Monday, 18 February 2013

Cambridge Tasting Pt II – Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux

Cambridge Tasting Pt II – Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux

Sunday, 20th January 2013.
West Lodge, Downing College, Cambridge.

 The second lot of wines at this tasting were the Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux. Clarets at this level are a staple diet of Cambridge Colleges, so when Tom said that he had been sent several samples of the newly released 2010s, I procured some mature 2000s from the College Cellars for comparison. On a side note, I remember tasting quite a few of the 2010 Cru Bourgeois during the en primeur campaign in 2011, my impressions then was that quality was pretty high across the board, with plenty of sweet fruit and ripe tannins. The fruit quality was there to get good extraction and flavour; certainly a great vintage capable of long term cellaring. I was keen to see how the wines have developed now that they are bottled and ready to go.   

Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois
2010s courtesy of Alliance de Cru Bourgeois du Medoc
2000s procured from the cellars of Downing College, Cambridge

2010 Chateau La Garricq, Moulis en Medoc

Plenty of dark fruit and cassis on the nose, balanced with a sweet lick of oak; smells ripe and heady, almost a touch alcoholic. On the palate, the fruit sweet and textured; good stuffing and warmth on the mid palate, ripe tannins showing as quite silky; I think the relatively high alcohol levels somewhat masks the chewier side of the tannins. Good, well balanced wine; still very powerful, needs time.

2010 Chateau La Commanderie, Saint Estephe

Sweet fruit and cassis on the nose but with a more pronounced stalky / woody aromas; the aromas feels a bit disjointed at the moment, but it should integrate with time. Although the fruit is good, the palate is rather disappointing as the tannins feel green and astringent, gripping in all the wrong places. Feels agricultural, lacks charm.

2010 Chateau Beaumont, Haut Medoc

Dark blackberry fruit compote on the nose, with sweet woody aromas / cedar and cigar box, hints of earthy smoke too – quite alluring in all. Palate feels surprisingly thin, theres ripe sweet fruit but not enough weight and concentration; tannins are sweet and balanced. I was surprised at its lack of depth, if I remember correctly this showed rather well in the en primeur tastings a couple of years back.  

2010 Chateau Gironville, Haut Medoc

Overtly fruity on the nose, with blueberry and blackberries dominating; theres even a porty / Ribena cordial note about it, bright and voluptuous on the nose. Palate shows all the right components in check – sweet, dark fruit; fresh acidity giving it brightness and ripe but wholesome, grippy tannins. A very good claret, should age well; highly recommended. 

2010 Chateau Preuillac, Medoc

Ribena and cassis on the nose, with some notes of blackberry liquer; theres brightness and high, somewhat alcoholic notes too. Good concentration of fruit flavours, relatively high acidity, making it feel quite fresh; not as lavish as the Gironville but still a well-built wine. Has structure to allow aging.

2010 Chateau Patache d’Aux, Medoc

Fragrant, sweet dark fruit with hints of licorice, smells quite big. Disappointingly muted on the palate and lacking any weight, I’m pretty sure this is an out-of-condition sample.

2000 Chateau Patache d’Aux, Medoc

I’ve had the pleasure of tasting this particular wine several times in the past, and this wasn’t the best bottle. The slightly dusty / musty nose hints at a below-par bottle; fruit on the palate is soft and the acidity is still lively but overall, it lacks the brightness and charm I know it should have. Such a shame.

2000 Chateau Bernadotte, Haut Medoc

Sweet cedar and incense, along with a smoky hint of cigar box and sandalwood; fruit is dark but not overpowering – a fragrant, developed nose. Fruit is plush and generous, with a lovely acidity; all components integrated and balanced, this lingers on the palate surprisingly long for a humble wine. So poised, a joy to drink. Proof, if needed, that well-made humble clarets from great vintages can keep so well; still has life ahead.

2000 Chateau Lanessan, Haut Medoc

The bottle I had at the tasting was underwhelming, tired to the point of losing it altogether. I tried another bottle of this a week later, which showed its pedigree: dark fruit, with woody licorice and cedar, somewhat masculine in style. Fruit is sweet with the licorice notes following through on the palate, relatively low acidity. Drinking well now and probably wont improve further.

My overall impression of the 2010 clarets: ripe fruit was clear to see, some to the point of being almost over alcoholic; tannins were ripe too. The best, more lavish of them can be enjoyed on release but for some, I would advocate restraint, give it a few years to settle down and I think your patience will be amply rewarded. A hit rate of one in three for the 2000s doesn’t bode well in terms of consistency, yet given how well the one performed, I could almost forgive the non-performing two. Luck of the draw, I guess, but I’d probably sing a different tune if I was in a restaurant and been served two dodgy bottles in a row.

Many thanks to the Alliance de Cru Bourgeois du Medoc and Phillips-Hill, their UK PR agency for the 2010 samples.

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