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Showing posts from August, 2008

Ranking the First, and some Second Growths

Belgium Wineblogger Peter Vergote from Wijnblog performed a small research around the ratings for the Médoc First Growths (Lafite, Haut-Brion, Margaux, Latour and Mouton) and a few "Super Seconds" (Léoville-las-Cases, Cos d'Estournel and the Third Growth Palmer). He looked at the vintages 2000 − 2007, took the ratings from six journalists (Parker, Robinson, Bettane & Desseauve, Wine Spectator, Decanter and La Revue du Vin de France) and basically started ranking the châteaux. After recalculating a journalist's rating, the maximum score a wine could receive (from one journalist) was 10. Thus 60 points is the maximum for a vintage. Here's the list with the average scores over the last eight years:

1. Château Latour (53,50/60)
2. Château Margaux (50,65/60)
3. Château Lafite-Rothschild (49,30/60)
4. Château Mouton-Rothschild (46,95/60)
5. Château Léoville-las-Cases (45,65/60)
6. Château Haut-Brion (45,30/60)
7. Château Cos d'Estournel (39,83/60)
8. Château Palmer (35…

Domaine de Chevalier 2003

The hot Bordeaux 2003 vintage. I will never forget our visit to Saint-Emilion on 8 August 2003, when the thermometer rose up to 43 degrees Celsius (almost 110 degrees Fahrenheit). We made a short walk through a vineyard close to Château Matras, and I remember feeling sorry for the vines − it was so shamelessly hot in those shadeless fields...

SAINT-EMILION 2003: SHRIVELLED BERRIES AROUND CHATEAU MATRAS (AND ALSO A HEALTHIER BUNCH ON THE RIGHT)

The hot Bordeaux 2003 vintage. More popular in the US than in Europe it seems. From ripe and round and Mediterranean, to cooked and green and unhealthy. Green? Yes. A vine seriously lacking water locks up, and the berries don't properly ripen anymore (called water stress). You end up with green stuff that gets sunburnt. Very different from the taste of physiologically ripe fruit.

This week I experienced (again) how wonderful a 2003 can be. The money that I had earned from working at Château du Tertre in 2006 I fully 'reinvested' in a pi…

Château Labégorce-Zédé 2005 and Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry 2005

The grand Bordeaux 2005 vintage is much talked about. But in most cases the bottles themselves are quietly asleep in the many cellars around the world. While their value increases, or at least has increased. I had a customer who was looking out for Malescot Saint-Exupéry 2005, a lesser-known Margaux cru classé. In April of this year Robert Parker has given his final judgement on this wine: he adjusted his temporary 93-95 rating into 97. My customer hoped to find some last affordable bottles, but the price for this wine has now about tripled in comparison to the primeur price two years ago...

Michel Rolland (consulting at Malescot Saint-Exupéry) and Margaux: not everyone is happy with this combination. But not just Robert Parker is enthusiastic about this Malescot. This summer the (British) Decanter panel tasted all Médoc cru classés blind, and − among 24 other wines − Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry 2005 ended up with a Decanter award, i.e. 5 stars. Well, I hope to taste this wine soone…

Visit to Burgundy, day III

Our last day in Burgundy was also the longest day, with four domain visits. But what a reward: dinner at Caves Madeleine, my favourite restaurant in Beaune.

1. Domaine Philippe Garrey, Saint Martin sous Montaigu (Mercury)

PHILLIPE GARREY'S BLUE VAN

Saturday morning we drove up to the appellation Mercurey, part of the Côte Chalonnaise, just South of the Côte d'Or. Côte Chalonnaise: the first region that falls off most Burgundy maps. The good news: the region has just been taken up in Clive Coates' brand new The Wines of Burgundy: Revised Edition (this was not the case for its famous predecessor Côte d'Or).

PHILLIPE GARREY'S CAVE CONSTRUCTED IN THE LATE 17TH, EARLY 18TH CENTURY

Phillipe took over in 2002 from his father Pierre. Mr Garrey senior is currently observing his son converting the family domain to biodynamic principles − he is a little sceptical now and then, but then again, he realises it's his son's turn now, and Phillipe seems determined to produce gre…

Visit to Burgundy, day II

(Part II. See the previous posting for Part I.) This second day, the shock was directly at the first visit. We went to Thévenet in the little village Quintaine between Viré and Clessé in Southern Burgundy. Indeed, in the appellation Viré-Clessé (Mâconnais). I have published before about a wine from Thévenet, an aged Cuvée Tradition (13 years old) from their Domaine de la Bongran, a wine I was completely thrilled about.

DOMAINE DE LA BONGRAN OF JEAN AND GAUTIER THEVENET IN QUINTAINE

And now Gautier Thévenet introduced us to his young Bongrans. Well young, these wines are only sold after a ... slow ... fermentation (about 2 months), a subsequent vat ageing (about 18 to 22 months), and an ageing in bottle for another 2 years. The youngest vintage for sale now is the 2003.

This wine is a true example of a slow wine (to pair slow food). All is done manual, of course viticulture is organic, there are no tricks whatsoever, for example no chaptalisation (adding sugar), only natural yeasts are us…