Getting some training in for the primeurs, which begin in around 8 weeks, I had a great day yesterday up in the Medoc, tasting first the Domaines Delon wines at Leoville Las Cases, then down to Lascombes, and finally at Margaux.
Leoville first stop. All 09 vintage, last tasted in exactly this line up during the primeurs one year ago.
Fugue de Nenin
The alcohol seems a lot more present than it did during the primeurs. Tons of matiere but overall a little hot. Firm cherry flesh, and very smooth tannic structure, but a touch disappointing. 81% merlot, 19% cabernet franc, says 13.9% alcohol but I feel it is higher. 87-88
Much much better balanced, this has the redcurrants and gooseberry edge coming through, the structure holds it all together better and the alcohol, although definitely present, is far more in check. Very good, 80% merlot, 20% cab franc, 30% new oak, again 13.9%abv. 93-94
Chapelle de Potensac
Less fleshy than the Pomerol by quite some way, w good acidity. Seems to be in a slighty tough patch, this does have some very good components but clearly needs to be given a breather. 65% merlot, cab sauv 19%, 15% cab franc, 1% petit verdot. It is interesting, and quite a classic claret, but not immediately striking. 13.7% abv. 90
I am surprised by the difference again bw first and second wines, as 09 such a good vintage, but again this is smoother, silkier, with crisper and better defined fruit. This is a really enjoyable, perky wine, w good tannic structure, present enough to be confidence-inducing in terms of ageing. None of these samples are filtered or fined yet. 48% merlot, 38% cab sauv, 14% cab franc. 93
Le Petit Lion (complete with a baby lion on the label... who said Bordeaux can't do kitsch??!)
This is lovely, gentle coffee beans, percolating away under ripe black fruits. This is a great second wine. Full of vigour and smooth, supple fruits, but also restrained and elegant. Love it. 93+
Clos de Marquis
More matiere here, slightly chewier tannins than the Petit Lion. Good grip, fresh acidity, this is a little more intellectual, it's actually very good qualtiy, although for pleasure i would go with Petit Lion. 70% cab sauv, 20% merlot, 2% petit verdot, 25% new oak 94
Leoville Las Cases
Wonderful rich brambly nose, and what a lot is going on on the palate here. So much swirling fruit, amazing blackberries, blackcurrants, loganberries, truly get a taste of all of them, this was absolutely one of my favourites during the primeurs and has more than lived up to it today. Just an awesome, awesome wine. So much power, grip, acidity, tannins, but all wrapped up in this smooth silky mouthfeel, with all the elegance you want from a St Julien. 76% cab sauv, 15% merlot, 9% cab franc. 98+
2010 tasting of individual grapes varieties, brilliant opportunity to do this just a few months before the primeurs. All over Bordeaux right now chateaux are doing this kind of tasting, to get together their final blend before the serious ageing gets underway for the 2010 vintage. Interesting, Delphine (the winemaker) told us that they don't taste every day at lascomes, believe that you can lose objectivity if you taste every day, can become distracted by tiny daily changes... every chateau will have a different opinion on this.
At Lascombes they do malolactic fermentation in barrel so these wines have been in oak for approx two or three months
The three samples were:
Merlot on clay limestone - wow, this is bright, crisp and very powerful merlot. Fills your mouth withh rich sweet fruit, clear oak influence of course at this stage, vanilla sweet edge.
Cabernet Sauvignon on gravel - subdued nose on the cabernet, slightly sour and herbal in a very attractive way, clearly will add elegance and finesse to the merlot. Good length and again big but smooth tannins, good acidity, real backbone to this sample, touch of reduction.
Petit Verdot on gravel - very very deep colour, bright rich purple, very concentrated. Love this, again that sour bittenrmess that comes from the concentration of tannins and polyphenols etc etc. Subdued nose again, very tight, clearly powerful.
There will be another racking before the primeurs to loosen things up a litttle. Likely final blend approx 48% each of merlot and cabernet, and around 5% Petit Verdot.
We then did the same tasting with the 2009 grapes
Merlot - with an extra year, this has more menthol evident, it is fairly hot evident in alcohol compared to the 2010 merlot for me, which for me is slightly more impressive
Cabernet - that is gorgeous, more fleshed out than the fledging 10, again slightly less dense but certainly a more fully ready grape, still tons of matiere, tannins etc
Petit verdot - a powerhouse, lovely rich spice, very full and frank, never goes above 5% in the blend, and only in the grand vin, because only have 2.5 hectares (over approx 120 hectares in total)
The 2009 Lascombes final wine
This is fascinating after the three grapes. Rich, well balanced, full of fresh ripe fruits, and clearly the excesses of the merlot have been perfectly held in check by the cabernet and pv, but still giving a sexy edge. This is lovely. Also the oak is more subtle than in the individual grape varieties (Delphine suggests this is because the final blend comes from wine aged with a mix of barrels, which evens out the different toastings etc of the separate barrels). 48% each merlot and cab, 4% pv.
At Ch Margaux, we tasting the 07 Pavillon Rouge (very fresh and soft, highly enjoyable), then I had to go back to Bordeaux for school pick-up while the rest of the group tasted the 07 Margaux and the 09 Pavillon Blanc. I am still trying to recover from the loss!!