, blueberry and plum fruit, lined with pastis hints and backed by brambly grip. Vivacious. 
JR 16+ Dark purplish crimson. Sweet, almost bonbon nose. But a bit short of juice on the palate. Hard work and drying on the end. May come right eventually but for the moment it is much more obdurate than its neighbours. Drink 2024-2032

 

Margaux

Brane Cantenac (WA91-93 JS92-93 WS87-90 JR16)
€35.5
WA 91-93 The Château Brane-Cantenac 2014 is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc, representing 38% of the total crop. It was picked between 22 September commencing with the Merlot up until 9 October finishing with the Cabernet Sauvignon. Yields came in at 44.8 hectoliters per hectare. It has a very typical nose for this Margaux estate: understated and reserved at first, touches of ground-up stone intermixed with brambly red berry fruit and damp undergrowth scents. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins. There is moderate weight in the mouth, plenty of sous-bois character and a touch of graphite (à la Pauillac) leading to a tapered but sustained finish. This is your straight-down-the-line classic Brane-Cantenac, unashamedly classic in style, what you might call "good old fashioned claret." Never the beauty queen at primeur, my remarks reflect how this Margaux blossoms in bottle.
WS 87-90 A gentle, elegant style, with pretty lilac, red currant and cherry notes, lined with a liberal savory hint that lingers through the sandalwood-edged finish.
JS 92-93 A solid core of fruit here with lots of cabernet character, as well as currants and blueberries. Full to medium body. Chewy tannins, yet polished and refined.
JR 16 Dark, fairly evolved crimson. Sweet, light, a bit simple and green. When tasted blind, this particular sample gave the impression of having been made rather casually, but I am assured this is far from the case. Doubtless it will take on flesh and interest in cask.
Malescot St Exupery (WA 90-92 WS 92-95 JS 93-94 JR 16.5)
€33
WA 90-92 The Château Malescot St. Exupery 2014 has a modest nose at first but with aeration is unfurls to reveal raspberry coulis and crushed strawberry scents, floral aromas following soon after. The palate is medium-bodied with a soft, supple entry. This is a fleshy Malescot with a fine seam of acidity and a lattice of lace-like tannin, the fruit turning darker towards the finish, but not quite delivering that knockout punch that you might have found in a more benevolent vintage. Still, this represents a fine Margaux that will be approachable in its youth.
WS 92-95 Bright and juicy, with a core of plum, blackberry and black cherry fruit, backed by hints of anise and fruitcake. The apple wood edge on the finish gives this spine. Very solid. 
JS 93-94 Very sexy and refined with blackberries and blueberries. Full-bodied with ultra-fine and integrated tannins.
JR 16.5 Mid purple. Interesting, savoury graphite nose. Then sweet elderberry fruit. Round and sweet with less obvious acidity than many of its peers. Some energy here. Should provide satisfying drinking – if the price is right. 
Alter Ego de Palmer (AWL88-90 WA 90-92 JS92-93 WS90-93 JR16)
€43
AWL 88-90 Cigar box, dark fruit, earth aromas. Beautiful wine with slightly strong tannins.
WA 90-92  It has an opulent, glossy bouquet with layers of small dark cherries and plenty of glycerine. The palate is more reserved than the bouquet suggests: saturated tannins, a little chewiness on the entry but suppler towards the finish. It feels very linear in keeping with the style of the vintage, the finish a little sweet than its peers with a dab of liquorice on the aftertaste.
JS 92-93 Vibrant and fruity with currant, blueberry and spice character. Full yet tight with tension and brightness. Very velvety tannins. Sexy already.
WS 90-93  Bursts with violet, plum and raspberry fruit, lined with silky tannins and backed by a tantalizing iron hint. Features lovely brisk energy and gorgeous purity. 
JR 16  52% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot. Very bright crimson. Certainly straightforward and very directly fruity on the nose. Noticeable acidity on the palate. Very fresh red cherry flavours and not that dense. Good finish.  13.4%

D'Issan (WA 89-91 WS 86-89 JS92-93 JR 17)
€33
WA 89-91 The Château d'Issan 2014 is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot picked between 25 September and 15 October and matured in 50% new oak. It has a very precise, quite minerally bouquet that has that tradamark violet touch that pins down the appéllation. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins and good acidity; appreciable depth with chewy black tarry fruit towards the finish. This is a guttsier d'Issan that will probably be one of the longer lasting Margaux crus of the vintage. I've been smitten by recent vintages from this glorious Margaux estate, but I detected just a mote of greenness on a couple of samples that I hope will vanish by the time of bottling. If it does then it will merit a higher score. Tasted three times.
WS 86-89 Elegant, with lacy yet persistent tannins carrying pretty plum, anise and savory hints. Lacks some stuffing on the finish. 
JS 92-93 A dense and tight wine with cedar, berry, light chocolate and nut character. Full body, compacted center palate with muscular tannins.
JR 17 Mid crimson. Correct and well balanced. Spreads right across the palate. Really very impressive balance with lots of useful elements. Good drive and interest quotient. Complex and satisfying. Quite persistent. Really very impressive even if not a very long-term wine.
Giscours (WA 89-91 WS 90-93 JS92-93 JR16)
€30.5
WA 89-91 The nose is reticent at first with scents of black fruits, a touch of graphite and a subtle marine influence, detailed though not intense. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin on the entry, the acidity pointed and noticeable from start to finish. There is plenty of freshness here (acidity 3.4 pH) very linear with fine tension, probably an earlier drinking Giscours since there is not the weight of the fantail of flavours on the finish. It just needs more horsepower. 
WS 90-93 Fresh, with pretty cherry and plum fruit, lined with a light red licorice thread and backed by violet and iron notes on the finish. Not that dense but has good range and definition. 
JS 92-93 Very pretty cabernet sauvignon character. Full body, fine tannins and a bright finish. Ultra-fine tannins. Tight and caressing. Refined. This is a little more cabernet in the blend that gives detail and direction.
JR 16 Glowing mid crimson. Straightforward, quite fruity nose. Cool and fresh. Good balance even if not complex. A little toastiness. Good, neat finish. Quite a charge of tannin on the end. But pretty restrained. Even slightly austere. Drink 2020-2032 

Lascombes (WS 87-90 JS 91-92 JR 16.5)
€ 47
WS 87-90 Bouncy cherry and dark plum fruit is backed by a lively anise edge. A good spice hint emerges on the finish. Not dense but shows nice vibrancy.
JS 91-92 Dense and beautiful with layers of fruit and tannins. Very impressive for the vintage.
JR 16.5 Dark purplish crimson. Sweetness and polish on the nose. Very charming with good ripeness and just very slightly austere tannins. Should provide rewarding drinking. Needs time. Less exaggerated than it used to be. 
Rauzan Segla (WA90-92 JS94-95 WS89-92 JR17)
€42.5
WA90-92 The Château Rauzan-Ségla 2014 is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc picked between 22 September until 16 October. It has a precise bouquet, nothing incredibly powerful with a touch of cold stone coming through with aeration. This is conservative even for this Margaux estate that usually keeps everything "controlled” out of barrel. The palate is medium-bodied with chalky tannin, crisp acidity, tensile and linear with sappy black fruit towards the finish. I was just seeking more substance to come through on the finish – it just does not quite deliver that knock out blow.
WS 89-92 Soft-edged, with plum and black cherry fruit, laced with light sandalwood and tea notes that linger through the supple finish, which gains some extra velvety layers of blackberry and anise with air. 
JS 94-95 A powerful and dense Rauzan with firm and chewy tannins that are polished and direct. Full body, yet the acid and tannin tension gives the wine impressive length. Will develop wonderfully.
JR 17 Dark crimson. Lifted and racy on the nose. Aérien, as they say. Quite ethereal. Far from heavy but sappy and appetising and well balanced. Really quite subtle. Attractively dry, but not drying, finish. Archetypal claret that lingers on the palate. The acid is only just not dominant, mind you. 
Margaux (AWL 95-96 WA93-95 JS94-95 WS94-97 JR17.5+)
€290
AWL 95-96 Deep ruby colour. Minerals, dark fruit, pepper, spices and perfume in the nose. A great balance of power, ripeness and freshness. There is substantial extract and weight on the palate that shows a more masculine ‎profile. 
WA 93-95 It has a distinctly floral bouquet, those trademark wilted violet scents soaring from the glass flanked by small dark cherries and a hint of cassis. It gains intensity in the glass but never puts the pedal to the floor. The palate is full-bodied with firm and bold tannins, very good density and presence. No, compared to the top flight vintages from the estate, it is unlikely to become a Château Margaux of compelling precision or finesse. Unusually for 2014 this is a grand vin bestowed with power and dimension. There is still a little tightness here, especially on the Pauillac-like finish, but it will turn into a great if not the greatest Château Margaux. 
JS 94-95 This is a very, very muscular and toned Margaux with currants, firm tannins and stones. Full and chewy yet polished and intense. Bright acidity yet a strong and flexed style. 
WS 94-97 A light savoury cassis bush hint marks the Petit Verdot in this blend, but this is quickly consumed by the Cabernet Sauvignon, with a core of well-endowed cassis and plum fruit harnessed by very long, supple tannins. Gorgeous alder, lilac and iron notes begin to emerge on the finish, though this is still very primal. Sublime in feel, this offers a caressing power. A beauty in the making.
JR 17.5+ 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Bright, glowing crimson. Very subtle, quite evolved nose. Far from intense but perfumed and relatively light. Fresher than the Pavillon Rouge. The acidity and tannin are more obvious in this than in the Pavillon Rouge. Quite transparent. Just a step up from the second wine but not a standout. Beautiful texture. Very refined and slow to open out. Recalls the build of a top red Bordeaux from the 1960s and 1970s. 13.2%. Drink 2026-2046
Palmer (AWL94-97 WA93-95 JS94-95 WS93-96 JR17.5)
€175
AWL ‎94-97 Drastic reduction of sulphur usage. Saturated purple and ruby colour. Havana box, blueberry, black cherry and. Delicious mouthful of freshly crushed fruit, spices and minerals. Good promising ending. 
WA 93-95 There is certainly more fruit intensity on the nose compared to the Alter Ego: more density, perhaps more opaqueness in tandem with more delineation. Dark plums, boysenberry jam and mineral abound. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, edgy tannin and crisp acidity (pH 3.6), a dash of cracked black pepper enlivening the back palate with a taut, quite grippy finish. This is a more masculine Palmer in prospect, one that will deserve five or six years in bottle.  .  
JS 94-95 This has a fabulous depth of fruit with dark berries, currants, blueberries and hints of liquorice and spice. Full-bodied, chewy and rich with velvety tannins and a fruity finish. The tannin backbone comes through at the end, giving the wine tension and freshness. 
WS 93-96 This is reserved in profile now, with crushed red and black currant fruit and lightly singed alder notes. Yet the core is coiled, showing very energetic raspberry and plum coulis flavours, with a lilting violet edge and a long, iron-fuelled finish. There's a very refined backdrop of tobacco and singed juniper, and the finish is long and suave.
JR 17.5 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot. Picked about five days earlier than had they not been biodynamic. Quite dark crimson but not super deep. Real interest on the nose. Something floral and complex. Very distinctive and far from the Médoc concentrated norm. Still the acidity creeps in but it certainly is more burgundian (T Duroux was not the only Bordelais to mention Burgundy). Racy and sinewy. Bit of a ballet dancer. Really quite delicate. Fresh and distinctive. Appetising. Striking.  13.5%. Drink 2023-2040
Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux (AWL93-94 WA91-93 JS97-98 WS94-97 JR17.5)
€109
AWL 93-94 Floral aromas with a clean and pure palate. Gorgeous white. 
WA 91-93 It has a fragrant bouquet with scents of honeysuckle, orange blossom and a fresh sprig of mint. The palate is ripe and focused on the entry, a white Bordeaux underpinned by a fine line of acidity, just a dash of lemongrass emerging towards the finish and lending spice. There is an endearing sense of harmony here. Mon. Pontallier is right to enthuse about this Pavillon Blanc, one of the finest in recent years. 
JS 97-98 This is yet again a wonderful white with minerals, lemon rind, white pepper and stones. Even chalky. Peach stones, too. Full-bodied yet compacted and tight. Great length. Savoury, salty and serious. 
WS 94-97 Shows beautiful makrut lime, Meyer lemon and quinine notes backed with a touch of tarragon, before gliding through the shortbread-accented finish. Racy and pure, but with a flattering edge that makes this unique. 
JR 17.5 Pale gold. Heady, intense, green fruit aromas. Great tingle and golden richness on the palate. Then sufficient weight for the acidity. Quite tight on the end. Great delicacy. Although it finishes a little suddenly with a certain chewy chalkiness. Very bright fruit. Massive piercing acidity. Needs time. Top-quality tannins and oak. 13.9%. Drink 2019-2026

 

Pessac Leognan and Graves

Smith Haut Lafitte (AWL94-95 WA92-94 JS95-96 WS93-96 JR16.5)
€50.5
AWL 94-95 62% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Merlot 6% Cabernet Franc 2% Petit Verdot. Very good nose of dark fruit, spices and minerals. Quite rich on the serious palate that is filled with ripe fruit and even chocolate notes. Spicy finish.  
WA 92-94 There is a strong and persuasive marine influence on the nose, suggestions of iodine and seaweed infusing the black fruit that is very well defined and nicely embroidered with the oak. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy, slightly chalky tannin; saline in the mouth and linear, focused, quite penetrating finish. In a similar fashion to the Haut-Bailly, this is a more "athletic" Smith Haut Lafitte, but one that allows the terroir to come through and be articulated. This is a stylish "S.H.L." from talented winemaker Fabien Teitgen. 
JS 95-96 This is a very muscular style of Smith Haut Lafitte with great bio-precision that equates to intense flavours and textures. Mineral, stone, blueberry and wet earth. Long, persistent and solid. A classic Bordeaux style yet rich and exact. 
WS 93-96 This has nice spine, with a persistent graphite and ganache character that runs through the core of dark plum and black currant fruit. The grip is well-embedded and there's lingering freshness despite the heft and depth. 
JR 16.5 The oak is a bit too obvious on the nose at this point and the fruit is pretty chunky and maybe a bit too vigorously extracted. Rather a heavy hand. But it certainly makes its mark. And it’s impressively persistent. Drink 2024-2038
Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (AWL89-90 JR16.5 JS93-94 WA89-91 WS91-94)
€61.5
AWL 89-90 Lovely berry fruit in the nose. Minerally palate that has plenty of smokey and earthy fruit.
JR 16.5 80% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Deep crimson. Rather silky and opulent. Polished fruit and some real depth. But pretty strict in terms of dryness. An edge of firmness and quite marked acidity. Only medium bodied. But some nobility in terms of oak quality and tannin management. Drink 2021-2030
JS 93-94 Gorgeous second wine for Haut-Brion with firm and savory tannins. Full, refined and layered with meat, tobacco, dark fruit and earth. Serious.
WA 89-91 It has an immediately engaging bouquet, perhaps better definition than the Chapelle de la Mission, a little more mineralité coming through with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied, cohesive, tighter and more linear than the La Chapelle with longer persistence on the finish. Excellent.
WS 91–94 Plump, fleshy and inviting in feel, with a strong plum pâte de fruit note leading the way, backed by anise, blueberry and tar flavors. Picks up lots of briary grip on the finish. Still youthfully raw, but exhibits good energy and stuffing. 
 
La Clarte de Haut Brion (AWL90-92 JR17 JS95-96 WA88-90 WS90-93)
€68.5
AWL 90-92 Gentle, pure and ‎filled with very pleasant fruit.  
JR 17 34% Sémillon, 66% Sauvignon Blanc. This always smells so Sémillon! Luxurious beeswax nose and then tight grapefruit-peel palate that is dominated by Sauvignon. Long and thrilling with great weight and tension. Lightly astringent at the moment. Very nervy despite such high alcohol that Jean-Philippe Delmas called it ‘our Condrieu’.  Drink 2019-2025
JS 95-96 Shows excellent depth and richness with sliced apple, apricot and pineapple character. Big and rich. Excellent. This is pretty amazing.
WA 88-90 It has a straightforward bouquet with crisp grapefruit and melon scents, the Sauvignon Blanc more expressive at the moment. The palate is sharp and citric on the entry with a keen line of acidity, touches of pear coming through toward the finish. Fine.
WS 90–93 The quinine, lemon chiffon and white asparagus notes are gliding together already, with a warm macadamia nut accent adding texture and weight to the finish. Still a little youthfully raw at the very end, but shows lovely concentration and length.
Chapelle de la Mission (AWL88-90 JR16 JS93-94 WA88-90 WS90-93)
€39
AWL 88-90 Nice smokey and herbal notes. ‎Slightly tarry on the palate. Full of character. 
JR 16 45% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Mid crimson and medium weight. Solid bright fruit with some fine, well-managed tannins but very much a second wine. Chewy finish and altogether a bit lightweight and lacking any opulence.  Drink 2020-2028 
JS 93-94 A wine with dark berry and currant character that is juicy and rich. Full-bodied, round, velvety and savory. Second wine of La Mission.
WA 88-90  It has a tightly wound bouquet at first with blackcurrant and hints of orange blossom lending a prettiness. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, a nice underbelly of classicism (emanating partly from the 8% vin de presse) underneath a veneer of ripe black fruit, easing down to a supple, "fruity” finish. Fine, though there is a chasm between deuxième and Grand Vins this year.  
WS 90–93 Vibrant blueberry and pastille notes form the core, with good energy from the savoury and tobacco accents. Has a lightly chewy edge through the finish, giving this a grippy feel. 

Domaine de Chevalier rouge (AWL 93-95 WA92-94 JS93-94 WS90-93 JR17.5)
€37
AWL 93-95 Deep purple colour. Sweet earthy fruit with hint of minerals and tobacco. Classic juicy palate with nice structure and intensity. Tannic long finish. A serious wine that will go the distance. 
WA 92-94  It has a fragrant bouquet with blackberry, black plum, cigar ash and woodland scents, complex though not as intense as its white counterpart. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy, quite firm tannin that underpin a classic Domaine de Chevalier that has just the right amount of austerity at this stage. Reserved perhaps, but it is beautifully knitted together with a lovely bay leaf tinged finish. Quintessential Domaine de Chevalier...which is what we all want. 
JS 93-94 Very dense and beautiful with chocolate, currants and spices. Walnut and hazelnut character too. Full body, silky tannins and a long finish. Balanced and fine. 
WS 90-93 Tightly focused, with red currant, bergamot, Campari and sandalwood notes woven together and carrying through the well-polished finish. Has a noticeable twinge of singed wood and sweet earth at the end. A touch more backward than most of the Pessac pack right now. 
JR 17.5 Particularly dark crimson. Intense nose. Quite thick and dense. Then soft and beguiling on the palate. Unusually low in acidity! Quite luscious. And a cool finish. Complete. Drink 2022-2036
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (AWL 94-96 JS95-96 WS92-95 JR17)
€66

AWL 94-96 Great aromatics of mainly citrus notes. Minerally, stony palate with a great balance. Good tension, weight and purity. ‎Excellent effort!
WA 93-95  It has an almost clinical nose, extremely well defined, Zen-like at first with scents of flint and cold granite, stone rather than fruit. The palate is fresh on the entry with crisp acidity, though it is not shrill. It is very focused, "minimalist" Domaine de Chevalier that Olivier remarked is perhaps the best he has ever made. Perhaps he is right. There is a Burgundy like sense of terroir coming through here, a wine that perhaps does not wish to conform to the Bordeaux stereotype of what a white Pessac-Léognan should be. So it's a bit of a sui generis, a one-off, and you'll love it. 
JS 95-96 A solid and muscular Domaine de Chevalier with layers of fruit. Very dense, loads of flavour. Full body, bright acidity and a long, long finish. Tangy acidity. It lasts for minutes.
WS 92-95 Very pure, with a long makrut lime note holding the upper hand, while white peach, Chartreuse and tar fruit accents fill in behind. Offers a kiss of brioche on the finish. There's lots to like here.
JR 17 Pungent and reductive nose and then very flattering sweet fruit on the palate. Distinctive and relatively rich. Almost ready to drink now! Real finesse. Drink 2016-2026
Haut Bailly (AWL 94-95 WA 91-93 JS93-94 JR17.5+)
€49.0
AWL ‎94-95 ‎Dense purple ruby. Sweet cherries, minerals, creme de cassis and spices in the excellent nose. Really gorgeous wine with structure, charm and elegance plus a lovely mouthfeel. Long finish with fine tannins. 
WA 91-93 It has a lovely bouquet with superb delineation, touches of undergrowth and tobacco infusing the pure black fruit, stirrings of black tea emerging with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy, crisp tannin on the entry and good acidity (ph 3.7), perhaps more than say, the 2012. There is a fine sense of energy here and at dovetails into a lightly spiced, slightly saline finish. This is a slightly less ostentatious than recent vintages, a little more restrained but the terroir really shows through. Excellent. Expect this to land at the top of my banded score. 
 JS 93-94 A subtle and refined wine with savoury, salty and delicately fruity character. Full body, fine tannins and a fresh finish. Compacted and tight. Lovely tension. Precise. 
JR 17.5+ 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot. They are deliberately vinifying lighter and lighter with less extraction so that this blend contains 8% press wine. Rich and substantial but racier than the old Haut-Bailly style. Really very well mastered. Good balance without excess acidity or tannin. Very persistent. The concentration was presumably helped enormously by the saignée that produced the Rosé. Just a little stolid but a very impressive 2014. Drink 2020-2034

Haut Brion (AWL 96-98 WA93-95 JS95-96 WS95-98 JR17.5+)
€280
AWL 96-98 Deep purple ruby colour. Cherry liqueur, smoke, earth mixed with minerals and black fruit. ‎Full-bodied with grandeur, energy, elegance and charm. This is a wonderful and outstanding Haut Brion, ranks as one of the top since 2000. 
WA 93-95 The fruit seems a little "redder” than La Mission at this stage with vibrant wild strawberry, blackcurrant and a pinch of dry tobacco, a hint of menthol developing with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, that tobacco element becoming a little stronger in the mouth, a little foursquare but like La Mission Haut-Brion, focusing upon precision rather than power. Of course, a superb contribution to the vintage, but I'd place my bets on the "Mish", at least on these barrel tastings.  
JS 95-96 Dense and tight now with blackberries, blueberries, iodine, minerals and currants. Full-bodied, firm and closed, yet there’s a persistence and length that is most impressive. Polished and very classy. 
WS 95-98 Features a youthfully muscular edge, but remains elegant despite the heft, with a core of plum, red currant and raspberry fruit, guided by supple tannins and backed by subtle tobacco and spice hints. A light bay thread chimes in on the finish, while a juniper detail adds a pleasant underpinning.
JR 17.5+ 50% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon. Mid to deep crimson. Not very forthcoming on the nose. Broad burly flavours on the palate, very much in the baked-brick spectrum. Well-managed tannins and in this wine the acidity is not especially marked. But it’s no charmer. Very dry on the end.  14.25%. Drink 2025-2042
Haut Brion Blanc (AWL 97-99 WA95-97 JS98-94 WS95-98 JR18)
€675
AWL 97-99 Pale yellow colour with green hue. Citrusy nose of white flower, spices and graphite. Full of energy, liveliness and charm. This is an amazing wine that is close to perfection! 
WA 95-97  I found the Sémillon more expressive here and offers waxy, resinous scents intermingling with pear skin and fresh gooseberry. The palate is fresh and vibrant with more weight than the La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc '14: extremely well balanced with spine-tingling poise and power on the finish. You can barely notice the 14.75% alcohol. This is a thrilling Haut-Brion Blanc that vies with Domaine de Chevalier Blanc as "king of the dry whites." 
JS 98-99 This is breathtaking like looking down a well that doesn’t end. Full and rich yet deep and gorgeous. It really does take your breath away. It goes on and on with minerals, dried apples, dried mangos and lime. Superb. This is very unique in the blend with 68% Sémillon and the rest being Sauvignon. 
WS 95-98 This returns to a more typical blend of two-thirds Sémillon and one-third Sauvignon Blanc after the rare inverse in 2013. Very youthful, with loads of salted butter, warm brioche and lemon curd notes trumping the quinine, white peach and green plum core for now. The toast is substantial but integrated, gilding rather than weighing down the mouthwatering finish. 
JR 18 68% Sémillon, 32% Sauvignon Blanc. Rich and waxy. Broad and refined and already satisfying. Deep and rich and a great undertow. Just a little green streak but massive weight.  14.55%. Drink 2018-2032
La Mission Haut Brion (AWL 95-96 WA95-97 JS94-95 WS93-96 JR17+)
€165
AWL 95-97 Deep purple colour. Smoke, sweet fruit, herbs, tobacco and earth tones in the serious nose. Good density, weight and balance. Plenty of ripe herb and new leathery fruit in the mouth. Excellent wine! 
WA 95-97 It has a very fresh and precise bouquet, not one that marches out the barrack in confidence fashion, but rather unfolds piece-by-piece in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a structured and neatly placed opening: a little masculine for La Mission Haut-Brion at this stage, linear and focused, maintaining precision rather than aiming from power and roundness. This is a sophisticated La Mission Haut-Brion in the making, one that may actually surpass Haut-Brion as it is sometimes prone to do. The 2014 is a sterling success for Jean-Philippe Delmas and his team. 
JS 94-95 Chewy and rich with blueberry, stone and mineral character. Full body, silky and intense tannins and a mineral berry aftertaste. 
WS 93-96 This has the engaging rusticity of the estate, with a strong sappy and briary frame around a core of plum skin, dried star anise, liquorice root and dark currant fruit. Solidly grippy through the finish, with a lingering tar edge and a bright pastis note. Rather backward, but rock-solid. 
JR 17+ 54% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep crimson. At last something sumptuous from the Haut-Brion stable! (I have been tasting through the second wines and the Quintus.) Deep and really quite rich at first though then the acidity starts to come through on the end. This may be quite a severe La Mission. Dry finish and only medium bodied. It will need quite a time to develop enough weight and nuance to counteract the acid and tannin.  14.45%.Drink 2027-2040
La Mission Haut Brion Blanc (AWL95-97 WA 92-94 JS95-96 WS94-97 JR17.5+)
€545

AWL 95-97 Notes of pear, white pepper, floral fruit in the subtle bouquet. Creamy texture but still mixed with good acidity and freshness.
WA 92-94 It has a well-defined bouquet with lime flower and fresh pear scents that gain intensity in the glass, though never quite achieves the ethereal heights of the "gaff across the road". The palate is fresh with again a keen, fresh line of acidity than Jean-Philippe Delmas remarked is broadly in line with 2011. This is very tense at the moment, sharp and edgy, you could almost say "electric” on the finish that will stand it in good stead by the time of bottling.   
JS 95-96 This is a big and powerful white with so much richness and excitement. It’s almost New World in character. Full-bodied, layered and juicy. Characters of dried pineapples, apples, apricots, lemons and then a touch of stones. 
WS 94-97 Tangerine, makrut lime and quinine notes are tightly coiled, with a long lemon shortbread note coursing through the finish. Offers a lovely kiwifruit core, with green plum notes skittering through the background. Despite the heft, this really lingers thanks to well-embedded acidity. 
JR 17.5+ 72% Sémillon, 28% Sauvignon Blanc. Mid greenish gold. Low-key nose and then lovely broad fat fruit with beeswax. Some richness and really vibrant on the nose. Pretty embryonic. Drink 2020-2030


Malartic Lagraviere (AWL92-93 WA91-93 JS93-94 WS89-92 JR16+)
€29.5

AWL 92-93 Nice dark fruit character with smoke, tar and chocolate. This is a very good ‎effort from Malartic. Good firm structure and finish. 
WA 91-93 Quite a rich bouquet with blackberry and iodine scents, well defined and turning quite floral with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with bold, ripe tannins, good depth of fruit with tarry, structured finish. It is a bold Malartic with a bit of chutzpah, though I suspect that it will mellow and attain more finesse with a few years in bottle
JS 93-94 This already shows beautiful aromas of blackberries, wet earth, stones and spices. Full-bodied yet polished and refined with a lovely fine tannin texture. Shows wonderful finesse. 
WS 89-92  This packs solid dark currant, fig and blackberry fruit, with notes of charcoal and loam, but stays fleshy overall, revealing ample length and definition on the finish. 
JR 16+ Particularly dark crimson. Somehow gives the impression that there are lots of hidden depths. But just a little sour with marked acidity. Rigorous and bone dry, with very drying tannins on the end. Some green vegy character towards the end. Drink 2023-2036

Malartic Lagraviere Blanc (WA91-93 JS92-93 WS89-92 JR16)
€38.5
WA 91-93 It has a lively and energetic bouquet surfeit with dewy green apple, wet limestone and citrus scents - already vivacious and demanding the imbiber's attention. The palate is fresh and crisp with a keen line of acidity, vibrant citrus fruit with a linear, poised, marine-influenced finish, as might be befitting the label! Excellent. 
JS 92-93 Beautiful intensity of sliced limes, slates, stones and citrus. This is a serious white as always. 
WS 89-92 On the softer side, with makrut lime, tarragon and Chartreuse notes layered gently together and backed by a youthful twinge of green plum on the finish.
JR 16 Quite rich. Much sweeter than most. What did they do with the acid? Just a bit hot and heavy. Very distinctive and less racy than most. Drink 2016-2021

 

Pape Clément (AWL 93-94 WA93-95 JS93-94 WS91-94 JR17)
€55

AWL 93-94 Saturated purple. Sweet oaky nose with black cherry fruit that also is very present on the palate. A bit extracted but not overly so. A blockbuster in this vintage. 
WA 93-95 Strangely, first sniff of the nose whisks you away to the Côtes de Nuits, such is its purity. Small dark cherries, hints of crème de cassis and vanilla; it is beautifully poised and with continued aeration there is just a suggestion of dark chocolate. The palate is full-bodied and dense in the mouth, the oak nicely integrated here and the acidity well judged. It actually possesses the linearity of the La Mission Haut-Brion ’14 tasted on the previous visit. There is no fantail on the finish, but there is plenty of mineralité and tension 
JS 93-94 This shows finesse and class of the vintage with pure blackberry and currant character. Full body, fine tannins and a beautiful finish. 
WS 91-94 Broad and hefty, with a wall of ganache out front, followed by steeped fig and blackberry paste flavours. The dense, loamy finish lets the toast hold sway. Shows more power than purity, but there's density and length here, too. 
JR 17 Dark crimson. Round and like fermented blackcurrant pastilles. Lots of drive and interest here. The fruit, just, overwhelms the framework. Drink 2022-2036
Pape Clément Blanc (AWL91-93 WA92-94 JS93-94 WS92-95)
€97.5
AWL 91-93 Very tropical style with great fruit level and generous oaky flavours. 
WA 92-94 There is a tangible richness, almost decadence on the nose that actually shades the Magrez-Fombrauge Blanc. Lemon curd and dried honey soar from the glass. The palate is very well balanced, powerful in the mouth, a slight viscosity coming through towards the finish that fans out with a sense of confidence and brio. This will be utterly irresistible. 
JS 93-94 This is layered and substantial as it should be with dried honey and apple character. Full and intense with layers of fruit. This is a serious white. 
WS 92-95 Distinctive, with lemon sherbet and yellow apple flavours, matched to white ginger, brioche and singed macadamia nut notes. Quite creamy in feel, with a paraffin hint at the very end. An overt style, but hard to deny. 

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc (AWL92-94 WA90-92+JS95-96 WS94-97 JR17)
€65.5
AWL 92-94 90% Sauvignon Blanc 5% Semillon  5% Sauvignon Gris. Ripe nose with very good fruit aromas. Pure and very fresh. ‎Lovely charming  palate. Good acidity.  
WA 90-92+ Curiously, it seems less expressive than the Le Petit Haut Lafitte and Les Haut de Smith at the moment. This is very taciturn in comparison but leaving it aside for 10-15 minutes it finally reveals chalk and oyster shell scents. The palate is fresh on the entry with crisp acidity and sharp citric fruit, but it feels quite linear on the finish, does not really deliver the knock-out punch that other vintages deliver. Hopefully it will muster something more to say throughout the remainder of its barrel maturation. 
JS 95-96 This is a phenomenal young white with wonderful depth and finesse. Amazing aromas and flavours of lavender, lemon peel, sliced apples, lilacs and minerals. Full body, intense fruit and a long, long finish. Superb depth and intensity. 
WS 94-97 This crackles with energy, while a mix of white peach, yellow apple, Chartreuse, chamomile and green plum notes all mix together. The finish is still coiled up, but there's range and length here to spare. 
JR 17 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon. Very rich, full and broad. Good acidity and undertow. Melons and grapefruit flavours but with a strong mineral element and the substance to develop. Drink 2017-2025

 

St Emilion

Ausone (AWL 95-97 WA 93-95 JS95-96 JR17)
€393
AWL 95-97 Dark fruit with minerals, spices, cocoa bean and hint of graphite and chocolate. Very good concentration‎ with fine acidity and freshness. 
WA 93-95 It has a very perfumed, floral bouquet with dark cherries and blueberry with a touch of orange blossom that develops with aeration. The palate is imbued with a sense of freshness and joie-de-vivre - a less "serious" Ausone than in the past, but perhaps one that exudes greater terroir expression and tension from start to finish. I was quite smitten by this Ausone that comes across more self-effacing compared to other vintages, surfeit with style and panache. 
JS 95-96 A juicy red with beautiful blueberry, blackberry and mineral character. Oyster shell and iodine. Full and tight with 60% cabernet franc instead of 50%. This gives a fresher and more linear character of Ausone. Fine finish. Fascinating with such purity.
JR 17 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot. Not especially deep colour. Very sweet but much better oak management than at one time. Chestnut intensity. And some freshness. But it does not leap out of the glass yelling ‘top wine’! Something a bit sinewy. Plays the sweetness and freshness cards rather than alcohol and density. Quite playful. 
Tertre Roteboeuf (JR18 WA92-94)
€129
JR 18 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Deep crimson. Amazingly rich on the nose with some hints of confit cherries. Very exotic and quite different from any other 2014 I have tasted. Very sweet and ripe but the structure is absolutely not drying on the end. So luscious and seductive. Like cherry jam but not sickly or heavy. Exceptional!  Drink 2019-2032
WA 92-94 An extremely pure bouquet that almost whisks you away to the Côte d’Or: vivacious raspberry coulis and fresh strawberry scents suffused with fine mineralité. It’s unmistakable "Mitjavile”, a bouquet you want to hug as much as inhale. The palate is medium-bodied with dusky dark berries, black plum and a dab of dried fig on the entry, which dovetails into a precise and linear middle. There is a satisfying grainy texture with a gourmand-like, savoury-tinged salted liquorice finish that completes this what might prosaically be described as a "delicious" Saint Emilion.
Beausejour Duffau (WA 90-92 WS 93-96 JS92-94)
€59.5
WA 90-92  Matured in 55% new oak, it actually has quite a laid-back, lighter bouquet than I was expecting, especially compared to the Pavie-Macquin '14. Giving it 5 minutes to open, it develops greater fruit intensity thanks to scents of macerated black cherries, dark plum and allspice. The palate is medium-bodied on the entry, bridled with marmalade and white pepper notes intermixed with the lush red fruit. There is impressive tension and weight here, an appetizing crescendo of flavours and a twist of bitter cherry on the finish. There is a feral element that keeps drawing you back to this complex Saint Emilion that may warrant a higher score after bottling.
WS 93–96  Juicy and dense, with lots of blueberry, dark plum and blackberry fruit, studded with anise and backed by a lightly brambly finish. Hedonistic and engaging, this should be fun to watch fill out fully.
JS 93-94 A wonderful finish to this wine with a full body. Compacted and tight with beautiful ripe fruit and mineral undertones. Some walnut character too. 
Pavie Macquin (WA91-93 JS92-93 WS93-96 JR16.5+)
€45
WA 91-93 The nose is actually a distant cousin of Château Canon '14: very pure and delineated, quite sensual thanks to the embroidered 60% new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fleshy ripe black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, a touch of white pepper lending a little spiciness. There is pleasing density on the finish, if not quite the complexity of either Canon or say, Château Pavie. It actually improves in the glass, gaining more composure and nuance, the aftertaste lengthening thanks to its saltiness. This is a fine Pavie-Macquin that should offer 10 to 15 years of pleasure, possibly more and I expect it will land at the top of my banded score.  
WS 93-96 Well-packed, with ample boysenberry, blackberry and raspberry flavours that course along, carried by anise and singed apple wood notes that stay reserved through the finish. Squarely fruit-driven, but exhibits great purity and energy.
JS 92-93 A juicy and pretty PM with chocolate, walnuts and dark fruit. Full body, ultra fine tannins and a long and beautiful finish. Very tight and polished. 
JR 16.5+ Dark crimson. Heady graphite notes on the nose. Very opulent and ripe though still fresh. Just on the cusp of being too sweet, this should please many drinkers looking for successful modern-style St-Émilion. Slightly grainy drying tannins on the end. Drink 2023-2032 
Larcis Ducasse (AWL 92-94 WA91-93 JS93-94 WS92-95 JR16.5-)
€39.5
AWL 92-94 Plummy and grapey palate. Generous ‎wine. 
WA 91-93 It has a strangely "distant” nose that is difficult to engage with at first, then a wave of super-ripe crème de cassis and blueberry fruit whose purity cannot be denied. The palate is full-bodied with soft ripe tannins, plush in the mouth with well-judged acidity, a touch of mineralité on the finish. Again, this is a modern style of Saint Emilion delivered with oodles of panache. This will be no more, no less than "delicious".
WS 92-95 Features cherry, creamed strawberry and red liquorice notes that seem almost too easy at first, but then the back half kicks in, with a chalky spine and extra energy. Pure and long. 
JS 93-94This has a dark fruit, blueberry with limestone and mineral character. Raisin skin. Full body, firm tannins and a firm and long finish. Tannic and lively. 
JR 16.5- Very dark and dramatic. Heady and voluptuous. Sweet and yet with some raciness as well. Very flashy but without real undertow of savour. Should please many. Drink 2021-2030
Pavie Decesse (WA89-91 JS92-93 WS92-95 JR16.5)
€86
WA 89-91It has a super-ripe, crème de cassis and blueberry jam scented nose that feels slightly porty, especially when compared to the Monbousquet '14. The palate is full-bodied with soft ripe tannin and plush black cherries mixed with blueberry and strawberry fruit. The palate actually works better than the nose: more harmonious than expected with plenty of "rondeur" on the finish. Hopefully some of its gloss with ebb away by the time of bottling because at the moment this seems dwarfed by the Château Pavie.  
WS 92-95 Ripe, displaying a piercing quality, with the raspberry, plum and boysenberry notes carried by particularly racy acidity and a very fine minerality. A chalky thread adds tension on the finish. This still has some unwinding to do. 
JS 92-93 Very pretty and sexy already with blueberries, spices and meat. Full body, fine tannins and a fresh finish.
JR 16.5 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.  Seems like a wine that has been concentrated. But there is good compensating acidity here as well as the massive ripeness. Marked acidity on the end but vivacity rather than soupiness. Sinewy and taken to the limit. Drying finish. Should last a long time – in fact it demands time in bottle.  13.74% Drink 2026-2040
Bellevue Mondotte (WA 89-91 WS 91-94 JS92-93 JR16++)
€106
WA 89-91 A very rich, decedent bouquet with sweet black cherries, boysenberry jam and plenty of glycerine. The palate is full-bodied with ripe tannin, moderate acidity, not too oppressive compared to previous vintages with layers of blackberry and blueberry fruit towards the sinewy finish. It does not possess the same degree of precision or character as the superior Château Pavie '14, which is where I would place my money. 
WS 91-94 Ripe and showy, featuring exuberant raspberry, plum and boysenberry fruit, carried by well-integrated grip. This has spine, but remains lush and velvety through the finish, with the fruit echoing. 
JS 92-93 This is powerful and rich with a very fruity richness. Full and soft with a lovely density and core of fruit. Soft and sexy.
JR 16++ 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. A singed quality to the nose and then much lighter and more transparent on the palate. Chewy and vivacious – although very drying indeed on the end. Really green and tough on the end. Sorry – this is just not my style. And because it has not the sweet portiness up front, I’m not quite sure who it will appeal to. Maybe it just needs (a lot of) time?  13.83% Drink 2027-2040 
Monbousquet (WA 89-91 WS 92-95 JS90-91 JR16)
€30.5
WA 89-91 The nose is very backward at the moment with tarry black fruit mixed with cedar reluctantly emerging with aeration. The palate is chewy on the entry but it softens towards the middle with light tannin and a nicely balanced on the finish. Once the aromas begin to gain a little chutzpah, this will be a fine, more classically inspired Monbousquet compared to recent vintages.  
WS 92-95 A saturated version, with plum, cassis and cherry flavours that drape themselves over the dense but velvety structure. The long, apple wood-infused finish shows some surprising heft for the vintage.
JS 90-91 This is beautiful and juicy with refined tannins, berries, earth and spices. Hints of walnut. Medium to full body. Lovely. 
JR 16 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark crimson. With noticeably more freshness than the Ch Lusseau from the same stable. A little green and chewy on the end but it’s certainly voluptuous. A bit drying on the end. Too austere for real pleasure now. Fast fade. 12.86% Drink 2020-2030
Canon La Gaffeliere (WA90-92 JS93-94 WS93-96 JR15.5)
€45.5
WA 90-92 A really quite sensual bouquet with lascivious red cherries and strawberry fruit lavished in new oak that is completely in sync. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, crisp acidity, harmonious as usual. It is not the most sophisticated Canon-la-Gaffelière that you will ever taste, but there is engaging freshness and impressive length here. I suspect it will settle amongst the upper band of my score once in bottle. Very fine.  
WS 93-96  A strong ganache element flows along with the dark currant and blackberry flavours. A charcoal edge underscores the finish, imparting drive and definition. This will be a winner when it stretches out. 
JS 93-94 A beautiful and succulent red with blueberry, violets and berries. Full body, long and intense. Extremely integrated. Made from organic grapes. 
JR 15.5 Dark healthy-looking blackish crimson. Overripe notes on the nose. Very definitely playing the mass-and-alcohol card but there are slight green notes on the end. Fast fade. Not the way to go. Drink 2021-2029
Clos de L'Oratoire (WA 88-90 JS90-91 WS89-92)
€22.5
WA 88-90 It has a slightly pinched nose at first, nicely defined but actually finding it hard to follow the exuberant d'Aiguilhe '14. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, plush redcurrant and strawberry fruit with a strong oak influence towards the finish. Not bad at all, although I find the d'Aiguilhe more captivating at this early juncture. 
WS 89-92 Supple, with crushed plum and blackberry fruit, carried by a velvety structure. Offers a lingering cocoa edge, but this is driven by a pure beam of fruit. 
JS 90-91 This has lots of minerality to it with a cool and fresh fruit character. Medium to full body, firm tannins and a silky finish.  
La Mondotte (WA92-94 JS94-95 WS94-97)
€120
WA 92-94 The nose is very pure and well defined, refined and elegant, actually reminiscent of Château Canon. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe tannins. The wood is dominant at the moment but there is more than sufficient fruit to cope with that. The acidity here is well judged with plenty of freshness and edginess on the vivacious and refined finish. There is a sense of energy within this La Mondotte that is quite captivating. It is not the most flamboyant that Stephan von Neipperg has ever overseen, but there is a sense of linearity and classicism that renders it very sophisticated. It may merit a higher mark once in bottle. 
WS 94-97  A sleek, wiry wine, with lovely definition and a coiled feel, featuring a core of raspberry, blackberry and boysenberry fruit waiting to unwind. A serious chalky spine bolts everything down for now. This needs time, but shows great length and precision. 
JS 94-95 A beautiful wine with a creamy, silky and delicately fruity character with a savory and citrusy finish. Full body yet balanced and refined. 
Belair Monange (WA 89-91 WS 94-97 JS 93-94 JR 17.5)
€90.5
WA 89-91 The Château Belair-Monange 2014 has a surprisingly "outgoing" bouquet that is determined to make an impression: blackcurrant pastilles intermingling with truffle and iodine scents. The palate is medium-bodied and linear, underpinned by strict, slightly rigid tannins that lend this a masculine personality. It has a slight bitter note on the finish but a satisfying long, peppery aftertaste following suit. It is just missing a little substance and flair. Not a bad Belair-Monange by a long chalk, though I might actually have a preference for the 2012.
WS 94-97 A beauty in the making, with gorgeously pure red currant and raspberry fruit, laced with bergamot and incense accents. A very fine chalky thread knits everything beautifully. Shows pristine balance and gorgeous minerality.—Tasted non-blind. 
JS 93-94 Lots of mineral, chalk and salt character with dark fruits. Full and powerful with firm tannins and a long finish. Compacted and tight with wonderful density and intensity.
JR 17.5 Thick and dense and very rich and opulent. Sweet and beguiling and round and velvety. Layers and confidence. Gorgeous stuff, with opulent scents and a great spread over the palate. Impressive! 
Chapelle d’Ausone (WA 90-92 JR 16.5- JS92-93)
€103
WA 90-92 It has a plush blueberry and boysenberry-scented bouquet, with a hint of warm gravel developing with aeration. The palate is sweet on the entry with rounded red berry fruit and well-judged acidity. Although it does not have enormous persistence on the finish, it is both focused and harmonious. There is nothing extravagant here but who cares when there is more than enough freshness already sutured into this deuxième vin. 
JR 16.5- 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. 85% new oak. Pretty smart and broad nose with superior notes but not much concentration. Decidedly superior and good for early drinking. 
JS 92-93Powerful and very rich with blueberries, minerals and violets. Full body, firm tannins and a long finish. Racy and refined. 
Angelus (JS94-96 WA 91-93 WS93–96 JR16.5+)
€198
AWL 94-96 ‎50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc.  Deep ruby with a hint of purple. Gorgeous nose of black cherries, spices, earth and new wood. Excellent concentration yet with liveliness. Not the overly modern and extracted Angelus from some recent vintages. 
WA 91-93 It has a surprisingly bashful nose at first, not one that comes racing out of the blocks to greet you. But there is plenty of fruit here, beautifully defined, a little more introverted than usual possibly due to the higher percentage of Cabernet Franc. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, linear in style with a saline note complementing that lattice of black fruit. It gently builds towards the spicy, slightly compact finish but never fully let’s go, the Cabernet Franc lending a slight savoury edge on the aftertaste. This will probably need three of four years in bottle as this is slightly harder compared to recent vintages with more backbone. Yet it still constitutes an admirable Saint Emilion even if it does not ignite the same pyrotechnics as say, Pavie or Ausone.   
JS 93-94 This is dense and compacted with pretty fruits, ultra-fine tannins and a pure and intense finish. The excellent quality of the cabernet franc really shows here. Lightly salty with citrusy acidity. Chalky undertone. Half Cabernet Franc and half Merlot. So about 10% more Franc than normal. 
WS 93-96 Features base notes of bittersweet ganache and smouldering tobacco, with dark plum, currant and fig fruit flavours. Despite the charcoal thread, this is lush and integrated, showing no aggressive edges at all. The tobacco accent chimes in at the end for added effect.
JR 16.5+ 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc, picked 2-22 October. Very dark crimson. Not very expressive on the nose though there seems to be great density underneath. And then almost painful concentration. Verging towards Pavie, tar stew with lots of acidity. It may evolve into something lovely but for the moment it’s very hard work. Very dry end. Masses of effort has been put into this but it is not user-friendly at present.  13.6% Drink 2025-2040
Canon (AWL92-93 WA 93-95 JS95-96 WS90–93 JR16.5+)
€42.5

AWL 92-93 72% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc.  ‎Floral fruit, delicate spices, minerals aromas. Medium to full-bodied with a very elegant profile of roses, chocolate and stones. Beautiful and silky wine.  
WA 93-95 It has a glorious bouquet with great purity and delineation: raspberry, wild strawberry and small red cherries, very pure and harmonious. The palate is medium-bodied with sensual ripe, filigree tannin, just the right amount of salinity, precise and mineral-rich towards the exquisite, pure and "classic” finish. This is outstanding for the vintage.
JS 95-96 A wonderful Canon with fabulous finesse and class. Full-bodied yet refined and polished. It touches your senses. Shows Right Bank made excellent wines in 2014! 
WS 90–93 Ripe but brightly defined, with damson plum, violet and bitter cherry notes, backed by a lively sanguine hint. The racy finish shows some flashy aspects, giving this good range. 
JR 16.5+ Mid to deep crimson. Full, opulent nose. Sweet start and then a little pinched on the end – there isn’t the broad sweep of fruit on the palate that was suggested by the nose. Correct but very introvert. One of the more youthful St-Émilions. Drink 2024-2032

Cheval Blanc (AWL 95-96 WA 95-97 JS95-96 WS96-99 JR17.5)
€393
AWL  95-96 Deep purple ruby. ‎Complex spices, violet, minerals and floral black and red fruit aromas. Very fresh and well-balanced with great minerality and elegance.  
WA 95-97 It is quintessential Cheval Blanc on the nose: predominantly red fruit here rather than black, touches of incense and dried roses, a dab of liquorice underneath. The Cabernet Franc is the engine behind the aromatics. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin. This is not a silky smooth Cheval Blanc – here there is an graininess to the tannin that exert a gentle grip in the mouth. It is a complex and cerebral wine with cracked black pepper on the almost ferrous finish. Like the second wine, it is linear and fresh, in some ways reminiscent of the string of superb wines produced in the 1980s. This is a formidable Cheval Blanc whose evolution will be fascinating to witness.  
JS 95-96 There is a little more Cabernet Franc than normal. Full body with fine and silky tannins, and a deep and beautiful fruit and acid balance. Wet earth, dried flowers and dried fruits. A beautiful length. Dense and compacted. Very fine tannins.  
WS 96-99  Reserved aromatically for now, but this has a lot at its clutch, with remarkably silky plum, currant and raspberry fruit inlaid seamlessly with alder, rooibos tea and bergamot notes. There's a fine minerality that stretches out the finish, with remarkable cut, delineation and finesse. This is gorgeous.
JR 17.5 45% Cabernet Franc, 55% Merlot. All the terroirs of the property but especially the gravel . Bright ruby, gentle and rather muted. Very cool . No drama! Gentle and rather balletic. Some burgundian force towards the end of the palate. Lots to chew on and rather different from the old style. A flight from drama!  13.25% Drink 2024-2036
Clos Fourtet (AWL 93-94 WA 90-92 JS91-92 WS92-95 JR16)
€56

AWL 93-94 Good freshness and concentration. Medium to full-bodied with elegance and charm.
WA 90-92 It has an opulent bouquet with macerated black cherries and blueberry fruit, plenty of new oak but it is nicely integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, blackcurrant and boysenberry fruit intermingling with orange zest and a touch of tobacco on the finish. It will need three or four years in bottle to fully coalesce, but otherwise this should be a fine Saint Emilion.  
JS 91-92 This shows wonderful cool fruits with a deep palate and velvety tannins. Really pretty. Tight and full of potential. We will see if it’s better than 2012.
WS 92-95 Bright and pure, with a racy beam of cherry and raspberry fruit, lined with subtle spice and floral hints. The finish is discreet, exhibiting a long, filigreed minerality that plays out nicely-you just have to pay attention or you'll miss it.
JR 16 Mid crimson. Pale rim. Very sweet nose and rather mild palate. Not attention grabbing but nor is it exaggerated. Just rather low key and well behaved. Fresh but rather sudden finish. Drink 2020-2028
Figeac (WA93-95 JS93-96 WS94–95 JR17.5)
€66
WA 93-95 Superb delineation on the nose, the oak here nicely integrated and allowing the Figeac character to be expressed, lifted red cherries and fresh strawberry dallying with cold stone and undergrowth scents, a touch of graphite courtesy of the Cabernets. The palate is medium-bodied with typical Figeac traits of cedar and undergrowth coming through with aeration, joined by blackberry and boysenberry. The finish here displayed more precision. Yes, just a little reserved and austere but the Cabernet is on song and imparting a structured finish. There are scurrilous rumours that the Figeac style is being forsaken. On the contrary, under winemaker Frédéric Faye and the Manoncourt family, it is retained and enhanced. 
JS 94-95 A beautiful Figeac with stones, oyster shells, chalk and fruits. Full-bodied and compacted with ultra-fine tannins. This is compressed and compacted with a wonderful style. The 32% Cabernet Sauvignon should give a unique structure here. More structured than the 2012. 
WS 93-96 Sleek and tight, with layers of well-focused boysenberry, cherry and cassis fruit, backed by a long, iron-edged finish. There's a whiff of tobacco in the background, too. Seriously grounded in terroir, this may take some time to unwind fully. 
JR 17.5 40% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 100% new barrels. Deep crimson. Quite opulent nose. Much more intense and opulent on the palate. Round and gentle tannins. Much more obviously charming at this stage than the old Figeac. Tannins almost imperceptible. Quite savoury on the finish. Lively. Certainly much more Figeac than ‘Rolland stereotype’.  13% Drink 2024-2040
Pavie (WA94-96 JS93-94 WS94-97 JR17+)
€195

WA 94-96 An opulent and delineated bouquet that is heads above the Bellevue-Mondotte. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, the Cabernet in sync with the Merlot, silky smooth in the mouth with a plush but not cloying finish. The mineralité shows through nicely, partly because of that higher percentage of Cabernet. This is a different style of Pavie compared to previous vintages and the team were clear in their emphasis on more Cabernet and less oak. The result is a Pavie that really exploits its propitious terroir and a wine that even compared to Gérard Perse's other 2014s, demonstrates more complex, more class and classicism. This is one of the standout wines in Saint Emilion. 
JS 93-94 A firm and juicy wine with very pretty dark fruit, mineral and floral character. Full body, round tannins and a fresh finish.
WS 94-97 A beauty in the making, with gloriously pure boysenberry, raspberry and plum flavours, ample yet thoroughly integrated grip, and lithe acidity that lets the finish flow with an unencumbered feel. Offers chalky acidity.
JR 17+ 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon (average age 47 years). 80% new oak. Nose needs to be coaxed out of the glass. Thick and much more athletic than the other wines. You can really see the terroir here. Lively proper freshness as well as great intensity and ambition. There is a perceptible difference between this and the other Perse wines that seem to have too much make-up. Long and tense and not too much sweetness. Still a bit dry on the end. But very long and reverberant. Masses of energy here.  14.22% Drink 2028-2045

Troplong Mondot (AWL 9194 WA 91-93 JS93-94 WS92-95 JR17.5)
€65
AWL 91-94 Deep saturated purple. Oak, vanilla, black fruit and spices aromas. ‎Quite extracted and modern.  
WA 91-93 A stylish wine this year. The nose is well defined and elegant with pure blackberry and red plum fruit, fine mineralité and poise here. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, grainy tannin and well-integrated oak. There is a touch of dark chocolate coming through on the finish, but it is lightly sprinkled over the fresh black fruit that possess less fatness than recent vintage, but in my opinion allow the terroir to be expressed. This is a fine Troplong Mondot that should drink well over 15 to 20 years.
JS 93-94 This is a big and juicy Troplong. Full-bodied, chewy and rich with fresh sliced plum, chocolate and berry character. Long finish. 
WS 92-95 Solid, with plum, anise and blackberry notes allied to an ample but polished structure. Features prominent toast, but the fruit seems to be soaking it up. A lingering graphite hint adds positive vibes. 
JR 17.5 Blackish crimson. Interesting mineral notes on the nose. Very smooth and well sculpted. Great balance and mastery of the tannins with some interest. There is real excitement here. And a neat finish with no drying sensation. No excess of alcohol either. Drink 2024-2035

 

Pomerol

Petit Village (WA 88-90 WS 90-93 JS 92-93 JR 16)
€46.5
WA 88-90 The Château Petit Village 2014 is a blend of 72% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon that is matured in 65% new oak cropped at 32 hectoliters per hectare. There is a sense of richness and creaminess on the nose, nicely defined and pure, though it needs to muster a little more "personality" throughout its élevage. The palate is medium-bodied with soft supple tannin, plenty of lightly spiced red fruit with an almost viscous finish. This is a nicely composed Petit-Village that should drink well over the next 10 to 15 years but I must confess that I was expecting more.
WS 90-93 Solid, with a brambly note carrying the plum, blueberry and anise flavors. Stays energetic through the finish, with the grip and fresh acidity melding nicely. 
JS 92-93 A round and silky red with iron, clay and spice character. Full body and a long, savory finish. Plenty of things going on here
JR 16 Bright crimson. Sweet tea-leaf nose. A little raw and astringent on the end but there is some energy here. Lots of drying green notes on the end spoil the attractive start. Clean but not specially persistent.  
La Fleur Petrus (WA92-94 WS94-97 JS93-94 JR 16.5)
€115
WA 92-94 The Château La Fleur-Petrus 2014 was the penultimate wine from JP Moueix that I tasted before Trotanoy and it marks a serious step up in quality from the wines that I had tasted before. Here there is much more fruit intensity and presence on the nose: animated crushed strawberry, raspberry and orange sorbet scents all well defined and unlike the previous wines...vivacious. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, tobacco and cigar ash infusing the solid core of red fruit with a long structured finish. It is not the greatest La Fleur-Petrus that I have tasted however, it is a great contribution to the vintage. Excellent.
WS 94-97 Packed, with raspberry, blackberry and boysenberry confiture notes, this features dense but perfectly rounded grip and a long, authoritative finish that ripples with charcoal and smoldering tobacco leaf details. Serious juice.—Tasted non-blind.
JS 93-94 This comes out at the finish with dark berry, cherry and mineral character. Full body, firm tannins and a fresh finish. Solid and structured. Shows potential.
JR 16.5 Racy and dense and lively. Lots of density and lift too. Correct and dense. Slightly inky finish. A hint of green on the end. 
Certan de May (WA 85-87 WS91-94 JS 93-94 JR 16.5)
€67.5
WA 85-87 The Château Certan-de-May 2014 has a commendable bouquet, not complex but with satisfying blackberry and raspberry fruit coming through, touches of chalk dust and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied with a conservative entry and this continues throughout the wine, rather dry-ish tannins, very linear, nicely composed but missing the joie-de-vivre of some other Pomerol crus, or the charm of say, the Latour-à-Pomerol. It needs to muster something more by the time of bottling given the reputation of this name and the strong performance of past vintages.
WS 91-94 Shows a perfumy profile, with rooibos tea, blood orange and warm raspberry coulis notes leading the way. The structure marries a silky and fine-grained wood feel, letting the fruit smolder through the finish.—Tasted non-blind. 
JS 93-94 This is very long with chewy tannins and lots of fruit. Full and juicy with a wonderful length. Lasts a long time. Best in years from here.
JR 16.5 Dark blackish crimson. Heady, classic friendly Pomerol. Already relatively open on the nose. Mulberries and roundness. Light to medium weight. Not the most ambitious but a friendly beacon for traditionalists. A slightly bitter note on the end. 
Le Gay (WA90-92 JS90-91 JR17.5)
€66
WA 90-92 A tightly wound bouquet with subtle tertiary scents, woodland aromas infusing the red and black berry fruit. This is a more classic take of this Pomerol cru. The palate is very well balanced with fine, supple tannins and nicely judged acidity. It is a dialled back Le Gay compared to recent vintages, one that maintains satisfying balance, if not the peacock's tail that has adorned other vintages. It's no "2010", a wine that I consider a benchmark for the estate, but it will drink nicely over the next 10 to 15 years. 
JS 90-91 Serious fruit with ripeness and pretty tannic texture. We will see.
JR 17.5 Dark crimson. Very meaty luscious Pomerol nose. Rich and glamorous. Really fine and palate soothing. Not big and heavy but well-polished tannins and masses of flattering fruit. 
Clinet (AWL 93-95 WA 89-91 JS91-92 WS91-94 JR15.5+)
€48.5
AWL 93-95 Freshly crushed fruit, black spices, minerals and ‎slightly aggressive oak in the nose. Full-bodied with a complex and rich mouthful. Impressive wine.  
WA 89-91  It has a well-defined bouquet, quite stony compared to more fruit-driven Pomerol 14's, scents of gravel percolating through the light blackberry and boysenberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with quite firm, slightly abrasive tannin at the moment that will hopefully be abraded during its barrel age. It feels a little attenuated on the finish and you feel taken aback by the lack of its usual concentration and flamboyance on the finish. Interestingly a second sample (at the UGC) showed more cohesion and weight on the finish vs to the sample at the château. Ronan Laborde has produced some truly wonderful wines at Clinet in recent years, but I need convincing that the 2014 will join their ranks. I will hopefully re-taste this later during its barrel maturation and report back.
JS 91-92 This is layered and intense with mineral, chalk, berry and olive character. Full, very fine and refined. Tight. Let’s see. 
WS 91-94 The lush raspberry and plum fruit flavours are lined with an ample but velvety structure, leading to a long, spice-infused finish. Ripe but not overdone, this is sure to be a head-turner.
JR 15.5+ Overripe notes on the nose. A little dull on the palate. Very stolid and without any real pace and direction. Drink 2022-2032
Gazin (AWL92-94 WA91-93 WS90-93 JR16)
€44

AWL 92-94 Sweet dark cherry fruit with plums, spices and minerals. Good concentration and freshness. 
WA 91-93 I like the freshness on the nose here: more black than red fruit, a little broody and introspective at the moment but well defined with mineral tones coming through. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin and nicely judged acidity. There is a sense of nonchalance about this Gazin, nothing over-ambitious, something perhaps in keeping with the vintage, uninteresting in replicating the 2009 or 2010, happy in its own skin. 
WS 90-93 A fresh and juicy style, with lots of blueberry, raspberry and plum coulis flavours that race through the anise-accented finish. Features ample, well-integrated toast. 
JR 16 Mid crimson. Sweet and simple and easy without great density of fruit but quite a bit of tannin underneath. For the moment the frame dominates the flesh. Drink 2023-2031

L’Eglise Clinet (AWL 96-98 WA93-95 JS94-95 WS92-95 JR17)
€146
AWL ‎96-98 Dark purple ruby. Kirsch, cherry liqueur, black spices and tea in the excellent bouquet. ‎Full-bodied with an amazing fruit and spice profile. Very rich and complex. 
WA 93-95  It has a gorgeous bouquet that boasts exquisite precision. It is not an intense nose but one that unfurls in the glass, revealing red berries, myrtle and more mineralité than probably any other Pomerol ’14 that I tasted from barrel. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin. This is utterly harmonious, the Cabernet Franc more expressive than the 10% would suggest with a long, sophisticated finish whose cousin might be say, Vieux-Château-Certan. This continues a run of outstanding vintages from Denis Durantou and should offer 20+ years of drinking enjoyment. 
WS 92-95 Very refined, with alluring raspberry, plum and boysenberry fruit, inlaid with fine-grained structure and backed by a long rooibos tea- and fruitcake-infused finish. Latent grip lurks in the background. 
JR 17 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 70% new oak. Picked 26 September to 4 October. 18,000 bottles. Very dark crimson. Very rich and perfumed. Sweet and polished but perhaps with a little less earthiness and fire than usual. Big and bold. And a little drying on the end.  14%. Drink 2023-2037
La Conseillante (AWL93-95 WA 92-94 JS94-95 JR17- )
€ 73
AWL 93-95 78% Merlot  22% Cabernet Franc, 75% new oak.  Deep purple ruby.  Blueberry, blackcurrant and spices in the nose. The minerally palate is generous and filling with a nice structure and depth. ‎A serious wine.  
WA 92-94 As you would expect, there is far more fruit intensity on the nose compared to the Duo, with dry tobacco-infused red and black fruit, hints of Provençal herb and black truffle - very Pomerol in style. The palate delivers the class. Supple in the mouth, very well judged acidity, poised and long, the Cabernet Franc drives this along and elevates the finish in terms of complexity. There are light spices entering the fray towards the finish that is feminine and nuanced with lovely salinity on the aftertaste that will urge you to take another sip. I was admittedly a little underwhelmed by the deuxième vin this year, but the grand vin makes up for it. It is another great Pomerol from ever-congenial winemaker Jean-Michel Laporte and his team. 
JS 94-95 Wow. This really kick in here with lots of subtle yet fresh fruit and a chewy and long finish. Muscular and long with a wonderful elegance. The winemaker says the Cabernet Franc gives the style and structure here. And he’s right. 
JR 17- Dark, healthy crimson. Intense, robust fruit with a sort of Pontet-Canet kind of chunkiness. Tannins are not the smoothest. Full marks for drama but not for subtlety. Drink 2024-2036

L’Evangile (AWL94-96 WA92-94 JS91-92 WS93-96 JR17.5)
€99
AWL 94-96 82% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc (higher in the future). Deep purple and ruby colour. Minerals, earth, red berry fruit and creme de cassis in the nose. Expressive mouthful of fresh dark fruit and sweet herbs. More feminine compared to La Conseillante.
WA 92-94 It has a very refined bouquet, the Cabernet Franc lending a slight savory character. The palate is beautifully structured with a fine line of acidity. The black fruit is suffused with a hint of sweet coconut coming through on the finish from the oak. That will be subsumed with time. This is quite a powerful L’Evangile with fine tannins and an insistent grip. This is an impressive L'Evangile and it may warrant a higher score after bottling.  
JS 91-92 Aromas of blackberries, oyster shell and black liquorice. Full body and a firm and muscular backbone of tannins. Slightly austere. 
WS 93-96 Tightly coiled for now, offering raspberry, bitter plum and dark currant fruit that should unwind slowly. Features charcoal and smouldering tobacco notes, with a hint of loam underscoring the finish. Always among the more muscular Pomerols, with a substantial percentage of Cabernet Franc. 
JR 17.5 82% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc. Some of the Cabernet Franc vines were planted in 2006 and are in this for the first time. Black lustrous crimson. Fresh, transparent nose. Round and seductive. Difficult to even see the tannins. Flattering and very vibrant. Long.  14.2%. Drink 2022-2037
Vieux Château Certan (AWL 94-95 WA95-97 JS95-96 WS94-97 JR18.5)
€115

AWL 94-95 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dried herbs, red and black currant, spices and a bit of sweet vanilla in the excellent bouquet. Great palate of ripe fruit, coffee, milk chocolate and minerals. Lovely balance with good acidity and length.
WA 95-97 Noticeably deep and clear in colour, the nose takes time to "rev up” but stick with it because it eventually reveals exquisite pure blackberry and briary scents. It is not a powerful set of aromatics but they are so finely tuned and pretty. The palate is one of the best you will find this vintage: very precise and focused, here the intensity delivered by that Cabernet Franc, complex and cerebral like the best VCC’s. Truffle, blackberry, woodland aromas waft temptingly from the glass and there is the perfect balance of sweetness and reserve to beg another sip. Alexandre and his son, Guillaume Thienpont may have overseen the best wine of the vintage. 
JS 95-96 There’s a purity of fruit in this wine that shows the soil and uniqueness with wet earth, tobacco, mushroom and red fruits. Full and silky with fine tannins and a fresh finish. The 20% Cabernet Franc makes this wine great. It’s like a wonderfully cut ruby.
WS 94-97 Reserved in terms of aroma, but shows beautiful mouthfeel and depth, with pure cassis, blueberry and plum fruit that glides along, laced with a lively tobacco leaf note and backed by a sanguine twinge. Ample singed vanilla and alder accents chime in as well, but they stay in the background while the fruit plays out.
JR 18.5 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Multi-dimensional. Intense and super-healthy nose. Intense and wonderfully round and fresh. Lifted and frisky. Wonderful undertow. His just-deceased oenologue (since 1962/63) would be delighted with this wine of haute cuisine, racy but round and properly full of complex fruit. Complete.  13.4%. Drink 2023-2036

 

Barsac and Sauternes

Guiraud (WA93-95 WS94-97 JS92-93 JR17)
€34
 
WA 93-95 Perfumed bouquet with clear honey, beeswax and honeysuckle aromas that are well defined. The palate is fresh and taut on the entry: good tension and focus here, very harmonious with a gently build in the mouth towards a satisfying marmalade and quince-driven finish. This is a finely crafted Guiraud that will be a class act. 
WS 94-97 A juicy, engaging core of apricot, nectarine and green fig is backed by ginger and spiced apple accents. Orange zest notes enliven the finish even more. Shows solid length, power and precision. 
JS 92-93 There’s a pretty core of dried fruit and botrytis with dried apricots. Full body. Tight now.
JR 17 Relatively deep gold. Lightly cheesy nose and then massive sweetness on the palate. Really full and impressive. Long and full but with freshness on the finish. Interesting! Drink 2025-2040
 
Climens (WA 94-96)
€49
WA 94-96 The Château Climens was tasted from several lots that Bérénice Lurton and her team are preparing to blend together during its barrel maturation. Having conducted this practice over many years, I would point out that whereas in some years one has to conjecture to the full, in 2014 the lots were both smaller in number, less heterogeneous and paradoxically, more "complete". This made it easier to envisage the final wine. Here, you had to focus on the second trie where 80% of the crop was picked with widespread onset of botrytis. There are fleeting senses of dried honey, juniper berries and marigold, dried apricot on a couple of barrels. There is clearly good acidity here, most of the lots spicier than 2013. As usual, this Climens is bestowed a sense of volume and persistence in the mouth and you have the sense that this will be a more approachable Barsac compared to other vintages. Overall, Bérénice Lurton has a winning Climens on her hands, one that will in the top two or three sweet wines of the vintage.
Coutet (JS92-93 WA93-95+ WS95–98 JR18)
€26.5
WA 93-95+ This Coutet '14 has a complex bouquet with razor-sharp, minerally, citrus fruit mixed with wild honey and a touch of Riesling-like petrol. The palate is totally convincing. There is a great thrust of rich botrytized fruit sliced through with Coutet’s trademark acidity, despite the spoonfuls of sugar, that lends this such vibrancy and tension. It possesses and almost clinical precision with long persistence on the finish. This is a divine Coutet that may warrant a higher score subject to how it evolves in barrel. 
JS 92-93 This shows a lively density, intensity of fruit and spiciness. Pineapples as well. Full body, medium sweetness and a long finish. 
WS 95-98 Plump at first, with a praline note around the heather, pineapple and nectarine flavours. Stretches out, with a juicy feel, while orange blossom and white peach accents fill in, imparting lift and cut. This packs a bit of power, but there’s lots of buried freshness as well. The finish is seriously long already. 
JR 18 Looks heavy in the glass. Unusually spicy. This wine really grabs the palate in a tactile way. Lots of texture and tension between sweetness and acidity. Exuberant. And unashamed. Drink 2020-2040
Rieussec (JS97-98 WS92-95)
€46.5

JS 97-98 This has a phenomenal finish. It’s dense yet agile with dried tropical fruits and spices. Honey, too. Yet so intense and powerful. It really lasts for minutes. Medium sweet yet so fruity and energetic. This shows how you can have ripeness with fruit and then lots of botrytis. Exciting wine. 
WS 92-95 Praline, peach and pecan notes lead the way, followed by apricot and nectarine fruit flavours. Juicy and lush, this has good depth and the vibrancy to match through the finish. 

Suduiraut (WA95-97 JS97-98 WS93-96 JR18)
€ 47.5
WA 95-97 It needed some coaxing on the nose so I afforded the sample five minutes of rigorous swirling. It was worth the effort as it reveals intense clear honey and mineral scents that possess exquisite definition, one of those aromatics that stop you in your tracks. The palate is clean and fresh with vibrant acidity, great depth and power as it fans out in glorious fashion on the bravura finish. The phrase "It will knock your socks off” comes to mind, so wear a couple of pairs. 
JS 97-98 Best since 2005? It has a unique style of botrytis intensity yet fresh, agile and bright. It’s full-bodied, delicate and refined. The palate is full of figs, spices, dried mushrooms and earth. It lasts for minutes. It makes you want to drink it now! 
WS 93-96 A round, dense, mouthfilling style, with lots of dried apricot and mango notes, layered with praline, dacquoise and piecrust accents. Despite the heft, there’s clarity and balance here. An impressive young Sauternes in the making. 
JR 18 Really quite subtle nose. Big and bold – much richer and sweeter than most 2014s. Lots of different wild-flower aromas in here – interesting. Relatively heavy. But then there is lots of acidity on the end. Reverberant. Drink 2022-2040 


La Tour Blanche (WA 92-94 JS 90-91 WS 90–93 JR 18+)
€ 29.5

WA 92-94  It was showing a little muddled on the nose due to a dab of SO2, though that is no crime, no fault at this early stage. Putting that aside, the palate shows great potential with intense honeyed fruit, plenty of botrytis, veins of orange zest and quince that seems to "flow” through the finish. It will need some bottle age, but we all know how this Sauternes repays patience. I have my faith in this La Tour 
JS 90-91 A rich and round wine with medium sweetness yet full-bodied, spicy and fruity. Shows potential.
WS 90–93 Features lots of inviting shortbread, lemon custard, creamed white peach and yellow apple notes bouncing along, with a lingering white ginger accent on the finish.
JR 18+ Subtle and luscious without any excess of sweetness. Bravo! Layers and real interest. Not fat – more sinew than fat. Long and with the richness well balanced by freshness. Drink 2022-2040