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2011 UGC Bordeaux Tasting: 2008 Vintage

2011 January 22


2011 UGC DE BORDEAUX TASTING: 2008 VINTAGE – Palace Hotel, San Francisco, California (1/21/2011)

Another beautifully organized, very enjoyable visit from the members of the Unions des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, making their tour with the ’08 vintage (except for one Château that missed the memo on the vintage) to San Francisco, L.A., Chicago, Boston and New York City. I always enjoy this event, as it is unparalleled in giving one the opportunity to compare a wide group of producers, organized by appellation, across an entire vintage. There is no other large scale traveling tasting like this that I can think of that happens regularly that gives one such a complete picture of the vintage, in an important region like Bordeaux. And the venue, this time, was ideal: the Palace Hotel Ballroom provides an elegant and beautiful setting, and the temperature was pretty much ideal (unlike the SF venue a couple years back).

This year, 95 producers were represented at the San Francisco edition of the event, giving one the opportunity to taste 108 wines (including both the Blancs and Rouges from Graves and Pessac-Léognan producers). I was able to taste through everything in about a three and a half hour period. I had also bought a ticket for the K&L evening version of the event, that is open to the general public, so came back for about an hour of that, to taste back through my top scoring wines of the afternoon (it’s always helpful to re-check impressions) and all the Sauternes again. My conclusion on the vintage from this tasting is that it is a relatively light vintage that favored the Left Bank, particularly St. Julien and Pauillac. There is less concentration in this vintage than average, and low acidities in many cases (including a number of the Sauternes). For those of us who prefer lighter, more food friendly Bordeaux, there are a number of attractive wines in this vintage that do have good acidity and balance that will afford good early drinking, and that will probably be showing up at pretty reasonable prices, compared to what we’ve been seeing from Bordeaux in recent years. For more detail by appellation, see the notes and summaries below. My favorite red of the tasting was the very distinctive Gruaud Larose, which I rated 93+ pts. My favorite white Bordeaux was a usual suspect, the regularly excellent Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. My favorite Sauternes was Château Guiraud.

Most of the wines in this tasting are already quite approachable, and should be good to go with another year or two of bottle age, with some exceptions as noted. I am presenting the notes below in basically the order in which I usually taste these wines, an order which is facilitated by the way the tables and tasting notebook is organized: Graves Blancs (I taste the Graves Reds at the end, but list them with the whites for the reader’s convenience), Right Bank reds, rest of the Left Bank reds and then the Sauternes.

Bordeaux Blancs and Reds – Graves, Pessac-Léognan


Graves and Pessac-Léognan were well represented at this tasting, and I always enjoy the opportunity to taste through the Bordeaux Blancs from this appellation. A number of us were concerned about the oak level on many of the whites. I tend to prefer Blancs that let the Semillon aspect of the usual Sauv Blanc/Semillon blend show through. As mentioned above, my very favorite Blanc was the Chevalier, followed by the Smith Haut Lafitte. Most disappointing among the whites was the oaky Pape Clément.

On the red side in this appellation, there was not that much that stood out, as compared to some of the successes of the vintage from St. Julien and Pauillac. The best among these reds for me was the Château de Fieuzal for its balance and solid fruit.

  • 2008 Château Bouscaut Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Peach, mineral, apple nose; tight, kiwi, tart peach palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (50/50 Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Bouscaut – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Very dark red violet color; tart plum, black fruit nose; tart plum, black fruit palate with depth; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Carbonnieux Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Lemon, green herb, witch hazel, lime nose; tangy, tasty, green fruit, mineral palate with good acidity; medium finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Carbonnieux – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Very dark red violet color; ripe currant, oak nose; tight, tart currant, oak palate; medium finish 86+ pts. (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Château de Chantegrive Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves
    Nice herbal, oily, Semillon nose; on the ripe side, green fruit, lemon grass, mineral palate, lacking some acidity; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Château de Chantegrive – France, Bordeaux, Graves
    Very dark red violet color; appealing cassis, tart plum nose; plush, ripe cassis, plum, oak palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Lovely, focused, apple, subtle oak, peach nose; tasty, rich, tight, tart peach, lime, mineral palate with balance; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Domaine de Chevalier – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Opaque red violet color; intriguing, tart black fruit graphite, sweet oak nose; tight, tart black fruit, plum palate; medium-plus finish (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot) (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château de Fieuzal Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Oily, almond, apple nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, citrus palate; medium finish 88+ pts. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château de Fieuzal – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Very dark red violet color; tight, tart black fruit, tart berry nose; tight, tasty, tart berry, black fruit, plum palate; medium-plus finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Haut-Bailly – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Dark red violet color; espresso, roast coffee, oak nose; rich, tight, tart plum, cassis palate with grainy tannins, needs 4-5 years; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Haut-Bergey Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Deep, minerally, witch hazel, VA nose; intriguing, solid, almost chewy, mineral, tart citrus, grapefruit palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Haut-Bergey – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Dark red violet color; oak, tart black fruit nose; tight, tart plum, cassis palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Oak, green bean, mineral nose; citrus, light oily textured, mineral palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Opaque red violet color; tart currant, herbaceous, menthol nose; tight, tart currant, menthol palate; medium finish 88+ pts. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Tour-Martillac Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Oak, green herb nose; cat pee, lemon grass, mineral palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Tour-Martillac – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Opaque purple red violet color; oak, plum, berry nose; tight, tart plum, tart currant palate, needs 3-plus years; medium-plus finish 87+ pts. (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Malartic-Lagravière Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Peach, ripe citrus nose; round, ripe citrus, lime palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Malartic-Lagravière – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Opaque purple red violet color; oak, herbaceous, ripe plum nose; tight, ripe plum, currant palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Olivier Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Lime, mineral, green fruit nose; tight, tasty, lime, citrus palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Olivier – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Very dark purple red violet color; tart berry, red plum, cassis nose; tight, tasty, tart currant, red plum palate; medium finish 87+ pts. (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Pape Clément Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Oak, green fruit nose; oak, green fruit palate with low acidity; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Pape Clément – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Dark purple red violet color; intriguing, herbal, cassis, red plum nose; tasty, ripe cassis, red plum palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Rahoul Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves
    Ripe lemon, white flower nose; poised, tart peach, white flower, oak palate with balance; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Rahoul – France, Bordeaux, Graves
    Very dark red violet color; tart currant, green bean nose; tart currant, herbaceous, green bean palate; medium finish 85+ pts. (85 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Nice white flower, pear, green fruit nose; poised, concentrated, tart green fruit, lime, white flower palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Smith Haut Lafitte – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Dark purple red violet color; oak, green herb, red currant nose; tart red currant, flat, low acidity; medium finish (87 pts.)

Right Bank: St. Émilion

St. Émilion was pretty well represented at this tasting, with 17 producers. Château Dassault was listed in the program, but did not put in an appearance. As mentioned above, this was a lighter, not so concentrated vintage there, in great contrast to most of what I’ve tasted from this appellation from the past decade. My two favorites, at 92+ pts. each, were Angélus and Canon-la-Gaffelière, followed by Troplong Mondot and La Gaffelière. There was a lot of oak showing from this appellation, as I typically find to be the case. Without the ripe fruit to support it, it was a little more obtrusive, even than usual.

Comte Stephan von Neipperg

  • 2008 Château Angélus – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark red violet color; sexy, cassis, blackberry, black raspberry nose; tight, cassis, blackberry, currant, cedar palate, needs 5-plus years; medium-plus finish 92+ pts. (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Nice sweet cassis, blackberry, caramel nose; ripe cassis, blackberry, caramel palate with soft entry and soft tannins; medium finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Berliquet – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark red violet color; cassis, red plum nose; tart cassis, red plum, cedar palate; medium finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Canon – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Sweaty, plum, berry nose; tart black fruit, roast coffee palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark red violet color; deep raspberry, blackberry, subtle oak nose; tight, tart berry, blackberry, mineral palate with grip, needs 6-7 years; medium-plus finish 92+ pts. (50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Figeac – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark purple red violet color; espresso, oak, black fruit nose; espresso, oak, black fruit palate with low acidity; medium finish 88+ pts. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Clos Fourtet – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark purple red violet color; classic plum, cassis, cedar nose; silky textured, tart plum, cassis, cedar palate; medium finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Franc-Mayne – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark red violet color; oak, roast coffee, graphite nose; roast coffee, graphite palate with low acidity; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Grand Mayne – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark purple red violet color; ripe blackberry, berry nose; rich, tasty, berry, blackberry palate with low acidity; medium finish 90+ pts. (90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Couspaude – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark purple red violet color; oak, espresso nose; espresso, tar, tart black fruit palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Dominique – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark red violet color; roast coffee, light chocolate nose; roast coffee, tart black fruit palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Gaffelière – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Very dark red violet color; nice berry, blackberry, black plum nose; tight, tasty, poised, tart black fruit, blackberry palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Larcis Ducasse – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark red violet color; ripe berry, raspberry, Zin-like nose; tight, ripe cassis, red currant, jammy, Zin palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Larmande – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Dark red violet color; deep roast coffee, tart black fruit nose; deep roast coffee palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Pavie Macquin – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Opaque purple red violet color; ripe berry, plum, oak nose; tight, ripe plum, tart berry palate, needs 3-plus years; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Troplong Mondot – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Very dark red violet color; oak, tart berry, tar nose; tasty, tart black fruit, tar, espresso palate; medium finish (90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc) (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Trotte Vieille – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Very dark red violet color; deep berry, black fruit, espresso nose; tasty, berry, blackberry palate with balance; medium-plus finish (50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) (91 pts.)

Right Bank: Pomerol

Pomerol wasn’t all that well represented at this event, which is typically the case. Château La Cabanne oddly decided not to pour an ’08, and offered a pretty mediocre ’06 example instead. The easy standout in this group was the La Conseillante, which is a usual favorite of mine (and I’m looking forward to sampling a few mature vintages of this wine at a Right Bank Bordeaux lunch I’ve organized for tomorrow). The other one that got my attention was the Château Beauregard, for its particularly refreshing lightness and balance. I don’t see any U.S. retailers offering it at the moment, but I hope that will change.

La Conseillante Director Jean-Michel Laporte

  • 2008 Château Beauregard – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Medium dark red violet color; fresh, cassis, herbal, red berry nose; tasty, tart red fruit, currant, mineral palate with good balance; medium finish 91+ pts. (doesn’t seem to be available in the States; refreshing, and one I’d consider buying) (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Clinet – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Dark red violet color; chickory, roast coffee nose; light-medium bodied, roast coffee, chickory palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Gazin – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Dark red violet color; tart red currant, green herb nose; poised, tart red currant, mineral, green herb palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Château La Cabanne – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Medium dark red violet color; ripe red plum, oak nose; red plum, oak palate; medium finish (only non ’08 poured at the UGC Bordeaux tasting in San Francisco–was the ’08 so much worse?) (85 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Conseillante – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Dark cherry red color; nice cassis, red berry nose; poised, medium bodied, cassis, red berry palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)

Left Bank: St. Julien

On to one of the best overall showings of the appellations–these wines from St. Julien showed quite well across the board. Best for me was the complex and distinctive Gruaud Larose, with its fairly high proportion of Petit Verdot, at 9%. It was one of a few wines that had a goodly Petit Verdot component that showed well at this event. The Léoville Barton was a strong second wine for me among this group.

David Launay, Managing Director of Gruaud Larose

Lilian Barton-Sartorius

  • 2008 Château Beychevelle – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Dark red violet color; black fruit, herbal, espresso nose; tasty, tight, tart black fruit, espresso palate with balance; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Branaire (Duluc-Ducru) – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Dark red violet color; cassis, cedar, coffee nose; tasty, tart cassis, coffee, cedar palate; medium finish (68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Gruaud Larose – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Very dark red violet color; nice cassis, black fruit, pencil lead, graphite nose; distinctive, pencil lead, graphite, tart black fruit palate, needs 5-plus years; medium-plus finish 93+ pts. (57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot) (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Lagrange St. Julien – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Dark red violet color; cassis, plum, cedar nose; tasty, plush, cassis, currant, cedar palate; medium finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Langoa Barton – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, rich, berry, ripe plum nose; tasty, berry, ripe plum palate with good balance; medium finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Léoville Barton – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Dark purple red violet color; very appealing, berry, ripe plum, blackberry nose; tasty, poised, blackberry, berry, graphite, relatively rich but balanced palate; medium-plus finish 92+ pts. (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Léoville Poyferré – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Dark purple red violet color; cedar, roast coffee, tart black fruit nose; tasty, tart black fruit, cedar, roast coffee, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Saint-Pierre – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Very dark red violet color; oak, espresso, black fruit nose; Napa Cab-like espresso, oak, black fruit palate with low acidity; medium finish 87+ pts. (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot) (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Talbot – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Dark red violet color; oak, black fruit, floral nose; odd, tart black fruit, tart berry palate with something floral going on; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Left Bank: Pauillac

This was another rather good showing across the board, as might be expected from a group that included several with track records as strong as these. My top wine from Pauillac was the tight but impressive Pichon Lalande, which included 5% Petit Verdot in the blend. In close second place was the Pichon Baron, but there were several here that should be decent values for drinking over the next few years, while waiting for your ’05s and ’00s to become drinkable.

  • 2008 Château Batailley – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Very dark red violet color; cedar, tart currant nose; tasty, currant, cassis, espresso, cedar palate; medium finish 91+ pts. (67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot) (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Clerc Milon – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Dark red violet color; cedar, currant nose; tart currant, cedar, coffee palate; medium finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château d’Armailhac – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Dark red violet color; appealing, herbaceous, tart currant, cedar nose; tight, tart currant, cedar palate with depth; medium-plus finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Grand-Puy Ducasse – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Dark red violet color; cedar, tart black fruit, cassis nose; tasty, tart cassis, currant, cedar palate; medium-plus finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Haut-Bages Libéral – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Dark red violet color; herbal, green herb nose; tight, tart currant, herbal palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Lynch-Bages – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Very dark red violet color; cedar, tart currant, black fruit nose; tight, cedar, tart currant palate, needs 3-plus years; medium-plus finish 91+ pts. (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc) (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Lynch-Moussas – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Dark red violet color; cedar, tart black fruit, coffee nose; tangy, tart black fruit, cedar palate; medium finish (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Opaque red violet color; cedar, black fruit, graphite nose; tasty, tart black fruit, graphite, cedar palate; medium-plus finish 92+ pts. (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Very dark red violet color; rich, appealing, cassis, currant nose with herbal lift; tight, tart cassis, currant, cedar palate with depth, needs 7-plus years; medium-plus finish 92+ pts. (63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc) (92 pts.)

Left Bank: St. Estèphe

In this handful of St. Estèphes, there was quite a bit of herbaceousness showing, suggesting this appellation had trouble getting as ripe as its neighbors immediately to the south. Best in this group was the Phélan Ségur.

  • 2008 Château Cos Labory – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Very dark red violet color; herbaceous, green herb, menthol nose; tart plum, currant, herbaceous palate; medium finish (58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot) (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château de Pez – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Dark red violet color; herbaceous, olive, tart black fruit, tar nose; tart black fruit, tar, olive palate; medium-plus finish (50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Lafon-Rochet – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Dark red violet color; roast coffee, oak nose; velvety textured, tight, tart plum, coffee, oak palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Les Ormes de Pez – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Very dark red violet color; cassis, herbaceous, mint nose; tart currant, cassis, herbaceous palate; medium finish 88+ pts. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Phélan Ségur – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Dark red violet color; nice roast coffee, espresso nose; tasty, rich, best version of this flavor profile I tasted, roast coffee, espresso palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Left Bank: Margaux

I found the large contingent of Margaux wines–from an appellation I tend to turn to in bigger years, for relative balance and finesse–to be rather disappointing, as a whole. Best for me was the Marquis de Terme, which had a touch more richness, and some lift, compared to the others.

Corinne Conroy, Communications Director for Brane-Cantenac

  • 2008 Château Brane-Cantenac – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Dark red violet color; deep cassis, plum nose; tight, tart cassis, red currant palate with balance; medium finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Dauzac – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Dark purple red violet color; intriguing, roast coffee, charcoal, tart black fruit nose; roast coffee, charcoal, tart black fruit palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Château du Tertre – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Dark red violet color; herbaceous, tart black fruit nose; tight, herbaceous, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Tour de By – France, Bordeaux, Médoc
    Very dark red violet color; charcoal, herbaceous, olive nose; tart black fruit, olive, herbaceous palate; medium finish 87+ pts. (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Greysac – France, Bordeaux, Médoc
    Very dark red violet color; black fruit, pencil lead nose; tight, tart black fruit, pencil lead palate; medium finish (55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc) (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Durfort-Vivens – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Dark red violet color; very herbaceous, green bean nose; very herbaceous, green bean palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Ferrière – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Dark red violet color; oak, green herb nose; tight, tart currant, green herb palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Giscours – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Very dark red violet color; nicely herbaceous, charcoal, tart black fruit nose; herbaceous in a good way, charcoal, tart black fruit palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Kirwan – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Very dark red violet color; herbaceous, cassis nose; plush, tart cassis, herbaceous palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Labégorce – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Dark red violet color; tight, tart currant nose; tight, tart black fruit palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Lascombes – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Dark red violet color; oak, herbal nose; tight, tart plum, espresso palate, needs 4-plus years; medium finish 88+ pts. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Malescot St. Exupery – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Very dark red violet color; roasted plum, roast coffee nose; tasty, roast coffee, tart plum palate; medium-plus finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Marquis de Terme – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Very dark red violet color; rich, plum, cassis, berry nose; tasty, tart black fruit, plum, berry palate with herbal lift; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Prieuré-Lichine – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Very dark red violet color; tart currant, herbaceous, cedar nose; tight, tart currant, mineral, herbal palate, needs 5-plus years; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Rauzan-Ségla – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Dark red violet color; roast coffee, charcoal nose; roast coffee, espresso, charcoal, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)

Left Bank: Haut-Médoc

I didn’t have high expectations for this grouping, so I wasn’t particularly disappointed by what I tasted. Best of this group was the La Lagune, which I often find to be a relatively good value.

Director Céline Villars-Foubet of Camensac

  • 2008 Château Beaumont – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
    Dark red violet color; tart currant, oak nose; tart currant, a little herbaceous, palate; short-medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Belgrave – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
    Dark purple red violet color; espresso, berry nose; oak, espresso, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Citran – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
    Very dark red violet color; tart black fruit, graphite, pencil lead nose; tart black fruit, pencil lead palate, needs 3-plus years; medium-plus finish 88+ pts. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Camensac – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
    Dark purple red violet color; sweet oak, black fruit, berry nose; tight, tart berry, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Lagune – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
    Dark purple red violet color; tart plum, cassis, cedar nose; tight, tasty, tart cassis, cedar palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Tour Carnet – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
    Very dark red violet color; ripe berry, oak nose; tight, ripe berry, plum, oak palate, drinks like an average Napa Cab, needs 2-3 years; medium finish (88 pts.)

Left Bank: Other Médoc, Listrac, Moulis

The big standout in this mixed group was the Chasse-Spleen, from the same Director, Céline Villars-Foubet, who runs Château Camensac, and who is pictured in the section above.

  • 2008 Château Chantemerle – France, Bordeaux, Médoc
    Very dark red violet color; espresso, oak, tart black fruit nose; tart black fruit, oak palate; medium finish 86+ pts. (48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc) (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Chasse-Spleen – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Moulis en Médoc
    Very dark red violet color; tart black fruit, espresso, graphite nose; tasty, tight, tart black fruit, espresso palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Clarke – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Listrac-Médoc
    Opaque red violet color; tart plum, currant nose; herbal, tart currant palate; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Fourcas Hosten – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Listrac-Médoc
    Dark purple red violet color; tight, herbaceous, tart plum nose; very herbaceous, tart currant palate; medium finish (84 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Poujeaux – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Moulis en Médoc
    Very dark purple red violet color; oak, tart cassis nose; tight, tart cassis, oak palate, needs 4-plus years; medium-plus finish 87+ pts. (87 pts.)

Sauternes and Barsac

This was the one group that I tasted through entirely twice. The vintage is lacking the acidity that I very much prize in the best Sauternes, but there was appealing botrytis and complexity in several of these wines. My favorite was the Guiraud, but I also very much liked the Climens and Sigalas Rabaud. It’s hard to see this as being a particularly long aging vintage, lacking the acidity needed for that, but there is good body to most of these and they’ll be enjoyable sweets over the next several to 10 years, I should think. Château de Fargues was listed in the tasting notebook, but did not show.

  • 2008 Château Climens – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac
    Light apricot gold color; lovely, botrytis, floral, tart apricot, apricot pie nose; tasty, rich, creamy textured, apricot, botrytis, coconut palate; long finish 92+ pts. (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Coutet – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac
    Light golden yellow color; botrytis, apple, ripe lemon, ripe peach nose; tasty, sweet, ripe peach, mineral palate, that lacks some acidity; long finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Doisy-Daëne – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Light apricot gold color; nice, ripe apricot, orange cream, tangerine nose; tasty, tart apricot, orange, tangerine palate; long finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Guiraud – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Light apricot gold color; ripe lemon, clementine nose; ripe lemon, ripe clementine, tart apricot palate with good acidity; long finish (tried it three times–the middle bottle was corked, but the other two were quite good) (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Light medium golden yellow color; ripe peach, apricot, vanilla oak nose; tasty, rich, balanced, ripe peach, apricot palate; medium-plus finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Light golden yellow color; ripe apple, ripe peach nose; ripe peach, nectarine, peach nectar palate with balance; long finish (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Château de Rayne-Vigneau – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Light medium golden yellow color; ripe pear, honey, oak nose; ripe pear, oak, honey palate with low acidity; medium-plus finish 88+ pts. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Sigalas Rabaud – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Light medium apricot gold color; botrytis, baked peach, apricot, honeyed nose; tasty, rich, peach, apricot, crystallized sugar, nectarine palate with an herb note; long finish (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Suduiraut – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Light golden yellow color; appealing, pear, apricot nectar and chalk nose; tasty, tight, pear, pear nectar, peach syrup palate; long finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)

This big bouquet, which I noticed on leaving the tasting, represents my sense of appreciation for the great organizers of the event here, Balzac Communications, and to the many Château owners and representatives who participate in these tastings.

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