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Palate Profiling

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-04-27


I’ll admit to having been a little apprehensive when walking into my session to be Palate Profiled by Master of Wine Marina Gayan, accompanied by her business partner and chef Helen Nathan, as they geared up to observe my every sniff and swirl.

You see, my love of wine stretches back more than 30 years to my first ‘proper’ job at a restaurant in leafy South-Wes London. The seeds of my vinous enthusiasm had been sown during quite a few years already thanks to Augustus Barnett, a large chain of Off Licences for whom I’d worked since the age of 14 during every single school holiday. Apart from having to fib about my age for 2 years and 6 working stints across many of their outlets (it’s illegal to work in an Off Licence under the age of 16) it was a fantastic early education – in wine, the cleansing properties of gin and life in general. I earned good money and even better tips. As a casual worker, no one bothered with background checks in those days…

That first restaurant job: I’d been recruited as restaurant manager, although it quickly became apparent that my newly acquired degree in Law was deemed rather more useful by the proprietor who was due to appear in court to answer allegations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs that he’d been illegally importing South American hooch (which he had).  

Although an expert in distilled cactus juice, the proprietor-cum-smuggler knew very little about wine, and gave me carte blanche to build an interesting wine list. This was exciting, and my first chance to taste in-depth across abroad range of wines and styles.

In the early 1980s the large importers and suppliers to the restaurant trade were taking the proverbial piss, selling emperor’s old clothes in the form of tasteless Entre-Deux-Mers in transparent bottles, stringy clarets and thin, acidic Burgundies. Within a few weeks the old hack reps had been shown the door and I was off on a voyage of discovery, taking the restaurant’s clientele with me.

Fast forward three decades, and I was curious to understand whether I really did understand my own palate and my assumed preferences. I’d completed a detailed questionnaire a couple of weeks before the session that gave Marina a sense of my sensitivities towards certain parts of the aroma and taste spectrum, whilst giving her food for thought with the odd contradiction.

The session kicked off by smelling different teas, from fruity, floral, to aromatic and smoky. Having woken up the senses, and torn off a corner of the still-warm Challah prepared by Helen that morning, it was straight down to business.

The focus was on whites, although she’ll profile via reds or champagnes and sparkling wines too.

As you might imagine, the wines served represented a very broad church, at one end of the spectrum being herbaceous, showing delicate floral aromas and infusions of sweet oranges and zesty lemons.

Occupying the middle ground were aromas and flavours of lemonade, nectarine and peach.

At the more powerful end of the spectrum there was smoke, gorgeous oxidative notes balanced on a tightrope of acidity,powerful fruit; un-oaked wines with higher levels of alcohol and oaked wines with much lower than expected alcohol levels, to baffle and challenge taster preconceptions.

By the end, I’d tasted a range of wines in a single session, expertly arranged, that I’d not experienced for ages. My own palate preferences were pretty much confirmed (which was reassuring) but I learned something much more significant: the excitement of discovering new wines that I loved. The session awoke the ‘wine child’ in me, opened my eyes afresh, and definitely broadened my mind.



Wines tastedAlc.RRP
12015 Felsner Moosburgerin Grüner Veltliner. Kremstal 
12.5% 
£12.49
22014 Grosset Alea Riesling. Clare Valley 
12.5% 
£24.99
32014 Pazo de Señorans Albariño. Rias Baixas 
14% 
£16.95
42014 Larry Cherubino, Laissez Faire Fiano. Frankland River 
13.5% 
£23.95
52014 Francois Chidaine Les Argiles. Vouvray 
12.5% 
£22.99
62009 Domaine François Villard, Le Grand Vallon. Condrieu 
13.7% 
£29.25
72010 Neudorf Vineyards Chardonnay. Nelson 
14% 
£29.95
82000 Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva. Rioja 
12.5% 
£32.99 
92007 Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon. Hunter Valley 
11.5% 
£33.99


On the back of this experience, we’ve teamed up with Gayan and Nathan to offer a special deal.

They will arrange a profiling session for two people at £695 (usually the cost per person). The special Wine Owners price includes:

Initial conversation and questionnaire

Eight wines (around £20.00 RSP per bottle)

Blind tasting session with Marina Gayan MW (lasting approximately around 1.5 hours)

Substantial canapés prepared by Helen Nathan to match the wines

Follow up findings document

To allow as many of our members as possible to experience a sneak preview, we’re giving away complementary taster Guyan & Nathan online profiles (via questionnaire) with some feedback included about your taste palate. To quality, you simply need to sign up to one of the Wine Owners premium subscriptions - Wine Lover or Collector – and you’ll receive the initial profile exercise free of charge.



Clos Rougeard at Noble Rot

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-04-19


This extraordinary vertical of Clos Rougeard (1976-2010) was held at Noble Rot, courtesy of Jordi Orriols-Gill of Rare Wine Vintages. There were 23 wines served in total, accompanied by an excellent menu that played a fine supporting role to the wines.




Clos Rougeard Saumur Blanc Brézé
1993 Fresh, fruited, green fig nose, faint oxidative hints, bright attack yet waxy textured, threaded acidity and exceptionally persistent. Super long. Ridiculously mouthwatering. Desert Island stuff, like a tuning fork in its intensity.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Blanc Brézé 2000 Perfume and camphor nose, rose petals, a dry vermouth-like spirity-ness. Herbal and the freshness builds with almost the same supreme length as 1993
Clos Rougeard Saumur Blanc Brézé
2005 Quince nose. Sandalwood and white flowers. Enormous intensity, primary, coiled. Give it 10 years



Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
1976 Corky nose, damp cardboard, metallic palate at first. Jordi reckoned this wasn't corked. He was right, after an hour it had cleaned up, Still, the second bottle for the other table had creamy fruit, and was lovely. The only below par bottle of the night as it turned out on our table - so we can count ourselves lucky.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
1985 Dusty nose but this has energy and a progression that is proper. Lovely finish. Overall a highly strung wine. Trying hard to present a beautiful public face but the age-lines are there. On its downward descent.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
1986 Animal, leathery nose, bright, mouthwatering a little dry in the mid palate, over the other side of its plateau. Lovely mouthwatering finish nonetheless. I hour later just a touch spirity but a little more integrated and a touch of alcohol on the finish now the fruit is fading. Past its best.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
1988 Great herbal nose, with an anis background and a touch of game. Ah, this is more like it. Lovely density and progression, fantastic energy and enormous length. This has lovely poise.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Le Bourg' 1989 Darkly perfumed nose, a touch of cedar, warm entry, licorice and a little spice, and the spice is tangible too with a heady mid-palate. Very satisfying. Lifted, blackcurrant leaf finish. Long
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Le Bourg' 1990

Red fruits and cedar nose, enormous energy and brilliant finish. Great length and more of an expression of Bordeaux that any other of the night thus far.

Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
1993 Pure nose, heady and spiced, redcurrenty undercurrent. Velvety palate, sweet, a little taste of heaven. Supremely integrated with an elegantly veined length.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
1994 Extremely pure nose of licorice and peppercorn, so very gently sweet and svelte, so silken and smooth. The perfect sweetness. Strawberries on the finish and then a mouthwatering pithy finale. 
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Le Bourg'
1995 Damp wool and perfumed nose. Sheep dipped in Joy par Jean Patou! On the palate the wine delivers a knock out punch. Not sweet, not dry. Aromatic. Sappy (in the best sense of the word) fresh finish. Such shape to the wine. Haute Couture, shaped like an hourglass.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux' 1995 Nose of pure seduction. Silky and cedary, liquory texture thanks to melted tannins. Fully resolved. Rose infused mid-palate, intensity without weight, vibrant, heady finish
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Le Bourg'
1996 Crystalline nose. Alluring organic nose like sleeping next to someone. Burgundian weight. Dark flashes of fruit, interspersed with brighter notes, like shafts of light. Vibrant and heady length. Tonight's expression of Burgundy and what an expression! Warm finish but the warmth does not come from alcohol. Visceral. Perfection. Sherbetty profile on the finish. This went so well with the gorgeous lamb served by the Noble Rot team.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
1999 Delicate nose, fabulous aromatics, striking palate. Delightful fruitiness and exuberance with the prickliness of acidity on the finish.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Le Bourg'
2000 Wood box nose, whiff of varnish, deep warm attack. Huge. Needs a bit more time.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
2002 Yeasty, bready nose, tight entry, citrus fruit, grapefruit, big flavours, boisterous wine. Lovely dry finish. Lots of concentration. Young. Will be one for the future. Tremendous potential.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Le Bourg'
2005 Spiced nose, oranges and mulberries. The warmth of Bourg, liquory texture, like a dry version of Cointreau. The orange in there continues into the finish.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Le Bourg'
2007 Creamy nose, preserved lemons and white pepper, like a lemon posset - creamy attack, sticky ripe fruit, yet sherbetty on the mid palate. Very, very long. 
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Le Bourg'
2008 Potential writ large. Enormous concentration. Pithy, really pithy. Rapier like focus. All about the future. It's impossible to pin down, with at first a dark finish, then a bright finish. Amazing undercurrent of intense fruit.
Clos Rougeard Saumur Saumur-Champigny 'Les Poyeux'
2010 Round, ripe fruit. Fruity and yeasty. Intense fruit, on the terrific attack. Sticky lip-smacking fruit, fresh and plenty of potential. Great focus, like a corsetted wine. Extraordinary length







Bordeaux 2015 Tasting Notes

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-04-11



POMEROL



 TOP 5

VALUES

DISAPPOINT

Chateau Beauregard

Usually a favourite. I loved 2010. Not this time.

85



3

Le Bon Pasteur

Nice grainy entry - warm finish though which spoils it.

89




La Cabanne

Slightly funky mid palate nice bright finish. Overall it's no from me…

86




Clinet

Rather good, dense, more to come, very controlled finish, but what I don't get is character. Will be adored by others no doubt.

93




La Croix de Gay

Lush now, Big powerful flavours, red fruits but actually a proper slug of excitement, lovely concentration, and controlled finish. Yes this is good.

95+


1


Gazin

Depth, grainy tannins, lifted mid-palate, nice intensity, firm finish good length.

94+


4


Petit Villages

Nice density, vinosity, a touch of alcohol evident at this stage  and soft tannins with a fresh finish. The alcohol marks it down.

92




La Conseillante

Velvety texture. Gorgeous fruit on midpalate, lovely progression, extremely ripe, sweet tannins. Extremely silky finish, edgeless which worries me for its future, but overall there's a 3 dimensionality to it that will guarantee it has plenty of fans this year and could augur well.

93-96




Duo de Conseillante

Cedary attack, nice length with a prickle of acidity. Yeasty, meaty midpalate. Tasty but a bit short on refinement, A Marmite wine?

89




Vieux Chateau Certan

Refined nose, liquory, the structure of this wine creates a clear mental image when you taste it, this wine's all about transparency and a firm finish. No excess weight. Porcelain-like beauty.

97+

2




SAINT EMILION



TOP 5

VALUES

DISAPPOINT

Canon La Gaffeliere

Dark colour sweet fruit attack, good fresh progression. Decent, medium finish 

92-93




La Couspade

Porty nose, monster.

82




La Dominique

Balanced fresh quite big middle. Not so long. Sunday lunch candidate.

90




Clos Fourtet

Cedary nose slight touch of alcohol, liquory texture, round fruited entry, nice intensity, balance is there, good controlled finish. 

94




La Gaffeliere

Dark colour big nose . Good attack, slightly rustic finish. Nice though

89




Berliquet

Vinous nose extracted attack, sticky fruit, grippy finish




Larcis Ducasse

Overpowering nose not attractive, more sticky fruit. Thick and sweet.

86




Pavie Macquin

Macerated black cherries nose black cherries on palate very controlled finish, big but I like it. Freshness relieves a long finish, but not enough to lose some definition.

91




Soutard

Lots of extract, bright concentration freshness and a focused finish. But alcoholic with a massive finish. Essence of wine.

87




Troplong Mondot

Creamy, big  too big, firm finish. Over extracted?

89



4

Trottevielle

Flat.

84




Chateau Villemaurine

Strangely aromatic and cheesy.

83




Chateau Cheval Blanc

No Petit Cheval this year. All's in the Grand Vin. It was that good apparently. The wine is lovely but not 2010. Maybe they are preparing for a better release price EP? Aromatic fresh Gorgeous nose, smoky fine attack, great finish. Long of course.

97




L'Angelus

Powerful attack but with lovely mid-palate finesse and a very good finish.

95




Balestard La Tonnelle

Powerful nose of intensely aromatic fruit. Full-on sweet.

86




Chateau Beau-Sejour

Super aromatic nose, powerful, ripe, big

87




Canon

Cedary nose. Very intense, extremely ripe but not overdone, liquorish root, vinous mid palate. Fresh lift. Warm finish. Sweet tannic finish.  Finish lingers, not in a linear way, but it's insinuating and utterly delicious.

96




Chateau Figeac

Super aromatics, svelte, concentrated but not heavy. Character and depth. Great length.

95




Dragon de Quintus

Intense, fresh, balanced with a dumb nose. Better than many of the hotter offerings

89-91




Chateau Quintus

Cool nose. Integrated, alcohol is present, yet more restrained than many.

91+





PESSAC LEOGNAN



TOP 5

VALUES

DISAPPOINT

Chateau Bouscaut

Characterful nose with substance

90




Chateaux Carbonnieux

Bright entry, grippy finish, not sure how long this is?

88




Les Carmes Haut Brion

Beautiful vinous nose, fragrant palate, fine tannins. Very good. Exciting.

95


5


Domaine de Chevalier

Fruity attack, pretty mid palate, aromatic lift, excellent intensity and a lovely sweet finish.

94-95+




Chateau de Fieuzal

Vinous nose, a little rustic, good intensity but not such a great finish.

88




Chateau de France

Pretty nose, agreeable with a ripe finish.

89




Chateau Haut Bergy

Bright, a bit unknit.

86-87




Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion

Fruit nose, integrated palate, touch of spice, grippy finish.

91-93




Chateau Latour Martillac

Green finish

83




Chateau La Louviere

Up front caramel flavours, modern, easy, not my style.

83




Malartic Lagraviere

Attractive nose, lovely aromatic mid palate, very grippy finish.

87




Chateau Olivier

Fragrant nose, powerful mid palate, not together at this stage.

86




Chateau Pape Clement

Liquory nose, bright leafy fruit and intense finish. This is gorgeous, in a much more delieated style than I've experienced before from Pape Clement.

97+

5



Chateau Pique Caillou

Pleasant.

87



5

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Vinous nose, powerful, unknit finish, serious.

93+




Chateau Haut Bailly

Aromatic freshly spiced, liqorice, grainy, silky tannins. Fantastic.

95+




La Chapelle de Haut-Brion

This seems to be trying quite hard. Firm entry. Herbaceous. But it improves with length and sweetens in the mouth.

90




Le Clarence de Haut-Brion

Nice nose, lovely grainy entry, nice intensity, mouthwatering finish, with a pruney merlot finish spoiling the shape of the wne's progression…at this stage.

92




Chateau La Mission Haut Brion

Aromatic, grippy, very cool and controlled. Licorice root and large scale fruity mid palate. Long.

95




Chateau Haut-Brion

Great aromatics on the nose. Extremely controlled, tannic, dry and very serious. Very primary though. A tough one to taste, but there's nothing made up about this wine. Could be one to watch as it develops. I'd love to retaste this. Reminds me of the great 1986. Don't buy this to drink unless you know you'll be alive in 25 years.This is not a points-chaser.

95-98

3



  

MEDOC - HAUT MEDOC - LISTRAC - MOULIS


TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau Senejac

Pleasant with a slightly green finish

85




Chateau Chassse-Spleen

Nice entry, firm finish, OK

86




Chateau Cantemerle

Some substance to it, firm with a grippy finish.

87




Chateau Sociando Mallet

Very firm, serious, possibly lacking a little flesh in the middle

88





MARGAUX



TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau Brane Cantenac

Fragrant, firm, solid, fleshy middle with freshness and good build/ progression. Good substance, lovely finish.

92-93




Chateau Cantenac Brown

This has energy and drives through a pure mid-palate. Light on its feet with a long finish.

94




Chateau Dauzac

OK

89




Chateau Durfort Vivens

This is lively, middle weight with nice intensity and is interesting to drink - savoury and balanced. The intensity v weight equation reminds me of Burgundy. Best here for ages? Could be a bargain.

92+




Chateau Ferriere

Extract and elegance in equal measure with a slightly diffuse finish.

90




Chateau Giscours

Powerful. Lovely intensity. Round fruited - meaning it's nice but could do with a touch of excitement.

90




Chateau Desmirail

Substance and good grip.

90




Chateau Kirwan

Lovely fresh nose, lively acidity and extremely good length. I'm impressed with this.

93-94




Chateau Rauzan Gassies

Dry and deep with medium length. Classic.

91




Chateau Malescot St Exupery

As always, denser, more spiced, layered and with nice sweet fruit. Notwithstanding a mildly lifted midpalate and some nice rigour to it. Overall, alluringly plush and homogeneously styled. 

92




Chateau D'Issan

Good intensity fresh, nice definition, much more direct than Brane Cantenac, and the acidity drives it forward. Mouthwatering end of palate. My sort of wine.

93+




Chateau Rauzan Segla

Perfumed nose, as you'd expect from Chanel. Succulence and grip in the right proportions. Excellent intensity.

94+




Chateau Lascombes

Dull.

86




Ego de Palmer

Somewhat mute and fruity nose. Lovely density and aromatic profile. Grainy, cedary mid palate coated in sweet fruit. Nice lift and sweet, sappy quality. If only this wasn't going to be silly money.

92




Chateau Palmer

Impressive nose, sweet aromatic profile on the nose. Lovely sweet fruit, touch of damsons, tannins very sweet, though pushing through and there are lots of them. Big wine but those tannins curtail the length for now. Iron fist in velvet glove. It'll be quite a long wait.

96




Chateau Labegorce

Tannic and grippy but with the guts to make an interesting bottle in the future.

89




Chateau Marquis de Terme

Don't know this wine but it was very pleasant.

90




Chateau Prieuré Lichine

Mid weight

88




Chateau Siran

Fragrant nose,middle of the road. I wanted more after that nose had led me in.

88




Pavillon Rouge

Fabulous mid palate following a beautiful aromatic entry. stunning firm tarry silky tannins. Best second wine?

94




Chateau Margaux

Elegant nose, crystalline, layered, very aromatic entry in the mouth. Stunning length. This is great. 

97+

1




ST JULIEN



TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau Gloria

Nice wine, good intensity and freshness. The Martin legacy continues. We approve of the surname and suspect we may not be alone.

92




Chateau Lagrange

Good grippy mid palate, fresh and mouthwatering, well handled tannins. Nice surprise for me now the Lagrange style is back in the fold.

93




Chateau Langoa Barton

Lots of fleshy middle, a bit angular but will be lovely if it can come together with age.

92




Chateau Talbot

Medium full, spiced, open and pretty. Medium long. There's a definite Talbot style emerging since 2010 and it stands out.

92-93




Chateau St Pierre

This is fantastic. Spiced, dense, freshly lifted mid palate and aromatics of the vintage.

94-95


3


Chateau Beychevelle

Delicious mid palate, balance uber alles and a nice bright finish. Reminds me of the '14s in its un-extracted style

93




Chateau Leoville Barton

Nice nose, good intensity, balanced and the progression is very pleasing. Classic style, but is it better than rather good?

93+




Chateau Leoville Poyferré

Very consistent, quite grippy, mid palate is good but a little unexciting.

92




Chateau Gruaud Larose

This is excellent. Good attack and medium weight.

91-94




Chateau Branaire-Ducru

Good balanced wine.

91




Chateau Leoville Las Cases

This is lovely, elegant and restrained wine. Antithesis of the bigger plush styled wines

97+




Chateau Lalande Borie

Nice mid weight pepper and Merlot soft fruit - boring.

86




Croix de Beaucaillou

More modern style, soft approachable sappy finish. Good in its way.

89




Chateau de Ducru-Beaucaillou

Fine nose crystalline fruit nice controlled finish very silky tannins

95





PAUILLAC



TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau D'Armailhac

Cedar and perfume nose. Generous attack, and a rather lovely mid-palate. Complete for this level.

93




Chateau Clerc-Milon

Aromatic nose, fresher attack, nice definition, dark cherry mid palate. Builds. Long. Could be a bargain of the vintage.

94-95


2


Petit Mouton

Reductive nose? Dry entry and mid palate, with silky tannins. Not showy but crystalline fruit.

91




Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Vinous nose, refined, liqoury texture and a sappy mid palate. Gravelly notes, mouth-coating fruit. Massive tannic structure and they provide a bitter twist at the end that takes a little away from an otherwise beautiful wine. I think I prefer 2014 ultimately at the same stage of the game.

96




Chateau Batailley

Middle of the road. 

88




Chateau Croizet-Bages

Nice density, liquorice note and tight finish. Real wine!

91+




Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse

This is quite good. Lots of mid palate intensity.

90




Chateau Grand-Puy Lacoste

Fresh, lifted and great mid palate. Lovely lift and it's long. Yes please.

94




Chateau Haut Bages Libéral

OK, grippy finish. Angular.

87




Chateau Lynch Bages

Mid weight. A disappointment given previous vintages and the lovely 2014.

88



1

Chateau Lynch Moussas

Good wine, nice balance.

90




Chateau Haut-Batailley

Nice sappy wine, pretty with a licorice finish.

89




Chateau Pichon-Baron

Extremely good with an expressive nose and very integrated palate. Long.

96




Chateau Pichon-Longueville

Fine, with lovely stuffing and a lifted mid palate. Its long and shapely. The less showy of the two Pichons. I like the restraint. Time will tell, for now it's all potential rather than what it is today.

93-96




Chateau Pontet Canet

Perfumed, ripe nose with just a touch of caramel, fantastic weight, mid palate firmness and with the substance to coat the tannic structure that is clearly there. This is extremely well judged, lovely natural balance to it, and my favourite Pontet Canet for some time. It doesn't have the extraordinary levels of the elements that 2010 exhibited; this is a less elemental wines. Beauty rather than Beast.

97





SAINT-ESTEPHE



TOP 5 VALUES DISAPPOINT

Chateau Lafon-Rochet

A success, fine and integrated.

91




Chateau Ormes de Pez

Ok only. Something missing in the middle for now, insistent nonetheless.

87



2

Chateau de Pez

This shows nice progression. Nicely judged.

89+




Chateau Phélan Ségur

Bright attack, unknit for now, good weight though, fresh fruit, nicely textured mid palate.

92





Michel Rolland's Bordeaux 'bashing' rant

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-04-07



When asked by a French journalist if he thought 2015 was an antidote to the Bordeaux fine wine market 'bashing' of certain journalists, Monsieur Rolland let fly:

“There’s no cure for imbecility - it's reaching colossal proportions. For me, 2015 is a truly great vintage. There are too many idiots to notice. They’ll figure it out in 10 years’ time, as usual. We live in a world without gumption; with people without balls. End of story. There isn’t a journalist who's seeing it. Anyway, there isn’t a wine writer with any substance in the world today. I don't give a damn about what journalists say. That has nothing to do with the market. They can say, write and think what they want; the world won't give a hoot, just as it doesn't care what happened in 40 AD! (from the idiom 's'en foutre comme de l'an quarante' - a year which had been predicted as the end of the world). When they realise that, maybe they’ll eat humble pie. Not that they’ll become intelligent - that will be difficult - but maybe they'll learn to think differently.”


Bordeaux 2015 Overview

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2016-04-07


Back from Bordeaux and having tasted widely across all the major communes, for a good proportion of the wines at least twice, we can report that 2015 will be a very good to excellent overall vintage.

The wines have nice density accompanied by varying degrees of power. But it’s best to avoid sweeping generalisations in this vintage, as this overview explains. Read on...


Those who say the heights were achieved on the right bank are overlooking a number of exceptional wines from across many other appellations. St. Emilion has been proposed as the top-performing commune of the vintage, but there are plenty of examples that are too big and powerful. Those Chateaux really do need to wake up to the changing market that is thankfully favouring balance once more.

Pomerol has seen some great successes, yet different styles of vinification between producers have resulted in wines with very different characters. On the one hand are those that are pure with a brightly illuminated core of fruit, ripe elegant tannins and a taut finale. On the other are styles that are evidently riper, with imperceptible tannins and an extremely smooth, even edgeless, finish.  Whilst these are extremely attractive and very easy to drink after just a few months in cask we wonder if they will stay the long-term course and evolve into compelling wines worthy of their glossy and alluring first showing. 

Many state that the higher up the Medoc peninsular you go, the less good are the wines due to higher mid-season rainfall than the right bank, Margaux and Pessac-Leognan. That isn’t necessarily evident, perhaps with the exception of Haut Médoc and Listrac.

Much-touted Margaux is indeed extremely consistent across the board, to a degree we’ve not seen for many years. Yet in our view the most impressive individual wines from the Medoc come from Pauillac and St. Julien, perhaps with the exception of Chateaux Margaux itself and the broodingly structured Chateau Palmer.

St. Julien is a very consistent appellation once again. Graves (Pessac Leognan) is excellent, and some historically big styled wines have reined it in with exceptional results,making for a very impressive showing for the appellation overall.

Soil composition would appear to have as much to do with variation between properties as levels of rainfall. It’s possible that this variable will have been accentuated by a scorching July when drought conditions had set in, with the vines showing heat stress by starting to drop leaves. Relief came in early August with some heavy downpours and temperate August weather accompanied by comparatively high hours of sunshine.

The dry, hot July conditions were compared to 2003. Yet unlike that vintage when night time temperatures were steamy, 2015 experienced cooler hours of darkness, and many of the wines do have a pleasant acidity in the mid palate, whilst the best have a crystalline fruit quality and are salivant - mouth-watering.

Notwithstanding the very high July temperatures, picking took place from around the middle of September through to October 7th, with lovely late-season weather giving the fruit plenty of hang time to fully ripen, and producers were able to pick selectively at their leisure ahead of the forecasted rains at the start of the second week in October.

It’s been said Merlot is the standout grape of the vintage and the best since 2010. That’s true of the right bank overall, but not in the Medoc, where the best wines contain 85%-92% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Also, some of the greatest expressions of the vintage are wines that contain significant proportions of Cabernet Franc in their blends. Vieux Chateau Certan, Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Carmes Haut Brion are all gorgeous benchmarks.

Finally the big question: is 2015 in the same league as 2009/ 2010? Or perhaps 2005, a vintage which in our opinion may well prove the equal of 2010.It doesn’t look like it at this stage, and many Negociants and producers we spoke to didn’t look to equate 2015 with the monumental 2010s. This is undoubtedly an excellent vintage. We do not think it is a legendary one.

What’s next?

We'll be sharing our tasting notes of the vintage over the next few days.

You’ll be able to view a number of videos we shot of producer, Negociant and merchant opinion of the vintage and their favourite wines.

We’ll review our recommendations and wines we cautioned against buying early from the 2014 vintage release based on the best wines of the vintage, which we subjected to a rigorous price per points analysis. You’ll be able to judge for yourself how well our ‘buys’ and ‘do not buy early’ guidance has performed in the last year - notwithstanding they are still pre-arrivals.

As prices of Bordeaux 2015s release (which we are told will be a long and drawn out affair this year) we shall publish our price per points analysis, highlighting the buys of the vintage; pinpointing comparable back vintages that look like good value against a range of other vintages; and highlighting the wines that are too highly priced at first release to warrant buying early.




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