Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Pomerol (very) pretty
By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com
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.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Saint Emilion. But not all the wines. By contrast, Pomerol has remained a bit more consistent over various vintages, whether “small vintages” like 2011 or “big ones”, like 2009. And in “in-between” ones like 2014. Perhaps that is inevitable, because Saint Emilion is a much larger appellation. Perhaps it is due to a more al dente style of the Moueix, who own so many fine estates in Pomerol.
Whatever the case may be, I tip my hat to Pomerol in 2014 as being quite good – and, yes, in spite of the fact that more rain fell in Pomerol than in Saint Emilion, as fellow wine lover Jeff Leve wrote in his excellent report. There are still too many estates using far too much oak in their wines in Saint Emilion – or perhaps picking too late, for my “classically-inclined” palate.
Some tasting notes were done blind; others not. For example, the Moueix lineup was not blind (they never are). But the Grand Cercle tasting was. Readers take note: some heavy hitters are missing here. I did not get a chance to taste Evangile, Le Pin or Eglise Clinet. I plan to taste them in June when I visit Bordeaux again during Vinexpo this coming June, so will amend this page after that.
Wines in bold I liked particularly, when red and bold even more and when underlined, too, wine nirvana.
Blind tasting at the UGCB yielded some pleasant surprises.
Château La Cabanne: Low pH and yet rich and suave on the mid palate. There is high tannin and high acidity. Medium alcohol. Focus and freshness. Linear and medium plus finish. Barrel aging to soften its touch. Nice job! Tasted at Vintex tasting, with consistent results. 89-92
Château Gazin Firm and focused wine. Somewhat metallic with tannin as high as the acidity. Red fruit. Medium plus body. Medium finish. Quite good. 90-92
Château Bon Pasteur Red berry/blackberry fruit albeit with some oak derivation. Yet richer and more powerful than number one… Rich enough. High acidity and tannin somewhat astringent, and I note some oak derived tannin. Tasted non blind at trade tasting where plenty of sap more noticeable on the mid palate, with a smooth texture and a medium plus finish. 89-92
Château Petit Village Sweeter nose of candied red fruit. Smooth mid palate, yet again a bit high toned. High acidity. Is the Merlot ripe enough here? Medium finish. A somewhat different impression from the tasting I had at Pichon Baron. 88-90+
Château La Croix de Gay A very sumptuous nose. Dark red fruit. A focused freshness with floral elements. Lovely. The palate is smooth and medium-bodied. Supple overall, although perhaps the finish could be longer for this to be really great. 89-92
Château La Pointe Cranberry aromatics. This has astringency alas… It tastes a bit raw on the mid palate. Tannin and acidity are high. Yet the substance is there. Again, barrel aging will soften this… Give it time so that it can evolve. 88-91
Château Clinet Juicy strawberry aromatics. There is more plenitude here, but just so much. Pleasing red and blackberry fruit, blueberry actually. Finish is high on acidity. Even tart. Barrel aging will make this quite fine! 90-92+
Château Beauregard Floral and red fruit aspects. Mid palate sap, medium bodied. High acidity, ripe fruit, high tannin. On the edge and yet rather tart on the medium finish. 89-91
Tasting Pomerol at Jean-Pierre Moueix: some of these seemed to be in a “lower gear”
These wines were not tasted blind. When I spoke to Edouard Moueix about the vintage, he was rather upset that some people dared compare 2014 to 2010. He called 2014 a very good but not great vintage. As fellow wine writer Adam Lechmere reported in early April, the Moueix company would like Bordeaux to lower prices. It seems that they have the pulse of the consumer. Although I understand the vintage sense, as Edouard explained it – and I did feel that the wines were a bit in a lower gear – I think that consumers can find some gems among these wines.
Château Les Vieux Ormes: At the Moueix tasting. Slightly underripe fruit. Chewy tannin. OK. 86-88
Château Plince: At the Moueix tasting.Violet and floral aromas. Pleasing and fresh. There is a tannic grip as well. Not the most concentrated. But delicious! 89-91
Château Lafleur Gazin: Steely. Tannins will mellow and it will come around, not drying on the palate. And yet, it lacks a bit of sumptuousness. 88-90
Château Bourgneuf: Plump red juicy cherry, plum. Damson. Sloe (a black small berry that is very tart but used to sweeten gin), as fellow taster Adam Lechmere pointed out… Tannin and richness and juiciness: I’m a buyer. 89-92
Château La Grave: Just ripe enough plum on the nose. The nose is somewhat understated, but perhaps even juicier than Bourgneuf – albeit just slightly drying on the finish… a bit of a ho-hummer! 88-90
Château La Tour a Pomerol: Floral herbal even mint like aromas. Palate is high tannin and yet soft enough. A bit austere on the finish, which is medium plus. After going back and forth (not too many people at 5 pm on the final days of en primeur week ;-)), I prefer this one to Certan de May… less austere overall and I bet it will be lovely with barrel aging. 91-93
Château Certan de May: This is herbal and pretty and does have medium tannin, and high acidity but comes across a bit metallic and does not meet one’s expectations from such a fine terroir. A bit ho hum. 88-91
Château Hosanna: Once again, a case of “less than what you are expecting”, which would have been more generosity from this cuvée … a bit of a let down. Tasting again, there is indeed plenitude. Absolutely. Frederic Lospied said “Hey, this is not 2010” … OK, but what will the price be? 89-91+
Château La Fleur Petrus: Refinement exuded, indeed. There is a tannic edge here that is not as steely or as taut as previous wines, and yet plenitude as well. A medium plus to full bodied palate, with a smooth and delicate finish. Lovely. 91-94
Chateau Trotanoy: Dark fruit, foreboding nose. Steely minerality. Mid palate juiciness followed by a rather muscular finish, high tannin, high acidity and full bodied. Maybe does not follow through as much as it could in a better vintage, but it really does have juiciness and poise. Nice job! Consider this perhaps a top ten wine. 92-94+
Château La Conseillante: As was done at neighbour Vieux Château Certan, de-leafing carried out to accentuate summer, which was cool and only moderately sunny. Merlots were picked in late September, so that the fruit would be ripe enough but not over-ripe (due to the cool August). The quality was such that very little second wine (only 12% of the harvest) was made! La Conseillante is one of the very best wines of the vintage. It conveys lovely fresh red and black fruits, from cranberry to ripe plum, with a crackling freshness! The mid palate is marked by excellent concentration and so one has the impression of a full-bodied wine that remains vivacious and with verve, leading to a lifting and long finish. Bravo! Aging in 75% new oak, with 78% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc and 13.5% alcohol. 92-95
Petrus: Petrus reminded me of the 2005 en primeur. Perhaps not quite as vivid, but it displays a similar combination of fresh and bright red fruit, and substantial yet suave tannin that gives the wine structure for the long haul. There is an overall impression of sheer elegance – and addictive drinkability (how I wish it were more accessible!) – leading to a long, sneaky finish. A most impressive showing of Merlot that is not over extracted, and being aged in only 50% new oak: wine of the vintage candidate. 94-96
Vieux Château Certan: Wonderful! After having just tasted the somewhat controversial Figeac, it was revealing to visit this estate, as we discovered perhaps the wine of the vintage. Certainly along with Montrose on the Left Bank, among the very best of 2014. Why? The flowering process here was rather even. De-leafing was carried out in specific vineyards to enhance ripening during the uneven summer. A cool vintage, said owner Alexandre Thienpont. But a long ripening process that lead to fine maturity – and very smooth tannins without ever being too glossy. For once we have Merlots that actually fit the bill of the more optimistic prognosis: rich perfumed vinous yet bright. The nearly 20% Cabernet Franc lends much backbone and length to the wine. It is very silky and substantial at the same time, and the balance is excellent with high acidity (nearly 3.7 grams per liter) and alcohol (13.5%). The talk of September making up for August is not entirely true, Thienpoint explained: one sunny August day is worth about two such days in Septemeber. Thienpont does not agree that 2015 is a Cabernet vintage. He said it depends on where the grapes are grown. 93-95+
Petit Village: Tasted at Pichon Baron. Dark fruit aromatics precede a rather foreboding and steely mid palate that ends with a tannic edge. For earlier drinking, I recommend the second wine, Le Jardin de Petit-Village, as it is very charming. In any case, the grand vin blend of 72% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon has 13.5% alcohol and is being aged in 65% new oak barrels. 89-91
Pomerol tasting blind at Grande Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux
Château Clos du Clocher: Tasted blind. Smooth and chocolate like without being extracted or heavy: this is very tasty and fresh. Does not assault your mouth with drying extraction. Nice! 90-92
Château La Clémence: Tasted blind. More obviously decadent on the nose. A bit more modern, with too much vanilla and a bit of drying on the finish. But the attack and mid palate are flamboyant! Lots of acidity too. Needs to come together. 89-91+
Château Vieux Maillet: Tasted blind. Rather mentholated style. Has richness of course. This is a kind of wine that will likely “come together” better once in bottle. All the workings parts are there, just need to come together. 89-91
Château Montviel: Tasted blind. Fruit and chocolate. Rich mid palate. High acidity. Again, components need to come together, but tasting again Château Clos du Clocher, I like its lighter and thoroughly unpretentious style. 89-91
Clos Vieux Taillefer: Tasted blind. Licorice and oak and black fruit. Rich, substantial mid palate, long finish. Quite powerful. 90-92
Château Bellegrave: Tasted blind. Is there a hint of green here? Yea. The palate is smooth enough however with juiciness and lower than average drying aspects (which is good at a Cercle Rive Droite tasting). Really, 2014’s lowish pHs are a boon. 88-90
Clos l’Eglise: Tasted blind. This is like a spiked fruit cocktail. Quite powerful but then again suave and drinkable. Very much so! There is juice and smoothness on a long finish. Not the most complex wine in the world but, hey, it has full body and a long finish. In a word: delicious! 91-94+
Château La Fleur de Gay: Tasted blind. Smooth and tasty enough. Medium body. Moderate flavor intensity. Not too much drying and there is sap. Playing it safe just a bit, but I would like to taste this from bottle as it could become quite nice! 89-91+
Château Lécuyer: Tasted blind. This is tasty as well. Initially seemed more vivid but I think the oak is beginning to mask the fruit here, especially when compared to Château La Fleur de Gay, tasted just before and which I prefer. 88-90
Château Beau Soleil: Tasted blind. Oak derivation comes to the fore here. There is still juiciness, thank goodness, but when you go back to #52 (which was uncovered as Château La Fleur de Gay), that wine seems to be paradise by comparison. 86-88
Château Bonalgue: Tasted blind. This has edgy nuance and vivid flavor, with fine fruit expressions and medium palate. This estate is quite consistent! 89-92
Château Feytit Clinet: Tasted blind. Oaky on the nose yet the palate conveys more juice. Some drying on the finish. 87-89
Château Vray Croix de Gay: Tasted blind. Juicier than #56 (Château Feytit Clinet), and I prefer this one. Brambly fruit. In the end both seem more accessible than the next two that were tasted blind (Taillefer and Le Moulin). 89-91
Château Taillefer: Tasted blind. This has body and intensity if a touch metallic. The initial aroma put me off.
Château Le Moulin: Tasted blind. This also conveys juiciness. Not bad… But it seems more one dimensional as compared to the first two of the series. 88-90
Château Fayat: Tasted blind. Smooth with chocolate and delectable flavors. Rather coffee rind like. Flamboyance! Nice job! 90-92
Château Mazeyres: Tasted blind. We have fallen back a bit with this one, metallic and slightly cloying but still juicy and tasty. 87-89
Château Rouget: Tasted blind – and was really surprised when it was unveiled. Oak staves. Tasted blind. This is also a bit cloying. And drying. Pass
Clos de la Vieille Eglise: Tasted blind. Once again, an oak derived cloying aspect that detracts. Even more drying… not for me! Pass.