It’s been a while since I posted on this blog even though my drinking habits grew and expanded with some serious wines. Just could not find the drive to write. This time however I felt compelled to share my experience drinking this absolutely exceptional vintages from Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou.
This is a producer that sits on top of my short list of Bordeaux producers, a winery that I visited in 2011 and was impressed over the last years by the continuous quality of its wines every single vintage. Even in 2013 that seems a bleak vintage for red Bordeaux, Ducru-Beaucaillou managed to produce a wine that is deemed to be the wine of the vintage.
Met last night with 6 friends at La Brasserie Bistro&Lounge in Herastrau to drink these wines. Initially the plan was to have only the 2005 and 2009 that were bought from a store in Monaco, but I volunteered to bring bottles of 2006 and 2010. The two bottles of 2005 and 2009 were uncorked at noon together with 2006, while the 2010 I uncorked personally around 18:30 and left to breath in a decanter until about 9:00 pm.
Just a few things before the tasting notes:
- quality for Ducru-Beaucaillou is at its highest and it has been like this since 2003 when the new management team came on board.
- the 2009 vintage got a perfect 100 points from Robert Parker and at its launch was the most expensive Ducru ever released.
- 2010 was awarded a 98 points by Parker and 100 points by James Suckling. When it was released Bruno Borie made a brilliant move by releasing the wine 10% cheaper in price compared to 2009, giving more confidence to its buyers that it is a well established and customer concerned producer. I know this because I was in Bordeaux when it was released.
- 2005 is a vintage that will be spectacular even over the next 20-30 years from now.
And now the wines:
The bottle of 2006 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou had a more than usual development and the wine felt 10-15 years older than it should actually be. This is not a general case for the 2006 Ducru as this wine can age. I had unfortunately the bad luck to purchase this particular faulty bottle. The wine shows over mature flavors and there is no point rating it as it is just an isolated case. NR
The 2005 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou is a completely different story and from now on things start to get spectacular. This 11 years old wine combines freshness, complexity of aromas that came with aging and fresh fruit, developing nuances with every second and every sip in the glass. Still a bit shy on the nose compared to 2009 or even 2010, but very complete and balanced in every single way. Tannin is polished and velvety and bites the gums only in the long finish, rich fruit merrily gives flesh to its strong tannin structure that does not interfere at all on the palate. Very long. (96-97/100)
2009 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou comes with fireworks, like a carousel that takes your senses to new highs when you least expect it and believe this is it, what else can it be ? This wine evolves in so many nuances as it sits in the glass and breathes that everybody was keeping their nose in the glass continuously like hunting dogs following the paths of their prey. It has everything: rich and lavish fruit, freshness, purity of aromas, complexity and depth, incredible depth actually. Taste is a symphony that swings again between rich sweet fruit, mineral freshness and rich sweet velvety tannin that pinches your gums from time to time just as a reminder of its greatness. This is a King-Kong wine. (99/100)
2010 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou would have certainly benefited from extensive aeration but it did not last much in the glasses. This was the biggest surprise of the night as it changed completely from the first to the last pour in the glasses. Initially shy and not very convincing on the nose, it did benefit from being served from Zalto Bordeaux Grand Cru glasses. Last 2 glasses were spectacular. There is certainly more minerality and freshness, and least lavish fruit here compared to 2009, but there is more precision, focus and intensity on the palate. This has a more classic Bordeaux side, where pencil shavings and paprika step a bit more forward, however fruit seems to be fresher and very well represented. More supple, cleaner, more precision and more serious on the palate. Gravelly tannin, rich red fruit, cassis, graphite, coffee, there are so many things happening here. Another kaleidoscope and multi layered wine that I somehow feel closer to my heart. Very, very long finish as well. (99/100)
There was another bottle of 2000 Vega-Sicilia Unico opened after this wines but it showed a more developed character than normal. I am sure it was just an isolated bottle, as another Unico 2000 that I had in September was excellent.
For food we had fresh pasta ravioli with funghi porcini and osso bucco with fresh shaved white truffles, risotto with funghi porcini, and New Zealand lamb chops. The pairing between 2005 Ducru and lamb chops was perfect. For me lamb and well aged Bordeaux is a match made in heaven.
I had the privilege to attend an exclusive lunch where the theme was as you will read below Italy’s grandest Grand Cru wines. It was more of a Gaja themed line-up of wines completed with some of the most famous and cult like Super Tuscan’s.
All Gaja’s reds from Piedmont region are high priced wines of considerable force and character. Out of their portfolio, 3 wines stand aside even more as they are produced only from 3 separate single vineyards, all being made of 94-95% Nebbiolo with a small touch of Barberba d’Alba that gives them a higher complexity, but on the same time forbids them to carry the Barolo DOCG appellation. These 3 single Cru wines are the highest expression of Gaja’s know how and Nebbiolo’s interpretation coming from this top producer. They also give life to 3 different expressions of terroir diversity that make wine such an interesting beverage.
The red wines line up started with an older mature wine that today at 25 years old is singing, while the rest were very young (2006), powerful and not overly expressive in comparison. As a conclusion these wines need at least 15 years of bottle age to start to open up.
We started with a Champagne Jacquesson Cuvee no 737 made of 70% wines from the 2009 vintage the rest older wines, from Premier and Grand Cru vines from Grande Vallee de la Marne and Cotes des Blancs. It is maturated sur lies in big oak barrels. It is 43% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier, disgorged in November 2013. Color is medium gold with intense mousse. Initially very citrus like fruit, fresh dough and biscuit with a razor sharp palate, but after 30-45 minutes it gets softer with complex aromas of caramel, milk and pear, with a rounder and softer palate. Medium finish. (91/100)
Gaja Sori Tildin 1990
Deep nose, ethereal, rich red fruit, cherries, smoke, game, dry rose petals, balsamic as it aerates. Mineral tones refresh the nose. Rich palate and such a silky smooth mouth feel, lots of red fruits and spices, tar. Very long finish with lingering aftertaste that comes back over and over . Plenty of life ahead, the amplitude of fruit is unbelievable. Very Burgundian like character. 96/100
I was recently invited to attend the anniversary dinner organized by a good friend celebrating his birthday. A wine geek himself and big fan of red Italian and prestige wines, it was no surprise that the red wines tasted were all from Italy. With one exception the rest of the wines were all a first encounter for me.
Tuna tartar, fresh oysters and lobster salad were served with 2004 Cristal Champagne. A pale yellow lemon color with smooth and rich mousse, that opened up in stages on the nose and palate. Fresh dough, citrus fruit and a hint of crushed stones form the medium(+) intense and well developed nose. Medium(+) body, very acidic on the first sip, it opens up with air and becomes rounder, mellower and more enjoyable. Medium(+) finish, with bright citrus fruit, Granny Smith apple acidity and lingering hints of minerals. (92/100)
Served with fresh pasta with butter and white truffles it was 2009 Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte Blanc (Pessac-Leognan). It ranks in the first Top 3 white wines I had this year. The color is pale yellow lemon. The nose shows great Pessac-Leognan typicality with generic smoked vanilla and tropical fruits, but it starts up gradually in intensity. The first nose is shy and it takes about 2 hours to fully reveal its intensity. It’s a different story on the palate: the level of flavor concentration it’s outstanding, you can literally taste fresh vanilla, smoke, fresh tangerines, mango and papaya, pears, peaches and white apricots. Flawless mouth-feel, medium acidity (that’s a surprise and probably that’s why is so enjoyable now), balanced and intense. Long finish, fresh and flamboyant, with plenty of exotic and tropical fruits. I fell in love with it. (97-98/100)
Shifting to reds, the menu moved towards red meat: medium-rare tuna steak with grilled vegetables. Served in parallel there were 2006 Trinoro from Tenuta di Trinoro and 2007 Masseto from Ornellaia. 2006 Trinoro has the nose and mouth-feel of an Amarone. The color is deep dark red garnet. The nose is medium(+) intense, well developed and rich, with unusual Amarone like aromas: chocolate, rum and over ripe black fruits: blackberry, black cherry, cranberry and leather. The taste is full bodied, rich and concentrated, with medium polished tannins, with juicy blackberry, rum and chocolate. Medium(+) finish, black fruit liquor and sweet feel. (89-90/100)
2007 Masseto is a totally different ball game. Tasted blind this could go for a sunny Pomerol. The color is medium red garnet color. Pronounced, elegant, well developed and complex nose, it takes time to open up. A mix of black cherry, plums, chocolate, cedar and graphite are just a few aromas of the complex nose. Full bodied, yet supple and elegant, the wine is a monument of balance and complexity. The high level of polished tannins, the richness and concentration are outstanding. The 15% alcohol is just a number in this case, because the wine has freshness, elegance and a weightless mouth-feel. Long and pronounced finish, with fresh red fruits and coffee. (98/100)
A 2008 Trinoro was also served to see if it has a similar profile of an Amarone like 2006. The color is deep red garnet. The nose is well developed, pronounced, intense and sweet. The ripe black fruit profile is there but manages to preserve freshness and hints of coffee. Full body, high polished and sweet tannins, sweet and juicy blackberry and cranberry, dark chocolate, plums, but still fresh. Long finish, lingering juicy black fruits. (93/100)
Dinner was finished with a NV Billecart-Salmon Rose to wash the palate. Pink salmon color, intense mousse. Biscuit, bright red fruits and grapefruit, fresh and citrus palate, medium finish. (90-91/100)
All 3 wines have been opened 1 day in advance and sealed back with a vacuum cork.
Luce Brunello din Montalcino 2005
Dark red garnet color. Well developed and expressive nose, sour-sweet on the nose, intense aromas of black cherry preserves, cloves and anise, plums, sweet tobacco, leather and a touch of earth, enough to make it interesting, layered and complex. Fresh and supple in the mouth, assertive tannins but yet smooth texture, tobacco and red cherry palate. Long finish with assertive and drying finish that give freshness and aromatic black tea aftertaste. Structured, layered, with enough flesh and ripe tannins to evolve well. Plenty of life ahead. 14.5% alc (92-93/100)
2006 Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Lamaione
100% Merlot and considered a small Masseto, this wine sells for almost less than half of both Luce and Sugarille and still manages to play in the same league.
Saturated ruby red color. Well developed, open and expressive nose, it grows deeper and layered with aromas of bright red cherry fruit and red cherry jams, mushrooms, sweet tobacco and dry plums. It has the smoothest and velvetiest texture of all 3 wines, ripe, sweet and almost fully integrated tannins compared to Luce, fleshy, round and yet balanced and fresh considering its 15% alc, this is a really impressive and complex expression of Merlot. Juicy blackberry fruit, coffee and dark chocolaty palate. Long finish, this is were tannins are assertive and show their ripeness the best, with black tea and dark chocolate lingering flavors. This has hidden potential to grow more interesting. 15% alc (93-94/100)
2004 Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Sugarille Brunello di Montalcino
Dark red garnet color. Well developed and very expressive now, fresh, minty and sweet nose, it is very floral driven, dominated on the front by fresh black currant buds, violets and hawthorn aromas. It gains depth with aeration and shows amazing purity and definition of red cherry and black cherry fruit, tobacco and earth. Complex and probably the most expressive of all 3 wines. Full body and yet supple and smoothly textured, fully ripe and perfectly rounded tannins, it shows juicy blackberry and macerated black cherry palate. It is in the long finish that tannins are assertive, with black tea leaves and dark chocolate aftertaste. Wine of the tasting without question. 14.5% (94/100)
Aseara am participat la o degustare pe care o pot inscrie fara nici o ezitare in categoria “Top wine tastings of 2012” daca m-as gandi sa fac un bilant al acestui an. La fel ca si anul trecut (se pare ca este o traditie deja) evenimentul a fost organizat de Vinexpert impreuna cu Davino si gazduit de Wine bar-ul lor din Dorobanti. Asa cum s-a afirmat in deschiderea evenimentului, Vinexpert urmareste sa organizeze o degustare speciala ca ultim eveniment de sfarsit de an. Anul trecut aceeasi ocazie a reprezentat o verticala de 6 ani diferiti de Domaine Ceptura Rouge de la Davino. Anul acesta au fost mai putine vinuri, dar si mai spectaculoase.
Evenimentul si vinurile au fost prezentate de insusi proprietarul cramei, dl Dan Balaban, care a explicat foarte detaliat conditiile de recolta ale fiecarui an, schimbarile pe care le-a intreprins crama in evolutia vinului de la an la an, s-au comentat vinurile si s-a raspuns la intrebarile din public.
Primul vin degustat este rezultatul unui “accident”, in sensul ca la o recenta verificare a stocurilor a fost descoperit un palet de sticle de Merlot vinificat special si uitat intr-un colt al cramei. Conform domnului Balaban, Davino produce pentru clienti speciali la cerere vinuri din soiuri pure de struguri. Este cazul si acestui Davino Merlot (Rezerva) 2007 care a fost oferit si va fi gasit in exclusivitate in reteaua magazinelor Vinexpert la pretul de 111 Ron.
Desi servit putin prea cald fata de temperatura optima, Davino Merlot (Rezerva) 2007 prezinta un nas evoluat, complex, cu arome de fructe rosii confiate, gem, prune uscate, fum, eucalipt. Un vin extractiv, structurat, cu note de cafea, tanin usor astringent, arome de gem de cirese negre amarui in finalul mediu spre lung. Servit la temperatura ideala va surprinde prin complexitatea sa. 13.2% alc (90/100)
Flamboyant-ul reprezinta vinul rosu de top al acestui producator, realizat doar in anii cei mai buni. Se folosesc cele mai bune parcele de Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot si Feteasca Neagra, este maturat pana la 10 luni in stejar pur romanesc din diferite zone ale tarii, macerare indelungata pe pielitele strugurilor (in jur de 28 de zile), rezultatul fiind o capacitate foarte buna de invechire dar si faptul ca vinurile au nevoie de o perioada mai indelungata de timp pentru a se deschide.
Davino are in plan constructia unei noi crame in Ceptura care va oferi posibilitatea pe viitor a unei maturari mai indelungate a vinurilor. Deja acest proces de prelungire a maturarii in butoaie de stejar a fost inceput in 2006 prin aparitia noilor vinuri Rezerva rosu produs pana acum in 2006, 2007 si 2009.
Verticala de Flamboyant a inclus vinurile din 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009 si in premiera 2010 care va fi lansat cel mai probabil pana in Paste anul viitor. Flamboyant a fost realizat pentru prima oara in 2002 (ca experiment) intr-un lot de doar 600 de sticle care nu a fost comercializat. In 2004, 2005 si 2008 nu a fost produs.
Nas evoluat, in proces de maturare, arome de fructe rosii si negre, confiate, prune, o nota de bacon, fresh, ia timp sa se deschida, complex si profund. Corpolent, rotund, carnos, puternic dar in acelasi timp cizelat, arome de gem de fructe rosii, visine, tanin polisat, dulce si copt, se deschide in etape si surprinde la fiecare inghititura. Expresie foarte profunda de fruct rosu cu puritate a aromelor, condiment si visina in diverse stadii: coapta, gem, putreda. Prezinta un adevarat caleidoscop de arome si te incita sa-l descoperi. Final lung, polisat, cu tanin dulce pe gingii. Este recomandata deschiderea lui cu 24 de ore inainte de a fi consumat pentru a oferi expresia maxima. Vinul prezinta o tinerete de invidiat si prezinta un potential de pastrare de cel putin inca 10 ani. In momentul in care s-a degustat acest vin s-a facut liniste completa in sala. (92-93/100)
Nas evoluat, cu semne de maturitate, aminteste izbitor de buchetul unui Bordeaux vechi de calitate (1995-1996) care a evoluat frumos la sticla; iodat, deschis, complex, cu arome de cedru si busuioc, fruct rosu perfect copt, spice, fresh, pruna uscata, deosebit de expresiv. Stil clasic Bordeaux, extractiv, cu prospetime remarcabila, scortisoara, visina putreda, cedru, structurat, viu, cu mineralitate ce confera prospetime texturii, final lung, spicy, proaspat, tanin ferm. Un vin elegant si expresiv, feminin si in antiteza completa daca-l comparam cu 2003-ul. O evolutie foarte buna care m-a facut sa-l plasez (ca preferinta proprie) in fruntea degustarii din aceasta seara datorita accesibilitatii sale. (92/100)
Nas evoluat, nu la fel de complex ca cele dinainte, mentolat cu arome de busuioc uscat, piele, spice mai pronuntat, mai putina Feteasca Neagra in cupaj ca in alti ani dar componenta condimentata specifica FN iese mai pregnant in evidenta datorita anului cald si coacerii depline; arome de fructe rosii coapte, confiate, gem, visina si o usoara adiere de violete. Structurat, cu tanin viu, dulce si ferm, cafea, un vin plin, ceva mai astringent, mai inchis pe palatin. Final lung, proaspat, tanin care-si manifesta prezenta din plin si gem de fruct rosu. Vinul are nevoie de mai mult timp pentru a capata expresivitatea unui 2006. (90/100)
Vinul e la fel de interesant ca acum o saptamana cand l-am degustat direct la crama. Nas fin, piper verde, tutun, piele, extract puternic, structurat, echilibrat, taninuri masive si ferme, putin uscate, dulceata de visine si cirese negre, piper verde, aciditate proaspata, final lung, ferm in postgust, cu tanin dulce pe gingii. Vin cu rezerve de arome care va avea o evolutie probabil mult mai spectaculoasa decat 2003-ul de azi. Din nou as recomanda achizitia de 2009 si pastrarea lui pentru ca in 10 ani vinul va fi si mai spectaculos. (92-93/100)
Nas bine evoluat pentru un vin atat de tanar, cu arome de stejar extrem de bine lucrate, intens, concentrat, arome de piele, trufe, visina coapta, carne de vita cruda, gust plin, structurat, masiv, iti da senzatia ca musti din el, fruct copt-gem pe palatin, final lung, tanin prezent usor uscat dar lasa dulceata pe gingii. Un vin tanar, intens, extractiv, final lung, structura tanica masiva dar taninurile sunt coapte si dulci. Granulatie fina a texturii cu senzatie de pudra fina de cacao. Recunosc ca mi-e foarte greu sa acord un rating acestui vin, dar trebuie specificat ca are toate atributele pentru a depasi bariera superioara de 90/100 si urca mult peste: complexitate, profunzime, structura, final lung.
O degustare eveniment care a incheiat in forta seria de evenimente marca Vinexpert.
I had a weekend full of wines. Started on FRI evening with this 2004 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier rouge that shows extremely well and reminds of a Chateauneuf du pape.
2004 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier rouge
Deep dark, red garnet color. A well developed and youthful nose, intense, it has the aromatic profile of a quality Chateauneuf du pape. It shows a freshness that I found in a 2004 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape. The nose has Grenache profile written all over it and is filled with liquorice, garrigue, raspberry and red cherry jam, nutmeg and game. Full in the mouth, ripe, structured and balanced, it has serious consistency and flesh, with a long spicy red fruit jam aftertaste. A wine that stays very well on its feet, showing good freshness, flesh and spark. No hurry to drink it on the short term. 14.5% (91/100)
On SAT evening had dinner with a good friend at La Cantine de Nicolai and had a small bottle of Meursault by Drouhin and an old school 1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. The 2006 Joseph Drouhin Meursault from a 0.375 bottle shows a developed nose, with plenty of butter, roasted almonds and richness.
It is the second time I visit La Cantine de Nicolai after almost 2 years. I remember the first time I was there I was eager to try one of their desserts that looked so good on photos. Unfortunately it was not available on that day. It took me 2 years, but I finally got it.
1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904
Uncorked, decanted and left it to breath for 30 mins, which was probably not enough but we were really thirsty. Saturated ruby red color with minor brick on the rim. A well developed nose, intense aromas of dill and orange are dominant on the aromatic profile, and, as the wine opens up, cinnamon, bright red fruits and tobacco come out. A wine with great freshness, fresh acidity, structured, balanced, elegant, and a long finish, spicy and fresh. Everything seems to be in the right place with this wine, and at 15 years old, the wine feels ageless, a plateau where it will probably stay for a very long time. I like the freshness and the complexity of a well aged Old School Rioja. (91/100)
We also had a Champagne Duval Leroy Brut Rose (89/100): clean, fresh, mineral, fine bubbles and so easy to drink at Le Manoir’s wine bar near Ateneu and finished the night with a Dessert Stirbey.
SUN was calm and quite, how else could you spend the first day of cold weather and rain of this winter. Cooked at home some fresh pasta with tomato sauce and shrimps that were highly appreciated by my companion. Also tried a 2011 Ceptura Rose by Davino, a deep rose colored wine that sits very well in its price category and delivers. Even if it shows 14.4% alcohol, the wine is balanced, with intense small red berries aromas and some residual sugar that provides body and consistency to its medium finish. This is a rose suitable for this cold weather.
I tasted a few Bordeaux wines last weekend, coming from different producers representative to their appellation: Ch l’Arrosse from St-Emilion, Reserve de la Comtesse the second wine of Ch Pichon Lalande from Pauillac, Ch Lascombes from Margaux, Ch Phelan-Segur from St-Estephe and Fugue de Nenin (2007) the second wine of Ch Nenin from Pomerol. There are some words to be said before going to the actual tasting notes.
Some of these producers: Arrosse, Phelan-Segur and Lascombes, use massive, heavy bottles, the ones that Ducru-Beaucaillou (using since 2003) and Cheval Blanc use, also very similar to New World Argentinian Malbec special bottling. Having a bold bottle will it make a bigger impact on the consumer and sell better ? Because from the transportation point of view, the cost will increase, making the wine more expensive, while environment friendly wine drinkers will not appreciate it either. Why change a tradition of almost 100 years that worked perfectly well. Working on the cork, now that’s a different story.
Aside from the 2007 Fugue de Nenin Pomerol which was quite modest and probably not getting any better with aging, the 2008 is a vintage that is drinkable already and also being able to hold well. Most of the wines I tasted have good extraction, pleasant fruit and approachable tannins, with very nice drink-ability.
The star of this line up was Chateau Lascombes 2006, and not necessarily because of the older vintage.
Reserve de la Comtesse 2008 Pauillac
Deep red garnet color. Fresh red fruits, cedar nose, very minty and fresh. Structured, mouth filling, full, coffee, tobacco, firm grip, yet still minty and fresh. Medium plus finish, with coffee and red currant aftertaste. Harmonious overall. (88-89/100)
Deep red garnet color. Fresh, minty, with warm forest floor, a light rusty note that disappears quickly after aeration and a hint of meat mixed with fresh red fruits. Also a good Cabernet Sauvignon like profile with shades of green vegetables. Full, structured, firm tannins, yet pleasant and welcoming, expressive flavors of espresso on the palate. Medium plus finish, chewy tannins, lingering flavors. Classic wine. (89/100)
Chateau Lascombes 2006 Margaux
The wine of the line up. Surprising blend for a Margaux: 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot.
Deep red garnet color. Complex and a step above all the others from the get go, more expressive, beautiful minerals, enticing: graphite, smoke, cassis, blackcurrant and meat. Mineral palate, full, lush, convincing, a really nice wine, complex. Medium plus finish, mineral and red fruit. (91/100)
Chateau l’Arrosse 2008 Saint-Emilion
Red garnet color. Cedar, dry plums, vanilla, red fruits, feminine, rather restraint on the nose. Completely the opposite in the mouth: full, plump flavors on the palate, with plums, red fruits, a touch of figs, grippy tannins and also a bit of heat. Medium finish, with roasted coffee and hints of oak. (88-89/100)
If Lascombes was the best wine of the line up, the best quality/price ratio is Ch Phelan Segur.