11 November 2008 | 0
Kicking off the pre Christmas tastings was a no-nonsense Bordeaux event, covering mid priced bottles, with virtually all labels available in the wholesale trade. Exactly what the doctor ordered in these straitened times, in fact. By the end, I found I had a lot of stars marked on my programme and several wines had two. Prices were generally RRP but it was clear that several importers were willing to negotiate with customers so it’s worth trying to get the best deals you can for your seasonal orders.
Among the best reds were: Moulin La Lagune Haut Medoc 2000 (Gilbey €30), richly fruited and ready to drink; La Roque du By Medoc 2003 (Mackenway €18.50), again ready with generous, velvety fruit; Patache d’Aux Medoc 2004 (Febvre €25.50), packing a fruity punch with ageability; Beaumont Medoc 2002 (Mackenway €22), drinking well but will hold for a while yet; de Seuil Graves 2004, with decent structure and well defined fresh blackcurrant; Les Cimes Terra Burdigala Montagne St Emilion 2006 (Nicholson €20.50) offering great structure and sound fruit for the price.
Why are so many Bordelaise moving over to 100% Sauvignon Blancs for their whites, when several other regions can do fresh gooseberry just as well, or better, than they can? Why don’t they stick to their traditional sauvignon semillon based blends which, apart from Australia’s Hunter Valley, they do better than anyone? Commercial reasons, they will tell you, but perhaps the fashion clock will swing round again for at this tasting, anyway, the best and most characterful whites were, as almost always, those blends.
Deliciously at the top of the (white) tree stood: Ch Tour de Mirambeau Cuvee Passion 2005 (Nicholson €22), with its 60% sauvignon, 20% semillon and 20% muscadelle offering real classic character and noticeable fruit concentration; Ch Villa Bel Air 2004 (Barry Fitzwilliam €17.99) stuck with the blend as well and there was a lovely trace of typicall semillon nuts and citrus at the end; Ch Bel Air Perponcher 2007 (Febvre €16.50) had a tasty streak of spicy dry lemon beneath its green fruits; while Ch de Marsan 2007 (Bacchus €11) had a nice kick of nutty semillon, despite no oaking at all.
At Christmas, red Bordeaux in the €13-18 price band is important both for gifts and special dining. In this bracket, best bets included: Ch d’Argadens 2004 (Mitchells €14.95), nice chunky stuff with good depth of black fruit; Ch du Bois Chantant 2007 (Grands Chais de France €13), rather in the style of Fronsac with damson and blackcurrant flavours; and Roc de Lean LysTerra Burdigala 2006 (Nicholson €13), warmly merlot dominant but with classic notes as well. Cheval Noir 2004 (Gleeson €14.99) is coming with a special offer price and has soft, plummy fruits ideal for a turkey buffet.