Wednesday, March 31st
9 a.m. – Château d’Angludet
An early start this morning. We meet James Sichel to taste through about 25 samples before the d’Angludet wines. We tasted 2003 through 2006 as well as the 2009. All of the wines showed well, but the 2009 really showed the quality of the vintage. Its flavors were similar to the older vintages, but the fruit was ripe, clean and fresh. Like many 2009s the purity of fruit and balance was on another level.
10 a.m. – Châteaux Malescot-St-Exupéry
We had already heard the buzz about this wine before we arrived. The Wine Spectator scored it very high, and many others have mentioned this wine as an outstanding effort. For us, the 2009 lived up to the hype. It is a blend of 55% Cabernet, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Merlot. It showed a plush, rich, velvety texture, was thick and rich in the mouth and balanced by racy acidity, ripe ultra sweet-tannins and a spicy mineral driven finish. Killer wine!
10:30 a.m. – UGC Margaux
Here we tasted about 25 or so wines from the appellation. There were some outstanding wines, and then there were some wines that were just good. Overall the quality was high. We had our doubts as we heard from many that the Cabernet did better than the Merlot in 2009. But it seems that the wines from Margaux, even with high percentages of Merlot, showed great. Our favorites included the Cantenac Brown, Dufort-Vivens, Lascombes, Marquis de Terme and Rauzan-Segla.
Noon – Camensac tasting and lunch
Along with the 2009 Camensac and the 2009 Chasse-Spleen, we tasted a vertical of Camensac starting with the 1999 and finishing with the 2008. The tasting was very interesting. For me, the best wines were the 2009, 2005 and the 2000, but that is probably obvious. The surprises were that the 1999 and the 2001 were both drinking very well. The 1999 had the most developed flavors and aromas. While the ’01 is probably a better wine, the 1999 would be the wine I would choose to drink now.
At lunch we were served the 2001 Camensac again. It was served blind and none of our wine professionals guessed it. The difference was that this bottle was decanted for about an hour beforehand. It was delicious and showed way more fruit than the earlier bottle. The next blind wine turned out to be the 1989 Chasse-Spleen. Both Ralph and Alex got this wine. It was very mature in the nose and showed very ripe, sweet fruit with hints of leather and tar. It was definitely from a hot vintage. The last wine served blind was not guessed by anyone. It was 1971 Chasse-Spleen. It was the third 1971 we tasted this trip—a new record! It was still alive and showed surprisingly well.
3 p.m. – UGC Graves/Pessac
It was a long drive from Camensac down to Pessac, and both the drive and the tasting proved to be among the toughest. The wines in this region showed more rough tannins than in the Médoc. That said, the weather was not good, and many people said that the low pressure was firming up the wines, which are very sensitive when they are this young. There were however a few wines that shined! These included the Smith Haut Lafitte (it may be their best wine ever), Marlartic-Lagravière, Carbonnieux and Haut-Bailly.
5 p.m. – Tasting at a négociants office
7 p.m. Dinner and tasting at Château Lascombes
We finally hit the wall! We were definitely on the quiet side at this dinner. Not even the the 1959 Lascombes out of Magnum could liven us up. We went back to our hotel early (10:30 p.m.). We’ve got the Right Bank tomorrow!