Once again, the Goddess was forced to labor at her earth job, so First Acolyte, JD, nobly stepped in to report on the Le Grand Cercle Des Vins De Bordeaux on April 7, 2014. Quelle fortitude! His report:
LEFT & RIGHT BANK GRAND TASTING at CASA DEL MAR in Santa Monica. Thirty eight “winemakers from the… Left and Right Banks of Bordeaux, treated Sommeliers, Wine Buyers and Wine Journalists to an exclusive unveiling of their most prized possessions, ranging from the 2013 “en primeur” vintage (“wine futures”) to… 2010 and 2011 varietals.”
“The Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux came into existence thanks to the aim of Alain Raynaud, its president and founder, to bring together in one entity the wines of the Right and Left Banks. The Cercle Rive Droite, established in July 2002, has represented for the past 10 years a selection of 137 wines whose keyword is excellence. As for the Cercle Rive Gauche, it was founded in April 2013. A parallel association to the Cercle Rive Droite, it groups together 51 wine estates carefully selected for the quality of their wine. The concept is to take advantage of the drive and efficiency of the Cercle Rive Droite, to promote the fine wines of the Médoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac. With almost 200 wines, the Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux presents, during its trips abroad, a showcase of Bordeaux wines selected for their high quality. Its vocation is to prove that in Bordeaux there are superb, top-of-the-range and reasonably priced wines!”
As usual I was not able to taste everything or all wineries, but I did manage quite a few.
Most wineries were pouring 2013 “en primeur” vintages along with slightly older vintages, mainly 2010 and 2011. This allowed for direct comparisons of “coming attractions” and wines that were actually available. While the 2013’s had a lot of tannins and were not ready for real drinking yet, there were a number that were surprisingly smooth already. I say surprisingly since Bordeaux wines have a reputation for not being accessible for many years. This is also in contrast to the more recently attended Paso Robles Cab Collective. The “en primeur” offerings of the PRCC were almost entirely intensely tannic.
2013 was a rough weather year for many in Bordeaux, cold and wet early delaying flowering and a hailstorm in August causing much damage. Several growers represented at this tasting were hit hard. Much fruit was lost but the fruit that survived is making delicious wine.
While the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon is greater on the left bank and Merlot is greater on the right bank, this tasting presented several left bank wines with a large, often leading, proportion of Merlot.
RIGHT BANK - There were several Merlot/Cabernet Franc blends, some with smaller amounts of other Bordeaux grapes.
Château Brande-Bergère Cuvée o’Byrne: 2013 - Toast in nose, good fruit, and light tannins. 2010- Smoother but with enough tannins to go for a while.
Château Dalem: 2013 - Toasty nose again and light tannin. 2010 - Light floral perfume, rich fruit. A very elegant and balanced wine poured by winemaker Brigitte Rullier-Loussert.
Château Moulin Haut Laroque: The Olier, now Hervé, family has operated this winery since the late nineteenth century. Thomas, the latest in the family line, poured their promising 2013 and a very balanced 2010.
Château Les Trois Croix: 2010- Earth and leather nose, rich textured spice mouth with light tannins.
Château Vray Croix de Gay: 2013 - Bright and fresh. 2011 - Lighter. Both with plenty of tannins.
LALANDE DE POMEROL
Château Siaurac: Decent fruit in both 2013 and 2010. The 2013 had barn notes, 2010 had more of the sour, almost medicinal cherry.
SAINT-EMILION GRAND CRU
Château Magrez Fombrauge: 2011 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Sauvignon Gris blend with diesel nose and light stone fruit taste. Two reds from both 2011 and 2013. The newer with earth, leather and tannins, the 2011’s had smooth rich berry, sharp finish, the reserve less sharp.
Château Mondorion: 2011 - more earth than the 2013 along with mushroom notes.
Château du Parc: A light approach.
Château Pindefleurs: 2013 - Leather. 2010 - Chocolate/cola.
Château Trianon: 2013 - Musky “socks” nose, fruity taste. 2010 - Earth, then restrained depth in taste.
SAINT-EMILION GRAND CRU CLASSE
Château de Pressac: 2013 Earth and fruit. 2010 - Spicy. Vineyards on slopes which helps them avoid rot. Reclassified in 2012. Lost a lot of their crop due to the weather of 2013.
Château Le Prieuré: 2013 Fresh berry, touch of spice, not tannic.
Château Yon-Figeac: 2013-Sox nose, subtle smokiness, low tannin feel. In 2011 there is earth and leather, more bite and noticeable tannins.
Château Faizeau: 2010 - Plum.
Château Greysac: I got hot taste in both 2010 and 2013.
Château Haut Condissas: 2010 - Dark fruit taste.
Château Patache d’Aux: 2010 - Light forest floor nose, tobacco notes. 2013 - Quite tannic.
Château Rollan de By: 2013 - Dry tannins rather than bitter or bitey with good fruit to start. 2010 - Earth, mushroom nose. Rich fruit with spice.
Château Tour Séran: 2013 - The fruit layers seem very promising. 2010 - Earthy nose with lush fruit.
Château Liversan: 2011 - Musty socks nose. Fruit with something sharp and odd mid-palate. Herbal? 2013 - Earth nose. Mouth - spice and tannins
Château Malescasse: Sold to a new owner in October 2012. Vineyards are being redone. No wine made in 2013. The new owner felt the crop was not good enough. Only half the 2012 crop was made into wine by the Chateau. It was only recently in bottle and still rather tight. The 2011 had lovely earthiness with dark fruit. Rather promising
Château d’Arsac:2010 - Wonderful. Serious barnyard nose, luscious berry fruit. 2013 - Some toastiness. Decent fruit with some brambly herbalness. Besides very fine wine, the owner also has a large art collection, turning the estate into a delight for many senses.
Grand Enclos du Château de Cérons: 2013 - Mushroom nose, rich fruit but still rather harsh. 2010 - Earthy nose. The harshness had gone so showing the fruit along with some nice spice and light tannins.
Château Haut Bacalan: 2010 - Balanced full fruit taste. 2013 - Looks to be following the same path.
Château de Myrat: 2011 - Honey and sweetness with some cinnamon later.
Château Raymond Lafon: 2013 and 2010 - Full of honey and citrus.
Sauterne is a great way to finish a tasting…or a day. I stood out on the terrace and looked at the sea while finishing my glass. Should have waited longer before the long trudge home.
Thanks again to the plucky - and lucky - JD for filling in! Cheers!