Sunday, March 28th
The easiest day of the trip – the K&L/Alias/Joanne cup is today and guess who backed out. Me. After living in LA for 3 years I don’t handle wet, cold and windy weather very well.
Alex, Kerri, Sanford, Jeff and myself did muster up the energy for a lunch at noon at L’Avenal—our home away from home. We lucked out as Jean Michael-Cazes and Jean Charles Cazes were in the private room in the back with a large group. They opened a 6L of 1985 Lynch-Bages and sent us a couple glasses. Wine was outstanding. If I had some bottles I would open them up and enjoy them now. I think the wine is at its peak.
Dinner was at Cordeillan-Bages, a Michelin two-star restaurant. The meal was outstanding. We ordered the three-course menu, which means that we ended up with about 12 courses if you include all the amouse bouche and desserts. My favorite dish was the foie gras and chocolate served at the start of the meal. Jeff G’s favorite dish was the turbot with a tube d’algue et esperge! Pigeon was the main and we had four dessert courses. The meal was great— lots of foam, which isn’t our group’s thing but it worked.
Wines included 1997 Malartic-Lagravière Blanc, 2001 Belgrave, 2000 Siran and a bottle of 1990 Climens.
Monday, March 29th
Now the real work begins. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the 2009s will be the best vintage I will have tasted out of barrel. The only other vintage that could come close would be 1995, and I missed that vintage. The wines have an amazing combination of ripe fruit, balance, finesse, power and length. The tannins are ripe, sweet and integrated.
8:30 a.m. – Breakfast with Jean Michel-Cazes of Lynch-Bages
No wine. Perrier to settle the stomach
9:15 a.m. – Lynch-Bages
The 2009 Lynch shows excellent. Super rich, lead pencil, clean and focused. This is one of the best Lynch-Bages I have tasted out of barrel.
10 a.m. – Léoville-Las Cases
Wow! If this is an example of what is to come, we are in for a treat. The 2009 Léoville-Las Cases is intense, concentrated, layered, dark and focused. This will be one of the best of the vintage for sure!
10:30 a.m. – Duhart-Milon
I have never been to this Château, but Lafite was under construction so we tasted here.
We tasted ’09 Carruades, Duhart and Lafite. The ’09 Lafite was loaded with cola, mocha, minerals, sweet raspberry, spice, mint and big firm but ripe tannins. This is one of the best Lafites I have tasted young and this is usually a difficult wine for me to taste.
11 a.m. – Calon-Ségur
Never my favorite wine, but the Calon-Ségur showed racy acidity, red raspberry fruit, sandlewood and good freshness. This wine shows well!
11:30 a.m. – Pontet-Canet
The ’09 Pontet-Canet will be one to buy. Super sweet, ripe and fleshy, this wine is forward and ripe. This will be a wine that will show well upon release and should drink well for awhile.
12 p.m. – Montrose
We tasted four great offerings. The first two were from Tronqouy-Lalande, an unheralded winery making very affordable wines that deliver great quality for your dollar. The star of this tasting, however, was the 2009 Montrose, which may very well be the star of the St- Estèphe appellation. The wine showed powerful fruit balanced by good acidity, all with a streak of mineral and earth. Tasting this wine I thought of the famed 2000 and 1990 vintages of Montrose. (Notes by Alex Pross)
12:30 p.m. – Château Cos d’Estournel and Lunch
This was our first chance to taste in Cos’s new tasting room, which was very elegant and classy, the wine was even better. The 2009 Cos d’Estournel was spectacular, with powerful fruit and sweet elegant oak that had exotic spice notes including toffee and spice cake. Any fan of Cos will be thrilled to add this offering to their cellar. (Notes by Alex Pross)
After the tasting we had a nice light lunch with Mr. Prats. He poured the 1985 Cos d’Estournel, which was drinking very well. Soft, round, forward and lush, this is another wine that I would be drinking now if I had it in my cellar.
2:30 p.m. – Coufran
If you need any further proof of how great 2009 is shaping up, one only had to taste both the 2009 Verdignan and Coufran wines to see how evident this was. Both wines will sell for less than $20 and are sumptuous, full-bodied offerings. I can’t think of a better way to spend $20 on a wine than these. (Notes by Alex Pross)
4 p.m. – Pichon-Lalande
Wines tated here included the Bernadotte, Reserve de Comtesse, Pichon-Lalande, de Pez and Haut-Beausejour. The Pichon-Lalande showed spicy black licorice, red currants, lush, silky tannins, bright fruit and a long finish. This will be one to buy for sure.
5 p.m. – Latour
All the talk in Bordeaux has been that this and another first growth (Mouton) are the wines of the vintage. While we have not tasted Mouton yet, it would be hard to disagree with the Latour comments. It is a powerful wine that shows amazing finesse and a silky texture.
6 p.m. – Champagne Break
7:30 p.m. – Dinner with Frederic Engerer at Château Latour
We have had some great wines on our trips to Bordeaux, wines that stand out each trip, wines that you can’t forget, wines that overshadow everything else and, many times, will be the one thing you can remember years later. Many of them have been from Château Latour. We had a pleasant dinner that started with a bottle of 1985 Salon. Our palates were fresh and ready to go. But Frederic likes to play with our minds, so he serves the wines blind and enjoys making us guess. Alex came very close on the first round. Our hint was that they were consecutive vintages. He guessed 1970 and 1971 Latour. Close. They were 1970 and 1971 Les Forts de Latour. Tonight the ’71 was showing better than the ’70. It was fresh, powerful and rich. Both were very much alive but the ’70 showed a tad flat. Round two was 1970 and 1971 Latour. Wow! The ’70 is a great wine that is still fresh and vibrant. The ’71 is very much alive. The fact that we were drinking this wine at Latour I think played a big role. This wine never left the town of Paulliac. Ship this wine to the west coast and put it in a cellar for a years and who knows.
The final wine was guessed by my father. 1945 Latour! A big-time treat, this wine was amazing. It was so sweet and fresh that it was a shock to me that it was ’45. Most of us guessed ’61. It was a very nice surprise and one we will not forget.