Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bordeaux 2008 in tasting notes

There has been much excitement, and/or agitation about Parker's publication on Bordeaux 2008. An interesting reaction came from Simon Staples from Berry Bros. & Rudd, who was "utterly bewildered" when he saw Parker's judgement.

Staples' clearest statement: "In 2003 he [Parker] rated this huge, hot vintage as astonishing as the rest were perplexed to find finesse. In 2005, where the entire wine world hailed it as legendary he was initially lukewarm. Now it's the turn for 2008 and we see another electric review in the face of all other wine professionals and even the Chateaux themselves."

But besides Parker there is another critic who is quite thrilled about the 2008 vintage, and that is René Gabriel. In this month's WeinWisser Gabriel talks about a "recht stattlichen Zahl grosser und exzellenter Primeurs" and rates 25 wines 19/20 and 94 wines 18/20. With these numbers he rates structurally higher than the other writers of importance (Decanter, Bettane & Desseauve, Robinson). Overall, Jancis Robinson is reserved this year, and hardly gets to the 18 out of 20 points.

And what do I think? I didn't taste hundreds of wines this year, but I got a general impression after tasting a series of about thirty 2008 primeurs. My summary for Bordeaux 2008 in bullets: *) sound, vital fruit, *) good structure (matière), with a healthy, natural concentration *) good acidity and related freshness.

And these are the reds that I tasted, starting with the best (I leave out the few whites):

Saint-Pierre 2008, 4th cru classé de St-Julien
Broad nose, some sweetness, some oak. Lusty round red fruit, hearty juice, powerful tannins. Very complete wine, harmonious strength, needs time. (8+/10)

Haut-Marbuzet 2008, cru bourgeois de St-Estèphe
Sweet brushwood, hint of dairy, vital dark fruit. Cherry, black currant, darkness. Good solid juice. (8+/10)

Clos Fourtet 2008, 1er grand cru classé de St-Emilion
Still closed. Round black fruit, full-bodied and hearty. Some bitters. Powerful round dark juice, good stuff. (8+/10)

Phélan-Ségur 2008, cru bourgeois de St-Estèphe
Powerful and full-bodied, oak, good texture (tannins), balance. Hint of cookies. Somewhat edgy still. Has a bright future. (8+/10)

De Fieuzal 2008, cru classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Purple-black. Sweetness, darkness, dairy and some vanilla. Already quite supple. Fresh fruit, spirited, good acidity. Chalky. Not to be kept for decades? (8/10)

Gloria 2008, St-Julien
Comparable with the St-Pierre. Energetic, spicy, with a sweet undertone. Quite round and fat. Hint of dairy and chalk. Lovely juice. (8/10)

Lafon-Rochet 2008, 4th cru classé de St-Estèphe
Barn, and some reduction at this moment. Quite closed. Prominent acids, powerful, structured, for the longer term. Bay leaves. Baby is still asleep. (8/10)

Clerc-Milon 2008, 5th cru classé de Pauillac
Very dry, acids dominant. Good texture, hearty stuff. Darkness, and in the end also a hint of sweetness. Complete, and freshness too. (8/10)

Rauzan-Ségla 2008, 2nd cru classé de Margaux
Difficult to fully judge at this stage. Comes across vital and spicy, but also lean and edgy. Opaque, doesn't really let me in. (8-/10)

Cantenac-Brown 2008, 3rd cru classé de Margaux
Dark-purple introvert fruit. Substantial and good acidity, even showing some elegance. Attractive line. For the longer term. (8-/10)

Note: today Château Cantenac-Brown 2008 was released at a price 43%(!) below the 2007-price, and with that it is quite an interesting buy. And indeed, the 2007 was way too expensive, as was the 2006. For those of you who are interested, see my earlier posting Cantenac Brown 2006 and its crazy price.

La Tour Figeac 2008, grand cru classé de St-Emilion
Somewhat lighter, pleasant juice. Fresh fruit in the nose, broad, some oak. Harmonious and pure. Not for ages in the cellar. (8-/10)

Monbrison 2008, cru bourgeois de Margaux
Seductive sweetness, and a bit of oak. Quite soft and pleasant. Sweet fruit lingering in the finish. (8-/10)

Beychevelle 2008, 4th cru classé de St-Julien
Lively, hints of dairy in the nose, and animal hints. In the mouth clenched power, dry and hard in this stage. Combined with a robust acidity. For the longer term. (8-/10)

Fombrauge 2008, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Sweetness (and some alcohol). Powerful, even energetic but... lacks some personality? (vague) Not very approachable in this stage. (7,5/10)

d'Issan 2008, cru bourgeois de Margaux
Cookies, difficult (empty) start, then quite elegant juice, medium-bodied, refreshing finish. (7,5/10)

Malartic-Lagravière 2008, cru classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Quite seductive, solid fruit (blackberry), powerful wine. Acids quite dominant. For later. (7,5/10)

Saint-Georges (Côte Pavie) 2008, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Hearty sweet fruit with - also - some green tones. Tough red; solid juice. Low acidity level. Cookies. Missing some tension. (7,5/10)

Bolaire 2008, Bordeaux Supérieur
Pure fruit and some vanilla. Medium-bodied yet quite solid. Darkness and sweetness. Blackberries. Juicy. (7,5/10)

Labégorce-Zédé 2008, cru bourgeois de Margaux
Slender and with hints of dairy. Dark, opaque, shut and dry. Acidity, lacking some fruit (in this stage). For the long term? (7+/10)

Rollan de By 2008, cru bourgeois du Médoc
Clenched power and darkess, something artificial about the nose. Hard at first, it takes a while before the wine starts showing its dark lusty fruit. (7+/10)

Les Grands Chênes 2008, cru bourgeois du Médoc
Hidden below a closed surface: some seduction. Solid structure, fruit on the background. And on a distance some sweetness too. Cherries. Perhaps not so exciting. (7+/10)

Marjosse 2008, Bordeaux
Pierre Lurton's own estate. Juicy, good acidity, modest, slim and fresh fruit. Light to medium-bodied. Pure, for the near future. (7+/10)

Clauzet 2008, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Quite light and modest, pleasant juice, but lacks energy. Little flat. For the short term. (7/10)

Lascombes 2008, 2nd cru classé de Margaux
Sexy oak, sweetness and cookies. Oaky and a lack of fruit and freshness. Hence flat, and dry. (7/10)

Cos Labory 2008, 5th cru classé de St-Estèphe
Dark & sweetish, bit spineless. Lacks a kernel. Tannins are hard. (7-/10)

Rauzan-Gassies 2008, 2nd cru classé de Margaux
Somewhat overripe, somewhat flat, somewhat unbalanced. (6,5/10)

Larrivet Haut-Brion 2008, Pessac-Léognan
Silent boy with green cheeks. Lacks depths, bit peevish. Lacks fruit too. (6,5/10)

Note: Larrivet Haut-Brion 2008 was also released today, and it was the first left bank wine to raise its price in comparison to 2007. I wouldn't know why (other than that this estate would like to climb up to the group of Graves grand crus).

La Tour Carnet 2008, 4th cru classé du Haut-Médoc
Green. Twigs and branches. High acidity, dry and unpleasant. Perhaps something wrong with this sample? (6/10)

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