Bordeaux 2015 from bottle, part 2

Pomerol isn’t just about the stars:

Update with more tasting notes!

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

11 January 2018 / 11 March

Just an update folks from this January post … Just a few more tasting notes directly below, in alphabetical order. Proving again how good Pomerol is in 2015.


Château Le Bon Pasteur: What can I say? This is a modern style in a very good sense as it exudes opulence and even a heady quality, but it is balanced without drying on the finish (as can be in some other vintages). Basically, a delicious wine with a certain serious density for the longer run. Bravo! 93/100

Château la Cabanne: I like the fresh, ripe fruit aspects from this wine, which is tasty and medium bodied. But the finish is just a tad fleeting. At this price point, once can do better. 88/100

Château Clinet: I am perplexed here, as I think I liked this wine more from barrel with a score range between 92 and 94. The slight hardness seems more pronounced from bottle, with a certain – and this is positive – serious precision. There is power, too, reminding me a bit of some of the rather “armored” Moueix wines in this vintage. I would buy a six pack and forget in the cellar, as the baby fat from barrel is now gone, leaving behind quite a bit of structure. Wait n’ see. 92/100

Château Gazin: My initial reaction, when tasting at the UGCB in New York in January this year? Just terrific. Really, the aromatics are gorgeous, with deep violet floral aspects as well as dark ripe fruit. The mid palate is juicy yet dense. Sure, there is some oak derivation but not the type that will overcome the fruit over time. At least I am betting on the positive side, here, and go out on a (bit of a) limb perhaps with a very high score.  Perhaps also because the price is not as high as some other prestigious neighbors so this constitutes a “relative bargain” for the already expensive appellation. A blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, and about 14.5% alcohol. 96/100.

Bravo to Eric Monneret of Château La Pointe: the 2015 is the best I can recall.

Château La Pointe: Hats off to consultant Hubert de Boüard and general manager Eric Monneret, whom I had met when he was (a while back) at Château Raymond-Lafon in Sauternes. Their work to fine tune this estate has paid dividends reaching a sort of apotheosis in the 2015 vintage, perhaps the best I can recall, this blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc clocking in at about 14.5% alcohol. A pure pleasure to drink: at once rich, savory, juicy and just very good. An example of buying “petits châteaux dans un grand millésime” … Worth buying for anyone seeking quality Pomerol for a moderate price. 92/100


Since I already had covered much of the Médoc last month, here, where Margaux shined brightest, now we turn mainly to the Right Bank. As expected from barrel tastings, the star of the Right Bank for 2015 is confirmed: Pomerol.

In tastings organized at individual estates, at the Libourne offices of pioneering Pomerol producer Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix, and at Château de Pressac in Saint Emilion, where I tasted many wines whose estates are members of the Grand Cercle, I am convinced that savvy consumers can find economically priced 2015s from Pomerol, relatively speaking, as well as divas whose prices are scraping ever higher skies.

Tasting at Vieux Château Certan with Yohan Castaing, Jane Anson and Guillaume Thienpont.

Of course the choice is somewhat limited with 150 estates – packed into just under 800 hectares in an area roughly three kilometers wide by four long – but that’s my work for you, dear reader: picking out excellent price/quality ratios, even from this cream-of-the-Bordeaux-crop appellation 😊. Of course my notes include the stars, as well.

Long considered a sub appellation of Saint Emilion, Pomerol was granted independent status only in the early 20th century. The gently rolling plateau of Pomerol – 19 miles northeast of Bordeaux and two miles from the city of Libourne – slopes towards the Isle river valley and its confluence with the Dordogne. Although soils vary (not all Pomerol is created equal to be sure), you can find less expensive Pomerol that is being made better than ever before, according to my experience in tasting some of the less heralded estates over the last 10 years or so.

Indeed, trade representatives notice as well: “The less expensive brands work especially well for restaurants, explains Stephan Maure of the Vino Strada bistro in Strasbourg, France. “They bear the name of Pomerol and convey the refinement of the appellation, but do not cost an arm and a leg,” he stressed.

Rest assured that Bordeaux 2015 from bottle features many excellent Right Bank wines outside of Pomerol, from Saint Emilion to be sure, but also excellent wines from satellite appellations, notably Fronsac, which rather kicked ass in 2015. I will get to these in Part 3, focusing on Saint Emilion and many satellite appellations.

Part 4 will be dedicated to the Graves region, red and white, and Part 5 will focus on Sauternes and Barsac.

Later this month, in New York City and in Washington D.C., I will taste more Saint Emilion and Pomerol wines at the UGCB tour tastings, and will update this page, with a few more Pomerols, so be ready for an update at the end of January, along with Parts 3, 4 and 5.

For now, without further ado, let’s get to the tasting notes, starting with my favorite 2015 Right Bank appellation. As usual, wines I liked in particular are in bold. Even more are red and bold. And if underlined as well? Wine nirvana! Read More

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In praise of white Burgundy

Dry white outclasses all else

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

10 March 2018

Over dinner at the excellent Charlie Palmer Steakhouse in Washington D.C. this past January, which I can only highly recommend, a few wine loving friends put blindfolds on but we would have picked the white blind or not.

As with “blind wine tastings” we decided to conceal the identity of the wines not with blind folds per se but we used aluminum foil to cover the bottles to see if anyone could guess which one was which. Most of us guessed wrong.

Great steaks. They were so good that I forgot to take a picture: too busy eating them 🙂

But that is hardly news, as blind tastings can be ruthless, even to the most experienced taster.

What was revealed is how fine white Burgundy can – and should – be. The dry white outshined all the other wines we enjoyed.

Too often – still today – one can encounter cases of white Burgundy that is prematurely oxidized, but when everything falls into place, it is pretty difficult to top white Burgundy as a world class wine. Especially when combined with the right food.

We took up the blind tasting challenge! From left to right: Keith Levenberg, David Ehrlich, Chris Bublitz, myself, Robb Johnson, and Darryl Priest.

Tasting Notes 

When in bold, I liked in particular. When red and bold, even more. If underlined, too, a wine nirvana! Read More


Between Narince and Nerello Mascalese?

Judging at #MundusVini – and a Georgian wine focus

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

March 4 2018

It was an intense three-day period of tasting at the Mundus Vini wine competition. I discovered new grapes and made new friends, and it was fun to see many old friends and fellow judges in my fourth year at this event. As ever, I found myself in an eclectic international panel of tasters led by Anne Meglioli, who runs a publishing house for oenologically themed books that can be quite technical. Anne has years of experience tasting and assessing wines, and she was also a great president for our group, which included an Armenian, a Norwegian, a Swiss and two French tasters as well as me – a Greek-American.

Tasting at #MundusVini 2018. Our panel, from left to right: Pierre Thomas of Switzerland (Lausanne), Artem Parseghyan of Armenia, Michel Blanc of France (Châteauneuf du Pape), me, Anne Meglioli of France (although she is based in Bologna, Italy) and Tor Frostmo of Norway.

This 22nd edition of the Mundus Vini Grand International Wine Award had been going on already before I arrived, having been expanded to six days of tasting. Due to time constraints, I could take part only from Friday 23 February through to Sunday 25 February.

As you can see in the tables below, more wine than ever was submitted to the wine competition in 2018. Most wines submitted – 1,730 – came from Italy, followed by some 1,370 from Spain, 760 or so from France, and many others.

My first day included tasting several still wines described as “Blanc de Noirs” with up to 45 grams per liter of residual sugar, prompting the questions “Who made these wines and why?”. 😳

While our panel evaluated common styles of wines, from Grenache-dominated Côte du Rhones and Viognier, to Merlot driven Bordeaux and Italian Primitivo, we also had first-ever experiences with dry Narince-based white wine. The grape is grown in Anatolia, Turkey. Another novelty was the somewhat boring experience trying a crossing of Chardonnay and Chasselas dubbed Doral and used to make some whites in Switzerland. I would not write home about the one we tried, but others could be tasty enough. I just have not tried them yet.  Read More

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Lunchtime finesse

Restaurant Review: La Casserole

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

3 March 2018
You want to eat lunch (very) well in Strasbourg?
I get plenty of requests on where to dine in this lovely Alsatian capital, and just before the snow started falling yesterday afternoon, I revisited La Casserole at 24 rue des Juifs – Tel +33 (0)3 88 36 49 68 – and can report with great pleasure that it is a darn good place to eat.
First you get a discretely elegant dining ambiance. You enter what feels like a private dining room, all tastefully decorated, with comfortable yet colorful chairs and discrete distances between dining guests. A perfect place to hold a private wine tasting, I caught myself thinking.
But what about the food?
About 10 years ago, I had dinner here, when it held a one star Michelin rating, and left feeling somewhat let down. The food was not as refined as I had been expecting but the prices were very refined in the sense that they were (very high) and “refined”…
Back then, I was invited by two colleagues to dine there. They had lost a bet with me that Barack Obama would be elected president in 2008. And I still have – nearly 10 years later – a couple of outstanding bets with regard to Obama’s 2008 victory involving free Sauternes from a producer and a certain other matter from an old friend, but these are other stories.

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Not really amazing, but worth the detour

Restaurant Review: Au Moulin de la Wantzenau

By Panos Kakaviatos for

22 February 2018

For the second time in three years (this is, perhaps, too infrequent), I enjoyed a fine meal at Au Moulin in the Wantzenau: about a 15 minute drive outside Strasbourg.

It is not a Michelin rated restaurant, but excels in many respects.

Dining with two work colleagues, we enjoyed a good dinner with a bottle of Champagne and a fine Burgundy for only €100 each: taxes and service included.

The service was friendly and professional.

Another reason I chose to go here? People in the know have told me several times about friendly (restaurant) wine prices. In our case, we enjoyed a predictably fine Pol Roger NV Brut for €54: a good restaurant price. Read More

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