In the shadow...
Today's excellent Matter of Taste event at the Saatchi gallery put on by the Robert Parker organisation highlighted to me that wines from so-called vintages overshadowed by great vintages may give far superior early to medium term pleasure than those more illustrious, fêted siblings.
Thinking back a year or so to previous tastings, Pontet Canet comes to mind. Take your pick from 2002, 2004 or 2006 for wines which today deliver great visceral pleasure (although the latter vintages are youthful) - whether you favour asian-spiced, sweetly grained and plump or delineated and pure fruit the choice (and preference) is yours. The dual powerhouses of 2009 and 2010 are incredibly dense wines, but today seem brutalistic and impregnable. Impressive as hell, they remain ébauches that Time, the master craftsman, is yet to shape.
A wonderful Masterclass led by Neal Martin and Alexandre Thienpont, winemaker and proprietor of Vieux Chateau Certan, further illustrated the point.
The surprise of the tasting was Vieux Chateau Certan 2006, which preceded the 2005.
A composed, peppery and dark-scented nose announced a medium weight, finely-woven, textured wine. Beautifully integrated, showing a firm core coated with a fine, sweet gloss, and a medium-long, insistent finish.
A delight to drink now, whilst giving the warmer, controlled, classically sauvage (iodine/ meaty) character of the 2005 another 5-10 years to achieve its unquestionable potential. In contrast the 2006 has an elegance and purity all of its own, and at a 20% discount to the 2005.
It's worth looking out for 'VCC' 2006 on the back of this showing. It's equally tempting to seek out more 2006s more generally, a vintage that had garnered some good reviews at first release, but which suffered in comparison to the more successful 2005 vintage across the Bordeaux region and due to release prices that were far too close to those of the previous year. Now almost a decade on, the fine, compelling character of the year is clear, and the pricing looks very fair.
Martin highlighted that Pomerol and St Emilion had enjoyed a particularly successful vintage in 2006. With that in mind, you may wish to check out the fine wine exchange for the following:
The wine of the 2006 vintage, Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson both proposed (in a rare show of unanimity), was Mission Haut Brion. Surely the price will never be as realistic as it is today, at around £1,250-1,350? (55%+ down from it's idiotic opening price that proved to be damaging to its secondary market performance). At least now this great wine is within reach of more wine lovers.
Mission Haut Brion
A somewhat under-the-radar La Mission, the 2006 was generally overlooked following the brilliance of the 2005. A young, dense purple-hued wine that is developing beautifully, it exhibits notes of Asian plum sauce, charcoal, barbecue smoke, roasted meats, graphite and background oak. Full-bodied with good acidity, moderate tannin and a vigorous, powerful youthfulness, the 2006 will age more quickly than the 2005, but it still requires another 5-8 years of cellaring. Anticipated Maturity: 2014-2035. (RP 2012)
Posted in: Fine wine analysis, Fine wine appreciation, Fine wine trading,
Tags: Alexandre Thienpont, Ausone, Bordeaux, Hosanna, La Conseillante, Lafleur Petrus, Marzelle, Mission Haut Brion, Neal Martin, Pomerol, Pontet Canet, Robert Parker, St Emilion, Vieux Chateau Certan,