Tasting Notes: ‘A new look at Bordeaux’ presented by Laura Clay, AWE, 26 April 2017

Laura is an expert on the wines of Bordeaux and has accreditations, and obvious good contacts, from the growers of the region.  It was therefore no surprise that, in the words of Basil Fawlty, we understood the difference (!) between claret and Bordeaux at the end of this excellent evening. Laura picked wines from the 500-odd winemakers of the Left and Right Banks and the Entre-deux-Mers to show, very successfully, the influence of “terroir”.

1)     Ch. Baudac Crėmant 2014 (direct from the vineyard website, ca. £6.50) – as Semillon-based mėthode traditionelle fizzy, very unusual for the region – a light off-dry wine with a pleasant minerl finish and a slightly floral nose – not complex but a pleasant aperitif.

2)     Ch. Thieuley 2015 (Wine Society £9.50) – a very elegant Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Sauvignon Gris blend, form the Entre-deux-Mers, with an obvious Sauvignon Blanc nose but somewhat austere on the mineral-rich palate – quite a serious wine and good value.

3)     Clos Floridène 2013 (Cooperative, £18.99) – from the Graves AC, a lightly-oaked Sauvignon Blanc with real class, good acidity balancing the honey suckle and even slightly buttery notes, showing how the gravelly beds of the region can produce such an elegant and lovely wine – worth the extra cost.

4)     Ch. de la Grave Caractėre 2012 (Wine Society £8.50) – deep red with a distinct blackcurrant nose (maybe green pepper as well?) from the Côtes de Bourg, surprising as it is Merlot-dominated blend as befits the Right Bank (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon). On the palate, rather austere and not opened up, probably a little young as yet.

5)     Ch. De la Rivière 2008 (Q Wines, £23.20) – from the Fronsac AC, another Merlot -predominant blend with the more typical ripe plums on the nose, very smooth velvety tannins on the palate, not jammy and with hints of chocolate amongst the fruit, benefitting from some bottle age– a very delicious easy-drinking claret (65% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc).

6)     Ch. Reysson 2013 (not available in the UK, cost ca. £15 for later vintages) – Haut-Medoc AC, another Merlot blend with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, from the well-known Dourthe Negociant stable. I thought the wine was strangely lacking in character, perfectly well-made but a bit uninspiring.

7)     Ch. Sociando-Mallet 2000 (various suppliers, ca. £65 duty paid) – also classified as a “simple” Haut-Medoc as the owner declined the then-existing Cru Bourgeois labelling, this is classic “claret” blend (42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 54% Merlot and a 4% sniff of Cabernet Franc), the 17 years bottle age served it well – lovely rich berry fruit on the nose and an expansive rich and very long palate with wonderful mouthfill – Laura knows the wine well and reckons this one of the best she has tasted, showing very well on the night.

8)     Ch. Bauduc Sauternes (direct from the vineyard website) – a delightful and relatively light Sauternes, all the typical dried fruit notes with honey hints, touch of caramel and lovely balancing acidity. A nice way to finish an excellent tasting

John Harris