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Wine Reviews

Institute of Masters of Wine Bordeaux 2014 in bottle Sydney tasting

Last weekend, the annual Institute of Masters of Wine Bordeaux tasting in bottle of the 2014 vintage took place in Sydney. I expected this to be a much more popular event than the previous year’s tasting of the 2013s (you can read my reviews of that tasting here) which was a poor vintage. But in fact, I would say there were substantially fewer people at the 2014 tasting. It is hard to imagine that an equivalent event, with say most of the leading estates assembled of Burgundy or Piemonte, would be so quiet.

The good news is that I tasted through nearly all of the wines, and was able to do so at some leisure. My short notes and observations follow. In short, I would describe the 2014s as a classic Bordeaux vintage, with many very good wines. I have put an asterisks next to the best wine of each appellation, on this tasting.

Pessac-Léognan

Château Bouscat. Merlot dominant (55%). Iron earth, capsicum aromas. Herbal, oak. Good

Château de Fieuzal. 48% cabernet sauvignon and 45% merlot. Aromas of tomato stalk, red fruits. Firm tannins and acidity on the palate. Good to Very Good

Château Malartic-Lagraviere. 52% cabernet sauvignon and 40% merlot. Deep colour, attractive pencil lead aroma. Saturated fruit, good intensity and structured palate. Very Good

*Château Smith Haut Lafitte. 62% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 6% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot. This was the highlight of the Pessac-Léognan group. Velvety, blackcurrant aroma, with pencil lead notes. Crisp acidity coupled with long length on the palate. Outstanding

Domaine de Chevalier. 65% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. Somewhat muted aroma of pencil lead and blackcurrants. The palate has firm tannins, acid and structure. Good to Very Good

Haut-Médoc

Château Belgrave. 66% cabernet sauvignon and 32% merlot. Aromas of capsicum and cardamum. The palate has very firm acidity and a greenness. Good

Château Cantemerle. 47% cabernet sauvignon and 38% merlot. Capsicum aromas. Palate has firm acidity and presents as very young. Good

Margaux

*Château Boyd-Cantenac. 70% cabernet sauvignon and 21% merlot. Floral, blackcurrant, pencil lead and quite opulent aromas. Structured tannins and firm palate. Very Good to Outstanding

Château Brane-Cantenac. 77% cabernet sauvignon and 21% merlot. Floral, blackcurrant and brooding aroma. The palate has very high acid and somewhat angular tannins. Good to Very Good

Château d’Issan. 77% cabernet sauvignon and 23% merlot. Earthy, leathery aroma. Firm acidity and gentle balance on the palate. Good to Very Good

Château du Tertre. 58% cabernet sauvignon and 20% cabernet franc (possibly a typo). Pencil lead, refined blackcurrant aromas. High acidity on the palate, almost piquant. Good

Château Giscours. 70% cabernet sauvignon and 20% merlot. Herbal, capsicum aroma. Firm acidity, green palate. Good to Very Good

Château Kirwan. 58% cabernet sauvignon and 36% merlot. Pencil lead, chocolate aroma. The palate is firm, structured with some bitter tannins. Good to Very Good

Château Lascombes. 50% merlot and 45% cabernet sauvignon. Earthy, ripe fruit aromas. Ripe, structured fruit on the palate, with good length. Very Good

Château Pouget. 58% cabernet sauvignon and 31% merlot. Floral and quite aromatic. Firm acidity, good length. Good to Very Good

Château Rauzan-Gassies. 70% cabernet sauvignon and 26% merlot. Restrained, neutral aroma. Structured, classic palate with good length. Very Good

Château Rauzan-Ségla. 56% cabernet sauvignon and 42% merlot. Glossy, oak aroma. Intense palate. Very Good

Saint-Émilion

**Château Angélus. 50% merlot and 50% cabernet franc. This was the wine of the tasting. A seamless expression of blackcurrant and cedar. On the palate, lovely balance and phenomenal length. Outstanding

*Château Cheval Blanc. 55% merlot and 45% cabernet franc. Another outstanding wine, not surprisingly. More tobacco and red fruited aroma. Lovely balance and long length. Outstanding

Château Balestard La Tonnelle. 70% merlot and 25% cabernet franc. Tomato, red fruit aromas. Pleasant red fruit on the palate. Good

Château Bellevue. 100% merlot. Plums and soy aroma. Medium-firm tannins and plummy palate. Good to Very Good

Château Cap de Mourlin. 65% merlot and 25% cabernet franc. Red fruit and cedar aroma. Very firm tannins and red fruits on the palate. Very Good

Château Corbin. 90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc. Redcurrant, plum and spice aroma. Medium-firm tannins and red fruited palate. Good to Very Good

Château Grand Corbin. 70% merlot and 25% cabernet franc. Restrained aroma of earth and attractive red fruits. Firm acidity and good length on the palate. Very Good

Château La Tour Figeac. 75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc. Earthy, blackcurrant generous aroma. Soy, red fruit, medium-long length and medium-firm tannins. Very Good

Château Laroze. 66% merlot and 29% cabernet franc. Pencil lead, red fruit aroma. Plush palate with great length. Very Good

*Château Troplong Mondot. 91% merlot and 7% cabernet sauvignon. Spiced blackberry aroma. The palate has saturated fruit, full flavour, great intensity and structure, cedar and long length. Outstanding

Château Trottevieille. 58% cabernet franc and 40% merlot. Aroma of smoke and leaf. Firm structure, leafy, good length. Good to Very Good

Pomerol

*Château Clinet. 90% merlot and 9% cabernet sauvignon. Aroma of soy, plum. Deep colour. Medium-firm tannins and structured palate. Very Good to Outstanding

*Château Gazin. 95% merlot and 5% cabernet franc. Velvety aroma, tomato and red fruits too. Firm tannins, structured and good length. Very Good to Outstanding

*Château Nenin. 68% merlot and 32% cabernet franc. Plums, restrained yet rich aroma. The palate has pencil lead characters and is both opulent and regal, with good length on the finish. Very Good to Outstanding

Château Petit-Village. 72% merlot and 16% cabernet franc. Blackberry and spice aroma. Capsicum, structure and good length on the palate. Good to Very Good

Saint-Estèphe

Château Calon Ségur. 66% cabernet sauvignon and 13% cabernet franc. Ripe, blackcurrant, restrained aroma. High acid, structured palate with medium length. Good to Very Good

*Château Cos d’Estournel. 65% cabernet sauvignon and 33% merlot. Ripe, delicious aroma of blackcurrants and blackberry. Full tannins. Outstanding

*Château Montrose. 61% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. Ripe, cedar and blackcurrant aroma. Structured palate, full tannins and long length. Built to last. Outstanding

Saint-Julien

Château Beychevelle. 51% merlot and 39% cabernet sauvignon. Lovely aroma, pencil lead, blackcurrant, classic. Firm tannins, good balance and good length on the palate. Very Good to Outstanding

Château Lagrange. 76% cabernet sauvignon and 18% merlot. Capsicum and black fruit aroma. High acid, capsicum character but classic. Good

Château Langoa Barton. 54% cabernet sauvignon and 34% merlot. Muted aroma and palate. Seemed out of condition. Not rated

Château Leoville Barton. 83% cabernet sauvignon and 15% merlot. Pencil lead, gorgeous blackcurrant aroma. Firm tannins, good length. Very Good

*Château Léoville Marquis de Las Cases. 79% cabernet sauvignon and 11% cabernet franc. Blackcurrant, classic aroma. Palate has ripe, saturated fruit and great length and balance. Outstanding

Château Leoville Poyferre. 60% cabernet sauvignon and 35% merlot. Capsicum, blackcurrant, austere aroma. Palate with firm, structured tannins. Very Good

Château Talbot. 62% cabernet sauvignon and 32% merlot. Blackcurrant and gloss aroma. Firm tannins, somewhat acidic but classic. Good to Very Good

Pauillac

Château Batailley. 82% cabernet sauvignon and 15% merlot. Earthy aroma, brettanomyces? Capsicum, blackcurrant and acidity on the palate. Good for now

Château Croizet-Bages. 61% cabernet sauvignon and 37% merlot. Blackcurrant and capsicum aroma. Firm tannins and classic palate. Good to Very Good

Château Lynch Bages. 69% cabernet sauvignon and 26% merlot. Deep colour, blackcurrant aroma. Saturated fruit and great length on the palate. Very Good to Outstanding

Château Lynch-Moussas. 79% cabernet sauvignon and 21% merlot. Blackcurrant, earth and smoke aroma. Medium tannins and pleasant finish. Good

Château Pichon Baron. 80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% merlot. Blackcurrant and refined fruit aroma. Great length, balance, plushness and firm tannins. A favourite, but slightly shaded by a couple of Pauillac wines this year. Very Good nonetheless

*Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. 65% cabernet sauvignon and 22% merlot. Blackcurrant, refined aroma, pencil lead aroma. Long length and lovely balance on the palate. Outstanding

*Château Pontet-Canet. 65% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. Blackcurrant, refined earthy aroma. Great length, structure, blackcurrant and tannins on the palate. Outstanding

Sauternes

Château Doisy Daëne. 85% sémillon and 14.5% sauvignon blanc. Spice, marmalade aroma. Not particularly viscous. Fresh. Good to Very Good

Château Suduiraut. 95% sémillon and 5% sauvignon blanc. Vanilla, marmalade aroma. Long length, full body but grace and balance on the palate. Very Good

*Château d’Yquem. Last, but not least. 80% sémillon and 20% sauvignon blanc. Marmalade, spice, complex aroma. Viscous, full length, full body and ultra unctuous palate. Outstanding

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Wine Articles Wine Reviews

IMW Annual Bordeaux tasting – 2013 vintage

Held in Sydney by the Institute of Masters of Wine on the weekend, this was a first close local look at the 2013 vintage of Bordeaux. The 2013 vintage in Bordeaux was, of course, rather dire. It saw a dismal spring, an early summer and catastrophic flowering. The vintage culminated with tropical weather at the end of September, with heavy rain and high day and night time temperatures combining to produce an outbreak of rot. Phrases along the lines of “the worst vintage in recent memory” abound in the media.

In short, then, expectations were low. I can’t recall an Australian en primeur campaign at all. It did not surprise then to see lower numbers at this tasting. However, it did provide an opportunity to look quite carefully and methodically at what is a very large bracket of wines. And my takeaways were rather surprising. There are a number of good wines made in this vintage, the best being medium bodied with resolute tannins and quite long length. Perhaps a few may even be affordable on these shores. Some felt that the Saint-Juliens showed best. My view was a little different. I felt that in fact the better producers produced the better wines in most cases. Short notes follow.

Pessac-Léognan
Château de Fieuzal. 13% abv. 65% CS, 30% M, 5% CF. Not a really deep colour. Cassis and leaf aromas. Firm, dusty tannins, fresh acidity and medium-full bodied. G-VG

Château Smith Haut Lafitte. 13.5% abv. 55% CS, 35% M, 10% CF. Always a favourite. 2013 has tomato bush and stemmy/leafy, herbal character. High tannins and medium-full body on the palate with good length and some cassis. VG

Haut-Médoc

Château Belgrave. 12.5% abv. 70% CS, 30% M. Earth, ferric aroma, cassis. A bit Coonawarra like. Palate with medium bodied, cassis, slightly hollowed out and mid range tannins. G

Margaux
Château Boyd-Cantenac. 13% abv. 66% CS, 29% M, 2% CF, 3% PV. Medium intensity of colour. Lots of chunky oak on the nose, fruit hidden. Medium-full body, medium-firm tannin and mid range length. Palate much better. VG

Château Brane-Cantenac. 13.5% abv. 84% CS, 14% M, 2% CF. Medium intensity of colour. Stemmy, oak and blackcurrant nose. High acid and firm dusty tannins. Ferric and earthy. G-VG

Château Cantenac-Brown. Not shown. Apparently pre-assessed as cork tainted, bretty or both so didn’t taste. NR

Château d’Issan. 13% abv. 60% CS, 40% M. Lovely oak, lovely ripe blackcurrant fruit and plenty of wood smoke. Dry medium-full tannins, medium-long length and medium body. G-VG

Château Lascombes. 12.5% abv. 55% CS, 40% M, 5% PV. Lots of refined Frenck oak. Mid range tannins that are quite grippy and dusty. Great length. VG

Château Rauzan-Ségla. 13.5% abv. 58% CS, 39% M, 2% PV, 1% CF. Medium colour. Refined blackcurrant. Fine oak. High acid, dusty tannins, really good length. G-VG

First Growths
Château Angélus. 13.5% abv. 62% M, 38% CF. Is there much point rating this bracket? All are outstanding. Richer than the Cheval Blanc, the Angélus has aromas of red fruits and lightly smokey oak. Full body, firm but not dusty tannins, long length, terrific balance. O

Château Cheval Blanc. 13% abv. 49% M, 3% CS, 48% CF. Refined integrated red fruit nose. High tannins, long length, amazing balance. O

Château d’Yquem. 13.5% abv. 30% SB, 70% S. Botrytis marmalade aromas. The palate is full bodied with glorious refreshing acidity, long length and a viscous body. Outstanding wine. O

Saint-Émilion
Château Dassault. 13% abv. 75% M, 20% CF, 5% CS. Sweet fruit, lovely French oak, medium intensity colour. Fuller body with medium tannins, medium-full length and medium-high acid. Subtle. VG

Château La Fleur. 13% abv. 92% M, 8% CF. Sweet red fruit, medium intensity of colour, restrained savoury oak. Medium-full body, medium-high tannins and a balanced mid range length and savoury fruit profile. G-VG

Château Pavie-Macquin. 13.5% abv. 85% M, 13% CF, 2% CS. Evident tears, mid range depth of colour. Restrained cedar oak aroma, spice, graphite, smokey oak. Palate is fuller bodied, more viscous, medium tannins, red fruit and long length. VG

Château Trotte Vieille
. 13% abv. 54% M, 2% CS, 44% CF. I almost never “get” this wine. Wood, stemmy aroma. Medium-full body, medium-high tannin, really a lot of tannins actually, quite good length. G-VG

Château Valandraud. 14% abv. 65% M, 25% CF, 5% CS, 4% M, 1% C. Rich, baked fruit, with cedar/pencil oak and lots of new French oak. Full body, medium-high tannins, medium acidity, long length, wood character evident. VG

Pomerol
Château La Conseillante. 13% abv. 80% M, 20% CF. Herbal, leaf, clove, tomato bush aroma. Medium-full body, medium tannin and length. Very balanced. VG

Château Petit Village. 13.5% abv. 70% M, 20% CF, 10% CS. Cedar, spicy and red fruits. Palate has medium-high tannin, medium-full body and more structure and long length. VG

Saint-Estèphe
Château Calon-Ségur. 13% abv. 85% CS, 7% CF, 6% M, 2% PV. Mid range colour. Blackcurrant, high tannins, medium body and good length. VG

Château Cos d’Estournel. 13% abv. 78% CS, 20% M, 2% CF. Cassis, earth, ferric character. Drying high tannins, but great length. VG-O

Château Montrose. 13% abv. 68% CS, 29% M, 3% PV. Cassis, blackcurrant and fruity aroma. Medium/medium-full body, dry high tannins and good length. VG-O

Saint-Julien
Château Langoa Barton. 13% abv. 65% CS, 30% M, 5% CF. Mid range intensity of colour. Tomato bush aroma. Palate of medium-high tannins, high acid, but balanced. G-VG

Château Leoville Barton. 13% abv. 85% CS, 15% M. Mid range colour. High acid, dusty tannins. Iron filings and leaf. VG

Château Leoville-Las-Cases. 13% abv. 74% CS, 12% M, 14% CF. A wow aroma. Refined oak, blackcurrant. So evocative. Balanced palate, long length, refined, high tannin but fine indeed. VG-O

Pauillac

Château Batailley. 13% abv. 4% M, 94% CS, 2% PV. Meaty, farm and earth aroma. Medium tannins and length. G

Château Lynch-Bages. 13% abv. 72% CS, 20% M, 6% CF, 2% PV. Tomato bush, steam, leaf and cassis. Medium-full body, high dusty tannins and blackcurrants. VG

Château Pichon Baron
. 13% abv. 82% CS, 18% M. Iron earth, cassis, blackcurrant, earthy aroma. High dusty tannins, long length. VG-O

Château Pontet-Canet. 13% abv. 30% M, 65% CS, 4% CF and 1% PV. Earth, blackcurrant, really vivid fruit. Fullish bodied, high tannins, tea leaf and red fruit edge gives unusualness. Good length. G-VG

Sauternes
Château Suduiraut. 13.5% abv. 93% S, 7% SB. Caramel, brown sugar aroma. Full bodied, viscous, medium-long length, fresh acidity. VG

Clos Haut Peyraguey. 13.5% abv. 95% S, 5% SB. Lemon, spice, and seemingly not that much botrytis. Medium-full bodied and mid range length. G

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Wine Reviews

d’Yquem v Rieussec; Chateau d’Yquem 1989 and Chateau Rieussec 1988

The rather fortunate opportunity arose to taste two Sauternes wines blind together from two grand estates – Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Rieussec.  The results were very interesting.  Would the d’Yquem be an unassailable beacon of Sauternes quality?  Would it justify being five times the price of the Rieussec?  Does label matter?  Would the vintage make a difference?  The answers on this tasting were “not compared with the Rieussec”, “no”, “not if both labels are good” and “yes”.  The d’Yquem from the 1989 vintage presented as the fuller bodied, more obvious wine, with evident quality and complexity.  But perhaps not quite exhibiting the intensity and complexity of a great d’Yquem.  Interestingly, I thought it resembled a younger Rieussec vintage.   Conversely, the Rieussec 1988 presented as the more restrained, and possibly more complex wine, giving up its marmalade notes in a quiet but thoughtful and considered manner that suggested a long life ahead.  The 1989 vintage seems to have been a warmer vintage, and 1988 possibly better regarded.

Chateau d’Yquem 1989, Sauternes
Golden in colour.  Full bodied in the glass with notes of oak, butter and caramel.  A very good wine, if rather obvious in bearing.  (Alc: 13.5%, Region: Sauternes, Bordeaux, Rating: Very Good, Drink: now to 2037, Tasted: Mar, 2017)

Read more:
yquem.fr/int-en/

Other vintages reviewed: 

Vintage Rating Review
2008
Outstanding

Chateau Rieussec 1988, Sauternes
Golden in colour.  Aromas of orange peel and marmalade.  A fine boned and delicious interpretation of Sauternes that will beguil and reward drinking now or further cellaring.  A compelling Sauternes.  (Alc: 14.5%, Region: Sauternes, Bordeaux, Rating: Very Good to Outstanding, Drink: now to 2037, Tasted: Mar, 2017)

Read more:
www.lafite.com/en/the-chateaus/chateau-rieussec/

Other vintages reviewed:

Vintage Rating Review
2003
Very Good
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Wine Reviews

A vinous round up

Here is a vinous round up of wine notes that I, for one reason or another, have not been quick enough to type out individual posts on, but nonetheless ought to be commented upon.  There are some very good wines among these.  In re-reading them, it is a bit of vinous Noah’s Ark which, more or less, tracks my own obsession with good wine, no matter where it’s from.

As a brief aside, sometimes I wonder whether short lists such as these are the best way to communicate tasting notes, rather than individual posts per wine.  Feel free to chime in.  They do become harder to search though in this format.

Highlights

Meerea Park Alexander Munro Semillon 2010, Hunter Valley
Pale intensity, lemon-green in colour.  Floral, lemon aromatics.  Bone dry, high acid with a light to medium body.  Lemon, yellow grapefruit and hints of toast and honey.  A delicious Hunter Valley semillon just starting to edge towards maturity.  I need more semillon in my cellar.  Rating: Very Good

Ten Minutes by Tractor Judd Chardonnay 2013, Mornington Peninsula
Benchmark territory here.  Nectarine, peach, cashew and clove aromatics.  Long length, fullish body, all in exquisite balance with a stone fruit overlay.  Delicious and first rate wine.  Rating: Very Good to Outstanding

Ten Minutes by Tractor McCutcheon Chardonnay 2013, Mornington Peninsula
More obvious in style than the Judd.  Still delicious though.  Butter, cashew, vanilla and green mango aromatics.  Palate with between medium and long length and terrifically balanced.  Rating: Very Good

Whites

Clos Clare Watervale Riesling 2015, Clare Valley
Lemon-green in colour.  Steely, lemon and lime, very Clare Valley.  Dry, high acid palate.  Lovely riesling.  I’d buy this.  Rating: Good

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2013, Margaret River
A delicious wine, but evident winemaking oak influence.  Lemon in colour.  Quite aromatic expressions of nectarine, organs peel, cedar and smoke.  The palate is dry with prodigiously long length on the finish, coupled with cedar and stone fruit characters.  Rating: Very Good

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Quite a developed wine, with hints only of lemon and cashew.  The palate is quite subtle too and almost a little neutral.  Subtle length and balance.  Seemed to be missing some spark.  Rating: Good

3 Tales Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough
Soundly made Marlborough sauvignon blanc.  Grass, gooseberry, grapefruit.  Pronounced intensity aromatics and high acid palate.  Exactly what you might expect from a Marlborough SB, a style that is what it is.  Rating: Good

Reds

Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 2013, Central Otago, New Zealand
This wine evolved and improved considerably in the glass.  Residual impression of “not convinced”.  Deeply coloured for pinot noir.  Aromatics of caramel, toffee (the first two unusual for pinot), dark cherry and autumn with time.  The palate reminds of cedar, cherry and plum with good length on the finish.  Complex.  Rating: Good

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Coonawarra
This is a good wine.  Mint, eucalyptus, earth and dark olive aromatics.  Palate with considerable tannin and a full bodied expression of blackcurrant and dark olives.  One for the cellar.  Obvious mint  its only query.  Rating: Good to Very Good.

Chateau Plince Pomerol 2012, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Pleasant wine.  Not ambitiously priced for a Pomerol in Australia.  Cedar, typical merlot characters of plum and fruit cake.  Balanced palate.  Rating: Good

Angullong Crossing Reserve Shiraz 2013, Orange
A lovely wine.  Aromatics of clove,vanilla, plum and wood spice.  Balanced mid weight wine on the palate with good length.  Rating: Good

Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi 2010, Barolo, Italy
2010 is a great vintage in Barolo.  This wine is classic nebbiolo tar and roses although lacking the intensity and structure of some.  Rating: Good

Sparkling

Capella Prosecco NV, Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Italy
Here’s a good Prosecco.  Not all of them are, but this one is.  Apple skins, apple and apricot blossom. Palate somewhere between dry and off dry.  Creamy mousse and pleasant length.  Rating: Good

Torre Blanca Cava NV, Cava, Spain
Lemon and grapefruit aromatics.  Dry palate with a creamy mousse, and minerally after taste.  Fine, but not a style I search for.  Rating: Acceptable

Domaine Pichot Vouvray Brut 2011, Vouvray, France
Golden in colour.  Aromatics of grapefruit, biscuit, almonds and green mango.  Something ever so slightly socky.  Dry, high acid palate.  Delicate.  Rating: Good

Louis Roederer Vintage 2008, Champagne, France
Yeast, biscuit and strawberry aromatics.  High acid palate, racy, resolutely dry and lemon and yellow grapefruited expression.  Second bottle had more charm.  Rating: Good to Very Good

Dessert Wine

Chateau Coutet 2009, Sauternes-Barsac, France
Marmalade, orange peel, long length and pure expression of Sauternes.  Delicious.  Rating: Very Good

Note: some of these wines were samples.

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Wine Reviews

Chateau de Suberne Loupiac 2006

Loupiac is one of the “acks” that surround Sauternes where much very good dessert wine can be had at remarkably fair prices considering the cost and effort it takes to produce high quality wines in this region.  The 2006 Chateau de Suberne can be picked up for a song at under $40 for a 750ml bottle.  It’s a blend of 80% semillon and 20% sauvignon blanc, with aromatics of lemon, grapefruit, honey and orange peel.  The sweetness of the wine on the palate is balanced by fresh acidity and good length.  A lovely wine.

Rating: Good to Very Good
Abv: 14%
Price: $39.70
Source: sample
Vendors and website: http://bordeauxandbeyond.com
Tasted: 2016

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Wine Reviews

Château Guiraud 1989

I don’t tend to drink dessert style wines, and I don’t eat a lot of foie gras, the culinary match of Sauternes.  Wines like this make me wonder whether that’s a substantial error.  The Sauternes region in Bordeaux produces one of the great sweet wine styles of the world with the best examples combining length, power and complexity with refreshing acidity.  Château Guiraud are among the top tier of Sauternes producers, and have produced an outstanding Sauternes here from the 1989 vintage.  The “g” in Guiraud is pronounced, I am reliably informed, as a hard “g” as in “good”, rather than a soft “g” as in “jump”.  Or was it the other way …  Anyway, back to the wine.  The 1989 vintage tasted here has aromatics of caramel, honey and botrytis.  The palate is an exercise in great Sauternes, with long length, cedar, marmalade, spice and caramel flavours and considerable complexity.  Sauternes at its finest.

Rating: Outstanding
Abv: not recorded
Price: $n/a
Vendors and website: http://chateauguiraud.fr/en/
Tasted: 2015

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Wine Reviews

Domaine de Rousset-Peyraguey Délicatesse d’Or 2003

This is an unusual Sauternes from Domaine de Rousset Peyraguey.  Biodynamically tended and from the heatwave 2003 Bordeaux vintage, it presents (tasted blind) with a richness that is almost intoxicatingly voluptuous.  Almost Rutherglen like.  Aromatics of marmalade, orange peel and brown sugar give way to a rich and long caramel infused palate.

Rating: Very Good
Abv: 13.5%
Price: It’s about 27 euros in France.  We may have drunk up the last bottle locally!
Vendors and website: http://www.sauternes-biodynamie.com/
Tasted: 2015

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Wine Reviews

Chateau Climens Sauternes Barsac 1989

The 1989 from Chateau Climens is one of the more complete botyrtis style wines I have tasted.  It is a superb wine, with aromatics of marmalade and orange skins.  The palate sings, with long length, viscous apricot, honey and botrytis characters, and a certain generosity of fruit flavour that is balanced by good acidity.  This is simply an outstanding wine.  If you are wondering why this estate uses both Sauternes and Barsac on the label, estates in the Barsac appellation can use either appellation.

Rating: Outstanding, Abv: 14.3%, Price: n/a, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/, Website: http://www.chateau-climens.fr/en/, Tasted: 2014

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Wine Reviews

A weekly wrap; 16 March 2014

It’s not every week that I can look through a number of subregions in the Languedoc-Roussillon, some stellar old white Burgundies from Chassagne-Montrachet dating from the 1980s and early 1990s, some old Bordeaux from 1986 and 1989, and one of the best vintages of Mount Mary’s cabernet that I’ve tasted.  Being routinely time poor, it will take me a little while to write up each wine, but here are links to the wines posted this week so far:

Very Good
Calmel & Joseph Les Terroirs Faugères 2011, $18

Good to Very Good
Calmel & Joseph Le Pic Pic Saint Loup 2010, $36

Good
Yering Station Village Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, $24
Calmel & Joseph Les Terroirs Minervois 2011, $18

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Wine Reviews

Château Guiraud 1996

Château Guiraud’s 1996 Sauternes has aromatics reminding of peach, apricot and some orange rind.  The palate has high acid, and flavours of lemon, orange rind and not a lot of botrytis.  The length is between medium and long.  Overall, a good Sauternes due to the length and complexity of flavours, but not a great one.  The balance was just slightly out with the high acidity arguably overpowering the fruit.

Rating: Good
Abv: 13.5%
Price: $70+ (half bottle)
Vendors and Website: http://chateauguiraud.fr/en/
Tasted: 2013