Sunday, January 29, 2012

UGC Bordeaux - 2009 Graves & Pessac-Léognan

DF with Olivier and Anne Bernard, Domaine de Chevalier

The dry white wines of Bordeaux are always exciting to taste. The past few years have seen successive vintages of stunning dry whites from here - 2005, 2008, and definitely 2007 have all been winners. Just something about the acidity and levels of extract on the palate that make the experience feel like drinking electricity. And, might I add, these are the few white wines in the world that wear so much new oak with such style.

I always start tasting here, moving onto Sauternes, then the red wines. Certainly gets the palate going, as these tastings sometimes can feel like marathon sessions. Something about the 2009's was fairly obvious early on - they're all extremely ripe, with a few of the better ones showing an overt tropical fruit character. The impression of the acid is not quite as present, but not so much as to leave the wines flabby. Just does not have that same degree of dry extract in the mouth. New oak as always (and expected) in these wines when young. What I found interesting was that as ripe as the wines were, they remained balanced, with the sauvignon blanc character still present. Certainly very drinkable now, and being so ripe, one for the short to mid-term.

Château de Chantegrive Blanc 2009: a fair bit of oak here, round in fruit; creamy on the palate, soft acid

Château Carbonnieux Blanc 2009: so delicate on the nose, linear and fresh, very clear fruit; a very cool style of wine indeed, very pure, with just a kiss of oak; very fine and elegant example, a favourite of mine

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2009: always such a pleasure talking to Monsieur and Madame Bernard, the passionate and eloquent managers of this estate; really well-integrated oak, floral notes, so fragrant already; delicate, ripe fruit, exceedingly elegant on the palate, showing the most amazing peach and tropical character on the palate; just a delicious, friendly, complex, and inviting wine

Château de Fieuzal Blanc 2009: slightly green in aroma, those sauvignon notes, with the fruit quite open; lean palate, put together, but altogether more grounded

Château Haut-Bergey Blanc 2009: I quite like this wine, but it was showing slightly awkward tonight; a fair bit of round oak, with the fruit reticent

Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Blanc 2009: this wine is always well priced, showing well in 2007 and 2008; slightly green on the nose, fruit a bit shy at the moment; sweet oak on the palate; all the elements are there, just needs time to come together

Château Latour-Martillac Blanc 2009: that hideous label is an absolute eyesore, but the wine is the real deal; ripe fruit on the nose, fresh; beautifully extracted on the palate, with the fruit becoming almost crunchy in texture; a fabulous success for this estate, for this vintage

Château Malartic-Lagravière Blanc 2009: the oak is present, but remains in the background, rising up a bit in the mouth; nutty, but too bad the fruit is hidden

Château Pape Clément Blanc 2009: the heavyweight at, check it, $245 a bottle . . . horrifying; some oak on the nose, but the fruit is ripe and holds it nicely; really elegant in texture, very fine, with the oak rising up on the finish; heavyweight indeed

Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2009: for once, their reds out-price the whites; oaky ripe fruit, really bright on the palate; well integrated already with the oak rising on the finish; this estate always likes more structured white wines, and the 2009 does need some time to just come together and develop into itself

Tasting notes for Barsac and Sauternes next!


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