Posts with the label "st emilion"


The Forgotten Vintage

The Forgotten Vintage

Friday 18th October 2019
by Tom Jenkins

Sandwiched between a pair of excellent vintages, 2017 has always been in danger of becoming an overlooked crop.

It will be remembered unfavourably for the great frost that devastated many vineyards. The first such frost since 1991, the 2017 wave was at least a little more selective. While it ravaged the less auspicious terroirs, it left the best plots on the plateau of Pomerol, the high ground in St Emilion and the vineyards closest to the Gironde unscathed. Apart from this freakish weather in April, the growing season wasn’t that remarkable. The water table was high after spring and early summer rains, then there was a prolonged drought, but the vines were not tested with excessive heat, and there was sufficient moisture in the soils to sustain photosynthesis. So, for those who survived the frost, 2017 was a relatively straightforward year.

Southwold: 2015 Bordeaux under the microscope

Southwold: 2015 Bordeaux under the microscope

Friday 8th February 2019
by Tom Jenkins

It’s over thirty years since a group of pioneering British merchants first met in the small, seaside town of Southwold to assess a young Bordeaux vintage under blind tasting conditions. 

Luminaries such as the late John Avery and Bill Blatch, along with the likes of Clive Coates MW and our very own Hew Blair, were amongst the first tasters. Although the venue has changed, the name remains, as does the spirit and professionalism. The results are eagerly anticipated by Bordeaux Chateaux; this is the ultimate litmus test, affirmation of years of hard work or hard truths.

Now, here comes the caveat: this is perhaps not the most flattering time to taste these wines. In fact, in my experience it is one of the worst… Although barrel samples can be variable, there is an undeniable freshness and purity of fruit. Just after bottling, they are equally flattering, a year and a half after bottling, they are usually less gratifying. 2009 is a notable exception – these have always been gloriously easy to taste. The 2015s attracted comparisons to 2009 from barrel; however, on this showing, they are less flamboyant and more structured. There are very many notable successes, but it is by no means as uniform or as easy to taste as those spectacular 2009s.

The Vintage Report: Bordeaux 2017 - A Darwinian Vintage

The Vintage Report: Bordeaux 2017 - A Darwinian Vintage

Monday 16th April 2018
by Tom Jenkins

In 2017 there’s no avoiding the ‘F’ word. It has been more than a quarter of a century since frost last devastated a Bordeaux crop, so it is inevitable that this was a major talking point. However, cruel as the frost was on some, it doesn’t really determine the quality of the vintage.

Life isn’t fair and neither is nature. As the earth gets warmer, flowering gets earlier, and the risk of frost damage becomes greater. Not many winemakers can recall the frosts of 1991 first hand, but their legacy is still haunting. When the meteorologists predicted a cold blast on the nights of the 27th and 28th of April, there was a genuine sense of panic. Most with the means deployed bougies, wind turbines, helicopters, lit hay, took whatever measures they could - the rest left it to chance.

Bordeaux 2015: Beauties and the Beast

Bordeaux 2015: Beauties and the Beast

Saturday 10th March 2018
by Tom Jenkins

Not even the ‘Beast from the East’ could dampen spirits at our annual Bordeaux tasting. Our stoic growers packed their finest winter woollies and put on another great show.

The Royal Society of Chemistry in Burlington House played host for the 2015s, and for those, and there were many, who braved the snow, were treated to a spectacular selection from this luxurious vintage. There were star wines wherever you looked, the sumptuous Calon Segur proved that those who wrote off St Estephe were a little hasty – this was packed with charming sweet fruit and rippled with muscle. Domaine de Chevalier was gloriously decadent and polished, the Mouton brace of d’Armailhac and Clerc Milon were a sheer joy, brimming with lavish fruit, they are glorious expressions of this vintage.

Southwold: Bordeaux 2014 – very good, but not quite great

Southwold: Bordeaux 2014 – very good, but not quite great

Monday 19th February 2018
by Tom Jenkins

Last week, the great and the good of the British wine trade including journalists, merchants and multitude of MWs decamped to our new Southwold-on-Thames venue to dissect the 2014s.

After the demoralising 2013s, there was a palpable sense of anticipation. We have always admired this vintage for its classical style and elegance. As is custom, we start with several flights of St Emilion. The flights seem to get longer each year and usually feature unfamiliar names that leave us pondering, ‘why?’ There was no such bafflement this year. Vignerons appear to have used a lighter touch and coupled with the natural acidity of the vintage, the wines have a real sense of cohesion and energy. Top marks went to Francois Mitjavile’s Tertre Roteboeuf, such an unmistakable wine, there’s really no need to disguise its identity… My preference was Canon, John Kolasa’s last year at the helm – this is as classical and super-refined, and a mighty impressive showing from Troplong Mondot.

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