Embracing an Enigmatic En Primeur – Bordeaux 2017 (#3 of 3)
This Post is related to (General Overview) and (Left Bank tasting) as part of the Green Acres team trip to taste En Primeur – Bordeaux 2017. Continuing my description, I will focus on our tastings in the Chateaux we visited on the Right Bank.
List of Chateaux Visited During Bordeaux 2017 En Primeur Week.
Vieux Ch Certan: We met with Alexander Thienpont. We had visited Alexander last September during our harvest visit. With the Merlot already picked and in the vat, Alexander was confident then that the Cabernet was looking very healthy with perfect bunches, small berries and in perfect condition. He wasn’t wrong, the 2017 wine is beautiful. Unfortunately, demand always outstrips supply here. This will be a super wine for anybody’s cellar.
Le Pin: We tasted Le Pin (and L’If) . Jacques Thienpont was proud as punch to create such a wine, 100% Merlot and 100% new oak as usual here. Very complex, layered and stylish. The only downside is the meager allocation available due to the vineyard’s size. Even so, we look forward to our small allocation.
Figeac: Here, we had a good chat with Frederic Faye who was very realistic about the 2017 harvest. Production was half of the normal size, but the success of Figeac 2017 can be gauged through the quality and magnificent potential. Figeac is on an upward spiral since Frederic’s arrival and to produce a 2017 of the quality that he has done, is a testament to his skill.
Gazin (UGC Event) We tasted a range of wines from all over the commune of Pomerol. Quality and style vary considerably. The highlight for me at this tasting was Clinet, showing power, structure, and elegance that was sadly lacking in others. Lunch here was washed down with a sumptuous Gazin 2009.
La Couspaude (UGC Event). We tasted a variety of styles, which is often the case in St Emilion, however, gone are the days of over-extracted, powerful wines. Instead, we had wines that retain the power but also had an aromatic freshness, charm, and elegance. A case in point is Troplong Mondot and Valandraud. Other wines that shine are Clos Fourtet, Pavie Macquin, and Larcis Ducasse.
Ausone: Here we had less to taste than normal. De Fonbel is sadly missing from the line-up as it was completely devastated by the early frost, in April 2017. One of the wines that did stand out for me is Le Clotte, it possessed a lovely perfume, sweet and fresh pallet. I will be keeping a close eye on the price of this! Chapelle d’Ausone and Ausone 1er Grand Cru Classe ‘A’ are their usual full-bodied, rich and intense wines.
Cheval Blanc: 30% of their crop was lost last year. They harvested the 1st and 2nd generation grapes on two separate occasions to produce a wine that shows structure and length and plenty of volume on the palate.
Canon: In the cellars we had a master class from Andrienne, explaining what different barrels add to the wine. They buy their barrels from 7 different coopers. We tasted the same wine out of Sylvain, Quintessence and Nadalie barrels all with subtle differences.
The Sylvain gave bright fruit and smooth tannins, Quintessence give a fruitier style and Nadalie has more tannins that are more prominent, drier and spicier. The final blend of all 7 barrels shows a wine that is beautiful, rich, fresh and pure elegance, minerality and fine tannins. What a tasting and what a wine. Given the performance of this wine in recent years, this is a wine to buy. Hurry on Chateau Canon – release, as I want to buy!
Nenin: this is the 2nd biggest vineyard in all of Pomerol. In previous years we would normally taste these wines amongst the wines of Leoville Las Case in St Julien. I always thought it seemed lost amongst the big, rich wines of St Julien. Here in its own Chateau, the wine was singing. A classy style of Pomerol with substance.
L’Eglise Clinet: We always look forward to visiting here. Denis Durantou, with whom we visited during our harvest trip last September, is very pleased with the vintage. Denis has a magic touch and his skill is evident in all of the wine on show, Saintyme, La Chenade, Les Cruzelles, Montlabrie, Petite L’Eglise and Eglise Clinet. The first four wines represent very good value and will give enormous drinking pleasure in the short to medium term.
Petrus: We met winemaker Olivier Berrouet who explained the vintage to us. In his opinion, 2017 was unlike any that had gone before it. So it is unique. I believe that he has made a wonderful wine for 2017, the wine of the vintage for many of the international wine critics. For me, now my 14th year in a row to taste Petrus – it is perhaps the darkest coloured Petrus. Powerful and aromatic with a broad, multi-layered palate. The flavour lasts for minutes. Spittoons are rarely used during the Petrus tastings.
JP Moueix: Tasting the Moueix portfolio of wines takes place at their offices in Libourne. A bright and airy room that is perfect for tasting wine. I usually find this a daunting experience, especially when we are short of time. A line up of 21 wines from Pomerol and St Emilion.
The full line up is end to end quality, but there are wines that really stand out amongst the top wines of the vintage, notably: Lafleur, Lafleur Petrus, Trotannoy, Hosanna, Pensees de Lafleur, Latour a Pomerol, Clos St Martin, Grand Village (a great buy at a superb price). Also, G acte 9, LaGrave a Pomerol, Chateau Belair Monange from the top of the Limestone Plateau of St Emilion.
This is the neighbour of Ausone and every year we taste Belair Monange (2008 was their 1st vintage) it shows that it is continuing to get better. As I mentioned about a few wines throughout this blog, it is on an upward trajectory of quality. A similar type of trajectory that Canon, Figeac and Calon Segur are on!
Teyssier: We arrived here to meet our oldest Bordeaux friend, Jean Pierre Mourgues. Jean Pierre is the export Director of Jonathan Malthus Wines. We have a beautiful tasting here, I feel the extraction here has paired back in recent years and the wines now show a lovely balance, freshness, and richness on the palate.
All wines stood out here, La Forge, Le Carre, Asteries, Vieux Ch Mazerat and Le Dome. We were treated to a beautiful Lunch with Jonathan Malthus, tasting lovely back vintages of Le Dome and Vieux Ch Mazerat. NB: they also have a delicious, creamy white wine, Nairdan, exhibiting exotic fruit flavours, and is tight and linear with a creamy texture.
Picque Caillou: Our final tasting of the Primeur campaign 2017. Paulin Calvet lost 20% of his crop due to frost. The 80% that remains is of high quality. A similar crunchy texture that was present in the 2014 vintage. We also tasted the 2016 and 2015 vintage. It is a testament to the quality of the 2017 vintage that it showed up very well against these 2 great vintages. Paulin’s Picque Caillou Blanc 2017 is a wine to buy also. Never expensive, it will allow for great drinking for 6 to 8 years.
I feel it is worth giving a shout-out to a wonderful restaurant we found in Bordeaux. AU BISTROT – is situated close to the Marche des Capucins. The food here is traditional French Basque. The wine, however, comes from all over France, and we enjoyed tasting Puligny Montrachet, Morey St Denis, Condrieu, Cote Rotie and few others that were far removed from Bordeaux. This place is a treat in a very relaxed, atmosphere. If you are ever in Bordeaux, make a point of visiting it – and tell them we sent you.
If you asked me to compare the en-primeur – Bordeaux 2017 vintage to similar vintages from the recent past – I would say that 2017 is comparable to 2001 and 2014. And if asked which bank of the Gironde would I favour? – I would answer neither, because of the even split between both this year, it just makes for an enigmatic en primeur vintage.
Here is a link to my Left Bank Tasting.
By way of experiment, we brought a non-expert with us on our trip to EP17 and here is his account of same.
Green Acres will be releasing the various en primeur offers to our customers as we receive them from the Chateaux. If you would like to be included in our mailings, please opt-in by contacting me at email@example.com and I’ll add you to our email list.
Thank You – Donal.