The Home Stretch
Friday Morning, 8am. Everyone seems to be on their game today and that’s good thing because we are heading out to the offices of Bordeaux negoçiant Joanne for a warehouse tasting today where we will pick up some wines we missed.
The idea of UGC week is that the trade comes to Bordeaux and cycles through a number of large tastings organized at designated chateau where trade members can taste the wines of 20 or more chateaux from a given area (say Margaux for instance) in one location. It started off as a good idea but there were problems. A lot of the people pouring the wines either had no technical information on the wines or were indifferent to the people they were pouring for. Sometimes the samples were off and often they were off temperature but again, the pourers were generally indifferent. And, as often happens at big, annual events, the social aspect began to get in the way of efficiently tasting and recording tasting notes. In ordered to taste better samples and gather more information, I began to schedule more and more tastings at chateaux but we still had to attend the big cattle call tastings to taste everything we needed to evaluate. Then came an invitation from Joanne to visit their warehouse and have the opportunity to taste ALL the UGC wines in one location while seated at a table with the option to plug in the computer for note taking and with someone there to provide technical information (such as the blend) on all the wines. Doing this would free up more time for more appointments at chateaux so we scheduled to visit Joanne on Friday morning of UGC week. That was five years ago and I have never looked back.
When we walk into Joanne, we’re escorted to a private tasting area for just our group (and maybe a couple of others – this year it was two friends from the Liquor Control Board in Ontario). We are handed a catalogue of all the wines available to taste and check off the ones we want to taste. Then the fun begins. University interns pour the wines and we can rock through a lot of wine in a fairly short period of time. This year, we tasted through over forty wines in under three hours. A few were re-tastes but most were wines we had missed either knowing we would taste them at Joanne or because of the stomach bug – the “Grand Mal (big bad) de Bordeaux” – that had been going around all week.
Here are the highlights of the Joanne tasting:
Ch. CANTEMERLE, Haut Medoc, 2015 (92)
Ch. La LAGUNE, Haut Medoc, 2015 (91+)
Ch. du TERTRE, Margaux, 2015 (91+)
Ch. CANTENAC BROWN, Margaux, 2015 (93+)
Ch. GISCOURS, Margaux, 2015 (94+)
Ch. d’ISSAN, Margaux, 2015 (93+)
Ch. BRANE CANTENAC, Margaux, 2015 (94+)
Ch. RAUZAN SEGLA, Margaux, 2015 (94-95)
Ch. LASCOMBES, Margaux, 2015 (93)
As these and our other scores for Margaux wines show, this was fine year for that appellation.
Ch. LALANDE BORIE, St. Julien, 2015 (91+)
A re-taste from the day before with much better results due to a better sample.
Ch. BEYCHEVELLE, St. Julien, 2015 (94+)
Ch. MEYNEY, St. Estephe, 2015 (93+)
Ch. LAFON ROCHET, St. Estephe, 2015 (93++)
A wine to reckon with this year due to improved facilities and a new consultant in the person of former Petrus winemaker Jean Claude Berrouet.
Ch. PAPE CLEMENT, Pessac Leognan Rouge, 2015 (94+)
Tasted at the recommendation of Joanne’s Dan Snook. Quite enjoyable 2015 after some years of way too much extraction.
Ch. CARBONNIEUX, Pessac Leognan Rouge Rouge, 2015 (94-95)
Ch. CARBONNIEUX BLANC, Pessac Leognan Blanc, 2015 (94-95)
Best young Carbonnieux wines of my career.
DOMAINE de CHEVALIER, Pessac Leognan Rouge, 2015 (94++)
Much better here than at the chateau on Monday.
Ch. CANON, St. Emilion, 2015 (95-96)
The guys tasted this on Wednesday but I was by that time a casualty.
Ch. CLOS FOURTET, St. Emilion, 2015 (95
Ch. la DOMINIQUE, St. Emilion, 2015 (95)
Tasted at the recommendation of Joanne’s Dan Snook. Improved facilities and new team have made abig difference.
Ch. TROPLONG MONDOT, St. Emilion, 2015 (94-96)
Ch. NENIN, Pomerol, 2015 (94)
Ch. DOISY VEDRINES, Barsac, 2015 (93-95)
Ch. COUTET, Barsac, 2015 (94)
Ch. DOISY DAENE, Barsac, 2015 (94+)
Clearly a fine vintage for Sauternes.
After Joanne, we had two more appointments: 3:30pm back at Ch. Haut Brion so James – who had missed Haut Brion on Monday due to the big bad – could experience bliss and 5:15pm at Borie Manoux as we had all missed getting good notes on those wines for the same reason.
At Ch. Haut Brion, the wines were consistent with Monday with the reds as a group showing a bit better on Monday (at La Mission) and the whites as a group showing a bit better on this second visit.
Finally, we went to Borie Manoux to taste through the range of chateaux owned by the Casteja family (who were our hosts for that fabulous dinner on the Sunday prior). Owner philippe Casteja actually poured and provided the technical details for our tasting
Here are the highlights of the Borie Manoux tasting:
Ch. BEAU-SITE, St. Estephe, 2015 (91+)
Brilliant white gravel and sand terroir overlooking Calon Segur.
Les HAUTS de LYNCH, Haut Medoc, 2015 (90+)
2nd wine of Lynch Moussas with some of the grapes coming from outside the Pauillac appellation.
Ch. LYNCH MOUSSAS, Pauillac, 2015 (92)
LIONS de BATAILLEY, Pauillac, 2015 (91)
New 2nd wine of Ch. Batailley.
Ch. BATAILLEY, Pauillac, 2015 (94+)
My “reference standard” in Pauillac.
Ch. la CROIX du CASSE, Pomerol, 2015 (91+)
DOMAINE de l’EGLISE, Pomerol, 2015 (93+)
La DAME de TROTTEVIELLE, St. Emilion, 2015 (91+)
Ch. TROTTEVIELLE, St. Emilion, 2015 (96-98)
Premiere Grand Cru Classé St. Emilion at a very high level with a small part of pre-phylloxera vines.
Whew! What a day. What a trip.
With that, the tasting is done but the fun is just beginning.
Lots of evaluation to be done, commentary (as opposed to travel log) to be written, and the pricing dance is about to start.