Some Highlights From the 2015 Red Bordeaux Vintage

Following up on the delightful task of sampling the 2015 vintage from Bordeaux, here are Terry’s and my thoughts on the reds.

Something to keep in mind is that Bordeaux (especially the good stuff) is not meant to be drunk young.  And a wine that’s five years old is young in Bordeaux standards.  For instance, it probably is a little early to be drinking the 2009s and 2010s.  The 2005s are approaching maturity and the 2000s are there now.

Chateau Pape Clement always offers sublime creations from whatever nature gives them.  As I mentioned in my last column, their Blanc was outstanding, reminiscent of apples and pears.  Their red, an almost equal blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, again stood out in this sea of wine.  Very ripe on the nose, tasting figs and prunes, along with chocolate and coffee.  Terry got baking spices and cherry and blackberry, also.  We rated it 92-94, finding it well balanced, with a lush, long finish.

The same can be said of Domaine de Chevalier, also from the Pessac-Leognan region.  Like Pape Clement, Chevalier poured an amazing white wine, very aromatic and tasty.  Their red (a combination of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot) features an outstanding a bouquet, something that only a handful of other wines that day also had.  The aromas of cherry and dark fruit provide a great welcome to the wine.  Although it is still quite tannic (you know, how when you drink a glass of wine and feel like your mouth is now a dry sponge), there was enough structure to sense the berries and hints of pepper and cedar.  Give it ten years and this will be amazing.

Here in California we have the prestigious AVAs like Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, etc.  And then there are those not quite so famous, like Lodi.  Well, some areas of Bordeaux suffer from the same perception issues.  The wine from these other areas might be quite tasty but it still struggles against the common impression that it’s not going to be as good as something from Pomerol or Margaux or St. Emilion.  Regardless, some of the outside regions do have good stuff.

For instance, Chateau La Lagune, located in the Haut-Medoc region, had a red with a minty nose, like some of the Cabernets from Napa.  Terry also picked up smells of berry, leather, and earth.  There was also leather and dark fruit on the taste.  While this may not last for the long haul, it will be approachable much earlier than other Bordeaux and at a significantly lower price.

Finally, speaking of Margaux, we also enjoyed the Chateau Malescot Saint-Exupery.  What set this apart from its rivals is that, after some decanting, we could see drinking this now.  But it also has the structure (read, tannins) needed to give it some longevity.  It’s about 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, with a touch of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot thrown in. 

What would be outstanding (but I’m certain very costly) would be a side-by-side comparison of these wines with their earlier vintages from ten to twenty years ago.  That way you can see how the wine can develop and mature – become something unexpected but quite anticipated.

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