Barrel tasting promise confirmed: 2005 is great, but prices are going up, up, up.

Posted on 6/25/2008 3:31 PM

Unless otherwise noted, tastings from bottle in New York City, January 2008 and in Dusseldorf, Germany, March 2008 at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Tour


All wines in alphabetical order / red are recommended, red and underlined indicate must buys… sometimes ultra expensive, sometimes great QPRs.


2005 Chateau Alter Ego Palmer – Margaux

I sometimes get annoyed with this estate’s spiel that Altar Ego is “not” a second wine. It is. It is made at least partly from grapes not selected for the first wine, which makes it a … second wine. But what a fine second wine it is in 2005. At 14.2% alcohol and 57% Merlot, it retains freshness and grip. The nose did show a hint of marmalade and slightly overripe plum, but not much, and it proved quite peppery and spicy with a good round quality. If you like relatively high priced seconds, this one gets your money’s worth. Barrel tasting, Spring 2006.


2005 Chateau Ame de Musset – Lalande de Pomerol

Very nice Lalande de Pomerol, fresh, plum berry, nice drink. 80% Merlot, 10% CF and 10% CS. This should be a bargain, and one to seek out.  


2005 Chateau Angelus - St. Emilion

Tasted during a vertical in Germany in December 2007 and  in New York in January 2008, this wine is big, fruit and spice-infused. At first the oak dominates but time in glass reveals a foreboding and rather sumptuous feel, also conveys balance among tannin, fruit and alcohol. I suspect it will surpass the 2000 because of its superior elegance.


2005 Château Batailley – Pauillac

Nice cassis infused nose, if somewhat closed. The palate exudes Pauillac power although with some fine richness and very good structure. A QPR in 2005 not to miss!


2005 Château Beaumont – Haut Medoc

From the same company which owns Beychevelle, this wine is probably the best effort ever in 2005, and also a bargain : fruit-infused freshness and a pleasant medium body not without seriousness for some aging make this a rare bargain for hunters of good but not super high quality Bordeaux.


2005 Chateau Beauregard – Pomerol 

Always a solid Pomerol and never too expensive, the 2005 – tasted in Dusseldorf – showed a rather light color, with aromas of plum, slight austerity on the palate – a bit like a red apple – but then with time showed notes of chocolate and earth. Not the ideal moment to taste. But very fine overall. Indeed, winemaker Vincent Priou told me that the harvest was rather early, from September 12 to September 23. ‘We really wanted to avoid overripe tannins,’ he explained.


2005 Chateau Beausejour Becot - St.-Emilion

Tasted twice from bottle (November 2007 and January 2008) with similar results: Ripe plum and blackberry notes with some oak derived aromas and flavors. A wine with concentration and sap, slightly compact perhaps just after the bottling, but showing much promise as a top tier somewhat modernist St. Emilion, in line with its great 2000 vintage performance.


Chateau Belair – St. Emilion

Tasted twice in November 2007. Indian tonic, with pronounced floral aromas but also hints of licorice, rather spicy, and some oak-derived tannin in evidence which slightly detracted, but very finely grained tannins – refined. Tasted much better however at the second tasting at the Moueix offices. Not likely to be expensive, so get this when you can.


2005 Chateau Beychevelle – St. Julien

Pleasing in both New York and Dusseldorf, although showing more structure and tannin in the latter tasting.


2005 Chateau Belgrave – Haut Medoc

A chateau that has been under the radar for quite some time – and unjustly so. Even vintages where Robert Parker did not score highly, including 1988 or 1996, the wines were very fine. And the 2005 is no exception. Cassis and cherry notes, with a silky texture and a rather fresh and fulsome finish.


2005 Chateau Bouscaut – Pessac Leognan

Rather refreshing green apple flavor and taste, notes of citrus, too. Perhaps a tad to acidic – there is a slight sharpness.


2005 Chateau Branaire-Ducru – St. Julien

Lovely nose of violets and fruit. The palate is rich and tannic, a bit more closed in Dusseldorf when compared to New York, as expected. But a fine St. Julien.


2005 Brane Cantenac – Margaux

The real deal. Its beautiful aromatics confirmed once again in bottle, since the barrel tasting. Even better: its palate has gained in volume and improved texture. A very elegant expression of the appellation with both richness and velvety smoothness. Not quite as good as Rauzan Segla or the big guns Palmer and Margaux, this fine estate constitutes a rare bargain in 2005. Buy before people realize its qualities…


2005 Chateau Brown (white) – Pessac Leognan

Tasting far better from bottle than from cask, this is a lovely white Graves with grapefruit and mineral aromas and flavors and an elegant medium body. Also a relative bargain.


2005 Chateau Canon - St.-Emilion

Tasted in November 2007 blind among other top St. Emilions and it was in the top tier. Notes confirmed both in New York and in Dusseldorf. Mocha and sweet cherry with very pleasing tonic characteristics, very expressive, ripe fruit and refined tannins, certainly an expressive nose and subtle palate. Very refined with good body and a sneaky finish. 


2005 Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere - St.-Emilion

Tasted in New York from bottle, and I was rather impressed by its concentration yet balance and nuance. It had a modern feel to it, but also very cohesive and full bodied without being overworked.


2005 Chateau Cap de Faugeres - Cotes de Castillon

Tasted very nicely from barrel, and just as fine from bottle. Fine expression of  plum and cinnamon, with some oak notes, but very well integrated. A full palate, somewhat tannic, and a smooth finish. Bottle tasting.


2005 Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc – Pessac

A perennial QPR in the white Graves category, the 2005 in bottle is crisp and flavorful, showing tequila and lime aromas and flavors. It has tightened just a bit, but shows very nice balance and thirst-quenching pleasure.


2005 Chateau Carmes Haut Brion – Pessac

An impressive idyllic chateau located not far from Haut Brion, Carmes proved just as impressive from bottle as it was from the barrel. It reveals just as much depth as flavor, with spices, fruit, some mint and earthy qualities. Full bodied rather opulent palate with smooth, mouth-coating tannins showing freshness on the long finish. One to look for indeed among the high 2005 prices. Bottle tasting.


2005 Cheval Blanc – St. Emilion

Very elegant, though mint takes very prominent role here. Peppermint Patty city. A very deep nose, however. Hints of ripe blueberry and dark chocolate, too. Underlying power. Fine. After about 20 minutes, shows lovely volume, hints of violet aromas, mounting power, with a tad warmth perhaps. More or less fulfills the promise from bottle.


Petit Cheval 2005 – St Emilion (second wine of Cheval Blanc)

Nice freshness, fruit, red fruit. Cranberry, but actually rather soft overall. After about 20 minutes, getting some floral elements. Palate stays rather cool, almost crisp, yet there is a velvety texture – though stays with a cranberry red berry taste profile.


2005 Chateau Clerc Milon – Pauillac

I purchased a 6-pack based on three great barrel tastings. But from bottle – both in New York and in Dusseldorf – I obtained a disjointed feel, with the alcohol coming to the fore. Still, shows nice power, and some earthiness to it. I hope this ages well in the bottle…


2005 Chateau Climens – Sauternes

After having tasted several lots of wine from barrel when the final blend was not yet established, it is clear that from bottle, Climens earns its rank as a top Sauternes in 2005. Kiwi and sweet orange infused richness on the nose and palate are balanced by a polished acidity, indeed a very classy effort from this great Barsac estate – approaching the quality of the 2001 and probably better than the 2003.


2005 Chateau Clinet – Pomerol

Warm, ripe feel on the palate, with a nose of blackberries and plum. Slightly jam like with a hint of heat on the finish, but rather voluminous without being overbearing. Aged 22 months in 70% new oak, composed of 85% Merlot, 10% CS and 5% CF. Good but I would look for better QPRs, such as Gazin…


2005 Chateau Clos Haut Peyraguey – Sauternes

Intrigued by the smokiness of the nose with crispy clean pear and peach. Palate at first a tad cloying but overall very nice botrytis flavors dominate, with a later coming zing of acidity as well. Quite nice. Barrel tasting.


2005 Chateau Clos Fourtet – St. Emilion

From bottle in November 2007, showed oak-derived sweet toast aroma, warm. Blueberry and blackberry on the palate, and I was thinking… Angelus? Some nice tonic qualities on the finish. Certainly power-driven, and the alcohol is felt. Heady. The darkest colored of them all, actually. From bottle in New York, I felt it to be too jammy. In Germany, the palate has sap and showed a bit more elegance – also slightly more closed. Good sign.


2005 Chateau Clos Marquis - St.-Julien

The nose has opened a bit since the barrel tasting, showing cassis and vanilla notes with a brambly fruit freshness on the palate, which was focused and deep. Less than 50% Cab and with over 37% Merlot, the overall feel is quite lush. Highly recommended second wine. Bottle tasting.


2005 Chateau Clos Puy Arnaud - Cotes de Castillon 

A successful modern-styled wine, it exudes both cedar and brambly blackberry fruit, but not too jammy. A somewhat hard and extracted palate from the barrel sample has softened in bottle, leaving behind a rich wine. Bottle tasting.


2005 Chateau Cos d’Estournel - St.-Estephe

The haut couture of St. Estephe. More Cabernet than is usual for this estate (78%), this vintage is going to be really special – and probably counts among my top ten Bordeaux of the vintage. A closed first nose reveals (after swirling in glass) refined cassis and cedar notes with very ripe blackberry and violet once tasted. A rich palate, opulent, with mouth coating tannins and a velvety finish. Top stuff. From barrel.


2005 Cos Labory – St. Estephe

From one end of the spectrum (above) to the next – and these are just next door neighbors. Still, though far less expensive than the above, Cos Labory has been making consistently good wine from this northern appellation and 2005 is no exception. Its distinct fruit expression, nuanced palate with mineral like after taste on the long finish make this among the very best Bordeaux in a rather modest price category.


2005 Chateau Cote Montpezat - Cotes de Castillon

Blackberry liqueur nose. Yes, rather sweet nose with some pepper too. Palate is rich, even opulent. Full bodied pleasure, with a bit of heat but manageable. Actually, a real hedonistic wine. If somewhat short and hot on the finish. Barrel sample


2005 Chateau La Couspaude – St. Emilion

Very oak-derived aromas and flavors, although some fruit shows up. Some 80% new oak. I do not like this too much because I feel that the fruit is muted and one tastes more the method of vinification and aging in oak rather than the wine itself…


2005 Chateau Coutet – Sauternes

Orange rind and peach, cloves and cinnamon – and very refined. The palate is fresh and rich, with depth. Though it is not as impressive as its Barsac neighbor Climens, it is a likely QPR to consider.


Château d’Armailhac – Pauillac

A decent bottle of Pauillac with good cassis notes and a smooth delivery, but nothing stupendous, mind you. I would have given this a red rating, but I think the Batailley will cost less and taste better.


2005 Château Dauzac – Margaux

Smooth and fruity, with a very nice texture – perhaps not that profound – but truly a star in its moderate price range. Buy plenty for short to medium term drinking for sure !


2005 Chateau D’Yquem – Sauternes

Winemaking assistant Francis Meyer told me that the 2005 reminds him of the 1989, but more balanced, with greater freshness. This vintage showed a nice golden hue, with delectably creamy kiwi and lots of botrytis underneath. The palate is very rich but nuanced, with just hints of oak coming through. There is also a very refreshing yet never too prominent underlying acidity and … reassuring minerality. What a subtle and rich wine, for the ages. Barrel tasting.


2005 Chateau De Fargues – Sauternes

An improved showing since the barrel tasting – now with perfumed peach aromas and impressive botrytis spice. A broad palate-coating texture, somewhat austere when compared to, say, Suduiraut. But quite refined. 


2005 Chateau Doisy Vedrines – Sauternes

A suave nose of peach and apricots with botrytis spice. The palate is balanced, with subtle peach flavors dominating, and the finish is broad is somewhat short. Nice overall. Tasted from barrel.


2005 Chateau Domaine de Chevalier – Pessac (white)

Among the very best whites from Bordeaux and 2005 is no exception. A terrific acidity balanced with particularly rich ripeness. Though tout on the palate, which shows nuance and subtlety, pleasing peach and pear flavors seduce the taster. Bottle tasting. 


2005 Chateau Dufort Vivens – Margaux

Monsieur Lurton has really come up with a serious yet elegant Margaux in 2005 – surpassing the 2000, which was a bit more Old School and not quite as pleasing, not quite as round as the 2005, which also tastes ‘cleaner’ to me at least. A property to look out for, because the philosophy remains rather traditional, but with rounded edges – and that is a good thing.


2005 Chateau Du Tertre – Margaux

A pleasing feel on the palate showing typical spice elements in its aromatic profile. Less pronounced oak-derived notes than usual and that is a good sign. Shows concentration and sap, with a bit of meatiness, and superior density than its sister Chateau Giscours. Bottle tasting.


2005 Chateau Duhart Milon Rothschild – Pauillac

Very Cabernet (71%) and also cool calm and collected. A subtle nose of mineral and licorice, not outspoken but very present, with a smooth palate and long finish. Time in glass reveals fat, but this wine is marked more by structure than exuberance. Barrel tasting.


2005 Chateau Ferriere – Margaux

Lovely wintergreen like freshness infused with some licorice and cassis. A very friendly yet substantive wine, with a medium to full body and a nuanced flavor profile. Smooth lingering finish. Probably a good buy, too.


2005 Chateau Figeac - St.-Emilion

Impressive aromatics precede a sumptuous palate feel with some tannic edge and youthful tightness expected from this estate. Fine texture and depth – with flavors of mint, cranberry, strawberry and blackberry – augur well for the future and this may well surpass the great 2000 vintage. Tasted three times from bottle in November 2007,  January and March 2008 with consistent notes.


2005 Chateau Fleur Amandine (White) – Bordeaux AOC

Supple, nice acidity but also good body. Some warmth from the vintage, with Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Named after Amandine, Pascal Delbeck’s daughter.


2005 Chateau Gazin – Pomerol

Almost an underlined red here. From bottle in Dusseldorf, this wine showed lovely cherry and plum aromas, despite a somewhat closed period. Darker color than usual – owner Nicolas de Bailliencourt explained that Michael Obert,  new winemaking director, who used to work at Clos l’Eglise, has selected more carefully and called for later harvesting. He did not harvest in 2005, but was responsible for the vinification. Shows 13.5% alcohol, but nicely balanced and fresh. Very fine.


2005 Chateau Giscours – Margaux

I normally prefer the airy elegance of Giscours as compared to the spicy corpulence of sister chateau Du Tertre, but from bottle, the Giscours was lacking just a bit of depth despite a smooth delivery. I detected the same dough-like sweetness from the barrel tasting and find the 2000 vintage superior in quality.


2005 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste – Pauillac

A wine which I buy regularly for its moderate prices (in an expensive high-end Bordeaux sense) and fine expression of Cabernet Sauvignon, in a robust Pauillac fashion, was very good. A subtle nose of licorice and a hint of cocoa on the finish, like a mini Latour. I thought I detected a bit of alcoholic heat, but the second nose of flowers gave this wine a fresh lift as well. Overall, a very nice GPL with a typical blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot. 91-93+. Barrel tasting.


2005 Chateau Guiraud - Sauternes

An improvement over the somewhat cloying barrel sample, from bottle this wine shows opulence on the palate, very full bodied and spicy, with grapefruit, peach and tea from the botrytis. Lacks the nuance and depth of the best Sauternes in 2005 however.


2005 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal – Pauillac

Very nice Pauillac, fulfilling its promise from barrel, with distinct cassis notes and a nuanced medium bodied palate, with a smooth finish. Probably not too expensive and worth seeking out.


2005 Chateau Haut Bailly – Pessac Leognan

Truly elegant with both substance and power, expressed in both plum and cherry flavors and a nice Indian Tonic finish, which is very long, too. A lovely wine, which showed better in Dusseldorf than it did in New York.


2005 Chateau Haut Bergey – Pessac

Shows much improvement from the barrel tasting. Shows particular mouth watering juiciness, black fruit and some classic Graves smokiness.


2005 Chateau Haut Brion – Pessac

I was very impressed with this wine, but it took 30 minutes for the flavors to emerge. A brooding Haut Brion, with less immediate power than the 2004, but more substance. At first I could hardly detect much aroma, but time in glass revealed spice, cherry and  fresh mint. Mouth coating feeling on the palate and – most important – a long finish. I was somewhat put off by a discernable alcoholic presence, more than in any other 1st growth, but just splitting hairs. 56% Merlot, 39% Cab and 5% Cab Franc. Barrel sample.


2005 Chateau Hosanna – Pomerol

Tasted in November 2007 in Bordeaux, this estate was bought by Moueix in 1997 (it was Certan Giraud before) and there was no wine in 1998… Intense berry aromas, pure fruit, pristine. Sappy and rich on the palate – but not a hint of heat (13.5%), as felt perhaps in Latour a Pomerol, and certainly in some so-called garage wines tasted later that day…


2005 Chateau La Cabanne – Pomerol

I just can never get excited with this domain, good or bad vintage. A decent note of plum on the nose precedes a somewhat tart flavor on the palate and a pinched finish. It showed tannic tightness as well – but this could all be due to the time of the tasting, in Dusseldorf. The nose is promising…


2005 La Conseillante – Pomerol

Nice black cherry, rather tannic but very fine, with a distinct freshness and lift. 100% new oak, 18 months. Like a mini Petrus though not as layered and complex. Very black cherry liqueur and a long finish. Tasted in November 2007 with the 2004 and the 2006 and this one is by far the best. Also confirmed in Dusseldorf tasting.


2005 Chateau Labegorce – Margaux

Rather fresh and cranberry like. A supple medium bodied palate, refreshing on the finish.


2005 Chateau Lafaurie Peraguey – Sauternes

An elegant style from Sauternes, and 2005 shows pleasing pineapple and peach aromas and flavors which precede a fulsome, botrytis-infused palate.


2005 Chateau La Fleur Bouard - Lalande de Pomerol

Strawberry notes with red licorice. Shows a smooth, full-bodied palate which I like. Rather rich wine, if just a tad hot. Barrel sample.


2005 Chateau La Gaffeliere – St. Emilion

Tasted blind in November 2007, it showed an elegant style, with ripe plums on the palate, some floral elements and certainly smooth. Good acidity. In Dusseldorf, was rather tight compared to wines like Larcis Ducasse, for example, but also more disciplined. With time it will open up into something quite special.


2005 Chateau La Fleur Petrus

At first more reticent than the Latour a Pomerol (tasted side by side in November 2007),, the 14-hectare La Fleur Petrus (13.5%) needed swirling to get cherry liqueur aromas coming. The palate is wonderfully elegant, expressing its gravel-based terroir perhaps, yet powerful underneath – showing perhaps more substance than Latour a Pomerol.


2005 Chateau Lafon Rochet – St. Estephe

With 55% Cabernet and 40% Merlot – a typical blend – this estate did very well in 2005, with a rich and tasty aroma and flavor of plum and cassis. Just a nice job, and very likely not too expensive.


2005 Chateau Lascombes – Margaux

A slight disappointment since the barrel tasting, which I really liked. I think this was an awkward time to taste – in Duesseldorf – in any case, but there was also that annoying oak infusion so common at this estate in recent years that takes away from the pleasure of the fruit. No doubt Mr. Parker will give it a very high score and it will also be sold at a very high price. My advice: seek out Brane Cantenac or Rauzan Segla instead.


2005 Chateau La Gomerie - St.-Emilion

I have found this super cuvee from the makers of Beau Sejour Becot often too over the top to my taste, but enjoyed the fresh fruity nose and rich, tasty palate in this vintage. Especially the freshness. Was just a little hard on the finish, but may settle in bottle.


2005 Chateau Lagrange - St.-Julien

Truly lovely floral aromas. Good freshness, although the palate is not quite as cohesive as Branaire Ducru, for example. But there is a pleasing concentration. A bit of warmth on the finish, but overall quite fine.


2005 La Grave a Pomerol – Pomerol (and 2005 Certan Marzelle, also Pomerol)

Tasted at the Moueix offices in November 2007, this wine showed cool cherry flavors, with a fresh palate, ripe plum, but lighter in profile than the Certan Marzelle (13.5%), which showed at first grilled vegetables, floral elements – and more intensity of flavor than La Grave. The label is floral, was it suggesting flowers subliminally? No, there are flowers from these young Merlot vines from the Hosanna vineyard.


2005 Chateau La Lagune – Haut Medoc

Watch out for increasing prices, but this wine is very fine – perhaps the best in a long while, certainly surpassing their 2000 vintage. A delicate feel yet with substance showing off notes of cassis and plum, with some graphite and a smooth texture.


2005 Chateau Langoa Barton – St. Julien

Very velvety, depth on nose and palate. An underlying almost brooding feel, but just about the best Langoa I have had ever. Confirmed tasting in New York. A real success for this estate. Bravo!


2005 Chateau La Pointe – Pomerol

A jammy fruit nose, Nice body, medium weight, with fruit, although the finish is a bit short – par for the course for this estate: not very profound, but decent.


2005 Chateau Larcis Ducasse – St. Emilion

Tasted in March 2008, this wine was made roughly the same way as Pavie Macquin – entire berry fermentation with no pigeage – but more suave than Pavie Macquin. Very sweet fruit but good freshness and pleasant earthiness. Perhaps the slightly lower alcohol (14.5%) has something to do with this? Now, this is a fine wine, but the price sucks…


2005 Chateau Larmande – St. Emilion

Michel Rolland has been a consultant here since 1990. The feel is rather tart, showing good tautness on the palate, with red fruits and no jam. Good finish, too.


2005 Latour a Pomerol – Pomerol

Tasted in November 2007, this wine’s 8-hectare terroir includes all kinds of soils – gravel, sand, clay – and exuded a lovely cherry nose, with subtle vanilla. Palate shows very nice tannic structure, fine balance among alcohol (13%), fruit, acidity and tannin.


2005 Chateau La Tour Blanche – Sauternes

Wow what a vast improvement from the barrel tasting – perhaps I had an off bottle there? From bottle, the nose is somewhat closed but the palate reveals rich ripe pineapple and apricot flavors and shows great depth. A really good showing from this estate.


2005 Chateau La Tour Haut Brion – Pessac

The last vintage ever from this estate, a classed growth to boot, which was incorporated in the 2006 second wine of La Mission Haut Brion. Just a tad rustic from barrel but with a good expression of fruit flavors and spice, finishing with mint freshness coming from the 41% Cab Franc.


2005 Chateau Latour-Martillac Blanc – Pessac

Nicely balanced, not quite as impressive as Malartic Lagraviere, but shows herbs, flowers on the nose and palate, which is nicely textured.


2005 Chateau Leoville Barton - St.-Julien

Flowery elegance and pure Cabernet-derived cassis aromas seduce the taster. I was rather surprised with how open this wine showed from bottle – after the brooding tightness from barrel. In any case, it shows predictably far more subtlety on the palate than the Langoa, with enormous concentration yet equal in balance. And very refreshing, too, showing minerality and fruit. A tour de force from the Barton family.


2005 Chateau Leoville Poyferre - St.-Julien

Very fine white flower elements on the nose. The palate has depth and power, somewhat foreboding, tight. The tannins finish with a soft expression, maintaining an underlying power on the subtle, yet persistent finish. Very fine.


2005 Chateau Lynch Bages – Pauillac

Tasted again in Dusseldorf after New York and I cannot understand why some tasters are disappointed. This is a fine Pauillac, with rather graceful power. It shows spice and fruit, a hint of funky earth but not as much as Clerc Milon. Certainly not as good as Pichon Baron, but one of the stars of the Pauillac appellation in 2005.


2005 Chateau Magdaleine

Nice tannic structure – trame. Palate is plum like though also slightly warm. The nose is tonic, refreshing, but not as focused as the top tier of St. Emilions, such as Canon. Very nicely done, however.


2005 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere – Pessac

A fabulous QPR to seek out now, as it confirmed in bottle its fine performance from the barrel tasting. Fresh floral and forest aromas, with pronounced plum and spice. A rather voluminous  palate also shows balance and freshness with fine acidity, leaving a full-bodied and balanced impression on the finish. Bottle tasting.


2005 Chateau Malescot St. Exupery – Margaux

A fine Margaux, somewhat broad shouldered – not quite as elegant as I would like – but certainly well made and for those who want full bodied, rich styles, a certain purchase, although it may be prove more expensive than the similarly styled 2000, which I find more or less equal in quality…


2005 Chateau Montrose - St.-Estephe

What a difference between the Montrose and the Cos, the two stars of St. Estephe. Montrose tends to be less showy, less velvety when young, but more brooding. This was a case in point, at least from barrel. The first impression was of tannic bite, but then I realized the sheer power of this wine with a focus not unlike that of the Latour. With 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 31% Merlot (plus a bit of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot), this wine showed backbone. It will certainly turn out to be something special after its barrel aging. Not quite as refined as the Cos.


2005 Chateau Mouton Rothschild – Pauillac

A great Pauillac, with 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot. I remember the discrete nose from barrel, but when tasted from bottle in London in February 2008, it shows a very succulent ripe cassis nose coming from the Cabernet Sauvignon. Even some bright ripe black cherry. Over one hour in glass, the aromas truly mixed a fresh black and red berry fruit basket and tobacco/mint freshness (only 1% Cabernet Franc and the rest Merlot). The palate felt richly contoured, with fine structure and tannic power. But very refined, almost silky, and far more elegant than the 2000 – which was also tasted alongside. A really super vintage, almost surprisingly soft. Just 13% alcohol, up one-tenth of a degree from last year. 95+


2005 Petit Mouton (second wine of Mouton) – Pauillac

Only 15% of total crop used for the second wine, composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot. Tasted from bottle in February 2008 in London, aromas show graphite, plum and a hint of tonic cola, all reflected in the smooth palate, which at first revealed large grain tannins. A very satisfying second wine, also with a mint freshness evident from the substantial Cabernet Franc, echoing the mastery of the first wine in this spectacular vintage.


2005 Chateau Oliver – Pessac Leognan

Somewhat disjointed when tasted in Dusseldorf, Germany. I also felt some alcoholic heat on the finish. To revisit, but not very promising!


2005 Chateau Ormes de Pez – St. Estephe

Very nice St. Estephe, with smooth plum and spice aromas and flavors and a firm grip making it rather serious without being too austere. A success story here.


2005 Chateau Pape Clement – Pessac Leognan

A broad shouldered, massive wine. Oak-derived tannins and dryness on the finish detract but plenty of lovely cherry flavors make up for this. I am not one of the more gushing fans of this wine – especially given the price – but modernists will find their nirvana here for certain. Tasted slightly better in Germany, slightly more closed (as many were) with dark chocolate notes coming to the fore.


2005 Chateau Palmer - Margaux

What a lovely nose. Its floral (violet) expression reminded me of the excellent 2004, but the nose was more complex than last year’s, with hints of fine licorice, plum and cherry pit plus mocha elements. On the palate, it is rather powerful – and despite the high atmospheric pressure of the day – it showed very nicely. From bottle, tasted in June 2008, the wine fulfills its promise, showing impressive breadth but remaining elegant as a Margaux should. Too bad prices are so high! But hats off to one of the best wines of the vintage, without question. 


2005 Chateau Pavie - St.-Emilion

I tasted this wine twice on the same day with very different impressions and prefer to think that the former impression came from a better – and correct – sample! It showed ripe black cherry, with a very broad attack and agreeable acidity, yet quite ripe, when tasted blind with other Right Bank wines. Long lasting flavor and richness, though there is a “too much” aspect, too, on the mid palate, particularly. Overall, it was quite nice because smooth and rather sexy. But a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for me, because when tasted with its premier grand cru peers – also blind – it was practically viscous, and overly extracted, showing excessive volatile acidity. Ouch. Note to readers: On a general level, I would pick the style of Canon over Pavie.


2005 Chateau Pavie Macquin – St.-Emilion

Tasted three times from bottle with rather consistent notes. The 15% alcohol shows, as this wine, though broad-shouldered on the one hand, is also drying on the finish, with some unpleasant jam like notes as well.


2005 Chateau Petit Village – Pomerol

A very flattering fruit forward nose. The palate is thicker, with just a bit of heat on the finish, but not hard. Just tasting a bit disjointed at this stage (in Dusseldorf).


2005 Petrus – Pomerol

Prohibitively expensive. When tasted in November 2007, this wine is slightly darker in color than Trotanoy, but not by much. It convey the essence of the Merlot grape. What amazingly granular tannin! Super fine. Reminds me, again, of the finesse one gets from Latour in great vintages. Smelling again: floral notes but the cherry liqueur encountered earlier in La Fleur Petrus, but this time like an eye doctor gets you behind the right lens – and everything comes into focus. Wow. Perfect balance between seve (sap) and freshness, plus length x 10. If there ever were a 100-point wine I have tasted, this is it. Since 2004, two stainless steel tanks for better temperature control, though most fermenting occurs in 25-hectoliter oak containers.


2005 Chateau Phelan Segur – St. Estephe

Along with Cos Labory, my favorite St. Estephe in this price level, with a cornucopia of black and red fruits, a hint of licorice and a smooth medium body ending with a longish finish. Nice job!


2005 Chateau Pichon Baron – Pauillac

What a difference time in barrel makes. The wine is infused with cassis aromas and a foreboding yet powerfully balanced palate. Freshness and richness somewhat held in check by impressive finely grained tannins and structure, but this wine should blossom with some years more in bottle into something truly special, rivaling and perhaps surpassing the mighty impressive 2000.


2005 Chateau Pichon Lalande - Pauillac

In 2005, the château used slightly more Cabernet than usual, about 64% plus 6% Cab

Franc and 29% Merlot (1% Petit Verdot). A slight letdown since tasting in barrel, the wine is tight and tannic and lacks the evident grip shown in its neighbor, the Baron. Due to the promise from barrel, give this one a bit of time to age in bottle – I have a feeling it will turn out better because it may have been caught in an awkward stage.


2005 Chateau Pontet Canet – Pauillac

A big ripe cassis fruit infused wine impressive for its sheer richness! Shows nice depth too. Not as well structured or as balanced as Pichon Baron, though I am certain many will thoroughly enjoy its full body and sumptuous, almost oozing, levels of jam-like fruit.


2005 Chateau Prieure Lichine - Margaux

Nose of licorice and red brambly fruit, rather subtle. The palate is a tad metallic and tightly wound and the fruit sweetness ends on a slightly drying finish. Barrel sample.


2005 Chateau Providence – Pomerol

Tasted along with the other fine Moueix wines in November 2007, the first vintage for this most recent Moueix acquisition and it showed the warmest feel – 13.5% alcohol – with sap on the palate, tasting of younger vines. Good, but lacking some dimension.


2005 Chateau Rauzan-Segla – Margaux

Really the finest Margaux tasted at the New York event. It managed to combine the diaphanous elegance of Margaux with the substance of Pauillac, but in a very smooth, rather floral fashion. Tasted again in Dusseldorf with consistent notes. A wine for the ages.


2005 Chateau Raymond Lafon - Sauternes

Pristine balance with power and tea-like botrytis spice, tasted in early April in Bordeaux from bottle at the estate. This confirms the promise of the barrel tastings. A subtle nose precedes a very streamlined and balanced feel on the palate, showing botrytis with notes of nectarine, grapefruit rind and beeswax (so common with Raymond Lafon in more balanced vintages), then very ripe quince with orange zest – and a long, again balanced, finish, at once crisp and full. Reminds me somewhat of the 2001, but happily biggest harvest since… 1962. Who says one cannot have quality and quantity?


2005 Chateau Rieussec – Sauternes

One obtains the usual massive richness from this estate, with botrytis-derived spice aromas and moderate toast preceding a moderately rich palate with pleasing peach and coconut flavors and a nice finish. Rather tight overall but shows much promise. Barrel sample.


2005 Chateau Siran – Margaux

This wine is a bargain, in the same vein as Dauzac. Brambly ripe red and black fruits with finely integrated oak make this very pleasant – and probably the best Siran ever, at least according to tasters with more experience than I have. Certainly my favorite tasting of Siran from bottle since the 1999.


2005 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte – Pessac

Smith Haut Lafitte has made a rather classically styled wine in 2005; I remember speaking with owners Daniel and Florence Cathiard, who said they are toning down a previously modern style to seek greater balance and they succeed with their 2005. Indeed a balanced feel, some oak-derived drying tannins, yes, but not over the top and rather delicious in fact.


2005 Chateau Suduiraut - Sauternes

Rich and full and rollicking! This wine blends orange zest and pineapple aromas in a very nuanced palate with pear, pineapple and botrytis spice. Fine texture, with layers of flavor and a smooth, fine finish. Tasted twice from barrel and again from bottle with similar notes. Bravo!


2005 Château Talbot – St. Julien

A very friendly flowery style of Talbot, almost like a junior version of Leoville Barton, because it lacks the latter’s profundity and depth, but shares its flowery aromas and charm. A medium term keeper that – if the price is right – is worth seeking.


2005 Chateau Troplong Mondot - St.-Emilion

A tour de force from this recently – and deservedly – promoted estate, from grand cru classé to premier grand cru classé. Tasted from Bordeaux in bottle in November 2007, the wine fulfilled its from-the-barrel promise with ripe dark fruit and red licorice aromas and flavors exuded from a finely textured full-bodied palate. Yes, hints of oak-derived flavors, but all nicely integrated and rather elegant, too. Fine lingering finish.


2005 Chateau Trotanoy – Pomerol

Tasted in November 2007, this wine combines flowers and fruit with complexity on the nose – not as immediately appealing as Hosanna. More subtle also on the palate, showing very fine tannic grain. Going back to La Fleur Petrus, the oak-derived notes seem a tad more in evidence. More mahogany like on Trotanoy. But both are subtle wines.


2005 Chateau Trottevieille – St.-Emilion

Very nice – chipper! Black and red fruits, good acidity, good body, when tasted blind in November 2007 in Bordeaux. Richness, yet flower like elegance. Sweet raspberry, and undeniably smooth. Somewhat darker than Figeac, but still relatively lightly colored. The surprise performance of this blind tasting. When tasted again in Dusseldorf, nice notes of vanilla and plum, hint of metallic and some tightness on the palate – the wines have closed down over the past 6 months… Still very nice.



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