Wine Talk

Snooth User: ChipDWood

2004 Bordeaux... Opinions?

Posted by ChipDWood, Nov 29, 2009.

I've heard some conflicting reports concerning this vintage, and am yielding to my curiousity concerning it.

Has anyone tried any of these wines from 2004? Have any thoughts or opinions on them? It was a dramatically under-reported vintage to say the least (with Parker not even making the trip)- but I'm wondering if politics played a role in muting the quality of the vintage (see the notoriously fraudulent: Jacques Chirac) since "Freedom Fries" became the rage in '04, and Bordeaux may have some secrets hiding from that year waiting to be discovered... for cheap.



Reply by dmcker, Dec 1, 2009.

So are you just idly curious, or are you looking to buy up what you can?

I've heard it referred to most frequently as 'the last affordable vintage'. Quite different from the 2005 (hard to make a bad wine that year) and the 2003 (overbaked and tannic, with few great wines). Often called classic, reserved, oldskool, etc. In what follows I give my impressions of what I've had. Not making any attempt to provide 'tasting notes', because I usually didn't take any, and want to keep this post (relatively) short. I'm making no effort to focus on value for price, and in most cases I didn't buy the wine, anyway, but was served it by others.

The ones from the classified growths I've liked the best have been from the Right Bank or maybe Margaux. Some good ones from Pauillac, too, if not as great a proportion of the whole in that commune being memorable. For some reason I haven't had a lot of whites from that year, either dry or sweet. Been too busy exploring elsewhere, I guess. I really haven't had that many reds, either, because it's still too young a vintage for largescale consumption, IMO.

From the Graves, my best impressions have been of the Dom. de Chevalier, Ch. Haut-Bailley (particularly nice), and on the pricier end La Mission Haut Brion. From Pomerol and St. Emilion I've personally liked Chateaux Canon (somewhat), Figeac (more), La Conseillante (really lovely) and Clinet (I'm particularly looking forward to tasting it in more mature form).

From 'Haut Medoc' and similar unclassified wines I've enjoyed Sociando Mallet (rich fruit, bright flavors, rippling acidity, lovely), Potensac (cool, great texture, still a bit closed down but promising good things), Chasse-Spleen (delightful, seductive fruit) and Poujeaux (mouthfull of fruit and bright acid, peppery, substantial).

From Margaux the chateau itself (just plain beautiful), Palmer, and on occasion Lascombes but at other times I've disliked it intensely. A bit schizophrenic in how it's presented over the past few years. I didn't like that chateau in the '80s and early '90s so have enjoyed its remaking this decade, even though I don't usually like 'modern' Bordeaux makeovers.

From Pauillac I've liked Pontet-Canet (dark, dark wine, still closed nose and palate, but what fruit does get through is huge--looking forward to this 10 or more years down the line), the Mouton (beautiful) and the Lafite (very good, and I generally like it better than Mouton, but this vintage the Mouton seems a shade better). I haven't had enough Latour, but then I can never get enough Latour. It's usually better than its neighbors in good years, and always so in poor years. Nor is it a wine to drink young--at all. The little I've had of '04 doesn't make me want to change that generalization. Of the first growths, and if a really good deal is available, I might try to buy the Mouton. Probably use the money to buy multiple Pontet-Canets, though (and I always try to get the Latours when I can). Of the others, I remember being surprisingly disappointed by the Haut-Batailley, thinking it was overly burnt and chemical and flabby. May have been a bad bottle, but I've only tasted one.

From St Estèphe I remember liking the Cos d'Estournel, and particularly the Montrose. Didn't really like the Meyney. From St. Julien I liked the Gruaud-Larose and Léoville-Poyferré. Again, I haven't drunk enough from this vintage in any commune to really provide any revealing insights.

N.B. *All* of these wines still strike me, as of last tasting, as being quite young. In some cases the nose is still closed, in others the palate, yet in others the oak hasn't quite integrated. *All* will, IMO, benefit from laying down for several years. Buy now, of course, what you can find and afford....

Reply by ChipDWood, Dec 1, 2009.

Dmcker said:

"N.B. *All* of these wines still strike me, as of last tasting, as being quite young. In some cases the nose is still closed, in others the palate, yet in others the oak hasn't quite integrated. *All* will, IMO, benefit from laying down for several years. Buy now, of course, what you can find and afford...."

That was a great review. I've had my mind on trying a couple before jumping into deeper waters, but something like the Les Fort de Latour intrigues me and is much more liked by my wallet.

I wonder if this turns out to be one of those vintages that people drink up rather than sit-upon (see: 2005) for their value and availability.

Always fascinated me how such vintages- the 'drinkers' were the ones in greater rarity than the truly 'greats'.

GREAT read Dmcker, and much appreciated.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 1, 2009.

Thanks for your kind words, Chip. I always like Les Forts, and had a couple from the '90s for Thanksgiving, as part of a very successful meal. It and Pavillon Rouge from Margaux I consider to be generally the best second bottlings out of the top chateaux of Bordeaux, though there can be exceptions depending on the vintage. Since I don't always have access to every second growth perhaps it's better to say the best of the commonly available second growths....

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 1, 2009.

Can't compete with DM on the 04's. I've had a fair handful though and as a vintage I find it to be very nice, somewhat similar to the 2002's, maybe a bit less generous and more structured.

It is certainly a decent vintage, and one worth exploring. I'm particularly partial to 2001 and 1999 in the value priced range. Admittedly I haven't bought any of either for several years, but they were super cheap at one point.

I think there will be deals to be had on any and all 04's, 06's and 07's that come out of the pipeline. 08's, though I've not tasted them, seem to be received with some degree of over enthusiasm, and now that the 09's are here (another vintage of the decade?) keep your eyes peeled and taste taste taste.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 1, 2009.

It will be interesting to see how the '08s are priced in the current economy. Can't see how they can behave monetarily like the '05s, though people are talking about them with similar enthusiasm. Considering the rioting by producers down in Languedoc because the market's not recompensing them as they desire, it'll be interesting to see how the more effete Gauls up in Bordeaux proceed...

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