Exploring Bordeaux Second Wines – Part 3: Chateau Duhart Milon Moulin de Duhart 2012, Pauillac, 12.5 Abv.

Chateau Duhart Milon has long been overshadowed by its bigger Pauillac brothers Carruades de Lafite and Lafite Rothschild. But circa 2005, the tide began to turn and Duhart Milon started to command the prices of a proper top quality Pauillac Cru Classe. Much of this was certainly thanks to China’s love affair with the Rothschild brand Portfolio, but quality advancements at the estate were also clearly evident.

Château Duhart Milon’s second wine is selected on the same basis as the “Grand Vin”. In general, the grapes are from the younger plots in the vineyards and Moulin de Duhart has therefore several characteristics similar to the grand vin, but with less potential for ageing due to its shorter barrel ageing period, and as such, should be consumed younger than its more robust big brother. The origin of the name comes from the former presence of a windmill on the Carruades plateau, next to the Duhart-Milon vineyard.

The cepage in 2012 consists of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon and 47%Merlot, which is aged in 2 year old French oak barrels for 10 months, producing 7,000 to 12,000 cases per annum. 

The 2012 vintage was characterized by difficult weather conditions in the Bordeaux region. After a relatively mild winter, the spring was mostly wet and rainy, especially April, which brought a violent hail storm on the 24th. Such conditions hampered fertilization, leading to fears of reduced yields. Work in the vineyard was as vital as ever. June and July alternated heat and humidity. The weather became more stable from the beginning of August, enabling the grapes to finish ripening in good conditions. 
Nevertheless, there was considerable variation in their degrees of ripeness and a great deal of sorting work was carried out by the Chateau’s teams from the end September.

Tasting Note: Lovely, classical expressive Pauillac nose that’s superbly fresh and vibrant, bristling with notes of black currant, black cherry, baked black plums, roasted caramelised almonds, blue berry crumble and buttered white toast. The oak is seamless and beautifully integrated, just melting into the dark fruit nuances. The palate entry is light and effortless, with the fruit rolling around on the palate like a wine tasting in zero gravity. There is seamless cherry and black berry complexity, a pithy spicy vanilla pod lick and a very elegant, fine, focused finish. This is the consummate second wine… earlier drinking, fresh, vibrant, lighter textured and a positively quaffable vin de soif with bells and whistles. Drink now to 2020.

Second Wine Rating: Beautifully expressive wine with a light touch. Buy!

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

Boschkloof Conclusion 2013 ~ Another Top Pedigree Bordeaux Blend from Stellenbosch…

I’ve recently been working my way through a selection of Reenen Borman’s lovely Boschkloof wines, most notably drinking his epic Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah 2014 on Christmas Day 2016.

But this time it’s his Bordeaux blend I’m examining, made from 54% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% each of Malbec and Petit Verdot at 14.5 Abv.

Tasting Note: This is a threateningly dark, opaque glassful. So black it’s almost intimidating. On the nose, the aromatics fly out the glass, with dried herbs, thyme, mint leaf, cigar box, eucalyptus, chocolate peppermint crisp, fennel seeds, cherry cola and sweet plummy black cassis fruit. The palate is dense, elegantly textured and vibrantly fresh. Beautiful fruit – acid balance, purity & focus, sweet tart cassis, mocha, espresso, and very fine grained tannins. Very light on its feet from the large dollop of elegant Cabernet Franc, this five grape Bordeaux blend reminds me of a homage to MR de Compostella. No idea if this is true, but it shows similar class, Franc elegance, and plenty of latent pedigree. An excellent effort. (Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)