With the cancellation of the usual primeur tastings first week of April this year wine buyers and journalists have received their barrel samples of the new vintage by the post.
And it seems to have worked, as tasting notes have been written and communicated all over the world – despite the fragile nature of these baby wines. Tasters have been able to stay at home and taste and retaste their own samples alongside others of the same appellation.
More time, wines show better – For us based in Bordeaux, we have been able to taste the new vintage now 10 weeks later than normal, and it seems to have benefitted the wine with more time to develop, they seem less unstable. The fruit is there, the wood too (still not the ‘prise de bois’ when the oak takes over for a period which will happen in the next few months) The wine has had more time to recover from the fermentation and secondary fermentation – the malolactic.
Sometimes in order to get samples ready for the futures tastings sometimes as early as end March, wines are still not completely ‘finished’ and this shows in the tastings. Often such ‘late starter’ wines are disregarded. This is their one in a lifetime competition – the baby wines yanked from their cosy nursery cots, put in the limelight expected to shine – and the marks they get during the primeur week is how they are judged for the rest of their life.
Bordeaux 2019 is an exuberant vintage with ripe fruit that are already approachable. Some wines are lack structure but have bags of fruit – these will provide early attractive drinking and not long ageing. With a vintage like this, we really see the great terroir where wines have been able to retain some nice acidity and balance the wine and provide some tension. In very good vintages, everyone produces very good wines. In 2019 the wines are very nice – not great unless the terroir and expertise is exceptional. Figeac, Larcis Ducasse and Beasejour Duffau Lagarrosse are three wines in this category that I tasted this week. Great wines.
My favorites from Nicolas Thienpont Tasting at Pavie Macquin: in fact I loved them all – Côtes de Franc: Puygueraud (white and red), la Prade Castillon; Alcée St Emilion: Larcis Ducasse (floral – roses, cherry stones, herbs, fine tannins – like a Pomerol), Pavie Macquin (spicy, exotic, rounded and rich), Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse (blackcurrant and dark chocolate, more dense meaty middle but with such balance, harmony, lovely texture, fine tannins, very long)
My favorites from the Grand Cercle Tasting of Bordeaux were;
La Sergue (Lalande de Pomerol), Bourgneuf, Feytit Clinet (Pomerol), Dalem (Fronsac),
Medoc; du Glana, Petit Bocq, Haut Breton Larigaudière
St Emilion : Grand Corbin Despagne (outstanding), Godeau, Fonroque, Destieux, Pindefleurs
Them we went to the temporary chai at Figeac (renovations to be completed hopefully in time for the new harvest but as we are at least 2 weeks ahead they might be making 2020 in the stainless steel vats here too). Well no harm done as both 2018 and 2019 are Figeac stunners and both made here).
2019 Figeac (30% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Cabernet Franc) is one of the finest wines I have ever tasted. It has a purity of dense but fresh black fruit and some sweety minty strawberry. Minerally rather than exuberant. Fine, texture, very long. All in its length. Fine smooth, elongated. Its complexity is in layers byt it is very harmonious. We can taste the high percentage of Cabernet Franc with its intensity delivered in delicacy. Beautiful floral, not in a pretty way but perfumed. Fine textured tannins. Its the high level of Cabernet Franc this year that enabled the Cabernet Sauvignon to be what it is. Straight, lean and long. The wood this year is perfectly judged. It is 14.1% alcohol and the very interesting pH of 3,7 which gives it it’s amazing tension.
Prices are down 30% from 2018 in general. And in some cases at the top better wines were made than 2018. There are some excellent wines to purchase – you are just going to take our word for it.