Tasting Jean-Luc Jamet’s Collines Rhodaniennes Valine 2017 Syrah – One of the Rhone’s Best Kept Secrets…

Northern Rhone wine lovers are by now fairly well versed in the split between the Jamet brothers in 2013. The chatter I feel seems to persist in wine enthusiast circles precisely because the whole affair was kept so secretive and also because coming by any accurate information on the way forward for both talented Jamet brothers seemed very difficult indeed.

But the time has certainly come for wine enthusiasts to celebrate the fact that there are not one but two incredible Jamet scions making mind blowing wines in and around Cote Rotie now. Through tragedy and adversity, we are now treated to two different but equally exhilarating styles of Syrah from these gifted brothers.

Jean-Luc subsequently built his own winery just on the other side of the formerly shared driveway, now divided by a sturdy stone wall. My deep interest in the wines of Jean-Luc were perhaps encouraged by the early, slightly dismissive attitude towards his wines, after all, he wasn’t the winemaker of the previous Domaine Jamet and its iconic wines, he spent all his time in the vineyards as the viticulturalist. But as we all know, truly great wine is not made in the cellar, it is made in the vineyards!

Jean-Luc’s delicious wine style is quite different to the plusher, fleshier Domaine Jamet expressions as he prefers to focus on earlier picked grapes, lighter alcohols, brazenly fresh vibrant fruits, bright crunchy acids and a polished textural linearity to his wine’s textures. His red range encompasses a delicious Collines Rhodaniennes IGP Syrah, a Cotes du Rhone made from young vine Cote Rotie sites and finally his impressive Les Terrasses Cote Rotie made from a blend of top lieux dits sites including La Landonne, Lancement, Chavaroche and Fongeant. With Jean-Luc’s son Benoit Jamet sure to join the venture in earnest, we can expect a lot more fabulous wines produced from the Jean-Luc Jamet cellars.

Jean-Luc Jamet Valine Syrah 2017, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes, 13 Abv.

Another supremely impressive and precise Syrah creation from the masterful winemaking of Jean-Luc Jamet. Lifted and exotically fragrant, the nose bristles with incense, dried garrigue, black olive, lavender blossom and sweet, sappy black peppercorn spices. True to form, Jean-Luc’s Collines-Rhodaniennes red is laser sharp, linear and precise, seamlessly silky, finely balancing piercing savoury red and black berry fruit concentration with subtle notes of black liquorice, salinity, graphite and stony schist liquid minerality. One of the Northern Rhône’s best kept secrets? Well, I am certainly happy to rave about this stunning 2017 Syrah. Drink now or over the next 5-8+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

http://www.jeanlucjamet.com

A Petit Chateau Bordeaux That Impresses – Tasting Château Tayet’s Cuvée Amiral de Cadiot 2011 Bordeaux Superieur…

Amiral de Cadiot is produced by Château Tayet which has been owned by the de Schepper family since 1994, the former owner, Mr. Marc Raymond, was director at de Schepper’s Chateau Haut-Breton-Larigaudière until 1993, selling his own estate to his previous employer when he retired. Tayet has an excellent terroir in Macau, very close to the AOC Margaux, which has grown by the acquisition of further high quality plots with a high plant density and today consists of 10 hectares of vines.

Chateau Tayet located near Soussans where the wines are bottled – Chateau Tayet, 3 Rue des Anciens Combattants, 33460 Soussans.

The “Amiral de Cadiot” by Château Tayet is considered to be one of the best Bordeaux Superieur and is one of the few wines of this class that ages 12 months in 20% new and 50% second fill barriques. The vines for this particular selection are at least 25 years old.

Chateau Tayet and De Mour Group winemaker Jean-Michel Garcion.

The Château Tayet Cuvée Amiral de Cadiot offers a whole lot of red Bordeaux magic at a truly excellent price point, something often sorely missing in these days of over ambitious, stratospherically priced icon Cru Classe wines. Wines like this in many ways represent the true heart and soul of authentic, consumer orientated classical Bordeaux. In the post Covid-19 lockdown era, wines like this are going to take on a much greater significance in the market place.

Château Tayet Cuvée Amiral de Cadiot 2011, Bordeaux Superieur, 14 Abv.

A wonderfully classical blend of 60% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot, this wine has the most intricate textured layers of blueberry and cassis fruit, mocha, brown toast, vanilla pod spice and a supple, plush, sweet fruited core with bright refreshing acids, ripe fine grained tannins and complexing peripheral notes of tannery leather, cigar box and graphite spice. A whole lot of wine that will impress the staunchest of discerning wine connoisseurs. Drink now to 2024+

(Wine Safari Score: 88+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

De Mour Group owned by the de Schepper family.

First En-primeur Bordeaux 2019 Reds Show Great Promise for the Vintage – Tasting La Croizille and Cap Leon Veyrin…

With the Union des Grands Crus Bordeaux and its members deciding to suspend the 2019 En-Primeurs week that was scheduled to take place at the end of March in Bordeaux due to the coronavirus restrictions, I thought I would post these two wine reviews from the Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux tasting in London yesterday, 12th March 2020.

Speaking to Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc in the Entre-Deux-Mers, he states “’You’re joking – not another one?’ No, really, Bordeaux 2019 is a very good to excellent vintage. It wasn’t straightforward, with heat waves, drought and a rainy finish along the way, but Bordeaux enjoyed a long, dry summer and harvest with just enough rain, and no disasters like the late spring frost of 2017 or the significant losses to mildew that some growers experienced in 2018.”

At the top end, it’s becoming an embarrassment of riches. 2019 makes it six very good years in a row for the northern Haut-Médoc appellations of St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Estèphe, which were largely untouched by the 2017 frost and produced many fine 2014s, and likewise for the top estates on the plateau of Pomerol.

Bordeaux 2019 – 10 observations on the growing season: (Source: Gavin Quinney)

·         A dry year with 25% less rain overall than the average up to the end of the harvest.

·         A mild winter saw average rainfall in November, December and January, then a dry February and March.

·         Spring rainfall (Q2) was close to the norm from April bud break through to June flowering.

·         Some localised spring frosts and limited hail damage later on, though relatively small losses.

·         Flowering in early June began well but a rainy, chilly spell led to uneven fruit set in many vineyards.

·         No major disasters like the frost of April 2017 or the mildew that had a significant impact on multiple growers in 2018.

·         A long, hot summer saw over three months of mostly fine weather from mid June to the fourth Sunday of September.

·         Heat waves in late June and 40 ˚C (104 °F) in late July put some vines under pressure – though this was pre-ripening.

·         Heavy rain on the last Friday in July, just after a heat wave, refreshed many vineyards just in time.

· Light rain in among the hot weather in August and mid September helped the vines.

Chateau La Croizille 2019, St Emilion Grand Cru

Plush, broadly aromatic but beautifully soft toned with dulcet notes pink musk, purple rock candy and black currant with a fabulously generous glycerol concentration, harmonious breadth and depth and a subtle, vanilla dusted, brûléed blueberry muffin finish. Delicious expression. Power with elegance.

(Wine Safari Score: 92-94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin Cru Bourgeois 2019, Listrac-Medoc

A complex nose layered with perfumed aromatics drifting from violets to cherry blossom, pink musk to cherry cola and dusty graphite minerality. Super focus and balance, this wine has beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon lines, a chiselled texture and fine mineral, gravelly tannins. The fruit concentration shows a seductive sweet sour mouth watering edge and fabulous black berry fruit persistence. Focused, intense and impressively linear. This should turn into an absolute star!

(Wine Safari Score: 92-93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasted along side the superb 2016 for added insight…

Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin Cru Bourgeois 2016, Listrac-Medoc

Beautifully deep dark broody nose with plenty of black cherry, black currant, earthy blueberry and hints of savoury, wild bramble berry fruits. Seamlessly plush concentration is lifted and electrified by bright, tangy acids before the finish melts away in the mouth to leave notes of sour plum, graphite, salty black liquorice and kirsch cherry liquor. Really very impressive wine that certainly lives up to this epic vintage’s top billing.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Domaine Armand Rousseau’s New 2018 Pinot Noir En-primeur Releases Shine Brightly Once Again…

The En-primeur tasting season gives wine merchants and consumers a last look at the new Burgundy releases before most of them are bottled between March and May. After Domaine de la Romanee Conti, there is probably a small handful of Burgundy producers that every collector wants in their cellar. Close to the top of this list has to be the spectacular wines of Domaine Armand Rousseau.

Tightly allocated in every global market, buying Armand Rousseau’s wines on release at beneficial En-primeur prices is every collectors holy grail. So any opportunity to taste and assess these exceptional wines before they disappear into deep dark cellars must be considered a valuable learning experience whether you’re a novice or a professional Burgundy collector.

I recently had a snap shot tasting of three of this producer’s delicious wines drawn from barrel samples.

Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin Clos du Chateau Monopole 2018

Showing a gently scented, sweet fruited nose with hints of Gevrey spice, earthy bramble berry, sweet clove and grilled herb spices. Palate is both opulent and plush yet softly textured with underlying Christmas spices and savoury red and black berries. An approachable, concentrated style that’s juicy and harmonious without being profound.

(Wine Safari Score: 92-93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2018

This opulent red shows plentiful notes of earthy bramble berry fruits, wood spice, grilled herbs, stewed winter fruits together with botanical herbs and incense spices. Supremely polished and elegant, there is a phenomenal core of sweet blue and black fruits, black cherry confit together with energetic acids that are beautifully harmonious and integrated into the concentrated palate fruit. Shows all the gentle, seductive understated Charmes Grand Cru elegance and finesse that this vineyard is so well known for. Very impressive.

(Wine Safari Score: 94-96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Grand Cru 2018

This grand vin shows distinctive aromatic notes of earthy winter fruits, bramble berries, Christmas pudding and sweet grilled herbs and botanical spices with an undertone of savoury cured meats. The palate is focused and elegant yet power packed and intense with more vibrancy, energy and acid freshness than the aromatics initially suggest. Sweetly fruited with a dreamy creamy palate texture, this wine finishes with a long, lingering persistence of kirsch liquor, macerated black plums and wild strawberries. A hugely impressive wine in its infancy but with a long promising regal future ahead.

(Wine Safari Score: 96-97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin Producing Magical, Authentic, Traditional Bordeaux Reds…

I have to admit that I have a love – hate relationship with Bordeaux. On the one hand I am intoxicated by the history, the grandeur and the incredible quality this amazing region is capable of producing. Yet on the other hand, I often find the mentality and commercial strategies of so many Chateaux owners and their chosen négociant channels infuriatingly difficult to comprehend. As a result, buying from Bordeaux has really started to evolve and over the past years, I find myself buying more and more wines directly from the Chateaux themselves, from genuine, rational, modest people who are just trying to run honest businesses making the very best wines their terroirs can deliver.

 

So when a good friend in Bordeaux recommended Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin, I stopped and took notice as most of the best buying decisions I have ever made have been as a result of friendly producers recommending the wines of friends, neighbours or colleagues. Château Cap Léon Veyrin has been family-owned since 1810 when the Château Cap Léon and the Veyrin estates were joined together. The word ‘Cap’ originally meant ‘head’. The vineyard of Cap Veyrin actually lies on the higher grounds of Listrac Médoc on Gravelly marl soils to the north and thus boasts ideal natural drainage and sun exposure.

 

With Julien in the Cap Ferret tasting wine and enjoying the Bordeaux summer sunshine.

Nathalie and Julien Meyre are now the 6th generation of this Médoc family of winegrowers to manage the property where family traditions are perpetuated with care. Their Chateau wines are dominated by an indicative blend of 60 % Merlot, 35 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 5 % Petit Verdot with ageing for 12 months in French oak barrels, 60% of which are normally new barrels. In addition to Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin, the Meyre family also own a fine little 15 hectare property in the Haut-Medoc near Cussac Fort Medoc called Chateau Julien where the average age of the vines are 40 years old.

 

The fabulous beaches of the Cap Ferret.

Over the summer, I managed to meet up with Julien Meyre on a sunny day in Cap Ferret on the Bordeaux coast where I tried to learn more about his family, the wines they produce and their future ambitions. The evolution of their wines is now happening at a swift pace with the more recent vintages receiving added guidance and fine tuning with the help of Michel Rolland, certainly one of the greatest tasters and blenders in the whole of Bordeaux. Just when I thought I was starting to lose faith in the “Bordeaux Project” then I meet another wonderful vigneron like Julien Meyre and taste some beautiful, characterful wines that serve to rekindle my love affair with one of the greatest wine regions in the world.

Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin 2015, Listrac Medoc, 13.5 Abv.

A fabulously serious expression from this up and coming Cru Bourgeois Chateau. The powerful 2015 blend shows an attractive nose of dark bramble berry fruits, blackberries infused with wood smoke, briary and dark black chocolate notes. The palate reveals fine structure and delineation, a cool medium body and lovely gravelly mineral tannins. Dense, compact and youthfully grippy, this wine shows a fine pedigree, an impressive tobacco-tinged length and a spicy, grainy textured finish. Drinking well now or cellar for 8 to 10 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 92 /100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin 2016, Listrac Medoc, 14 Abv.

The 2016 vintage is one of the greatest vintages in Bordeaux in 2 or 3 decades. With a little air, this wine starts to unwind and reveal a great aromatic presence with lifted layers of sweet violets and purple lavender perfume. The palate is rich, linear and super classical with an initially taut, powerful structure which relents with around 30 minutes of air to reveal a most suave, polished graphite mineral complexity with incredibly fine grained tannins, sleek fresh acids and a wonderful overall harmony. Grace and power for sure. The sweet black and blueberry fruits are opulent and fleshy yet held in perfect posture by the wine’s crisp acids and regal structure. A really beautiful expression of classical, mineral laden Listrac. Drink from 2021 to 2030+

(93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

 

Chateau Julien 2015, Haut Medoc, 13.5 Abv.

This petit chateau is a real work of brilliance offering up the most seductive, fleshy, fragrant blueberry scented aromatics with a subtle kiss of vanilla pod and mocha spice. Medium to deep garnet purple, this wine is packed with fleshy bramble berry fruits, baked plums, blueberry crumble and a dusty, dried baking spice complexity. The tannins are soft and generous, plump and inviting adding extra ballast to the long, creamy, dense length. A very impressive wine for the price. Great to see that Bordeaux can still make wines that over deliver at a price point. Bravo Julien!

(91+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Another Amphora Wine from Thierry Germain – Tasting the Exotic Domaine des Roches Neuves Outre Terre Qvevri Saumur Champigny…

Thierry Germain’s domaine Roches Neuves, whose vineyards are planted in Saumur for white wines and the Saumur-Champigny appellation for red wines, has rightfully become one of the greatest examples of biodynamic vine growing throughout France. His total dedication to site specific wines producing “parcellaires” wines from Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc often with the added exotism of flor or amphora ageing, has allowed him to produce some of the most exciting wines in the entire Loire Valley.

Thierry relocated to the Loire from Bordeaux in the early 1990s and soon fell under the influence of his spiritual father, Charly Foucault of Clos Rougeard. Thierry would ultimately convert his entire domaine to biodynamic viticulture. His incredibly diverse terroirs are translated into wine in bottle with utter clarity and precision making Thierry arguably one of the top producers in the Loire Valley and certainly one of the most highly sought after by Loire wine lovers and collectors alike.

Thierry Germain Domaine des Roches Neuves Outre Terre Cabernet Franc Amphora 2014, Saumur Champigny, Loire, 13 Abv.

From one of my favourite Loire producers, the Outre Terre is among his rarest and smallest production reds. Fermented and macerated for 8 months in 800 litre Georgian Qvevri (amphora), this 2014 is still opaque and dark with a purple black plum rim. Initially on opening the bottle, the wine reveals some lifted notes of sweet plum, earthy bramble berries, dried herbs and a sweet raisined black currant note. But interestingly this slightly stewed berry note blows off fairly quickly to reveal the real inner workings of an intricate amphora engine. There are all the mineral, rocky, gravelly tell tail signs of amphora ageing complemented by piquant black cherry skin spice, thyme, potpourri, violets and bath soap perfume. There is certainly a clarity, purity and minerality that carries over to the palate which is tart and crystalline, refreshing and electric, showing off Cabernet Franc’s fine powdery tannins but supported by a linear, crunchy line of acid. Wonderfully energetic and fabulously balanced, this wines only fault at this stage is that it’s too youthful still. The finish is spicy, pithy and slightly savoury with sweet black currant, tart Victoria plum, graphite spice and a weightless concentration and focus. Give this superb 2014 another few years to uncoil its tension and flesh out. A truly classy, nuanced expression of Cabernet Franc.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Acte de Chateau Lafleur by Guinaudeau Vignerons – Tasting 2009 to 2016…

Acte de Chateau Lafleur is a unique wine… “an idea that had been simmering for a few years now in a back corner of our wine-grower’s head. We finally took action in 2009 with the first vintage of this new cru. With Acte we hope to fulfil the dream of creating a new Grand Vin of the right bank. Acte started as a blank sheet, a passionate and ambitious project where everything had to be created from scratch.” – Omri Ram

 

Terroir is clearly the foundation with this new wine and Lafleur embarked on a search for the “ideal” terroir for Acte, taking as reference the best parcels of their Grand Village, and only after preforming profound soil studies, they started acquiring new parcels which corresponded with their rigorous criteria, situated on the poor and shallow soils of the Fronsac region. These new parcels consist of a Saint-Emilion-like clay-limestone terroir, which they compliment with a small proportion of Molasse du Fronsadais soils.

 

The vineyards were planted with equal parts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, favouring above all the Bouchet clone originating from their own massale selection at Lafleur. Clearly, Acte is not a 2nd wine of anything that has come before it or indeed a prestige cuvee. It’s a creation of a new vineyard and a new Cru by the Guinaudeau family who have owned Chateau Lafleur since 1872, with the current family members taking over the reins fully in 1985.

The Guinaudeau family wanted to create a new mythical Cru that in 50 or 80 years time could be another Lafleur. Great terroirs in Fronsac lie on clay-limestone soils. In 2006 they started looking for great parcels with the first vintage released in 2009.

In Fronsac, prime slopes looked good but were too heavy in clay. But they managed to find 10 parcels of shallow clay over limestone on a plateau in the centre of Fronsac. They managed to buy some of these suitable sites that showed great potential.

Acte de Guinaudeau Vignerons 2009

60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc

Precise, pure fragrant perfumes nose. Violets, loganberry and pink blossoms with a kiss of vanilla spice, graphite and pink musk. Palate is equally cool and suave, sleek and beautifully balanced with chalky black berry fruits, blueberry hints and a long, opulent, harmonious finish. Seamless and perfectly proportioned and drinking well already.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Acte de Guinaudeau Vignerons 2010

56% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Franc

Finer, slightly higher tone aromatics with black and blueberry fruit notes, black cherry and a violet and cherry cola complexity. Palate is broad, expansive, silky soft with very finely polished tannins, gentle generous chalky mineral black fruits and a tight core of fruit intensity and concentration. A really impressive show stopper.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Acte de Guinaudeau Vignerons 2011

56% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Franc

Sweet nutty black fruit notes with a really noticeable liquid chalk mineral note with leafy black fruits and sappy oak spice nicely integrated. Palate is genteel and soft, elegant and medium light weight with creamy dry chalky mineral tannins framing pure black cherry and saline cassis fruit. Very light on its feet with real finesse and balance without any muscle.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Acte de Guinaudeau Vignerons 2012

51% Merlot, 49% Cabernet Franc

More exotic and wild bramble berry fruit aromatics with spice and sap, charcoal and burnt wood embers. There is an underlying darkness and saline liquorice note with a light fluffy texture, creamy powder-fine tannins and a light bodied finish. No great concentration or depth on this vintage but the flavour are pure, delicate, vibrantly juicy and finely assembled making for a very attractive “restaurant-style” Claret.

(Wine Safari Score: 90+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Acte de Guinaudeau Vignerons 2013

70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc

A challenging vintage in the region where Cabernet Franc struggled to ripen. This nose reveals a much more traditional “premium Bordeaux” nose with creamy black fruits, buttered brown toast and mocha oak spice complexity. Palate shows an incredibly fine, pinpoint textural precision and balance, plenty of finesse, delicate black currant and sappy black berry fruits and a focused, sleek delicately long finish. Certainly a triumph for the vintage! Still youthful, ageing gracefully but simultaneously utterly delicious.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Acte de Guinaudeau Vignerons 2014

50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc

An enticing, complex spicy black bramble berry fruit nose laced with sap and resinous, leafy berry fruit notes with a high note of graphite and limestone minerality. Palate is suave and elegant, still quite youthful and tightly wound with opulence and generosity interwoven with chalky tannins, acid freshness and classical black fruited restraint. A fine effort for the vintage that shows the complexity of 100% massale selection vines after clonal material has been removed.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Acte de Guinaudeau Vignerons 2015

50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc

The aromatics immediately suggest a serious glassful loaded with chalky sappy spice, resinous black berry hints and a dusty chalky minerality. A wine finally revealing a real affinity to Lafleur with sweet plump tannins, ballerina like elegance and finesse, fruit sweetness and black berry concentration. Plenty of baby fat but with unquestionably fine integrity with a very fine fresh acid balance. Classy effort.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Acte de Guinaudeau Vignerons 2016

50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc

A vintage that really has risen like a phoenix to become instantly revered and collectible among most top producers. This wine also shows the piercing fruit concentration, intense fragrance and accompanying complexity. Layers of blackberry confit, cherry kirsch liquor and seamless chalky minerality with a confident suave fruit concentration, precise intensity and a very friendly generous opulence. So pure, so delicious but will improve further with age. Top drawer!

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

A very fine selection worth tracking down. Wines represented in the UK by Armit Wines.

The Iconic Magnificence of Chateau Lafleur – Tasting the 2018 Barrel Blend and Older Vintages with Omri Ram…

I’m very fortunate to meet up with some very gifted and highly talented winemakers who oversee the production of some of the great icon wines of the world. As a bit of pre-En Primeur 2018 campaign orientation, I caught up with Omri Ram from Chateau Lafleur in London to contemplate the true potential of the 2018 vintage and also reflect on some older classics over lunch.

Omri Ram presenting a selection of 2018 Barrel Samples in the Justerini & Brooks cellars

My initial Chateau Lafleur 2018 Barrel sample rating came in at a lofty 97-98/100 GSMW for what almost certainly must rate as one of the top wines of the vintage. But more interestingly, after the 2018 sample we got to drink some older vintages over a superb lunch laid on by Chateau Lafleur’s UK agent, Justerini & Brooks.

Pensees de Lafleur 2009, Pomerol, 14.5 Abv.

A very small vintage for Pensees, the nose is superbly fragrant, perfumed, earthy and expressive with layers of black currant, sweet tobacco, lavendar and earthy cassis. The palate is super polished, elegant and an all round uber suave crowd pleaser with a very sophisticated manner. Does not put a foot out of place. Classical, elegant yet open and overt, this is a wine for Bordeaux lovers looking to start tucking into a very smart, earlier drinking icon wine!

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chateau Lafleur 2007, Pomerol (Magnum), 13.5 Abv.

Along with 1999, Omri Ram’s favourite wine to drink. The end of an era where there was more Merlot that Cabernet Franc. An underestimated vintage for sure that in many ways breaks the stigma of the “7s” curse. 67, 77, 87, 97… etc. This wine is now beauty personified. Fragrant ethereal perfume wafts from the glass with intense nuances of cedar spice, caramelised cranberries, plum liquor and black berry depth. Underpinning the whole expression of the wine is dusty, stony minerality with the most incredible elegance, satin soft tannins and sublime harmony. If the Queen was coming for dinner and you knew she loved Claret, this would be the dream ticket to seal the relationship! Benchmark Pomerol.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chateau Lafleur 2000, Pomerol, 13.5 Abv.

This block buster vintage displays a wonderfully expressive nose of gunpowder, struck flint, graphite, piquant black berry and herby grassy spice notes. Quite soft, fleshy and accessible, this wine has density, gravitas, concentration and weight of fruit with a subtle soft rounding acidity with a plush, creamy mineral tannin texture. Still youthful but deliciously opulent and seductive now. Start drinking but no rush at all. An iconic vintage from an iconic winery.

(Wine Safari Score: 98+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasting The Magical Sweet Wines of Moulin Touchais Through The Ages…

This property has been in the Touchais family for eight generations since 1787, and the estate, located down a side street in Doué-La-Fontaine, is amazingly characterful and has so many stories to tell. Indeed, the famous labyrinth of cellars were bricked over during the German occupation of France during World War 2 to protect the mountains of vintaged stock buried deep in the estate’s cellars. Moulin Touchais is of course famous for the late releases of their Chenin Blanc sweet wines which demand cellaring for at least ten years before a bottle is made available to the market.

Their wines are as famous for their quality as they are for their incredible value for money and have become the “go to” offering for many connoisseurs looking to buy a birth year wine gift. The tasting notes below will serve as a solid and safe guide for years to come for people looking to check on a specific vintage. All bottles barring the 1947 (auction bottle) were sourced from the estate’s cellars for this incredible tasting.

Moulin Touchais Vertical

Moulin Touchais 2016 (Not Yet Released)

Lemon and lime cordial, melon and grapefruit confit. Hint of cream soda and apple purée. Tight and focused, crystalline and pure. Lovely intensity and balance.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2007

Dusty lemon and lanolin nose with dried herbs and mint leaf. Finely textured, creamy palate weight, wonderfully harmonious with a pithy orchard fruit finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2006

Sweet honied nose with subtle damp cellar notes, wet chalk and waxy lemon peel. Quite light and elegant, fine piquant acids, sleek texture and spicy yellow confit finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2005

More herby, spicy, sappy resinous stemmy nose with hints of crushed leaves. Quite full and ripe with glycerol weight but with fairly restrained flavours of melon confit and ripe amarula fruits and herbal botanical spices.

(Wine Safari Score: 91+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2004

Lemon and lime cordial, yellow grapefruit confit. Plenty of lifted melon fruit aromatics. Fine boned, sleek texture, very elegant with spiced apple purée, lemon marmalade and pithy, chalky finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2003

Ripe exotic aromatics with yellow orchard fruits, chalk and lemon confit. Plush, broad and fleshy texture, opulent, quite showy, unctuous and mouth coatingly sweet made in a more ‘obvious style’ with softer acids. Retains lovely purity of fruit.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2002

Earthy, savoury lemon peel notes, wet chalk and dried baking herbs. Finely balanced with delicious bright green apple and yellow orchard fruits and a fine vein of juicy acidity. Less sweetness, quite focused, but showing great potential for aging.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2001

Ripe pithy tangerine peel and Seville oranges complexity. Notes of marmalade on white toast and subtle sappy herbal nuances. Sleek, cool, fine harmonious palate, lovely fruit – acid equilibrium.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2000

Musty? Corky? Rot? All three bottles. Buyer beware.

(Wine Safari Score: N/S Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1999

Sweet lemon and grapefruit confit nose, honied and opulent, very expressive. Palate is linear and taut, steely and fresh, plenty of core tension and purity of citrus fruit with subtle chalky finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1998

Cheese rag, melon pastille, apple purée and chalky lift. Palate is pure and plush, wonderfully balanced, creamy and polished with an impressive purity and harmony.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1997

Sweet rich opulent nose of brûléed lemons, citrus confit and 60/70% botrytis honied complexity. Rich and powerful, dense, sweet and textured with dried peaches drizzled in honey. Delicious and opulent with a long finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1996

Sweet lemon cream biscuits, herbs and sappy, leafy complexity, but fine, pithy, fresh tart core. Nice intensity, finely poised, showing great appeal. Lovely and youthful.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1994

More evolved, tertiary notes of lanolin, lemon, waxy apples and a mealy dog biscuits note. Palate show piquant grapefruit marmalade, spice and freshness. Lovely harmony and balance. Palate outshines the nose.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1991

Complex spicy nose of old honey, botanical herbs and wet chalk. Palate is soft and fleshy, more loose knit than many preceding vintages, with an overt resinous sappy spice and sweet, warming finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 90/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1987

More tertiary and honied, showing root veg, earthy, bruised orchard fruits and lanolin wet dog notes. Palate is fresh, piquant and quite spicy with a slightly drying barley sugar finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1986

Ripe earthy brûléed yellow bruised fruits, cheese rind, peach tea and a slight iodine note. Palate is sweet but very fresh, with lovely depth, effortless balance and superb honied depth. Exotic but deliciously vibrant and fresh.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1985

Sweet honied peach and citrus notes, caramelised orange peel and honey. Palate is vibrant and fresh, quite tart and pure with green apple purée, quince and grapefruit confit. Lovely length and finesse and a slightly tighter finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1984

Rich, brûléed peachy honied nose with earthy, nutty, mealy dog biscuit nuances, and sweet herbal peach tea with a spoonful of honey. Complex, sleek texture, vibrant acids holding this wine together beautifully.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1983

Rich cognac gold colour, showing alluring teritiary notes of earthy root spice and hard cheese rind. Palate is tart and focused, fresh and taut with a vibrant energy and acid brightness. Lovely crystalline purity, mouth watering and juicy. Impressive.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Importer Richard Kelley MW pouring a flight of wines.

Moulin Touchais 1982

Rich, brûléed lemon biscuit notes, custard, puff pastry and peach parfait. Lush, bright, and quite taut, lovely piquant depth, opulence and good botrytis characters. Certain leanness and linearity, but finely balanced and focused.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1981

Subtle tertiary notes of earthy bruised orchard fruits, brûléed green figs, citrus confit. Plush and broad, bright fruits, peach tea, grapefruit confit, vibrant youthful palate and a long, sweet – sour apple pastille length. Delicious.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1980

Pronounced dusty, crushed slate, chalky, herby nose with vermouth botanical notes. Earthy, exotic, dusty with hints of peanut brittle and caramelised salty toffee.

(Wine Safari Score: 89+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1979

Beautiful rich golden toffee colour, has lovely lifted aromatics reminiscent of a serial Madeira, with nuts, toffee, cheese cloth, brine and brûléed peach and quince. Palate is fresh and ultra lush, dense, with brûléed sweet / sour plum, melon and an elegant, drying, classy long finish. Superb.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1976

Earthy wet chalk nose with herbal hints and spicy lift. Quite shy and restrained nose with a slightly more expressive palate. Tight, broody, spicy honied yellow fruit.

(Wine Safari Score: 90+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1975

Dusty, chalky brûléed nose with burnt sugar, piquant spice, reduced root veg notes, cabbage and sweet bruised orchard fruits and grape jelly. Spicy, tart, slightly lean.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Frederik Wilbrenninck from the Moulin Touchais estate pouring a flight.

Moulin Touchais 1971

Waxy green apple, mealy biscuit and earthy lemon peel. Palate is sleek, retrained, quite mineral and taut, showing crushed gravel, chalk spice and a piquant depth. Linear, non-showy but quite finely textured.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1968

Brûléed, rich oxidative nose similar to Adrian again but perhaps in a more Bual or Terrantez style. Vibrant salty acids, lovely briney focus and rich, pithy length brimming with cognac spice, sweet orange peel, marmalade and nutty cheese cloth complexity.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1964

Corked.

(Wine Safari Score: N/S Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1959

Pristine and pure nose of lemon and herbs, nutty, brûléed pineapple, molasses and salted caramel. Pure, sleek, cool and regal, this is truly profound. Vibrant salty fresh acids, piercing length and mouth wateringly youthful. Wow!

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1955

Brine, tangerine peel, citrus, naartjie and pithy spicy herbal lift. Rich, sweet / sour tartness, bright, vibrant, deliciously juicy. Great salty opulence. Superb.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1953

Sweet herbal, honied root veg, lanolin and wet wool. Sleek, nutty, bright and saline with very fine. Fine texture, crystalline palate. Lovely.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1947

Soft subtle nose of caramelised lemons, salted caramel, orange peel and honied white peaches. Suave, sleek and ultra elegant, dancing across the palate with ballerina finesse and profound concentrated depth. So pure, so bright, so much youthful energy. Truly wonderful as you’d expect from the ‘vintage of the century.’

(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais Century Reserve NV

Exotic nose of sweet yellow peaches, quince, kumquat, passionfruit and caramelised fig. Palate is bright and tart, combining the spellbinding opulence of blended vintages from 1847 to 1899. Lovely salty sweetness, purity, clarity and intensity. Profound.

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Exploring Bordeaux Second Wines – Part 8: Chateau Montrose La Dame de Montrose 2015 from St Estephe…

Chateau Montrose is synonymous for the finest age worthy reds from St Estephe on the left bank of Bordeaux. But their La Dame de Montrose second wine is also made to the same rigorous standards as their first wine, from grapes grown in the same vineyards. Consistently reliable and reaching maturity sooner, the wine was created in 1986 in tribute to Yvonne Charmolue, who ran Château Montrose single-handedly from 1944 to 1960. Production varies from one year to another but accounts on average for 30% of the total production of the Montrose vineyard. It is matured for 12 months in 30% new oak barrels.

While you often encounter the La Dame with a few more years of age (the 2005 is currently very popular among independent merchants), it was lovely to revisit this 2015 at the J.P.Moueix negociant tasting in London, from a vintage which I almost certainly have not tasted since En-primeur at the Chateau in 2016. Tasting alongside the famous Steven Spurrier, he too was full of praise for this attractive wine.

“A modern left bank vintage full of charm.” Steven Spurrier

In 2015, four months of drought including a hot June and July produced tiny, intense grapes with thick skins that resulted in plenty of tannins. Rain came at exactly the right time to revive vines stressed by temperature and dryness. Then, cooler than normal weather in September and October allowed vignerons to pick most vineyards when the grapes were perfectly ripe. A really superb expression that is both accessible to drink now but has the stuffing for at least 10 to 15+ years of additional cellaring.

Chateau Montrose La Dame de Montrose 2015, St Estephe, Bordeaux, 13 Abv.

Out the traps with speed. This super second wine shows wonderful aromatic complexity to dazzle and tease the drinker with fine perfumed violet and cedar spice notes, tilled earth, cured meats, black bramble berries and the faintest hints of eucalyptus menthol lift. The palate is super generous and fresh with a noticeably piercing intensity, saline cassis purity, bright crystalline acidity and a fine long classical finish with linearity and sufficient structural frame. The sweet pockets of black berry fruit on the mid palate are super delicious and really make this wine stand out from its neighbours. As ever, what not to love about Chateau Montrose, whether it’s their iconic first wine or this super attractive second wine. Buy now while it’s still affordable. Drink now to 2030+

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)