Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux, Grand Cru Classé, 2005
This wine (a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc) has a stunning nose of forest floor, licorice, blackcurrants, plums and spring flowers. Soft tannin, full-bodied opulence and beautifully textured, lush richness, make for a brilliant wine from this large, 180-acre vineyard. In spite of the wine’s stunning forward fragrance and lushness, the color still looks as if it is 3-4 years old, rather than a decade. This is a big-time winner in 2005 and should drink well for at least another 25+ years.
Château Carbonnieux, Grand Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan, 2009
A classic Pessac-Leognan, the 2009 Carbonnieux possesses aromas of sweet black currants and cherries intermixed with hints of roasted herbs, unsmoked cigar tobacco, charcoal and licorice. Medium to full-bodied with more concentration than many vintages, this surprisingly fleshy effort has more poundage and glycerin than this normally light-styled Bordeaux has offered in the past. Harmonious sweet tannins and low acidity give the wine a fleshy mouthfeel and immediate appeal, but most of its aromatic complexity will not emerge for another 5-7 years. It should keep for two decades or more.
Château Chasse-Spleen, Moulis en Médoc, 2010
A beautiful effort from Chasse-Spleen, this dense purple wine exhibits plenty of black currant and black cherry fruit with some licorice, roasted herbs and forest floor. Medium to full-bodied and supple, the final blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot has produced a fleshy, succulent style of Chasse-Spleen to drink over the next 15+ years.
Château d’Agassac, Haut-Médoc, Cru Bourgeois, 2010
A superb wine from the Southern Medoc, this blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc is a real sleeper of the vintage. Floral notes intermixed with forest floor, black currant and some subtle smoke and truffle are all present in this seriously endowed, full-bodied wine that is performing beautifully.
Château d’Aiguilhe, Comtes von Neipperg, Côtes de Castillon, 2010
One of the best-run estates in the underrated and undervalued appellation of Cotes de Castillon is Chateau d’Aiguilhe, which is owned by Stephan von Neipperg. As with all of von Neipperg’s wines, Stephane Derenoncourt is the consulting winemaker. The blend is usually 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, although I did not see the statistics on this particular vintage. The 2010 (10,000 cases produced) achieved 14% natural alcohol from modest yields of 34 hectoliters per hectare. It exhibits a deep ruby/purple hue, lots of cassis, crushed rock and floral characteristics, a round, generous, savory, broadly textured style and sweet tannins. Drink it over the next decade.
Château Fourcas Hosten, Listrac Médoc, 2009
Fourcas-Hosten has long had a reputation as one of the best Châteaux in the commune of Listrac in the Médoc. This vintage is very classically profiled with a nose of cassis, cocoa, and cedar followed by a complex array of black and red fruits on the palate. Exceptionally well-balanced, this is a wine that can improve over the next couple of years, but is already a joy to drink. Jancis Robinson MW said “…quite an intriguing nose, full, firm and dramatic. Nicely balanced with polished tannins and very appetising, the type of wine that could be a pleasure to drink all its life.”
Château Kirwan, Margaux, Grand Cru Classé, 2009
After bottling, wine often goes through a difficult period of weak aromatic expression and/or imbalance, with a sensation of hollowness. This stage is called “Bottle Shock”. In the case of Kirwan 2009, this phase is over and the fruit dominates, with robust notes of black cherry. The attack is soft, round and juicy in the mouth. The flesh has a velvety character that blankets the palate while aromas of pepper, cedar, cocoa and light roasted coffee complement the pervasive fruit. Even young, Kirwan 2009 already presents remarkable complexity. The months to come will further accentuate these perceptions of volume and smoothness. As for the bouquet, it will continue to develop for many years…..patience.
Château la Tour Carnet, Grand Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc, 2009
Deeply-coloured. Powerful nose of ripe red fruits (strawberry) with slightly burnt oak presence. Power takes centre-stage on the palate with lovely fat at point of entry. A robust style with a good framework still showing pronounced oak. Slightly dry tannins on the finish. Wonderful potential.
Château Lafon-Rochet, Grand Cru Classé, Saint Estèphe, 2008
A strong effort for this vintage, the 2008 exhibits a dark plum/purple color, plenty of firm, rugged, austere tannins, copious red and black fruits, admirable flavor intensity and medium body. Cellar it for 3-4 years and drink it over the following 15.
Château Lalande-Borie, Saint Julien, 2009
This is a beautifully elegant Saint Julien from a top vintage – a velvety texture, plenty of exuberant, ripe berry fruit and great length. Top critic Robert Parker declared the 2009 to be “the finest wine I have ever tasted from Lalande Borie”.
Château Latour-Martillac, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan, 2009
The best ever wine from this estate (even better than their sensational 2005), this full-bodied wine offers notes of blueberry, black currant, asphalt and burning charcoal embers in a deep, layered and multi-dimensional style. It is impressively pure and well-built, with far greater concentration and length than I ever remember this wine having in the past. Forget it for 5 years and drink it over the following three decades.
Château Meyney, Saint-Estéphe, 2010
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot. Deep, dark cherry red. Smells more pure-fruited than the 2009 and doesn’t have its dusty mineral character. Much more down the line Cabernet aroma of cassis and cedar but the fruit is intense so that there is also a touch of dark chocolate – in a thick, chewy texture as well as in the flavour. Firm and chewy and with real mass as well as structure and still finishes fresh thanks to the fruit clarity. This has some way to go but has fine St-Estèphe direction and firmness and the fruit to fill out the middle. Long and satisfying and attractively aromatic as well as powerful.
Château Phélan Ségur, Saint-Estèphe, 2009
The best Phelan-Segur since the 1990, this is a rather dense, full-bodied, massive wine for a cru bourgeois. Sweet blackberry and black raspberry fruit intermixed with crushed rock and a hint of subtle oak jump from the glass of this full-bodied, intense, yet attractive and alluring wine. There is significant depth and substance to this Phelan-Segur, which is a sleeper of the vintage that should last up to 15 or more years.
– Score: 90 – Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, March 2012
Château Quinault l’Enclos, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, 2010
From an assemblage of 70% Merlot 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and some Malbec for good measure, the team at Cheval Blanc came up with a wine that reached 14.5% alcohol that shows licorice, griotte and earthy scents. The wine end with a fresh, supple, fennel, chocolate and black cherry.
Clos Puy Arnaud, Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon, 2009
– For one of the best wines Bordeaux can offer, look no further than this one! With an immense palate, highly concentrated notes of cassis, and firm, ripe tannins, this wine is the ideal vintage to show off class and elegance. You’ll love the hint of clove in the aftertaste, as well as the notes of blackberry, cedar, forest floor, and licorice. There’s even touch of incense in this opulent wine, which only tastes better the longer it is allowed to age.
This biodynamic Bordeaux with its intense fruit character is the perfect wine to go with venison.
– This stunning wine, with black/purple color, exhibits notes of blackberry, licorice, incense, forest floor and cedar along with a hint of toasty oak. The wine is opulent, even sumptuous in texture, has stunning purity and a provocative 45+ second finish. This is another over-achieving Castillon that should drink well for at least a decade or more.’ 92 points Robert Parker, Feb 2012