2014 Bordeaux in barrel: smoking Graves

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com


15 May 2015

My faves: Among reds, Haut Brion rather rules the roost, but watch out for an excellent and (hopefully) well-priced Domaine de Chevalier red and the usually fine Haut Bailly. Pape Clement has more linearity than I can ever recall – and that’s a good thing and Smith Haut Lafitte continues its welcome path towards more classicism. As for whites, Domaine de Chevalier and Haut Brion Blanc are tops, but La Mission Haut Brion Blanc is also great (if expensive) – and I like Smith Haut Lafitte a lot, too…

It is often said that the wines of Graves impart intriguing smoky aromatics after evolution in bottle. Barrel samples do not. So the title is more a play on words as “smoking” also can mean “doing very well” and I would say that based on 2014 barrel samples I tried, many of the Graves – both red and white – were smoking. Read More

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Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Widen the critical scope

No use relying on a single palate

14 May 2015

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com


Have you heard of Miguel Lecuona’s City Wine Journal?

Miguel has an excellent palate and takes some of the best pictures I have ever seen. We taste together on many occasions during the Bordeaux barrel tasting period. This year, we enjoyed a lovely dinner one evening and Miguel brought a fantastic Pomerol from 1970 that tasted fresh and still structured, with plenty of life and excitement. Low alcohol and perfumed aromatics. Lovely wine from another era. We dined chez Jane Anson, the famous English wine author and friend who is a superlative source of information – and influence.


With Miguel Lecuona and a lovely 1970 Pomerol chez Jane Anson

For over 10 years, Jane has been decanter.com’s official Bordeaux news source and more recently covers Graves for the magazine. Her entertaining, informative and substantial book on the First Growths – Bordeaux Legends – is a reference for all #winelovers. Not only has Jane earned a diploma in wine tasting from Bordeaux, she also pens weekly wine columns worldwide, and her website, New Bordeaux, is fantastic. Read More


Dining at Château Haut Brion with Prince Robert of Luxembourg

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

13 May 2014

Prince Robert of Luxembourg – owner of Château Haut Brion – loves history.

Last year, the estate awarded several cases of Haut Brion 1989 to art historian Laurent Chavier, who won a contest to find the earliest mention of Haut Brion as a wine.

“I launched the competition, as Haut Brion is famous for being the oldest, if you will, of the great names of Bordeaux, and, until last year, the oldest written mention was 1660,” he said as we sipped on Bollinger Champagne in a supremely elegant living room, not far from a just as elegant and elaborate dining room, where I later enjoyed dinner with employees of Alain Ducasse restaurants from around the world.


Sipping Bollinger Grande Annee 2005. Not quite as vivacious as the 2004 vintage but very well made and has a real vinous quality. What a great treat as I interviewed Prince Robert!

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

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 


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.


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 


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