More notes on the vintage 2005 wines I tasted during the aforementioned UGC Tasting:
Ch. du Tertre (5th Growth, 1855) - Strange performance: thin, hints of pine and plastic to the tightly closed sweetish red berries. Probably an off bottle or severely shut down, I'm not sure, but I tried it twice. Judgment reserved.
Ch. Siran (Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel) - Manila & Bordeaux's own Edouard Miailhe was doing the pouring of the wine from his family's over-performing château. I had tasted this twice before: mid-2006 in Bordeaux and a month-and-a-half ago in Makati. The third time at the UGC in HK, my latest notes still apply, thus:
When the youthful alcohol finally subsided, it released a rich, spicy aroma that called to mind crushed, ripe blood-red wild berries over ripe plum, blackberry compote and minerals, with hints of camphor, Spanish cedar and iron.
In the mouth, the red-berries were pure and rich with a touch of sweetish ripeness, underpinned by cassis, dark plum, touches of dark spice, licorice, with espresso, mocha and pine needle nuances, subdued minerals and earthy whispers of iron and leather.
Evidently less burly than in July 2006, with the royal red berries coming through the black fruit elegantly. A lot of the chunkiness has gone, the wine has smoothed out immensely, though, of course, still youthfully tannic. Full-bodied, well-rounded, powerful with an incredibly long finish. I think the balance of power and grace is quite notable and believe this will be very long-lived. I'm talking many decades.
NB: The day after, I was supposed to meet Edouard for lunch back at the Exhibition Center from where we were to proceed to Pacific Place mall in Central for lunch and to check out the Watson's Wine Cellar there.
I proceeded to the display center of L.D. Vins. Run by an old family friend of Edouard, (Baron) Frédéric de Luze of Château Paveil de Luze, L.D. Vins is a major negociant firm that supplies much Bordeaux wine to US retailers including one of my favorite wine shops, KL Wines in San Francisco. It was very good to see Frédéric again. Ever dapper and gracious, he never fails to invite me to his parties when I am in Bordeaux.
Ch. Kirwan (3rd Growth, 1855) - Toasty oak, vanilla are at the forefront of cherries, cassis and plummy undertones. Not very deep or distinctive, but there's nothing wrong here. It is a pleasing wine which still has some weight to gain in bottle. This will likely become a dinner crowd drinker early (i.e., in 4-5 more years).
Ch. Marquis de Terme (4th Growth, 1855) - Notably well-knit even at this early stage and definite typicity - it speaks of its terroir. Nice, silky, smooth texture, good extraction with a healthy middle and good weight. Not screaming its favors, but subtle and understated. This is a style I appreciate.
Ch. Dufort Vivens (2nd Growth, 1855) - Young smoky cedar over sweetish/minerally plummy red fruit, raspberry and a touch of herbaceousness. Deftly executed, refined flavors. Notable balance and elegant finish. Good show indeed.
Ch. Dauzac (5th Growth, 1855) - A very charming and pleasantly typical Margaux, if not particularly distinguished. It has a carefree touch to its nicely rounded, medium body. No problems here. If found at US$40-45 per bottle, I'd strike.
Ch. Branaire (Duluc-Ducru) (4th Growth, 1855) - Still quite mute now and difficult to dissect. It does, however, have good breadth, if a bit muddled, but one can detect the hallmark chocolate notes of Branaire-Ducru. It has a lot of coming-together to do, but I predict it will grow up to be a pretty good wine.
Ch. Coutet (1st Growth, 1855, Barsac) - Typical Barsac, i.e., lighter-framed, brighter flavors and lighter on its feet than its "cousins" from Sauternes. More viscous than usual (likely the vintage speaking), sugary syrup laced with peach, slightly candied apricot and lemon drop candy. I'd have appreciated a bit more acidity, but this is definitely a charming wine - one I wouldn't mind having a few half-bottles of at home as good, casual dessert wine. Happily, it may be found at under $30 for a regular bottle in certain US wine shops.
Ch. de Rayne-Vigneau (1st Growth, 1855, Bommes/Sauternes) - Generous, yet refined spiced, tangy botrytis with a much more perfumed nose than the Coutet. Though fuller/heftier, it also has the necessary acidity that strikes a fine balance. I've seen half-bottles (375ml) for sale in California for under $25. It's a definite no-brainer at that price. A definite buy.
Ch. Guiraud (1st Growth, 1855, Sauternes) - More definitive attack and better over-all definitiveness than the previous two wines. There is also healthier balancing acidity that suggests, to me better comparative age-worthiness as well. I've always been a fan of this château, though. For a reasonably-priced and consistently well-performing Sauternes, its difficult to beat.
Ch. Doisy Daëne (2nd Growth, 1855, Barsac) - At best, a pretty lively and pleasant wine with obvious toastiness to its wood and decent acidity (the phrase "damned by faint praise" comes to mind). As I've generally found with the wines I've tried from this château, though it is almost always pleasing and easy to like, it lacks material depth and complexity. I'd happily accept a glass if offered, but I'm not buying any.
Reds From Less Famous Appellations of Bordeaux:
Ch. Coufran (Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois, St-Seurin-de-Cadourne) - Owned and run by Edouard's cousin, Eric, this château, typical of other Miailhe family owned/run chateaux (e.g., Siran and, until recently, Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande), uses a higher percentage of merlot than many châteaux in their respective areas. This unassuming wine, though still needing at least 2-3 more years of bottle-age to come together, displays well its flavors of mildly earthy ripe dark fruit/cassis over plum on a medium body with hints of leather. Very accessible and user-friendly (yet maintaining its sense of terroir), at under $30 per bottle, it would be good for restaurants, larger parties and/or casual evening drinking.
Ch. Cantemerle (5th Growth, 1855, Macau, Southern Médoc) - Too closed and difficult to judge at this point. Judgment reserved.
Ch. Chasse-Spleen (Moulis en Médoc, Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel) - A distinct, sweetish herbaceousness to the fruit (in both the nose and on the palate) makes this lithe, light-side-of-medium-framed wine definitely entertaining. The fans of this well-respected cru bourgeois will be happy that its 2005 vintage is available at under $30 per bottle.
Ch. Poujeaux (Moulis en Médoc, Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel) - At this point, all I can say is that it is very charming medium-bodied wine with notable balance (not over-done or over-ripe). Still quite reticent, it is very difficult to judge now, knowing that this château usually has good depth and suppleness to its wines, as well as dependable ageing capability. Judgment reserved.
Ch. Fourcas-Dupré (Listrac-Médoc, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur) - Entertaining nose with truffle whispers over herbaceaous light cassis and a touch of jasmine tea to it, all of which is mirrored on the palate in a light-side-of-medium body. There is a lot of flavor in its lithe body. Quite charming.