Bordeaux in barrel 2014: Mighty Montrose, classic Cos and perplexing Calon Segur

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

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When I was asked to do an educational blog for Total Wine, we agreed to have top ten lists: top ten reds, top ten whites, top ten bargain wines.

One of the very best barrel samples of 2014 is Château Montrose. Fellow wine writers and UK-based merchants beamed with joy after tasting it. Although I did not taste nearly as much Saint Estephe as I would have liked, Montrose set the lofty tone for an appellation that did very well indeed in 2014. Although with one notable question mark …

Wines in bold I liked particularly, when red and bold even more and when underlined, too, wine nirvana.

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A great team, a great wine

Château Montrose: Smooth, nuanced and deep. Sustained by vivaciousness coming from high acidity. The barrel sample reminded me of the 2005 en primeur, but with more charm. It conveyed 2009 like ripeness, but with greater freshness. Nuance and power, full bodied, and a long finish. Although some Merlots reached 14.5% natural degrees, welcome rain fell: 20mm of rain from 16-17 September and another bit of rain on 2 October allowed grapes to mature, got the ripening process going with richly colored grape skins. One could say that the rain was “just enough” as less pronounced in Saint Estephe compared to other parts of Bordeaux. For Montrose, a 17-day harvest between mid-September up to 15 October. Pickers took care to visit same parcels of vines up to six times to pick the riper grapes. Only 47% of the harvest went to the first wine (with 37% going to Dame, the second wine). Made of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot with 13.7% alcohol and being aged in 60% new oak. What made Indian Summer special was that temperatures were often in excess of 30 degrees Celsius! If the price is right, I am buying six bottles without hesitation – and you should, too. Wine of the vintage category. 94-96 Read More

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(In spite of) Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Saint Emilion oak saga continues

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

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Some faves? Belair-Monange, Berliquet, Cheval Blanc, Canon, Corbin, Pavie-Macquin and Quinault l’Enclos

Irony is a word that comes to mind.

Château Quinault L’Enclos counts among 16 estates that had been promoted to grand cru classé in the 2012 classification of Saint Emilion. In contrast to most of these estates, Quinault L’Enclos conveyed particular freshness and elegance. Ironically the wine was once at the vanguard of the modernist movement. But after LVMH acquired it, the style began to change – for the better.

The 2014 barrel sample is just 12.6% alcohol, and château consultant Kees Van Leeuwen explained that that the wine has turned 180 degrees. “Twenty years ago we were proud to have high alcohol level wines, and now we are proud to be low,” he said. The barrel sample showed fresh plum and cherry fruit, but excellent sap and mid-palate concentration: a medium plus body and a smooth medium plus finish with lift. None of the malolactic fermentation was done in new oak and the wine is being matured in 30% new oak. “We do not seek any taste of oak in our wine,” Van Leeuwen stressed. Read More

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Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Successful Saint Julien

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

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Faves include Langoa and Léoville Barton, Ducru Beaucaillou and Beychevelle. Most are excellent…

Well high-ho! Saint Julien is one of the most consistently positive appellations from barrel in 2014. OK, not every estate is at its very best. I mean, take the rather hard and all-too Pauillac like Léoville Las Cases: I mean, if you are a masochist, maybe you’ll go gaga over it. Not me. It is too far away from the sumptuous glory of, say, the 2009. Anyway, let’s not get picky. As most readers know, Saint Julien has no first growths but many super seconds and other lovely wines. And almost all of them live up to their pedigrees. If prices are right, Saint Julien is not a bad place to be for Bordeaux 2014 futures buyers. Read More

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Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Pomerol (very) pretty

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

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Some of my faves: Petrus and Vieux Chateau Certain are the best of those I tasted, but also La Conseillante, Clos l’Eglise, La Fleur Petrus and Trotanoy are excellent

I love this appellation. There is no classification, you see? No need for official hierarchies. You taste the wines and determine for yourself. Of course it is a small. But given the angst at neighboring Saint Emilion – I just wrote an article about the 2012 classification for Decanter – Pomerol is sitting (very) pretty.

And not just for that. Although both regions are Merlot dominated (albeit with increasing plantings of Cabernet Franc), Pomerol overall does not have this tendency to go über modern. You see, there has been less pressure to please Bob, by making highly extracted ultra ripe and oak-ridden wines. Read More

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Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Pauillac peaks

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

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From cru bourgeois to first growth, Pauillac kicked ass in 2014. Fans of steely tannic towers such as Pichon Baron and fans of more sumptuous styles at Pichon Comtesse will find happiness, based on the barrel samples. OK, some wines were a touch hard, with the high tannin and acidity combining to form perhaps too much steeliness. My absolute favorites managed the “velvet glove” in the mix.

Wines in bold I liked particularly, when red and bold even more and when underlined, too, wine nirvana. Read More

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