Bordeaux 2017

20 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017: Cheval Blanc and L’Eglise Clinet

As the campaign draws towards its finale, it’s easy to become a little blasé about the big names. VCC, Cheval Blanc and L’Eglise Clinet in one day – no problem… Who are we kidding, these are three of the most spectacular chateaux in Bordeaux – all well and truly on top of their games.

The Cheval team, headed up by Pierre-Olivier Clouet and Arnaud de Laforcade keeps on hitting it out of the park. The vineyards were ravaged by frost, but there were absolutely no compromises, there’s an almost bloody-minded obsession to make extraordinary wines. We love the style; the precision, the elegance, the detail, the texture of the tannins – this has to be one of the most refined wines in all of Bordeaux.

Across the border in Pomerol, Denis Durantou has another potential wine of the vintage on his hands. Bestowed with lofty scores and high praise from the big critics, L’Eglise Clinet is one of the most profound and grandest wines of the vintage. We also have a small allocation of the wonderful second label, Petite Eglise. This is always one of, if not the very best value wines from this prestigious appellation.

L’Eglise Clinet 2017
“The 2017 L’Eglise-Clinet was picked between 12 and 22 September, the Cabernet Franc coming in on the last day. Nothing was touched by the frost. It is matured in 70% new oak. Denis Durantou did not specify the exact quantity produced, “Just enough for my friends” according to his spec sheet! The bouquet is very succinct, perhaps more open than either the 2015 or 2016 at this early stage, extraordinarily pure with blackberry, wild strawberry, smoke and truffle. It just gets better and better as it opens in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, linear and focused, very fresh with pointed acidity. This is full of tension and poise, a touch of graphite emerging towards the finish that lingers in the mouth with superb salinité at the end. It completes a triumvirate for Denis Durantou after the 2015 and 2016s. Drink 2024 - 2050. 95-97/100” - Neal Martin, vinous.com

 

19 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017: The Dazzling Vieux Chateau Certan

There’s absolutely no doubt that Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont have made one of the wines of the vintage – this is a sensational VCC. We’ve always known that this terroir is capable of producing one of the most ravishing wines in Pomerol – now we come to expect it every year. If it isn’t in the same league as the absolute elite wines of this luxuriant commune, we’d be very surprised. The 2017 is another sumptuously textured, aromatically profound, vibrant yet effortless Pomerol; it’s a real seductress that won’t let you put the glass down… We were thrilled when we tasted it, as were the great and the good of the world’s wine press. The 2017 has been showered with accolades, but that shouldn’t come as any surprise… this is one magnificent Vieux Chateau Certan!

“The 2017 Vieux Château Certan was picked in three passages through the vineyard, 12 and 13 September, 18 and 19 September and finally 25 September to 2 October. The yields are 37hl/ha with 14.2° alcohol and a 3.75 pH. It is the first vintage to contain Cabernet Sauvignon for several years. It has a very pure, Merlot-driven bouquet with black cherries, redcurrant and wild strawberry scents, just a hint of iris and incense in the background. The 70% new oak is nicely integrated here. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin, a deep well of black and red fruit interwoven with allspice, truffle, white pepper and a little sage. This Vieux Château Certan manifests more complexity and profundity as it aerates, delivering genuine, spine-tingling mineralité on the persistent finish. It gains even more precision when I return to the property to re-taste it again. Tasted twice, ten days apart at the property. Drink 2023-2050. 94-96/100” - Neal Martin, vinous.com

“The 2017 Vieux Château Certan is a rapturously beautiful wine. Dark, sumptuous and seamless in the glass, the 2017 is going to tempt readers early. This is the first vintage that includes a bit of young vine Cabernet Sauvignon planted in 2012 to complement the old-vine Merlot and Franc that are the core of Vieux Certan. A wine of exceptional balance and purity, the 2017 dazzles from start to finish. There is an element of tension in the 2017 that is incredibly appealing. "We are back to Bordeaux," adds Alexandre Thienpont in reference to the personality of the year as compared to both 2016 and 2015. The blend is 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, aging in 70% new oak. 95-98” - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

“Composed of 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Vieux Château Certan gives up gorgeous black raspberries, crushed black currants and warm black berries on the nose with chocolate-covered cherries, violets and star anise suggestions plus black truffles and wood smoke. The palate is medium to full-bodied with wonderful concentration in the mid-palate and firm, very finely pixelated tannins, with seamless freshness and fantastic length. 96-98/100” - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate

 

14 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Lafite Rothschild

We are delighted to offer the outstanding Lafite 2017. This wine has received unanimous praise from the critics and merchants alike. It’s a wonderful wine and whereas other exceptional wines from 2017 have been rejected by the market for overly ambitious pricing, Lafite looks set to be a roaring success. At £2490 per six, this is the best priced Lafite available today. As ever, demand for this brand is sky high, it is after all the darling of the First Growths in the Asian market. If you would like to secure an allocation, please contact your line manager or follow the link below.

“Composed of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Lafite Rothschild is a little shy on the nose to begin, opening out to scents of crushed blackcurrants, black cherries and warm black plums with touches of yeast extract, charcuterie, cigar box and fertile loam plus a hint of iron ore. POW—the paradoxically ethereal, medium-bodied palate hits you with vibrant, exhilarating black fruit and previously latent floral layers, supported with fantastic freshness and super fine-grained, pixelated tannins, finishing with persistent mineral and perfumed layers. Truly. Stunning.” 97-99/100 - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate

“The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild had been blended in mid-March, a couple of weeks prior to my visit, therefore it was important to let this settle and aerate. Moreover, I returned on my final day in Bordeaux mid-April for a second reading. It feels very aloof at first, even a little green, although that ebbs away with time in the glass to reveal pure blackberry and bilberry fruit, touches of brine, cedar and graphite. Patience discloses a really quite sublime array of aromas. The palate is where all the action is: filigree tannin, very well judged acidity, harmonious and poised with a silky smooth finish that glides across the mouth. It does not possess enormous length but it is very precise and, for want of a better, less clichéd word, classic from start to finish. Tasted twice with consistent notes.” 95-97/100 - Neal Martin, Vinous

The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild is gorgeous. Silky, nuanced and polished, the 2017 captures all the finesse that makes Lafite such a vaunted property. Even in this unusual vintage, Lafite retains its super classic flavor profile, shape and personality. And that is one of the signatures of truly great sites. Like many of his colleagues, Technical Director Eric Kolher opted for gentle extractions and incorporated a relatively high amount of press wine (16%) into the blend. Those are merely details, though, because the 2017 Lafite is stellar. It also has the potential to be the most complete of the First Growths.” 94-97/100 - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

 

14 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Haut Brion and family

First out of the traps this morning are the Pessac Leognan wines of Clarence Dillon: Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion, Clarence Haut Brion, Chapelle de la Mission, Haut Brion Blanc, La Mission Haut Brion Blanc and Clarté de Haut Brion. And what a great range of wines they are. We were thrilled by their purity, the wide spectrum of aromas and effortless power. This is everything we have come to expect from this superb portfolio. Jean-Philippe Delmas crafts handsome, reserved wines – the glitz is provided by the exceptional stony terroir, which reveals its complexity with every swirl of the glass. Purists will swoon for these wines and they promise to age gracefully for many years to come.

The white wines are particularly heralded this vintage. They are typically kaleidoscopic, with a gorgeous texture of silky fruit and ravishing acidity. It’s no wonder Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW awarded her top mark of the vintage to Haut Brion Blanc (97-100). Production is miniscule as ever – please enquire if you would like an allocation.

 

13 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Chateau Margaux, Figeac, Pavie, Angelus and La Conseillante

There is only one contender for top billing today – it has to be the quite ravishing Chateau Margaux. It was for us the most refined First Growth, a truly ethereal wine with all the very best characteristics of Margaux: wonderful perfume, exquisite detail, concealed power and a glorious finish that reveals an astonishing array of nuances. It is unmistakably Chateau Margaux, and we fell head-over-heels for it. We also adored the Pavillon Rouge, but alas, selection was stricter than ever, so allocations are absolutely miniscule – please enquire with your account manager if you would like an allocation.

Second billing goes to one of the rising stars of St Emilion, Chateau Figeac. Under the supervision of Frederic Faye, this chateau is firmly back on the map, producing staggeringly good wines. We love the style here – there is something quite unique about Figeac with its stony terroir and abundance of Cabernet vines. The frosts have affected the yields quite dramatically, but the quality is quite superb.

Other notable released today include the high flying Angelus and Pavie as well as a resurgent La Conseillante.

 

12 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Leoville Las Cases

It’s time to get contentious and wear our hearts on our sleeves... You can forget analysis and talk of points or comparisons with other vintages, this mailer is emotive and may be a touch controversial. We adore Leoville Las Cases. Hubert Delon’s flagship chateau is the epitome of great Left Bank Bordeaux. In our opinion this vineyard at the northern tip of St Julien is unsurpassed. It neighbours a notable First Growth, but hand on hearts, we prefer Las Cases. It is such an exquisite expression of this extraordinary terroir – the wines are a purists’ delight; they feel for want of a better word, ‘proper’. They have grace and charm and will age effortlessly. The 2017 is yet another outstanding effort that is clearly of First Growth quality at less than half the price. Discerning drinkers and collectors should take note…

“The 2017 Léoville Las Cases is remarkably elegant and polished for this typically brutish Saint-Julien. Persistence more than power is the key element that distinguishes the 2017 from most other vintages and most other Saint-Juliens as well. The classic Las Cases flavor profile is very much in evidence, but in a wine that is silky, nuanced and exceptionally polished. In 2017, Las Cases is truly magical, and one of the most complete wines of the Left Bank. In a word: sublime. Don't miss it. Tasted two times. 94-97/100” - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

“The 2017 Léoville Las Cases, a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon with 11% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot from 50- to 90-year-old vines, is deep garnet-purple in color and simply sings of crushed blackcurrants, wild blueberries and plum preserves with notions of wood smoke, cigar boxes, crushed rocks and beef drippings. Medium-bodied with wonderful intensity and vivacity, it gives a firm, fine-grained frame and a densely packed mid-palate, finishing long and earthy. This should age incredibly! 96-98/100” - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate

 

12 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Mouton Rothschild

Philippe Dhalluin has produced a stunning range of 2017s. His wines are silky and sumptuous, yet serious and complex – the pinnacle is the exceptional Mouton Rothschild. It is evidently a wonderful Mouton full of exotic spice and glorious fruit. There is more than a nod towards the great vintages of the past coupled with the control and polish of modern winemaking. The result captures all the character and gravitas of this terroir in a style that will be approachable in its youth and for many decades to come. It is certainly one of the most profound 2017s and continues the exceptional run of form from this noble chateau.

We also have small quantities of the greatly improved Aile d’Argent – the white wine from Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Much progress has been achieved here. This is the most composed and complete example to date with a wonderfully broad palate of seductive fruit and a real sense of tension. We very much like the vibrant and engaging style.

“The 2017 Mouton Rothschild has one of the highest percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon ever at 90%, with 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose is already singing of crushed black currants, warm blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries with hints of violets, star anise, cinnamon stick and cloves plus wafts of pencil lead and unsmoked cigars. Medium-bodied, wonderfully delicate yet intense in the mouth (gaining some richness in the mid-palate on my second taste two and a half weeks later), it has super fine-grained, smooth tannins and incredible freshness, finishing very long with tons of tightly wound layers. Wow. This vintage is going to be very long-lived in the cellar! 97-99/100” – Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate

 

11 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Leoville Barton

Our thoughts echo those of Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin – this is a scintillating Leoville Barton. We shouldn’t be surprised, this Chateau has really upped its game in recent vintages producing serious, muscular, profound wines in a classical style. Cabernet is very much at the fore, a whopping 93% of the blend, and it shows in the glass. The flavour profile is wonderful, the palate is effortless; this is such a refined and stylish wine – a perfect balance of power and tension. It was without doubt one of the most impressive wines of the Left Bank and will be one of the best value ‘super seconds’ of the vintage.

“One of the few truly exceptional Left Bank wines of the vintage, the 2017 Léoville-Barton is simply fabulous. The 2017 also has the distinction of having a very high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky crème de cassis, white flowers, lavender, crushed rocks, menthol and spice give the 2017 a distinctly layered, resonant feel. The 2017 offers fabulous density and structure, although the tannins need time. The blend is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot. The September rains were especially challenging for the Merlot and Cabernet Franc. As a result, Cabernet is pushed up in the blend, while there is no Franc at all. Tasted two times. 93-96/100” - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

“The 2017 Léoville Barton has a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon this year at 93%, the remainder is Merlot. It was picked between 15 and 18 September for the Merlot and 22 to 29 September for the Cabernet Sauvignon, then aged in 60% new oak. It has a perfumed and pure bouquet that demonstrates a little more cohesion and refinement than some of its Saint-Julien peers. Blackberry and touches of bilberry fruit, cedar and crushed stone – this is a knockout nose with bags of potential. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin, perfectly pitched acidity and beautifully integrated oak. Seriously, this is nudging (not equalling, nudging!) the 2016 in terms of quality and there are just a handful of properties where I can state that this year. 93-95/100” - Neal Martin, Vinous

If you wish to place an order, please contact your account manager or follow the link below:

 

08 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - The Moueix Family Wines

We are delighted to release a quartet of Moueix Family wines: La Fleur Petrus, Belair Monange, Hosanna and Lafleur Gazin. Jean-Pierre Moueix was a maverick propriétaire and negociant. He spotted the potential of Pomerol, raising brands like Petrus from near obscurity to the very pinnacle of wine collectability. Now the company is run by the father and son team of Christian and Edouard Moueix. Their portfolio of chateaux is unparalleled and thanks to sympathetic and traditional wine-making techniques, they all have unique identities.

The big three are household names. La Fleur Petrus is the largest estate on the plateau of Pomerol – its wines are grandiose and age wonderfully. Belair Monange occupies the finest slopes and plateau of the Cote of St Emilion. Nestled between Ausone and Canon, this exceptional terroir is beginning to fire on all cylinders and regularly ranks amongst the very best wines of the appellation. Hosanna is typically hedonistic. This is an exotic Pomerol packed with glycerin and spice. The final wine is not a recognised brand yet, but we have been really impressed by the strides made at this chateau over the last four vintages. Lafleur Gazin is situated between Gazin and the original site of La Fleur Petrus. The old wines were a little bucolic, but recent vintages are refined and elegant and still offer exceptional value for money.


Unfortunately, allocations are quite meagre and we expect demand to be high. If you would like an allocation, please contact your account manager.

La Fleur Petrus
“A final blend of 91% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the very deep garnet-purple colored 2017 la Fleur-Petrus has quite an earthy nose, sporting notions of black soil, mossy bark and truffles over a core of cassis, mulberries and plum preserves plus hints of espresso, anise and peppercorns. Medium to full-bodied, firm, grainy and with great freshness, the sturdy frame supports generous black and blue fruits with earthy accents and fantastic length. 94-96”

Belair Monange
“A final blend of 90% Merlot with 10% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Belair Monange has a flamboyant nose of potpourri, Indian spices, Sichuan pepper, hoisin and sandalwood over a core of crème de cassis, blackberry pie and blueberry preserves with a waft of dusty earth. The medium to full-bodied palate is rich and seductive with oodles of freshness and layers of floral and spice notions, finishing long. 96-98”

Hosanna
“A final blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, the 2017 Hosanna is deep garnet-purple in color with a nose that simply sings of violets, chocolate-covered cherries and exotic spices with a core of crème de cassis, fragrant earth and blueberry pie plus a waft of wild thyme. The palate is medium to full-bodied, velvety, rich and seductive with tons of black and blue fruit layers, finishing with those exotic spices coming through. 96-98”

Lafleur Gazin
“Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Lafleur-Gazin is 100% Merlot with very alluring floral notes of violets, roses and raspberry leaves over a core of red and black currants, blackberries and incense plus a waft of damp soil. The palate is medium to full-bodied, firm and full of flavors, with grainy tannins and seamless freshness, finishing on a perfumed note. 90-92”

Notes and scores by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

 

07 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017: The ravishing Smith Haut Lafitte

The Cathiard’s have yet again produced another outstanding Smith Haut Lafitte. The house style of plush, velvety textured fruit and generosity transcends the vintage. It is ravishingly aromatic, voluptuous and pallet coating yet taut and compact with the structure to age gracefully for many decades. We were seriously impressed, as were all the major critics:

“The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte was not affected by frost and is therefore a classic blend matured in 60% new oak. The bouquet demands a little encouragement from the glass this year, eventually opening with floral scents, more iris than violet, flanked by blackberry and bilberry. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin that comes across just a little chalky in style. This feels very cohesive and comes replete with a detailed and nuanced finish that might lack the flair and volume of the 2016, but it is certainly sustained and persistent. Give this four to five years in bottle and subject to optimal barrel maturation this may well land at the top of my banded score. Drink 2022-2045. 93-95/100” - Neal Martin, vinous.com

“The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte is easily one of the highlights of the vintage. Dense, unctuous and impeccably balanced, the 2017 exudes depth from start to finish. Charcoal embers, graphite, menthol, licorice and sage add myriad shades of nuance to the plush, unctuous dark raspberry jam fruit. This is a super impressive showing from Smith Haut Lafitte. I tasted the 2017 two times. On both occasions, the wine showed tremendous aromatic and flavor depth. 94-97/100” - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

“A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte opens slowly to reveal complex notes of crushed black cherries, black currants and wild blueberries with touches of lavender, pencil lead, cast iron pan and a waft of aniseed. Medium-bodied and elegant with great freshness and quiet intensity, it has firm, grainy tannins and a sustained yet ethereal mid-palate, with a long, energetic, mineral-laced finish. 94-96/100” – The Wine Advocate

The Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc is also a great success, although yields are rather paltry. If you would like an allocation, please enquire with your account manager.

 

07 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Cos d’Estournel

Cos d’Estournel 2017 is one of the three 97-100 point wines from The Wine Advocate, along with Chateau Lafleur and Haut Brion Blanc. It is a parting gift from the departing Aymeric de Gironde – a brace of potentially perfect wines, and a change of style that we very much like. Heavy extractions and an abundance of alcohol are out – finesse and elegance are in – it’s a refreshing change and one that has caught the eye of the major critics.

At £1308 per dozen, this is £300 per case cheaper than its predecessor is currently trading at, for a wine with an almost identical score. It will be fascinating for those with the 2016 to taste and compare these two vintages over the next thirty or forty years.

The final blend of the 2017 Cos d'Estournel is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Very deep purple-black in color, it offers up intense scents of crushed blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries with touches of incense, spice cake, star anise and plum preserves plus a perfumed hint of potpourri. The palate is medium-bodied with very firm yet wonderfully ripe, "sweet", fine-grained tannins at just 13% alcohol—something of a miracle in our modern times. The palate sports fantastic freshness and tons of energy emitted from the intensely perfumed black fruit layers, finishing on an epically long-lingering mineral note. Truly profound. 97-100/100’. – The Wine Advocate

 

06 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Calon Segur, Rauzan Segla, Canon and Brane Cantenac

We’ve been eagerly anticipating a deluge of releases post Vinexpo. Now we have lift-off. Laurent Duffau’s wonderful Calon Segur was first out of the blocks. To say that Calon Segur is desirable is a gross understatement – this is one of the hottest tickets in Bordeaux. Huge investments in the vineyard and in a new state of the art winery have elevated this wine to the very top echelons of the Bordeaux hierarchy. The 2017 is superb. We were struck by the dazzling purity of the Cabernet; this is sleek and refined with real intensity and poise. It is a wonderful modern expression of the Calon vineyard and will be an instant sell-out!

Our hearts then almost stopped at the price of La Clotte (£285/6) - we couldn’t resist… The wine is superb, the price might be a little high – but then it is a sister property to Ausone. If you would like an allocation of this Vauthier estate, please enquire – production is miniscule.

We were revived by the prospect of Henri Lurton’s Brane Cantenac. This Second Growth Margaux is on fine form. It is always one of the stars of the appellation, and the 2017 is no exception – it’s beautifully fragrant with a wonderful core of plush fruit. At £575 per dozen it should be one of the best value ‘Second Growths’ of the campaign.

And like the proverbial London bus, we received offers for our other favourite Margaux Second Growth, Rauzan Segla. In fact, the Wertheimer family released its whole Bordeaux portfolio: Rauzan Segla, Canon and their latest acquisition, Berliquet. Rauzan is as handsome as ever and given the demand for this Chateau since Nicolas Audebert took the reins, it should be snapped up. The same is very much true of the wonderful Canon 2017. It was a tough act to follow the spellbinding 2015 and 2016, but Nicolas has come up trumps again with a beautifully detailed and exquisitely judged 2017. The barrel tastings were one of the highlights of our trip – the fruit here is lavish yet taut and refined – a real joy to taste. The new project, Chateau Berliquet occupies a site between Canon and Belair Monange. This is very much a work in progress, but we were impressed by the first vintage. It is definitely a chateau to keep a close eye on…

Also released today: Giscours (£255/6), Marquis de Calon Segur (£110/6), Baron de Brane (£110/6), Feytit Clinet (£250/6)

 

05 June 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Pichon Comtesse and Reserve de la Comtesse

Nicolas Glumineau has transformed the fortunes of Pichon Comtesse, turning it into one of the most consistently outstanding wines in the Medoc. The 2014 set the bar at vertigo inducing heights, only for 2015 and 2016 to sail over. 2017 is once again a real beauty – this is a wine of First Growth pedigree and finesse; there are the tell-tale haunting aromatics, gorgeous texture and precision of flavours, and the most effortless of tannins – it’s the whole package! This really is a huge success and a worthy addition to the impressive compendium of Glumineau wines.

What is more, the release price is down by some 21% to £558 per six in bond. Given the remarkable quality and the trajectory Pichon is plotting, this is definitely a 2017 to get excited about.

 

18 May 2018 - Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac, Duhart Milon and Evangile 2017

The great First Growths of Pauillac, Mouton Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild have released their sister properties on to the market. We make no apologies for our fervour for Clerc Milon and d’Armailhac. Under the watchful eye of Philippe Dhalluin the quality at these chateaux has soared, as has demand. These are now two very hot tickets. Wines made with First Growth know-how and means from great vineyards close to the Gironde – well, it was always going to be a winning formula... D’Armailhac deserves special mention in 2017 – there is a real sense of ambition and class. We were suitably impressed and rank this alongside Chateau Batailley as our best value pick from the Pauillac appellation.

The Lafite side of the Rothschild family are not to be forgotten. We adored the Evangile 2017. Now well on the road to biodynamic certification, this is one of the most successful Pomerols we tasted. It is luxuriant and polished with the poise and grace of a truly great wine. It is perhaps the most cohesive and impressive barrel sample we have tasted at this chateau for many years. We can also offer the highly sought after Duhart Milon. This Fourth Growth chateau has a long track record of producing impressive Pauillac with a stylistic nod towards Lafite.

 

17 May 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Domaine de Chevalier Rouge and Blanc

Olivier Bernard is a busy man. He’s been the President of the Union des Grand Crus since 2012 and manages no fewer than six Bordeaux chateaux, but still finds time to greet his guests with his customary hospitality, and most importantly, produce spellbinding wines from Domaine de Chevalier.

It will be this ‘jewel in the crown’ of his family’s portfolio that he will always be synonymous with. When he assumed control in 1983 it is fair to say that the vineyards were not in the best of health. A hugely ambitious replanting process was required, and he was the man with the foresight and patience to restore this great estate back to its glory days. Since 2005, we can affirm that the mission has been accomplished. The vines he planted are in their prime and regularly produce sensational wines. We adored the style of the 2017 rouge – it was measured and beautifully pitched. We had felt that the 2016 was perhaps a little supercharged – this is a return to the grace and charm we associate with Domaine de Chevalier. It is tightly coiled, but with aeration reveals layers of Cabernet dominated fruit and effortless yet gripping tannins.

“Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2017 Domaine de Chevalier opens with a cedary waft giving way to a good core of crushed black currants, blackberries and mulberries with suggestions of black truffles, tilled soil and black olives plus a hint of smoked meats. Medium-bodied with a good, solid frame of ripe, fine-grained tannins and oodles of freshness, it is elegantly fruited yet well sustained on the mid-palate and long finish. 93-95+/100". - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

We were also really impressed by the curvaceous and stylish Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. If you are looking for a really smart Bordeaux Blanc, this is a strong contender.

“The 2017 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is fabulous, but it is also going to need a number of years to be at its very best. Powerful and dense in the glass, the 2017 offers terrific brightness and cut, all backed up with serious structure. Smoke, melon, orchard fruit and mint are some of the many notes that develop as this gorgeous wine shows off its personality. Quite simply, the 2017 has class to burn, but readers will have to be patient. Tasted three times. 92-95/100". - Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com

 

16 May 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Chateau Beychevelle

Beychevelle has always been regarded with affection by the UK market. The wines were traditionally classic clarets; thoroughly dependable and good value for money. Under the stewardship of Romain Ducolomb this beautifully situated chateau has really started to live up to its true potential. A new state of the art winery combined with Romain’s technical know-how has elevated this estate into the top echelons of the Bordeaux hierarchy.

The new wine making facility allows Romain to vinify each parcel individually, increasing the precision and ultimately the vineyard expression in the wine. Whereas Beychevelles of old could be a little rough around the edges, recent vintages possess a real polish, purity of fruit and impeccably mannered tannins. The 2017 is another immaculately constructed Beychevelle with an abundance of fruit and a refined personality – we loved it! And if that isn’t enough of a motivation to buy it, it is also priced well below all physical vintages.

“The 2017 Beychevelle is absolutely gorgeous. Creamy and beautifully layered on the palate, Beychevelle exudes exotic richness in its ripe red/purplish berry fruit. Even though the 2017 is rather flamboyant in style, it retains quite a bit of brightness to play off its more extroverted leanings. Beychevelle was impressive on the several times I tasted it. 92-95/100”. - Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com

Also just released is the excellent 2017 Chateau Talbot. We were really impressed by this robust and honest St Julien. At £230 per six it offers great value for money for a very smart Cru Classé.

 

14 May 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Tertre Roteboeuf, Roc de Cambes and Domaine de Cambes

The inimitable Francois Mitjavile has once again triumphed with his stunning range of 2017s; they are decadent, expressive and down-right delicious.

Domaine de Cambes is pure, unadulterated pleasure. It’s not the most high-brow 2017, but it’s an absolute delight that will give so much early drinking satisfaction. The Roc de Cambes is a big step up in quality. This has all the fun of the Domaine plus some serious gravitas. There is a real depth and a core that reveals layers of luxurious fruit. It possesses a presence and a structure that points towards a long and rewarding future.

There is less of a chasm between Tertre Roteboeuf and Roc de Cambes. The difference is quite subtle, indeed, some of our team preferred Roc to Tertre this year. This is not a snub to the grander wine, more a reflection of the exceptional quality of the Cotes de Bourg. Tertre Roteboeuf is perhaps a little more kaleidoscopic and a touch more refined – both are exquisite expressions of the vintage, brimming with lavish fruit and perfectly measured tannins.

Please note that yields at Tertre Roteboeuf are 20% lower than in 2016. As such, this wine will be under allocation.

 

11 May 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Les Cruzelles, Montlandrie, La Chenade and Saintayme

After the roaring success of Chateau Lafleur on Wednesday, Monsieur Durantou has also decided to come to the party. Denis’ flagship, Chateau L’Eglise Clinet received top marks from Neal Martin along with Lafleur, Lafite, Yquem and L' Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne. We were mighty impressed by his grandiose Pomerol.

As ever, Denis’ wines from the more humble communes of Lalande de Pomerol and Castillon provide some of the best values of the vintage. Special mention should go to the outstanding Montlandrie. This is quite possibly the best example we have ever tasted from this estate – the clarity, precision and aromatics are really exceptional. The Cabernet clones he planted high up on the hill overlooking Castillon provide such vibrancy and complexity.

Alas, the Lalande de Pomerol estates of Les Cruzelles and La Chenade were quite badly affected by frost. As such yields are miniscule, but quality is yet again outstanding – you’ll be hard pressed to find anything as impressive from 2017 at this price point.

Les Cruzelles
“The 2017 Lés Cruzelles comes from clay soils, the Merlot picked from 13 to 22 September, the Cabernet Franc on 22 September, matured in 40% new oak. I found that this has a little more cohesion and focus than the La Chenade at this early stage, blackberry mixed with raspberry and loamy scents, fresh and full of vim. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin. This is very nicely focused with crisp acidity, saline and persistent on the finish. Excellent – this is as good a Lalande de Pomerol as you will find in 2017. 90-92/100". - Neal Martin, www.vinous.com

Montlandrie
“A blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Montlandrie gives up notes of crushed black plums, red currants and black cherries with suggestions of cigar box, yeast extract, tapenade and underbrush. Medium-bodied with a solid backbone of firm, grainy tannins, it has beautiful freshness and a mineral-tinged finish. 91-93/100". - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

La Chenade
"The 2017 La Chenade comes from gravel soils in Lalande de Pomerol, picked 8 to 22 September for the Merlot and on 18 September for the Cabernet Franc, that is aged in used oak. It has a tightly wound bouquet, a little more black fruit than red, just a touch of black truffle. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin, a pinch of black pepper and spice, a little short but nicely balanced with a pretty, earthy finish. It is not the greatest La Chenade that I have tasted in recent years, yet given the frost damage it should be considered a success. 88-90/100". - Neal Martin, www.vinous.com

Saintayme
“The 2017 Saintayme was picked between 29 September and 9 October, matured in 30% new oak. It has a well defined, cranberry and blackberry scented nose, very natural and elegant, the oak neatly intertwined with the fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly rustic tannin, but very well balanced and surfeit with charm. You could almost run away and drink this already! But for now, we should wait until at least Denis Durantou has bottled it. 89-91/100". - Neal Martin, www.vinous.com

If you wish to place an order, please contact your account manager or follow the link below:

 

09 May 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Chateau Lafleur and other wines from the Guinaudeau family

In recent vintages Chateau Lafleur has produced some exquisite wines that possess a rare, haunting complexity and remarkable length. In 2017 Lafleur is without doubt one of the most profound and exceptional wines we tasted from barrel. It seems that all the major critics agree. To receive the top score from one journalist is an accolade, to obtain the most lauded scores from Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni is showing off! As Baptiste proclaims, “this is a clear continuation of 2015 and 2016… a trilogy of vintages that provided water stress and outstanding quality”. They have once again risen above the challenges and vagaries of the season and exceed all expectation. Lafleur is a quite simply a masterpiece that will still be giving immense pleasure when other 2017s are left behind.

The Pensees de Lafleur is equally spellbinding. Produced from a horizontal strip of land that dissects the vineyard; the terroir here changes and the soils contain less gravel content. Usually Pensees provides a more archetypical style of Pomerol. The 2017 possesses the clearest resemblance to Lafleur we can recall. All the Cabernet Franc in this blend now comes from the massale selections of their old vine Bouchet clones. It is ethereal and wonderfully fragrant.

Alas, it is not all good news. The Guinaudeau clan fought the frosts in Pomerol and were victorious, not a single vine was affected. Grand Village and the vineyards of Acte were not protected and the bitter temperatures on the mornings of the 27th and 28th of April decimated the vines. Initially it looked like 50% of the crop was frozen – as the season went on, it became apparent that the number was much higher. Ever the perfectionists, the team re-pruned eliminating anything touched by frost. The total production of Grand Village Rouge accounts for just 9% of a normal crop. The quality of these wines is without question; Baptiste and his team are rightly proud of their achievement. The 100% Merlot Acte is texturally sublime, a real nod towards the great limestone terroirs of St Emilion. The whites are bracing, vital expressions of Sauvignon Blanc with crystalline flavours and astonishing persistence. They will be real collectors’ items!

“Lafleur’s 2017 Merlot came in just before the rain. Cellar Master Omri Ram commented, “The 2017 Merlot was very similar to the 2015. With the Cabernet Franc, we waited; we were patient, and it came in ripe yet more fresh than the Merlot.” As it turns out, that combo of the wonderfully decadent Merlot and the galvanizing Cabernet Franc are just magic! Blended of 47% Merlot and 53% Cabernet Franc, the 2017 Lafleur has a medium to deep garnet-purple color and opens with a positively electric intensity of red and black fruits—cherries, black plums, red currants, black raspberries and mulberries—with touches of roses, cinnamon stick, smoked meats and forest floor plus a hint of truffles. Medium to full-bodied with densely packed layers of red and black fruits accented by floral and earthy sparks, it possesses very firm, very finely pixelated tannins and a lively backbone, finishing with epic persistence. 97-100/100”. – Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

“The 2017 Lafleur is without question one of the wines of the vintage on the Right Bank. Dense powerful and structured, the 2017 is all class. Given the wine's richness, I was not surprised to learn that the berries were even smaller in 2017 than they were in either 2016 or 2015. Powerful, explosive and beautifully layered, the 2017 simply has it all. What a wine. This is a tremendous showing from the Guinaudeau family. 95-98/100”. - Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com

“The 2017 Lafleur was picked 8 to 12 September and 28 and 29 September for the Merlot and Cabernet Franc respectively. It has a very impressive bouquet, frankly, one of the best that I have encountered in Pomerol, perhaps on the Right Bank. Despite the higher proportion of Cabernet Franc, the Merlot is more expressive with black cherries, a touch of cassis, sea spray and a hint of iodine. It just gains intensity with every swirl of the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with firm but fine tannin, layers of black and red fruit mixed with white pepper, sage and a slight ferrous note towards the persistent finish. This is an awesome 2017 from Baptiste Guinaudeau, one of the few that will oblige several years in the cellar. 95-97/100”. – Neal Martin, www.vinous.com

Please note that wines will be allocated.

2017
 
1x300cl
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£123.00 ep
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6x75cl
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£132.00 ep
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3x150cl
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£132.00 ep
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2017
 
6x75cl
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£75.00 ep
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£75.00 ep
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12x75cl
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£150.00 ep
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2017
 
6x75cl
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2017
 
3x150cl
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£64.50 ep
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£64.50 ep
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12x37.5cl
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£72.00 ep
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1x300cl
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£78.00 ep
ep
6x150cl
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£129.00 ep
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12x75cl
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£129.00 ep
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2017
 
3x75cl
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2017
 
3x150cl
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6x75cl
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04 May 2018 - Three great values from the northern Medoc

Hot on the heels of our best value St Julien, Chateau Langoa Barton, is one of our must have wines from Pauillac, Chateau Batailley. Like Haut Batailley, this chateau has had a recent make-over. The introduction of a second label, enabling greater selection and subtle changes in wine-making have added a certain polish, but not at the expense of the traditional charm we all associate with Batailley. Like most transformations, it takes a little time, both for the wine and the taster to become accustomed to the new character. The team at Batailley has nailed it in 2017!

For us, the 2017 is more cohesive and interesting than both the 2015 and 2016. We’re not going to say that about many 2017s, but the previous vintages at Batailley, impressive as they were, seemed like work in progress – 2017 is the finished article. It preserves all the qualities of the great Batailleys of the past with greater precision, refinement and depth. It’s a subtle yet noticeable step change in quality. At £196.50 per 6, we expect this to be one of the best buys from Pauillac.

Another big release this morning is Jean-Charles Cazes’ wonderful St Estephe estate, Chateau Les Ormes de Pez. Following on from the exceptional 2016, this is another great wine and offers exceptional value for money. It is Lynchesque with its dark core of fruit and impressive structure, but will afford earlier consumption – it is serious and very yummy.

To conclude the trilogy we have the sensational Capbern. Ever since we discovered the superb 2009, this wine has enthralled us. Situated in the heart of St Estephe and cared for by Laurent Duffau and Vincent Millet of Calon Segur, this wine brims with bright aromatic fruit and cru classé class at a fraction of the price.

Also released today, is the perennial overachiever, Sociando Mallet. Despite its lowly classification, this estate has one of the great terroirs overlooking the Gironde. Some have drawn parallels with the soils of Latour and Montrose in the past. We only tasted this once and it was dark and grand with an ambitious tannic profile. It wasn’t a joy to taste primeur, but this chateau has an impressive track record and much more often than not ages beautifully.

 

03 May 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Langoa Barton, Pape Clement and Malartic Lagraviere

Langoa Barton has really upped the ante in recent years. For a long time this beautiful Chateau and its wines lagged some distance behind its second growth partner, Leoville Barton. The gap has been closing, and yet the brand remains true to itself – it doesn’t try to be butch or overtly sophisticated; this is good, honest drinking claret that ages beautifully and rarely fails to deliver. There is noticeably more mid-palate in recent vintages, and the tannins are a touch more polished. It’s a gentle modernisation that will sit well with traditional Langoa devotees and the new generation of Bordeaux aficionados.

There have also been two notable releases from the commune of Pessac Leognan; Bernard Magrez’s flagship Chateau, Pape Clement, and the Bonnie family’s Malartic Lagraviere. After the triumph of the 2016, Pape Clement 2017 was a return to its traditional style of uncompromising tannins and massive concentration. If you like this style, then this will no doubt hit the spot, but we’d rather have the Langoa Barton every day and it’s more or less half the price!


‘The 2017 Langoa Barton was picked from 15 to 18 September with respect to the Merlot and from 22 to 29 September for the Cabernets, matured in 60% new oak. It has a ripe, brine-tinged bouquet, not complex compared to previous vintages, but pure and developing light smoke and truffle scents with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with quite sharp tannin to create a tensile Langoa-Barton, saline with moderate depth, just a touch of pencil lead that surfaces towards the finish. It is exactly what I expected, which is a good thing given the track record of this Saint-Julien.
90-92 points’, Neal Martin, drink 2021-2040

 

02 May 2018 - Adieu Patrick

The genial Patrick Maroteaux was a true gent of Bordeaux. He wasn’t born into a dynastic Bordeaux family, he came from Picardy in Northern France and had successful careers in both banking and sugar before he bought Branaire Ducru in 1988. Patrick appointed a young Philippe Dhalluin as technical director and invested heavily in both the vineyard and in the chateau. Under his tenure, Branaire enjoyed a run of successful vintages. They were never flashy or headline grabbing, but they never failed to deliver. I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Patrick at the Waterside Inn before his illness, and every wine was a joy to drink, they had aged gracefully, were perfectly mannered and rather handsome.

The 2017 was sadly Patrick’s last vintage. It is a fitting tribute to what he has achieved at Branaire over the last three decades. The chateau and the wine-making have modernised, but there still remains an authenticity and natural beauty to the wine.

 

25 April 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Haut Batailley

Xavier Borie has faithfully tended his Aunt’s property, Haut Batailley for many years, producing elegant and stylish wines. If there was one criticism it was perhaps a slight lack of ambition – one felt that most of his energy was spent improving the wonderful Grand Puy Lacoste. Now that the estate has been purchased by the Cazes family (of Lynch Bages and Les Ormes de Pez), one feels that Haut Batailley is about to receive the investment it requires to achieve its full potential.

A beaming Jean-Charles told us in January about his latest acquisition, and the extraordinary surprise that close to 20 hectares of AOC Pauillac weren’t even planted with vines. This is a unique opportunity for the Cazes team to transform a cherished brand into a leading classified growth.

2017 is the first vintage produced under the new regime. It is very much a work in progress, and represents a subtle change in style, but still retains some of the florality and elegance we’ve come to expect from this terroir. Aside from the enormous planting program, there is a very smart new label and quite significantly the creation of a second wine. Greater selection will invariably improve the quality of Haut Batailley and with all the other investments and technological changes, we expect a bright outlook for this property.

'This is very structured and serious. Full-bodied, tannic and powerful. Boom. This is one of the best Haut-Batailleys in years. From the new owners, who also own Lynch-Bages. 94-95/100’ – James Suckling

 

23 April 2018 - Bordeaux 2017 - Chateau Palmer

No-one can accuse the Bordelais of being predictable – the ink has barely dried in our notebooks and one of the biggest names of the Medoc, Chateau Palmer has caught us off guard and rather unprepared. Normally there is a period of grace for merchants and critics to gather their thoughts and proof their content during a slow trickle of releases from petit chateaux and Sauternes. But POW, 2017 kicks straight off with the magical and luxuriant Palmer. Although qualitatively this ranks in the same echelons as its neighbour, Chateau Margaux, it is stylistically a polar opposite. Whereas Margaux is pure florality and precision, Palmer is built in a darkly fruited, complex, gravelly mould with a lavish tannins and a real sense of opulence. James Suckling couldn’t separate these two great Chateaux, awarding both 97-98 points and it ranked amongst our top picks of the Left Bank.

We don’t know if others will follow Palmer’s lead and release in a prompt fashion, but we do hope they will follow their example concerning pricing. The ex-negociant price is down by 20% on the 2016 release and about 8.5% below the 2015. This is very encouraging. They have also released a very accomplished Alter Ego at £585 per 12 bottles IB.

‘This is a sexy and well-formed 2017 with very velvety and suave tannins that go on for minutes. Full-bodied, soft and round. Extremely long and last for minutes. 97-98/100’. - James Suckling