Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Successful Saint Julien

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

MAIN BORDEAUX 2014 BARREL TASTING PAGE

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

MAIN BORDEAUX 2014 BARREL TASTING PAGE

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

MAIN BORDEAUX 2014 BARREL TASTING PAGE

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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25 years of Smith Haut Lafitte: all magnum verticals

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

In late March 2015, just before the start of the barrel tasting week for Bordeaux 2014, I was very lucky to have been invited to a unique all-magnum 25-vintage vertical – in both red (15 vintages) and white (10 vintages) – of the classified growth Château Smith Haut Lafitte. The occasion was 25 years of direction under Florence and Daniel Cathiard. You can read in more detail about their direction in my wine-chronicles posting: https://wine-chronicles.com/blog/smith-haut-lafitte/.

I have known the couple since about 2002 and have always admired their initiative and veritable passion for Bordeaux. Although their wines sometimes seem a touch too modern for my “classically inclined” palate, they have been getting better in the last few years, with a trend towards greater freshness and precision – for both reds and whites – with less evident oak and a cooler aspect. Whatever your taste may be, it is undeniable that Florence and Daniel Cathiard have invested much personal attention to their passion. And they bring pleasure to wine lovers across the world.

They deserve hearty thanks from all of us. Read More

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25 years of wine passion: Florence and Daniel Cathiard at Château Smith Haut Lafitte

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

Florence and Daniel Cathiard

Florence and Daniel Cathiard at a tasting of all magnum bottles, red and white, since 1990. Photo by Laure-Marie Ducloy

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, the grand cru classé of Graves – and later Pessac Léognan, when the appellation was created in 1987 – has been run for 25 years as of 2015 by the innovative couple Florence and Daniel Cathiard.

I have known the Cathiards since 2002, and long have I admired their energy and passion to vitalize the entire Graves region.

Their wines are pretty darn good, too. And have been getting better in the last few years, with a trend towards greater classicism – for both reds and whites.

I first encountered their red, just after it had been bottled, at a horizontal 2000 vintage Bordeaux tasting, hosted by Robert Parker in March 2003 in Washington D.C. There were many wines that day. At the end of the tasting, I had the chance to take a couple of remaining unfinished bottles home. I grabbed the Smith Haut Lafitte and Pontet Canet: both excellent in 2000. As you can read in my tasting notes to the 25-vintage vertical, the 2000 Smith Haut Lafitte remains superb today.

Why I have a soft spot for Graves

Smith Haut Lafitte produces reds and whites – as other estates do in the Graves region. In many ways, Graves is my overall favorite part of Bordeaux, and not just because one can find both reds and whites.

The pomp and circumstance of Medoc’s grands châteaux is not to be found in Graves. No, it is more a relaxing and gently hilly environment – even understated – and thoroughly charming. Wine lovers can enjoy “hidden gems” like Domaine de Chevalier, illustrious yet country squire-like estates at Carbonnieux, refined elegance in both wine and architecture at Haut Bailly, and, of course, distinguished architecture (and wines) in the middle of Pessac at Pape Clement, Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.

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