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- Bordeaux Chronicles
Follow our trip through Bordeaux during this year’s En Primeur barrel tastings. ARVI’s team will be touring, tasting, and exploring the greatest producers to get a first-hand look at the 2018 vintage. Throughout the first week of April, 2019 we will be updating our webpage each day to give you an inside-look at the most chaotic, but nonetheless celebratory time for this fine-wine capital.
Château Mouton Rothschild
Château Léoville Barton
Château Léoville Poyferré
Château Léoville Las Cases
Château du Tertre
Our third day of En Primeurs tastings, began at the prestigious - Château Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac. We met with the Commercial Director, Hervé Gouin to discuss the 2018 vintage. The Grand Vin definitely has a lot of substance to it, giving off ripe fruit notes, as well as a delicate smoky touch – we’re looking forward to seeing how this wine develops. A real Mouton in the making.
From Mouton we made our way to the famed trio of Léoville estates, our first visit was with Lillian Barton owner of Château Léoville Barton, and Hugo Boivin. And wow what a surprise, usually a wine that is difficult to taste En Primeur, the Grand Vin was very expressive with that structure you would expect from a great Saint-Julien. Within a couple minutes we arrived at Château Léoville Poyferré where we were able to speak with owner, Didier Cuvelier about his wines. We heard that this vintage is one of “extremes” due to diverse weather conditions, however most estates in Saint-Julien were able to achieve ideal maturity in their vineyards. We also met with Sara Lecompte-Cuvelier, who has taken over the management of the estate’s day-to-day from her uncle, Didier Cuvelier this year. We crossed the street to Château Léoville Las Cases for our last Léoville tasting, and we have to say, the Grand Vin is one of the most elegant wines we’ve tried in Saint-Julien. Produced from old vines, ranging from 50 to 90 years old, Léoville Las Cases 2018 leads with a confident spiced pepper aroma on the nose and finishes with a powerful energy that makes this wine the greatest example of sophistication in the appellation.
Our final tasting in the Saint-Julien appellation was at the artsyChâteau Ducru-Beaucaillou, which has a picturesque view of the estuary. We met with the owner, Bruno Borie, who walked us through the 2018 vintage, explaining that their region was a bit more privileged than the others, with less rain during the growing season. While the harvested grapes were on the smaller side, the technical team worked extra carefully during fermentation to not extract too many harsh tannins from the grapes’ skins. The 2018 Ducru-Beaucaillou is a vintage that has a concentration like no other, the freshness is incredible and the character of the ‘caillou’ is strong.
After a filling lunch of French delicacies, we had the pleasure of tasting at Château Rauzan-Ségla in their charming minimalistic tasting room. It was a very good vintage for Rauzan-Ségla, this 2018 is full, structured and full of smooth tannins, it has the château’s signature style of being ripe yet fresh.
Our next stop was at Château Palmer, where there was only one wine to taste, the Grand Vin. Palmer’s second wine, Alter Ego was not produced this year due to the mildew that hit several regions of Bordeaux. Palmer lost around 2/3 to 3/4 of their entire crop this year. While Palmer has suffered during the growing season, they are more than proud to present their Grand Vin. This 2018 Palmer is so preciously balanced that you can’t feel the higher alcohol content.
Another wonderful Margaux estate is Château Brane-Cantenac, which was ournext appointment of the day and actually ARVI’s first visit to the new cellar. We were generously greeted by the owner, Henri Lurton and Commercial Director, Marie Hélèn Dussech. The 2018 vintage possesses a great concentration, but Brane-Cantenac has found and been able to keep its signature freshness. The one and only - Château Margaux – was our fourth stop in the appellation, driving up the tree-lined drive way, with a straight view of the famed pearly white château was almost as good as tasting this year’s line-up. The Grand Vin was elegant as always, with a well-played finesse, very feminine.
We ended our long day of touring and tasting at Château Giscours, with Commercial & Marketing Director, Laure Bastard. Laure defined the vintage in one word – ‘gourmandise’ - which in French literally translates to the “love of good food” but the reference here is to sheer indulgence. We had a tasting of both Giscours and Château du Tertre, and du Tertre has a nice big volume to it, but its delicate enough to show integrated tannins making this 2018 almost ready to drink. The Giscours 2018 on the other hand is a huge wine. It is very direct and straight forward with a deep concentration and fine tannins. This 2018 is still has the classic Giscours style, with just a touch of ‘gourmandise’.