The Bordeaux 2008 vintage is about to loom up on the horizon. The wines have all been bottled, and the bottles are resting quietly at the châteaux - read: stabilizing and maturing - before they will leave Bordeaux in the course of 2011.
However, some bottles left earlier. They were opened at one of the Union des Grands Crus tastings that are traveling around the world. Yesterday the royal procession halted in Brussels.
It was an interesting tasting, and my intention was to taste all reds. I almost succeeded, but towards the end of the tasting an unexpected turn of events had the effect that I missed some important wines. Among these are favourites like the two Bartons, the two Pichons, Pontet-Canet and Lynch Bages, and all Saint-Estèphes...
The result: this posting cannot be complete. But luckily there are plenty of accounts of these UGC 2008 tastings, e.g. you might check out Neal Martin's stories on the 2008s (login required).
Let's start with a general impression. The picture is good but varies. I have tasted plenty of wines that did not convince me (these I have not listed in this posting). A few were easy and light, OK for the short term but not especially exciting. Some wines were dull without fruit, or without a so-called mid-palate - empty wines. A few were over-extracted and/or were showing unpleasant, unripe tannins. But luckily these failures belong to a minority. Most of the wines range from correct to good, and even to great.
I will pick out the best that I tasted:
- Dom de Chevalier rouge 2008 (8,5+) good sweet-purple fruit, well-structured, good tannins, hint oak, freshness
- Haut-Bailly 2008 (8,5) pure, male, tough, broad, closed, complete, minerality, long future ahead
- Smith Haut Lafitte rouge 2008 (8,5) big and impressive, very dark, black fruit, exciting depth, minerality
- De Fieuzal rouge 2008 (8+) soft, seductive, complete, sort of junior chevalier
- Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2008 (8+) good freshness & structure, attractive fruity juice
- Latour-Martillac rouge 2008 (8) open and inviting, well-structured, harmonious, spirited
- Pape-Clément rouge 2008 (8) seducing, oak & sweetness, souplesse, not my no. 1 but good wine
- Larrivet-Haut-Brion rouge 2008 (8-) animal nose, bit medicinal, attractive minerality, hearty and also a bit hard now
- La Louvière rouge 2008 (8-) good classic wine, bit oaky, complete & good value
- Carbonnieux rouge 2008 (7,5+) bit closed, but pure & hearty juice
SAINT-EMILION & POMEROL
- Pavie-Macquin 2008 (8,5) open, spontaneous berries, inviting, freshness, good mid-palate, slender and powerful 8,5
- Trottevieille 2008 (8,5) lovely tempting wine, round, good freshness, juice & structure, wow
- La Conseillante 2008 (8,5) fresh with a medicinal touch, warmth and breadth, grows in the mouth, convincing
- Canon 2008 (8,5) soft and broad, seducing, good structure, complete, well-stuffed, very good wine
- Canon-la-Gaffelière 2008 (8++) dark fruit, quite fresh, pure, good stuff
- Larcis Ducasse 2008 (8++) fresh and forward, mineral, chalky, nice
- Figeac 2008 (8++) closed, dark, structured, difficult now, long
- Beau-Séjour Bécot 2008 (8++) seductive, freshness, oak, good juice, some sweetness, approachable, energetic
- La Tour Figeac 2008 (8+) open, red berry fruit, hearty, pure and a bit tough now
- Troplong Mondot 2008 (8) seductive yet very powerful, good ripeness, big extraction
- Larmande 2008 (8) again this strikes me as an interesting wine, powerful, well-stuffed, probably good value
- La Pointe 2008 (8) tempting and robust, energetic, mineral, bit chalky
- Dassault 2008 (8-) berries, freshness, well-shaped, quite special
- Clos Fourtet 2008 (8-) freshness on the the nose, but lacks some fruit
Note: interesting wines such as Fonroque and Grand-Corbin-Despagne were not present.
MÉDOC, HAUT-MÉDOC & MOULIS
- La Lagune 2008 (8) elegant wine, slender line, pure and mineral, hint of oak
- Poujeaux 2008 (8) quite closed, depth and mystery, power, good stuffing, freshness, balanced and for later, classical, some licorice
- Citran 2008 (8-) classical wine, freshness and blood, harmonious, good value
- La Tour de By 2008 (7,5+) modest, classic nose, green hint, intense and powerful, freshness, energy, great value value
- Cantemerle 2008 (7,5+) modern Médoc, bit oaky and less pure, but tasteful and fleshy
- Giscours 2008 (8,5) elegant and convincing, refined, precise, dark fruit, minerality, crescendo
- Monbrison 2008 (8++) fresh and forward, some oak, tempting wine, friendly, pure and stylish
- Brane-Cantenac 2008 (8++) closed, good stuffing, no hardness, quite powerful, complete wine, well-balanced
- Du Tertre 2008 (8+) very open and talkative, interesting, sappy, freshness, healthy fruit
- Rauzan-Ségla 2008 (8+) dark and quite supple, matière, blackberries, energy and power, long
- Durfort-Vivens 2008 (8) modest nose, then spicy, pivotal, striking, surprisingly good
- Rauzan-Gassies 2008 (8) pure, straightforward, supple juice, not heavy, pleasant
- Dauzac 2008 (8) sexy oak, blackberries, warmth, some breadth, quite complete and very approachable
- Siran 2008 (8-) junior Rauzan-Ségla, dark and lively, pure and for later
- Cantenac-Brown 2008 (8-) open, a bit pointed, not so fruity, bit astringent now, but promising whole
SAINT-JULIEN & PAUILLAC (incomplete)
- Branaire-Ducru 2008 (8++) touch of oak, darkness, classic power, very good
- Gruaud-Larose 2008 (8++) dark too, very cabernet, good freshness, well-shaped
- Talbot 2008 (8+) dark power, then friendly in the mouth with healthy, attractive fruit
- d'Armailhac 2008 (8) freshness, good matière
- Beychevelle 2008 (8) again darkness and depth, bit sober, power
- Clerc-Milon 2008 (8-) open, friendly and quite round, then… texture is felt, the future-securing tannins
- Batailley 2008 (7,5+) tempting, round, some astringency, quite good
By the way, this posting would have been incomplete anyhow: there were no premier grands crus to taste… The conclusion: Bordeaux 2008 is a true value for money vintage. Good quality, and 'cheap' compared to 2009. The 2008 prices are gradually increasing now, but there are still some very interesting deals to make.