Monday night’s venue was the The Residence Private Members Club, 41 St. Stephen’s Green. The event? Berry Brothers hosting a tasting of wine from around Bordeaux.
En Primeur: what is deeze?
The fermented juice picked in 2007 is still in the barrels in the dark cool cellars of Bordeaux and won’t be ready for bottling until this time next year.
As the wine is still in the barrel or “en primeur”, it can be bought for cheaper than retail price. The buyer is taking a bit of a punt while the producer is getting an important cash injection now rather than having to wait until the wine is ready for the shelves of wine shops all over the world.
The 2007 wines won’t be delivered until summer 2010.
2007: Annis horribilis?
Critics who know their stuff have said 2007 was a pretty bad year for Bordeaux. It rained a lot over the two months coming up to the harvest which can mean the grapes fill with water, diluting the wine.
I asked one of the producers if this was a problem and she shrugged, said something like “Zut Alors”. She went on to explain that it wasn’t such a big deal as they use various technologies like reverse osmosis (essentially sucking the excess water out and leaving a more concentrated wine).
One of my first posts on this blog, Vintages Don’t Matter, discussed this. Essentially, the worse the weather, the stronger the hand of the winemaker has to be.
What about the wines?
The producers brought over their 2007 en primeur wines along with at least one of an older vintage for comparison. I tried quite a few of them, here are just some of the highlights.
First off, the reds.
- Château Angélus: a Premier Cru Classé from St. Emilion (60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc) currently priced at €1,388 per case (12 bottles) for the 2007. The 2004 was a gorgeous, powerful wine currently on the market at €2,135 per case.
- Château Beychevelle: Where the 2007 is all about green peppers and bitter chocolate, the 2004 is more delicate and perfumed. €374 and €618 respectively.
- Clos de l’Oritoire, Grand Cru Classé St. Emilion 2004: Big, bloody raw steak. Delicious an €374 per case.
- Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessax Léognan 2004: a lovely full and well balanced brute of a wine, going for €327 for a case. Had a great chat about rugby with this guy, comparing Toulouse and Munster.
- Château Destieux, Grand Cru, St. Emilion, 2004: This was one of my favourites of the night and at €248 a case, is pretty decently priced.
- Château Labégorce, Cru Bourgeois, Margaux 2007: This place has a new winemaker this year and great things are expected of him. With a price of €221 per case (in bond), it’s also relatively afforable.
- Château d’Aiguilhe, Côtes de Castillon: I tried the 2007 and the 2004 from this lesser known Bordeaux area and I was really impressed. Very powerful wines at keen prices. €178 and €213 respectively.
And now for the sweet stuff, the Sauternes. Where 2007 was a poor year for the reds, it was a bumper year for the unctuous Sauternes. The grapes, Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc are let to rot and shrivel and the vine. This “noble rot” leaves very little juice in the shrivelled grapes and gives a massively concentrated sweet wine.
Château Guiraud, Premier Cru Classé, Sauternes
Rich, sugary goodness in the 2007 and mango, pineapple and honey in the 2004. These can last for decades and even longer. About €420 a case for either year. Chris Kassick, over at thewinedoctor.com, had this to say about the 2007,
A rich honey and pastry sweetness on the nose here, a very broad and appealing set of aromas. Rather straightforward on the palate, but quite complete and elegant. Less overt acidity than many other wines, moderate richness, stylish, and overall still very good.
Of the 2002?
“This has an attractive nose, rich in honey-tinged minerals, with crisp, tropical, pineapple fruit. There is a nice weight and substance, with gentle flavours of vanilla, white flower petals and sweet tropical fruits. Quite pretty and attractive, but it does not carry any gravitas. Good for the vintage though”.
Château Suduiraut, Premier Cru Classé, Sauternes
The second Sauternes of the night.
The 2007 has crystallised sugary fruits give way to the honey, almonds and pink grapefruit of the 2002. Apparently, that’s how it goes as the wine ages, the sugars softens and the fruit comes to the fore.
Monsieur thewinedoctor, had this to say of the 2007
“Harvested with a yield of 16 hl/ha, the final wine has 14% alcohol and 130 g/l of residual sugar. Attractive crystalline fruit, pure elderflower character, stylish and just a little honeyed. Elegant yet textured, gentle and balanced. A rounded, creamy flesh with vanilla and honey flavour, and an appealing sense of fatness through the midpalate. A lively finish, showing some botrytis and greater fruit complexity. Very good indeed. Lovely potential here.”
As for the 2002?
“Honey on the nose here, as ever, with attractive orange and pineapple fruit and nice botrytis. A nice weight on entry, not luscious but quite correct, slightly fat, fairly moderate but sufficient balancing acidity. Moderate depth. A supple, gentle, elegant style. It perhaps lacks the vibrancy I would really like, but I think for the vintage it is a good showing”.
For more in depth reviews of these wines, I’d highly recommend thewinedoctor.com, probably the best resource online for everything Bordeaux.
The overall experience
I really enjoyed the evening. Meeting the producers really brings the bottle to life.
It was also a great opportunity to put all the theory from wine courses I’ve taken into a bit of practice, comparing the Cabernet-dominated left bank wines with the Merlot-dominated of the right.
Can I haz spittoon plz?
The venue was nice, but at times a little too packed, meaning unless you can spit on target from a distance, it’s down the gob with all the wine, not ideal for wine tasting, but ideal for a bit of mischief.
As Will alluded to over at his blog, Irish Wine Contemplations, we managed to finally meet up and introduce ourselves.
A really well organised night by Berry Brothers. The only thing rotten? The grapes that went into the Sauternes. Thanks to Dan and Jessica for the invite.