Wine Talk

Snooth User: panoskakaviatos

Various Bordeaux: Lynch Bages and Gruaud Larose verticals, 2001 horizontal

Posted by panoskakaviatos, Jun 19, 2012.


This past Saturday, I had the great pleasure to report on three "master classes" at one of Decanter Magazine's Fine Wine Encounters. All three were very successful, in particular a splendid vertical of Lynch Bages, where participants tasted a seductive and delicious 2009, a slightly awkward but promising 2006, which opened up with time in glass, a fine effort for 2003, a classically tasty 2001, a 2000 whose nose was sheer perfume (although the palate is a bit tight for now), a slightly herbaceous 1996 (the only controversial wine of the tasting), a surprisingly fine 1995, which reminded me of the 2000, only more open, a very good 1999 and a sublime 1990, drinking very well today. The white 2011, as with many other whites from this most recent vintage, was very promising. 

Full notes and video:

The Gruaud Larose vertical was done "backwards" as participants tasted the oldest vintages (starting with 1989) first, working their way up to the superb 2009 and 2010. It was a nice way of illustrating the progress at this venerable estate. I really, really like the 2009: it is a wine that is relatively inexpensive among the great classified growths from 2009. The 2010 is in some ways fresher, with a potential for more nuance over time, but the 2009 is just sexy - I drank it with great pleasure at the end of the tasting! Among the other vintages, the 2000 once again proved to be a very fine vintage at this estate, while the 1996 and 1989, though good, were not as pure and impressive as the wines mentioned above. 

Full notes and video:

Finally, Decanter organized an excellent 2001 horizontal of 10 wines from Pessac Leognan. There was more variation here among the estates, but I was most impressed with the Pape Clement (first place) and the Malartic Lagraviere, and with a very classic and tobacco infused Latour Martillac and a fine Larrivet Haut Brion. 



Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 19, 2012.

Nice write up here and at your site.  Always appreciate your insights on Bordeaux.

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 20, 2012.

Funny, we just enjoyed a 1990 Lynch Bages here at the LA tasting, it was a great success - pretty much as advertised. The only other I've tasted was the 2009 earlier this year, and that was might impressive as well from what it showed.

The Gruaud Larose vertical is an interesting story with all of the changes in ownership and in the vineyards. I've seemed to single out St. Julien as a favorite region of the left bank so far, so some of these wines definitely seem to warrant exploration. $65 on the 2005, not half bad.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 20, 2012.

With all the "vintages of the decade/lifetime" since then, those 2005--which are still young--are looking like relative bargains, as I have noted elsewhere.  I've been keeping my eyes open, but I think the cognoscenti who bought them early are not in a rush to hock them in a buyer's market so they can rush out and pay 2, 3, 4 times as much for '09s and '10s en primeur or just released. 

BTW, very little comment here that I have noticed about Latour's decision to "sell no wine before its time," which means (since they sold the 2011 en primeur) potentially forsaking all revenue from their first label for 10 or more years. Of course, Latour is totally out of my reach anyway, but it says something about their desire to protect their brand that's pretty huge.  (Wonder if they have quietly bought back stocks of younger vintages, or are holding them, and will reap a windfall as Latour becomes scarce over the next 10 years.  Pinault didn't get where he is by forsaking profit, even as he built one of the biggest luxury conglomerates anywhere--if not the biggest.)

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 20, 2012.

Yeah, I'm definitely regretting going so wide in 2008...of course justified it at the time, but now that I've found some great 05', I'm kicking myself a bit.

Leoville Poyferre and Montrose at just north of $100.00 I know are going to be great buys for me down the road. I'll probably kick myself that I didn't buy more.

Reply by panoskakaviatos, Jun 21, 2012.

Very keen observations Foxall. In some ways, it is a bit relative. I mean, the 2000s when they were released were far less expensive than the 2005s. Is 2005 so much better than 2000? On the Right Bank, we see very high levels of alcohol, and even though 2000 was not such a great vintage on the Right Bank, the alcohol levels were not as outrageous. On the Left Bank, 2005 seems to have more tannin, more of everything, in fact, and that could mean a longer term vintage. But 2000 is quite fine on the Left Bank: from St Estephe down to Pessac Leognan.

So, comparing 2005 prices with 2009, yes, you make a good point. In terms of price, then. Certainly. But I think 2009 may well be the most sumptuous vintage in a very long time. It is no 2003, which is fig like in too many cases. 2009 is just very ripe, and yet with freshness. So in terms of style, 2005 and 2009 are quite different. 

For me, 2005 is more like 2010, which has more tannic austerity. And power. But 2010 was released at yet higher prices, which explains why importers have unsold stocks of 2010... But 2009s are selling through in spite of the high prices. I most recently convinced myself to purchase a six pack of GPL and Gruaud Larose 2009. I would have obtained Lynch Bages 2009, but it is just too pricey for me. 





Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 21, 2012.

I'm buying several notches down from that, Panos, but those tannic '05s (I'm hoping) will be hitting stride in my lifetime in the form of bottles that are sub $40.  We'll see.  I'm also comparing many of the prices with SHL, which recently could be had for $40 for off-vintages like 2006. Even now, you can get the '05 for around $100, but the '09 is double that.  I have been hearing that the '09 has both that ripeness and freshness, and that's a special combination. 

You also make the point--and it's one I wish I had the time to put to use--that one really has to look at Left v. Right bank at minimum, and carefully at different appellations within them.  Bordeaux is a much bigger place, and produces a lot more wine, than even, say, Napa. 

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