Chateau La Conseillante Masterclass
As if to make Jean-Michel Laporte, estate manager of Chateau La Conseillante, feel at home, the walls of auction room G2 at Bonhams on New Bond Street are covered in deep purple fabric. Not only were those walls a perfect match for the violette which so strikingly makes La Conseillante's capsules instantly recognisable, but also recalled Jean-Michel's city of origin, Toulouse, which made it's medieval fortune on the back of the highly prized dye it extracted from violets. Life has a certain symmetry to it, just like the wines of La Conseillante.
Jean-Michel comes across as proud though modest - "we just make wine" - eschews recent trends for biodynamics in a humid, Atlantic weather system, yet recognises that there are some things that past generations practised which have significance today, such as following the lunar cycles.
The tasting kicked off with the great duo of 2010 and 2009; the 2011 that was to have been served being misdirected en route to the auction room. Champagne in hand to slate our thirst, this hardly seemed like a great loss, yet by the end of the tasting presumptions of greater and lesser vintages had been challenged. 2010
Licorice and floral notes on the nose, with hints of pepper. Poised fruit, of a vivid, floral character washes over the palate, at once grippy and sweet. Impeccable balance, somehow belying it's 14.5 degrees of alcohol with a remarkable finesse and purity. This really is great wine for the very long term. 2009 Darker fruited nose announcing a warmer style. A deep well of fruit, in the cassis and blackberry spectrum. A powerful entry and confit fruited mid-palate. The heat of the year lends it a modern dimension.
2008 Explosive nose of macerated fruit, aromatic and playful. On the palate, elegant and cool, grippy. Balanced, symmetrical wine with substance to the cleansing fruit, salivant then hints of earthiness on the finish. Classically dry at the end.
2006 Refined, liquory nose with dusting of pepper. Textural wine, with a meaty, gamey mid palate and iodine notes. 30 minutes later, a revelation, with purer fruit, sappy and intense with great tension and length. Wow. Exciting already, but some way short of early maturity.
2005 Finely chiselled nose, cool, peppery. The palate shows a velvety smooth entry, aromatic and gamey flavours, with super intensity of grainy fruit. Mouthwatering and lifted mid palate, very progressive, and a very, very long finish.
2001 Earthy nose, aromatic fruit and a touch of pepper. More evolved, with iodine on the mid palate ahead of intense lifted fruit. Firm and decidedly mineral. 2000 Elegant, sweet nose rather like a maturing Barolo or Cote de Nuits Cru. Followed by a red-fruited, warm Burgundian palate. Very pretty, a predictably ripe and satisfying mid-palate, leading to a sappy insistent finish.
1985 Perfumed nose of sandalwood. Soft-fruited and scented wood notes on the palate, truffled, autumnal and with a subtle smoked character. Utterly alluring and delicious.
1982 Deeper perfumed nose and camphor. A similarly velvety, coating sensation of fruit like the 2005, then gamey notes, tobacco notes and a more pronounced smokiness. Crystalline finish, again sappy and very, very persistent.
Posted in: Fine wine analysis, Fine wine appreciation,
Tags: Bonhams, Chateau La Conseillante, Jean-Michel Laporte, Libournais, Pomerol,