April 7, 2009

Bordeaux trip day 3: going down south

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We've got another full day today, going through the southern Médoc appellations of St-Julien, Margaux and Pessac-Léognan. Due to the early start this morning, most of the ladies chose to skip the itinerary and only joined us for lunch. Unfortunately, the morning was overcast so the pictures would be dreary, too...

Our first stop was Branaire-Ducru, where we were received by the Président Patrick Maroteaux and Manager Jean-Dominique Videau. A quick tour of the facilities and we were off to taste a few vintages of the grand vin:

2008 Branaire-Ducru - forward and fruity with a hint of smoke. Not too tannic as the acidity was a bit higher.

2007 Branaire-Ducru - softer and more complex than the 2008. Nose of tropical fruit, mint and forest with a spicy finish.

2006 Branaire-Ducru - farmy nose with smoked meats, not as fruity. A nice wine that has come together with a good finish.

2005 Branaire-Ducru - toasty oak, mint and smoked meat nose. Pretty round tannin.

2004 Branaire-Ducru - nose of smoked meats is more prominent. Smooth and not too tannic on the palate.

Our second stop was Léoville Barton, where the tasting room was filled with lots of bottles as a result of their separate business selling wine. It would have been a good opportunity for us to get a taste of the what other châteaux had produced, but we had only limited time so we stuck mostly to wines from the estates.

2008 Langoa Barton - sweet and forward nose of tropical fruit and vanilla. Still pretty tannic.

2007 Léoville Barton - powerful nose of vanilla and fruit. Very tannic and alcoholic.

2007 Langoa Barton - a bit smoky with spices. Softer on the palate.

2007 Léoville Barton - nose of smoked meats.

2006 Langoa Barton - nose not open at all with only a bit of smoked meats.

2006 Léoville Barton - nose of smoked meats and tannic on the palate.

2008 Rauzan-Ségla - very open nose with sweet fruits and vanilla.

Next stop was the château that got me started in wine - Ducru-Beaucaillou. This famed estate in St-Julien has provided me with some of my fondest memories when it comes to wine: from the bottle of 1982 on my first visit to La Tour d'Argent in Paris, to my first bottle of 1961 I decanted at home and brought to Brasserie on the Eighth...

I was really excited to finally get a chance to visit. The château has a collection of interesting modern art, including some pieces from Keith Haring in the tasting room. It was interesting to see the contrast of a contemporary tasting room inside such a classical structure.

2008 Ducluzeau - fruity and minty nose. Very soft on the palate.

2008 Lalande-Borie - a bit harder than the Ducluzeau.

2008 La Croix de Beaucaillou - floral nose with toasty oak notes.

2008 Ducru-Beaucaillou - floral and violet notes. Much softer than the other wines.

2005 Ducru-Beaucaillou - smoky nose with red fruits and a bit of pepper. Sweet on the finish. A beautiful wine!

At the end of our visit, Chairman of the business Bruno Borie came to greet us. Bruno was a personable man, and when we expressed our wish to take a picture in front of his château, he proceeded to open up all the window shutters so that we could have the perfect picture. Fortunately for us, his mother was shopping in Bordeaux city and so we didn't wake her up...

Our last stop before lunch would be Palmer. Bernard de Laage de Meux, the Marketing Director, led us through the tasting.

2008 Alter Ego - mint with a bit of fruit. Tannins were round, nice and soft...not too aggressive.

2008 Palmer - minty with exotic spices. Good concentration with round tannins.

2001 Alter Ego - farmy nose with smoked meats, spiciness, leather and cedar wood notes. A bit sweet on the palate with good acidity. A wine that has come together well.

1996 Palmer - lovely, farmy nose with peppery, smoky and leather notes. Very smooth on the palate. Delicious.

We visited the beautiful Château Margaux for lunch, which will be the subject of a separate post.

After our long lunch, we dropped the ladies off so that they could hit the Hermès shop in Bordeaux city, then continued on to Haut-Brion, the last of the Médoc First Growths. Here we would also taste the wines from the neighboring estate of La Mission Haut-Brion, also under the ownership of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

2008 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion - this has been the name of the second wine since the 2007 vintage, replacing Bahans Haut-Brion. Nose of vanilla, orange, red fruits and mint. Good acidity but tannins were slightly grippy.

2008 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion - earthy, smoky nose with sweet fruit and mint. Good acidity balance.

2008 La Mission Haut-Brion - smoky nose with mint and vanilla notes. A bit tannic but nicely balanced.

2008 Haut-Brion - much more concentration here, with lots of fruit, mint, smoke and a hint of coffee. Very tannic on the palate.

2008 Laville Haut-Brion - fatty, buttery with lemon citrus, green apple and toasty oak.

2008 Haut-Brion Blanc - minerals and flint combined with lemon citrus, a bit of butter and toasty oak. Wow! There is a reason why this is the most sought-after dry white in Bordeaux.

Our last stop of the day would be Haut-Bailly. We were incredibly behind schedule, and missed meeting Véronique Sanders, the winemaker and daughter of the former owner.

2008 Haut-Bailly - floral and sweet fruit, with coffee, mint and a bit of smoke. Round and smooth tannins.

2006 Haut-Bailly - smoky and a bit farmy with red fruits. Everything was nicely balanced, but slightly tannic on the finish.

We head back up north into Bordeaux city to pick up the ladies after their shopping spree. I quickly strolled around the Place de la Comédie and down Rue Ste-Catherine, before returning to La Tupiña for dinner.


susan said...

So what did the ladies get at Hermes?

Peech said...

Susan, did you really have to ask?


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