Sunday, January 29, 2012

1995 Right bank Bordeaux

And now to something completely different…
Bordeaux – a passion I have never had.
Bordeaux is really well made wine. It’s wines I can approve and even sometimes applaud. I remember a staggering 1990 Haut-Brion and the always-adorable 1982 Pichon Comtesse. Yet Bordeaux are often so damned correct and it’s like they only want to hold my hand and whisper sweet things in my ear, but every time I want to dance with them, we step on each other's toes. I might have an obsession of wanting to be moved, challenged and feel alive when I drink wine and Bordeaux seldom managed to do that for me.
In late November 2011, I got the chance to test-drive my Bordeaux dilemma, as a good friend invited a crowd of wine lovers and me, to a 1995 right bank Bordeaux ball.
I have had my share of ‘95s in Europe – from Piedmont to Tuscany >>>> Rhône to Bordeaux and they all suffer from extremely dry and tannic profiles. The discussion today divides those who think they will have the material to come out of this phase vs those who doubt they will never ever gain their sealed fruit back. I am one of those who don’t believe in them – yet there are of course exceptions.
You are about to see a lot of wines being judged with notes of dust, smoke, blackberries, menthol, rock hard structure, tannins and very little tongue curl and intensity. I am quite sure a lot of the others tasters around the table didn’t have the same assessments as me – far from it. This is actually interesting and don’t see my palate as being the right one. Yet I was the only one present into all of this Champagne, bio and natural wine. It tells me, that my focus on energy, soil bite, fresh fruit, purity and friskiness made me see these wines very different from the rest.
To me food & wine matching was not overly successful. This was in no way Søllerød Kro fault. On it’s own the food was utterly delicious. Yet the wines showed so little clarity in fruit and possessed faint palate friskiness, resulting in lack of deliciousness.
All wines served semi-blind (we knew the line-up but not the serving order) and with plenty of time to taste the wines, with and without food.
Once again – remember one glass tastings has its limits – the truth (if any) lies in drinking a whole bottle.
But let’s get going.

(The cosy ambience of Søllerød Kro)
Heat 1
1995 Certan de May
First sings of a rather dusty wine with notes of smoke, plum and forest floor. To some extend it’s a rather depressing wine, though the dusty particles is not that bad, as I in this case associated it with some Italian soul. The taste is however very lifeless and a very hollow palate feel. To me this wine is in a serious crisis and I would drink up.
1995 Lafleur de Gay
Was this wine actually better or worse? It’s hard to tell, because it’s feels more open and not covered in this dusty sky. It adds to the fruity appeal, which was my first reaction, but unfortunately it contains more unresolved green elements. The taste is unfortunately very lifeless. Not good.

(Zalto Bordeaux)
Heat 2
1995 La Fleur Petrus
Introducing some sort of fruit appeal with sweet notes of cedar wood and lacquer. The taste is however very hollow as it only marks it’s presences on the mid-palate. The wine had very little fruit, nerve, friskiness and acidity – which killed its ability to match the food.
1995 La Conseillante
Fells more alcoholic – driven from a plum sensation. We are also on the path of a rather dusty wine again, which unfortunately introduces notes of strong pepper. The taste invites - for the first time, some sort of substance as it has a fairly good structure. Yet – the peppers are here as well, which turned the wine rather backward and hard. Cellar potential – yes if it hadn’t been for the pepper notes – so I doubt it.

(Our host, Joe)
Heat 3
1995 Latour à Pomerol
Buttermilk – but more pronounced when pouring the wine – it dissolves rather quickly in the glass. But gladly it’s the first time I actually can describe some sort of fruit intensity. The notes were; plum, blackcurrant, coffee beans (very bitter) and high pitched spicy tones, which I associated to mint. The taste has two sides. On one hand it’s better in level of fruit, but again very dry and pretty dull to me.
1995 Vieux Château Certain
Again the note of buttermilk – but here its integrated much better and doesn’t resolved itself with air. It also holds; prunes glue, coffee, bitter chocolate and dust. These notes don’t sound like the hottest love affair of your life – but to some degree - they were kind of refined. The taste is the first wine, which actually presents a solid portion of life and although it’s also somewhat dry, the dust is being processed as a fine film running across the structure and it’s adding to the linear feel of the wine. Good wine.

(Ausone - me like)
Heat 4
1995 Ausone
This is the sort of wine you can analyze (and I will) and look back on your aromatic notes and say “What the hell was special about this wine?” Yet I have to confess that the glass was empty ten times faster than any of the previous wines. So the equation is rather simple - the best wines are those where the bottle is quickly drained, AMEN!!! It’s a good wine because of this – but also because it’s by far the most linear wine so far. The nose is very rustic and also holds quite a bit of bitter notes from coffee beans. Yet – its level of spices and the complexity they offer, mostly mint - are sensational. The taste has a beautiful slim wrapping which balances perfectly with the mint spices and all together it’s so easy to drink. Very nice – more of this.
1995 Cheval Blanc
The nose here is also great and introduces good level of fruitiness, buttermilk, cedar wood, smoke, dust, pepper and plum. The plum has two functions – it’ seems to be a driver for a deeper-rooted power, but also a bit of a bit of a troublemaker of more alcohol. Taste sadly doesn’t deliver what I like – and falls with a soft velvet character with low acidity and bite. Overall it’s not a bad wine, but a fraction too pretty and polished wine for my taste.

Heat 5
1995 Tertre Roteboeuf
Extremely dark wine covered with blackberries, cod-liver oil and prunes. Obviously something is wrong. To me it’s an off bottle – some thought the same, others didn’t.
1995 Valandraud
A wine, which was very popular around the table – I felt alone, as I didn’t like it at all. It’s a very dark wine, with tons of bitter coffee beans flavours, blackberries, walnuts, pine spruce needles and tar. I missed clarity here and these coffee bean notes were far too roasted. I might be on a wild goose chase, but it’s a wine missing authenticity. The taste confirms my assessments with tons of tannic structure – tar again and a very hollow mid-palate feel.
1995 Angelus
Also a wine, which deals with very dark scented aromas, yet it’s not the same coffee bean notes. Here you actually have a good baseline of fruit – although it’s missing some clarity.
They are blackcurrant and blackberries – infused in herbs, smoke and cigar.
Taste is powerful, good structure - but unfortunately quite clumsy. This is a wine, which I actually think is too young and could improve with cellaring.

(Valandraud - not for me)
Heat 6
1995 Le Evangile
In comparison with the previous flight this wine seemed more gentle – yet possessing the same ’95-dilemma with a lot of dry extract. However it has some lighter fruity patterns with a fine tuned herbal line – despite we again have a lot of smoke and dust flying in. Taste is one hand possessing a fair bite with some deeper plum flavour, but there are very few nuances to seek.
1995 Trotannoy
Buttermilk, mint, herbs and again one hell of a dusty dude. It opens up slightly with food – but sadly also introduces liqueur. Taste is rock hard, tannic and dry – not particular charming.
Jokerdonated by Søllerød Kro
2008 Philippe Pacalet “Gevrey-Charbertin”
You know what? Burgundy is so much more me. This may not be the most overly complex wine, but it’s so drinkable and possesses far better level of purity. On top it’s has this divine slim curl, which makes it a good match to food.

Heat 7
1995 Clinet
Dust – again, but this time a window opens with blackcurrant, sweetness, soft plum and vanilla aromas. It might have lacked some nerve, but the gentle approach makes it quite elegant.
Taste…yes yes….good linear and stringent type of wine, with solid bite. Not bad at all.
1995 L’Eglise Clinet
Very raw type of wine with shoe polish, cigar, menthol and greenish leaves perfumes. Taste is very dark and depressing with lots of tar elements. Not for me.

(White truffles from Alba)

Heat 8
1995 Lafleur
At first sight – the same patterns; dust!! – Then menthol (again), pepper, bitter coffee beans and salted liquorice. Taste is dark and mysterious – raw, yet with solid bite and structure. I kind of liked it – especially for it’s mystique and it’s seems young with potential. Good wine.
1995 Le Pin
For the fist time during this tasting – something different happened in the glass – something good. A wine playing a completely different string - possessing clarity, real vibrant fruit and layers of complexity. It’s also a rather sexy wine with notes of sweet expressive fruitiness, driven from vanilla, milk chocolate and cedar wood. These notes are both incredible sensual, seductive and very fined tuned to a seamless elegant appeal. The taste is also from another world, with a far more elastic structure – yet incredible stringent with plenty of life. On the very last meters it catches some dusty particles – which is minor and couldn’t ruin the overall impression of a beautiful wine and by far the best wine of the night.
1995 Petrus
Devilish intense wine, picking up notes of spruce needles, buttermilk, menthol and mint. The taste is concentrated, with a deeper plum core, sadly bringing forwards alcohol and peppers. However – it’s a wine with an enormous bite and weight, which for some reason made me like it as it has many complex layers and still feels too young.

(Le Pin - Damn it was good....but not cheap...JESUS!!!)

(Petrus - yum yum)
So that was it.
I have to say thank you to our extremely generous host, Joe.
Also a hello and thank you to all of the other guys there…and especially you; Dennis – I will keep your already legendary wine descriptions well hidden in my memories ;-).


Voodoo Child said...

Hi Thomas,
Bordeaux needs so much time, maybe all these wines were too young?
Pacalet is a winner more my taste too!!
At the moment I´m all into Burgundy 2009..stunning wines plus the usual Champagnes.

Anonymous said...

@hendrix: Something about Jayer(?) and great wines always should taste good...

Dennis L Jensen said...

"...but every time I want to dance with them, we step on each other's toes", I was never much of a dancer but I love Bordeaux and all it's correctness :-)

Although we may not share the same taste on all wines, it is always a real pleasure to read your posts and enjoy your great company. Not to mention your fantastic ability to capture some amazing Kodak moments.

Hope to see you again soon Toga!


Anonymous said...

I didn´t trust my eyes reading the headline. ;-)

Martin "BerlinKitchen"

Thomas said...

@ Ebbe – true, Bordeaux ability to age is deadly impressive. My impression ARE impressions and not the truth. From what I know about wine and what I have tasted I can easily see many of these wines being status quo in 10 years time. But I don’t think many of them will have gained clarity and the bite I look for in wine. For that reason I don’t “believe” in them.

Yes I have seen your Pinot love affair plan for 2011...good choice my friend ;-).

@ Dennis. Spot on my friend. I am so glad to see you write this. Honestly when I sat down to write this post I felt kind of miserable. Seeing myself as the always critical voice and why not just enjoy the tasting from a social perspective and forget this blogging thing.
However I also find it important to underline that we are different and we should embrace this rather than just write something objective nonsense. I have always found it useful to see what makes other tasters tick and I have learned so much from this.

@ Martin – yes….I am a what you can call a Bordeaux vegetarian ;-).