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4 vintages of Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou

December 16, 2016 Leave a comment

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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:

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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

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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)

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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)

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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.

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Dinner with Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon, Unico, Evangile and more

March 15, 2016 Leave a comment

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Met my usual group of wine aficionados again last night for dinner and had some amazing wines. Started with this sublime vintage rose Champagne that I remember having last time about 1-2 years ago, but from a different vintage, 2000 if I remember correctly. We had all Champagne’s from the Zalto white wine glass that I find it complements a lot the way Champagne tastes like. Probably the only issue here would be that it does not stimulate enough the bubble persistence as the regular sparkling glass does. As aromas are concerned, I believe it focuses very well the full aromatic profile of the Champagne.

2002 Champagne Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon Rose has a light coppery color with small and rich bubbles. This is a Champagne to keep in the glass and smell it over and over as it changes its aromas constantly. It starts fresh and classy with small red berries, dough and a salty seashell aroma, and, with air, it develops pomegranate and pink grapefruit. Gracious but powerful in the mouth, it has a strong backbone of acidity and discreet tannin, with layers of flavors that build like a skyscraper on the palate, creating a sense of immersion and depth. Long finish that goes on for good seconds. This is a very elegant and classy rose that I absolutely love. (96/100)

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First red of the night was a high roller that got awarded a perfect 100 points by the Wine Spectator. The 2005 Chateau L’Evangile was decanted for about 2 hours before being consumed. The color is dark red garnet. Nose is already expressive and very complex, with a ripe but fresh profile. Lavish aromas of plums, sour cherry, dark chocolate and ink build a complex aromatic profile that just continues to develop new aromas in the glass. Silky smooth on the palate already in spite of its high velvety tannin structure, it is profound and rich, with lush flavors of chocolate and black cherry, gravel minerality and paprika. Long finish, combines fruit and bitter sweet chocolate in the lingering aftertaste. It disappeared from the glasses fairly quickly. (97/100)

A friend said that today it is at its peak and there is not more to develop from now on. I believe it will be on this plateau for many years to come and that it will develop into an even more interesting wine. Future will tell.

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2010 seems to be THE vintage for Brunello di Montalcino. I believe most of the wines coming from reliable producers will develop and surprise wine drinkers in time. It should be a strong addition for the cellar.

Pieve Santa Restituta Sugarille Brunello di Montalcino 2010 from Gaja is a youthful and powerful wine today. It sports a deep red garnet color. Even after 3 h in a decanter the wine continues to be shy in revealing its full aromatic profile. There are of course fruity aromas of black cherry, sour cherry and blackberry, well complemented by spices and blue flowers, but you can feel that not everything is disclosed yet. On the palate it is powerful, with assertive velvety tannin well dressed into rich layers of red and black fruit and spices, with fresh aromatic herbs that give depth. Long finish, tannin is assertive again and indicates patience is required. (94/100)

IMG_20160314_215612Also decanted for about 3-4 h, the 2007 Vega-Sicilia Unico is a wine to keep on smelling and discovering in the glass. It has a deep red garnet color, and since my last encounter this bottle shows a slightly different aromatic profile. Yes the oak is still there but not that prominent, and there’s a new layer of dill and orange peel that did not feel it before. Rich and powerful on the palate. (94/100)

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Two more Champagne’s were served. A 2003 Dom Perignon Rose that has a deep red onion peel color with abundant mousse, a rich and vinous mouth-feel. It feels denser and has a completely different personality compared to the previous Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon. If that was ethereal, the Dom Perignon Rose is robust and swings in full throttle. (95-96/100)

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Last wine of the night and a first time for me was the 2004 Champagne Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. It has a light yellow lemon color, with tiny and rich bubbles. Fresh but complex on the nose, it has lots of citrus fruit, brioche and nuts, with a rich palate of pear and Granny smith apples, mouth watering acidity and appealing elegance. Long and refreshing citrus fruit finish. (94/100)

That was the end of a fun and engaging dinner with friends.

Lovely lunch with 2 from Davino and a Vega-Sicilia Unico

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Has a lovely lunch about 2 weeks ago with a couple of friends and tasted some top Romanian wines and an iconic Spanish wine from Vega-Sicilia. There is a huge gap price wise between these wines: Spanish vs Romanian, and one has to think thoroughly if it is worth it. I have a few friends that are Unico ambassadors by choice, but hey who wouldn’t like to drink Valbuena, Unico or Reserva Especial every day ?

Vega-Sicilia Unico 2007 was opened already for 24 h and 1 glass was taken out. So, properly aerated. Even at this stage the oak influence is quite assertive both on the nose and the palate. There is rich and elegant fruit here, it has depth on the nose, but it does not confirm yet the same sheer class on the palate. It is young but I do not see it at the same level as the 2000 or 2004. The oak flavors seem to upfront for now. (94/100)

Davino Flamboyant 2010 was decanted for about 45 minutes and drank over 1 h. Deep dark red color. Its aromatic profile resembles a Super Tuscan, with the sunny ripe and spicy black fruit. Rich on the palate, high tannin that needs big food to feel smooth, lots of black fruit and spicy. Medium to long finish. (92/100)

Davino Rezerva Red 2010 was also decanted for 45 minutes and drank over 2 h. This is closer to a Bordeaux. There is more freshness and red fruit here than in Flamboyant. It has a paprika, black currant and meat stock profile. A bit more flesh, refreshing tannin that seems to be smoother on the palate. Longer finish with lots of dark chocolate. Loved the freshness here. (93/100)

 

Classy Spain

January 8, 2015 Leave a comment

Over the last few months I drank several wines from Spain, most of them worthy of being mentioned. It is always interesting to see how one single grape: Tempranillo, can show so many and different facets depending on the climate where it was grown, yields or wine-making style. Known more as providing the cheapest wines of Europe, Spain has its own jewels of the crown.

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Termanthia is produced from a small parcel of 4.78 ha of very old Tempranillo from a high altitude – 120 years old pre-filloxera vines, from Toro. Currently this winery is owned by the LVMH group that also owns Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux.

Termanthia 2009 is an opaque, dark red colored wine. Highly complex and elegant nose, with very intense and pure aromas of ripe black forest fruits, dark chocolate, smoke, cured meats and licorice, that constantly evolves in the glass and impresses at every sip. The palate is dense, fleshy and concentrated, with refreshing, silky smooth but assertive tannins, vibrant acidity and a whole kaleidoscope of layers and flavors. The finish is very long, savory dark chocolate with blackberry essence lingering well in the aftertaste. There is a natural elegance in this wine that I found in many of the First Class French or Italian wines that is just astonishing. Nature’s own elegance. (96/100)

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Two older wines from Rioja made by what are known to be classic Old School producers: Lopez de Heredia and Muga, the wines cannot be more different. These 2 wines were drunk over 2 weeks distance.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Cosecha de 1994 has a pale medium ruby red color with a brick rim. This is a highly sensual and elegant wine, with a complex and layered aromatic profile that combines pure dill and fresh orange peel, sweet ripe cherries and currants, with a light touch of oriental spices and tertiary notes of undergrowth, tobacco and old leather. Mature, very feminine and almost weightless on the palate, the fully resolved velvety tannins and its vibrant acidity make a supple wine with pronounced flavors of tobacco, spices and red fruits. Finish is medium to long, very refreshing. I can see this wine pairing very well with a more delicate game dish – partridge, and even with a red meat fish. (92/100)

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Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1991 came even as a bigger surprise. In spite of being 3 years older than Tondonia, Muga feels at least 7-8 years younger. The color is deep ruby red. It takes about 2-3 h for the wine to open up completely – the wine is good to drink even after 20 min, and when it does it is a whole concert. A youthful complex and intense nose with rich aromas of ripe red cherry and strawberry, orange peel, sweet spices, pipe tobacco and old leather, with very delicate shades of dill. Full bodied, smooth like silk, a lush palate and plenty of vibrant and spicy red fruits. Medium to long finish, fresh and compelling. This feels as an immortal wine that will stay on this plateau of drinking decades from now. (94/100)

The most interesting Spanish wine I had in 2014 was at a friend’s birthday in October when a Magnum of Vega Sicilia Unico 1996 was popped. This wine came after a bottle of Krug Rose and while the expectations were high, the wine never ceased to amaze.

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1996 Vega Sicilia Unico has a dark red garnet color. After almost 4 h sitting in the decanter, the wine shows a youthful and maturing nose, highly complex and profound, with layers and layers of pure and intoxicating aromas of fresh blackberries and black cherries, refined oak and tobacco, a compelling freshness given by assertive orange rind and dill aromas, with savory cured meats and beef blood. Full and very dense palate, assertive smooth tannins and very detailed nuances of black fruits, spices and dark chocolate. Finish is very long, bitter espresso and sweet cranberry essence making a refreshing aftertaste that goes on and on. This is a monumental wine. (97/100)

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Aalto PS 2011 is probably one of the best deals from Spain for wines under 100 Eur. I had this wine 2 or 3 times last year and I always enjoyed it more even when drank with more expensive wines like Artadi Pagos Viejos or Cirsion from Roda. It’s full and expansive on the palate, with classy ripe black fruits, smart oak and refreshing espresso and dark chocolate aromas, while the finish is long and layered. (93-94/100)

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