Monday, October 20, 2014

crowns at Château de Fargues

And so I ended my trip through Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes here, a true jewel of the region.
The slow drive into the property was beautiful, tranquil and calm ...
... noble and old.
And while they are currently remodeling and remaking anew ...
... some things are better left untouched.
Sometimes, the old ways remain the best.
That's it, ladies and gentlemen. This row and the row to the left. That's all there is of the 2013 vintage. A difficult, challenging one. As I learned, quality is a virtue that one fights for - that one commits to. It's not the grand vintages that make the estate ... it's the ones that keep you up at night that forge true character. 
What a wine. A grand triumph of balance, nobility, strength, and character. What a wine.
And how else to end this trip but to say goodbye to Philippe de Lur Saluces in front of the vineyards of Fargues. Inimitable charm, and a great ambassador of Bordeaux. What a trip!

Tasting notes:

2009 Château de Fargues: Great spicy notes, complex, and purity. Incredible depth, like staring into a dark well. What a gorgeous mouth - unbelievably spicy, with great length, tension, and extract. Complex, open, structured, and muscular - a powerful yet agile wine for the ages.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the Château Coutet of my dreams

You walk in, and immediately feel a sense of serenity. A truly grand estate, history and heritage. Beautiful. Sun shining, birds chirping, as they say. 
I've been an admirer of Coutet for a long time. The wines always show well at big tastings - rich and creamy, great depth and presence. A family-owned business, the new generation is doing a great job bringing the estate (and Sauternes) into new markets, new times.
It was a great privilege to visit. I got out early, making the nearly hour long drive from Bordeaux into the tiny commune of Barsac.
Like many of their neighbours, the sauvignon blanc is close to harvest. Production volumes will be low again this year, following a challenging summer (cool and wet), but Coutet is anticipating good quality. Botrytis coming along nicely, and as long as the sunshine and mild temperatures continue, this could be a very good vintage.
Barriques being quietly filled with sweet nectar. What a great privilege to finally visit Coutet, finally see the property I've dreamed of visiting for so long.

Tasting notes:

2012 Château Coutet: A big nose, ripe fruit, with lots of botrytis character but restrained. Mineral and very pure. Great freshness on the finish, very young and needs to settle down. Linear and extracted. A beauty.

2013 Château Coutet (barrel sample): Slightly woody aromas (for obvious reasons), already with great density and texture. Bigger than the 2012.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

tasting botrytis at Château Bastor-Lamontagne

What a great pleasure to visit Bastor-Lamontagne - the first true wino's stop of the trip ...
... Alexandre took me out to the vineyard first. Of course. We wouldn't have it any other way, would we - to be able to see the various stages of botrytis up close - in bliss.
Botrytis just beginning to develop on the larger berry, while the shrivelled one is ready to harvest. Sweet, but with fabulously crunchy acidity as well. Real texture, even in the grape. The skin is dry and flakes off easily - very little juice. 
This most precious nectar, bottled, and ready to share with the world. But first, a tasting ...
... ending with an incredible example of how sublime mature Sauternes can be. An indescribable privilege to spend time here.

Tasting notes:

2011 Caprice de Bastor-Lamontagne: A blend of sauvignon blanc and muscadet. Fresh fruit, but lacking some depth and weight. Only half-botrytized fruit. Acidity needs time to settle in.

2010 SO Sauternes: Now as of 2010. Meant as an aperitif, but a more traditional Sauternes. Really elegant here, lots of apricots, freshness - honey and bitter orange peel, very spicy. Great length. Concentration with balance. Finish is linear and extracted - gorgeous.

2009 Bastor-Lamontagne: A blend of 80% semillon and 20% sauvignon blanc. A huge nose - so much thick apricot, botrytis character. So rich, so thick and dense, but with great elegance and texture. Very long and incredibly spicy on the finish.

1989 Bastor-Lamontagne: What a treat to taste. Opened a day earlier. These indescribable notes of oxidized fruit, honey, dried apples - incredible depth and complexity. Totally integrated. Very spicy on the palate, still thick and vibrant. Perfection.