Tag Archives: Bordeaux

1996 Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage in Focus by Barry Weinman

27th June 2015IMG_0544

I am in the fortunate position to be able to drink old wines regularly. Often, this is in the setting of dinner with friends, or a themed tasting. It is a rare treat however, to be able to drink a number of aged wines from the same vintage.

To make this tasting even more interesting, all wines were Bordeaux varietals or blends and the wines were equally divided between France and Australia. An added bonus was that 1996 was an excellent year on both sides of the globe. I could not find a bottle of Mosswood from this vintage, so substituted a bottle of the 1994 Reserve.

All wines came from the Wine and Food Society of Western Australia’s cellar. The Australian wines had been in the cellar since launch, whereas many of the French wines I purchased a few years ago when they had been shipped ex-cellar.

Opening the wines told a tale of two standards. The corks in the French wines were uniformly in great condition. Longer than the Australian’s, but also of perceptibly higher quality. The Australian wines’ corks started crumbling with a standard corkscrew, whereas the French wines’ corks came out easily without breaking.

Once again, I was very grateful to have a Durant corkscrew on hand to assist with cork removal. This remarkable device is a must for those regularly opening wines older than 15 years. Remarkably, there was no discernible cork taint in any of the wines. This was indeed a very special day!

Initially, I planned on serving the wines in matched pairs (Australia v France). On opening the wines, this plan changed as the overt power of the Australian wines would have overwhelmed the French wines.

The Wines

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the night was the Champagnes in Bracket One. Support for the three wines was equally divided across the group. The “standard” 2002 was the most accessible, making it the choice for those who value drinkability.Bracket 1

At the other end of the spectrum, the Sir Winston Churchill is a sublime wine that was the pick for the aficionados among us. Sitting in the middle and offering outstanding value was the Blanc de Blanc. A great drink!

The highlight of Bracket Two was the Roc de Cambes, coming from a fully mature vineyard that has similarities to St Emillon. This demonstrated just how good the wines from Cotes de Bourg (Cotes de Bordeaux) can be.

Bracket Three saw a step up in perceived quality, as all wines were of Grand Cru status. This was also reflected in the overall quality. The highlight was the Cantemerle, a still youthful wine of real class.

Bracket Four saw the first of the Australian wines. The change in style was immediately apparent, with the fruit more accessible. The wines retained balance and poise, but there was a degree of immediacy that, if anything, made the wines more accessible to the average drinker.

The Wynns displayed classic Coonawarra fruit and was a delight to drink. The Plantagenet was my pick. A wine that is in its prime, but one that will also last for years.

Bracket 5The final bracket consisted of three superstars. The Mosswood was the most complete drink, the 707 the most long-lived. All were brilliant wines in their own right, and equal to the best Cabernets anywhere in the world, albeit in a different style to the French. Ultimately, it was the Vasse Felix Heytesbury that was my pick for the night!

Bracket One

Pol Roger – Champagne – 2002. A rich and developed Champagne that is powerful and complex, with honeyed, aged notes. Textured and very long, this was preferred by several guests.

Pol Roger – Champagne – Blanc de Blanc – 2002. Perfumed and floral, the taut chardonnay fruit characters are clearly expressed here. Refined and delicate, yet there is latent power and excellent length. A great wine that will age well for another few years at least.

Pol Roger – Champagne – Sir Winston Churchill – 2000. The term “Less is more” comes to mind here. Very fine and delicate, yet has tremendous presence in the mouth. Elegance is the key.

Bracket Two

Lilian Ladouys – Saint Estephe – 1996. Lovely fragrant nose, with subtle spice complementing the still-fresh fruit. The palate is fully mature, with decent depth and length and a well-structured finish. Good drinking.

Roc de Cambes – Cotes de Bourg – 1996. Made primarily from Merlot, the fantastic fruit here has an almost new-world richness. Cassis and spice on the nose. The silky mouthfeel and depth of fruit on the palate are noteworthy. Considered by many to be the best wine from the Cotes de Bourg, this was a standout.

Labegorce – Margeaux – 1996. The perfumed fruit is typical of Margeaux, but the palate was starting to dry out. Perhaps not the best bottle.

Bracket Three

Clos de L’Oratoire – St. Emillon – Grand Cru – 1996. Delicious sweet fruit that has obvious power. Very long and texture, this is drinking perfectly now.

Chateau Cantemerle – Haut Medoc – 5th Growth – 1996. Sweet ripe fruit, with minty highlights. A powerful wine, with still firm tannins. The excellent length on the finish is a feature. A stand-out.

Grand Puy Ducasse – Pauliac – 5th Growth – 1996. Obvious powerful fruit, with a touch of earthy/ funky notes adding to the appeal. Fine tannins fan out on a long finish.

Bracket Four

Wynns – Cabernet Sauvignon – “Black Label” – 1996. Cassis and menthol speaks of classic Coonawarra Cabernet. The palate is not overly dense, but this is a delightful drink.

Plantagenet – Cabernet Sauvignon – 1996. Plump, fresh fruit on the nose. The palate is bright, fresh, taut and full of life. The balance is a highlight and the finish is long and fine. Excellent now, but will hold.

Irvine – Grand Merlot – 1996. A big wine, full of plump ripe fruit. Loved by some, but this was a bit overdone for me. This was, perhaps not a typical bottle, as I have enjoyed excellent bottles of this vintage in the recent past.

Bracket Five

Vase Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Heytesbury – 1996. Intense, powerful fruit, with leather and spice over the superb fruit. The palate is remarkably youthful, with red fruit characters. A complete wine and quite spectacular!

Mosswood – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 1994. The most complete wine now, and an absolute pleasure to drink. The perfumed fruit retains power, but the palate is long, refined elegant and silky. A textural treat.

Penfolds – Cabernet Sauvignon – 707 – 1996. Tight and incredibly youthful, with powerful, yet restrained fruit. The palate is closed and tight, with chewy tannins that are remarkably fine. The line and length is a feature. The intense fruit builds and builds. The proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove, a great wine!

Mouton Rothschild, Clerc Milon and d’Armailhac

June 2015

2005 Mouton RothschildBaron Philippe de Rothschild is the parent organisation for several wineries, including one of the great wines of Bordeaux – Chateau Mouton Rothschild in the appellation of Paulliac. Promoted to 1st growth in 1973, the wines have been consistently brilliant (vintage conditions permitting) for many decades.

The group also owns a pair of 5th growths in Paulliac. Chateau Clerc Milon is considered the better of the two, made in a more muscular style, whilst Chateau d’Armailhac is the more feminine (and less expensive), though still age-worthy.

D’Armailhac is a neighbouring vineyard to Mouton. Whilst the ranking of the winery is not linked to specific holdings, the operations of the two are kept separate, so the best estate fruit is used to make this wine. Clerc Milon is about a kilometre north of Mouton.

Thanks to Daniel Arnoldi (the Australian importer of these wines) and John Jens (Lamonts – Cottesloe), Erwan Le Brozec from Baron Philippe de Rothschild was in Perth recently to showcase several vintages of each of these wines over lunch. With the title of Vice Commercial Director, Erwan is the Head of Export Operations for the organisation. (Some people have a hard life!).

Along with the three Grand Cru wineries, we also had a pair of wines from Le Petit Mouton, the second wine of Mouton Rothschild. Given the pricing, these wines appear to be more highly rated than the 5th Growths.

To round the event off, we started and finished with wines from Chateau Coutet (Barsac)

In regards to the vintages, Daniel went to great trouble to select a variety of vintages going back to 1990, including the great vintages of 2000, 2005 and 2009.

Amazingly, all of the wines are available for sale, albeit in small quantities. While the prices are not cheap, the wines have come straight from the chateau in perfect condition. The prices quoted were the prices offered by Lamont’s on the day, but give you a ballpark idea of costs.

And the verdict? The wines were uniformly outstanding, accurately expressing the vintage conditions and the vineyard characters. The Clerc Milon in particular, impressed for the sheer quality of the wines. That said, the 2005 Mouton is one of the greatest wines that I have had the privilege to taste.

N.B. The 2014 indent is now being offered by select retailers. This looks like being another excellent year and prices are much reduced compared to other recent years. For example, one retailer has Chateau Margaux for $600 and Lafite for $750.

Admittedly, you will not get the wines for 2 -3 years, and it will be another 10+ years before they are ready to drink.

The Wines

Chateau d’Armailhac – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot – Paulliac – 2009. What a great way to start. Whilst the 2009 remained relatively closed and tight, the feminine, almost floral fruit was a highlight. The palate was structured and firm, but in no way austere. The fine tannins, supple oak and well-judged acidity come together on the finish, providing the backbone for a long life. Considered by some (e.g. Robert Parker) to be the best d’Armailhac ever. ($138).

Chateau d’Armailhac – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot – Paulliac – 2005. More overt power to the fruit here, but still with the trademark elegance and balance. The more muscular palate has fine, dusty (though still) firm tannins. A wine with excellent presence that would benefit from another 5+ years to open up. ($195).

Chateau d’Armailhac – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Paulliac – 2000. Seductive, rich, generous and complex, yet still with the trademark feminine fruit. On the palate, the fruit is quite delicate and the structure is elegant and refined. The finish is defined by the way the fine, silky tannins are integrated back into the fruit in a near seamless close. A lovely wine now, but will hold. ($232).

Chateau Clerc Milon – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot/Carmenere – Paulliac – 2009. The fruit on the nose is quite restrained, though the potential is clearly evident. The palate is where the quality is expressed. The dense and powerful fruit is the main focus initially, with the firm structure becoming evident on the close. The fine tannins and oak (40% new) are perceptible, but not intrusive. The finish is silky and remarkably supple, with seamless palate transition. With air, the fruit characters become more evident. A superb wine that needs time to show its best. ($171).

Chateau Clerc Milon – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot/Carmenere – Paulliac – 2000. Given the age, the fruit is surprisingly subdued initially. With air, this starts to shine, with delicate berry notes and hints of menthol and leathery complexity. Whilst the beautiful fruit became apparent in the glass, this is a wine that still needs a few years to reach its drinking window. Classic Bordeaux for the aficionados, but one that may be lost on the average drinker. ($255).

Chateau Clerc Milon – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc – Paulliac – 1996. This has a beautiful nose that is developed, rich and complex. The palate is mature, yet full of life. The mouthfeel is a highlight leading to a long, supple finish. An enchanting wine that is drinking perfectly. ($198).

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc– Paulliac – 2009. Very tight and closed initially. This is a structured, powerful wine, though it retains a remarkable degree of elegance. The finish is supple, though the tannins and oak (100% new) prevent the fruit from opening up. A profound, masculine wine that needs years. ($495).

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc– Paulliac – 2005. This is a very serious wine with great power and structure. There are the first signs of development (mocha/coffee notes), but the fruit is still youthful and full of vitality. The fruit density is a real step-up, yet the tannins remain very fine and the balance is exemplary. With air the fruit opens and builds, while the oak (75% new) fades into the background. A powerhouse! ($717).

Chateau Mouton Rothschild – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Paulliac – 2007. Given the vintage, this is a great effort. The nose is quite lovely, with a remarkable purity to the pretty fruit. Pristine red fruits abound on the palate, with berries and spice over fine textured oak. The finish is still closed, with the lighter fruit weight well matched to the structural components. Very strict fruit selection, combined with careful handling in the vineyard has produced a wine of great charm that will provide earlier drinking pleasure. ($795).

Chateau Mouton Rothschild – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Paulliac – 2005. The nose here is somewhat muted at first. The palate however, is nothing short of spectacular! Refined and tight, this is full of nervous energy. Power, intensity, depth and great length, this has it all. The finish is defined by a minerality that combines with the amazing tannins and oak leading to a seamless close. It is almost as if you can taste the soil in which the vines are grown. It is a privilege to have tasted this wine. ($1729).

Chateau Mouton Rothschild – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Paulliac – 1990. Whilst the power is still evident, this has evolved into a seductive and beautiful wine. Aromas of tobacco, spice and gentle herbal notes complement the fruit which still retains great purity. In the mouth, the fruit is represented by menthol and soft leathery tones, with the fruit weight building on the palate. Whilst this has developed and is drinking beautifully, it is still a powerhouse, with bright acidity combining with remarkably fine tannins to add life and vitality to the finish. A wine of great length that is a joy to drink today! ($1196).

Magnum Lunch

Fraser’s Restaurant

24th May 2013

Eighteen wine enthusiasts, twenty one magnums of outstanding wine and one of Perth’s best chefs recently combined for a truly memorable experience. No occasion was needed to bring a remarkable collection of both wines and people together for the second magnum lunch at Fraser’s Restaurant in Kings Park.

The lunch was conceived by John Jens, but it was Bob Winterbottom who made the lunch a reality. Bob set the guidelines for what wines could be brought and coordinated selections to ensure that there was a spread of wines from various styles. Once the list was finalised, Bob passed this on to Chris Taylor at Fraser’s. Chris developed a spectacular meal that complemented the wines superbly.

There were so many vinous highlights that it seems unfair to give the wines points. Needless to say that many of the wines would have been awarded gold medals. I will go out on a limb and say that the line-up was one of the best collections of wine that I have tasted in years.

One highlight for me was the bracket of Corton Charlemagne’s from Bonneau du Martray. It was fascinating to see how the style has evolved over the last few years. The 2008 was drinking spectacularly, but the 2010 was, quite possibly, the greatest wine of the tasting.

Another highlight was the three Second Growths from Bordeaux. Whilst the quality of the 2000 vintage was superbly highlighted by the Leoville Barton and the Cos d’Estronnel, the 2001 Leoville Las Cases was also a superstar.

The food that was prepared to accompany the wines was uniformly superb. For me, the highlight was the roast whole pig! A special mention must go to William and Bronwyn from Fraser’s who provided us with superb service throughout the event.

Ultimately though, it was the company of the other 17 wine tragics who attended that made the day so memorable.

How soon can we do it again???


We started the lunch on the restaurant forecourt where Chris shucked Ceduna oysters as we sipped on the four Champagnes. It was a perfect start, the picturesque backdrop only adding to the sense of occasion.

Pol Roger – Champagne – 1996. This wine stood out for its great finesse and balance. Yes, it was fully mature, but there was still life and vitality. A great way to start. (From Magnum).

Krug – Champagne – NV. Remarkably, this had spent 11 years in bottle since it was purchased. Fully mature, complex, rich and finely balanced, this was a great drink and perfectly complemented by the ocean tang of the oysters. (From Magnum).

Dom Perignon – Champagne – 1990. Unfortunately, the cork on this spoiled the party. (From Magnum).

Dom Perignon – Champagne – Oenotheque – 1996. Unbelievably fresh and tight, the lemony citrus characters leading the charge on both the nose and the palate. This needs years to reach its drinking peak but is a superb wine!


The pairing of the Climens and the parfait was an inspired combination. The silky texture of the parfait was the perfect foil to the wines richness.

Chateau Climens – Barsac – 1995. Balanced, precise, rich (though not in any way cloying) and very long. Apricot, almond and marzipan combine with wonderful spice notes on both the nose and the palate. Whilst this is superb now, it will last for many more years.

White Burgundy and Chablis

Given the refinement of the wines in this bracket, I was concerned that the mushroom risotto that accompanied it would overwhelm the fruit. In reality, the risotto was remarkably delicate and refined, adding a lovely backdrop to the whites.

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2004. A very complex wine, the minerals and honey on the nose combined well with the toasty, developed characters on the palate. Powerful, intense and very long, this has developed very nicely. (From Magnum).

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2008. Sublime drinking here. Grapefruit and lemony acid lead onto complex mineral characters, spice and a hint of curry leaf. Outstanding drive and length to a wine that is great now, but will also develop well for a few years. (From Magnum).

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2010.  Precise, focused and tight, this is a restrained and silky wine that flows seamlessly to a very long finish. A stunning wine and one of my favourites for the day. (From Magnum).

Domaine Francois RaveneauChapelot – Chablis – 1er Cru – 2009. Very tight, lean and racy, with lemon, nectarine and citrus rind notes. Outstanding length to a wine that needs 5 years to really start to hit its straps. (From Magnum).

Domaine Baron Thenard – Le Montrachet – Grand Cru – 2007. Opens with really tangy citrus notes. A very powerful wine that has subtle minerals and a very fine texture. Creamy and very long, this is a superb wine of power and restraint. Will age for years, but this is sublime!

Blain Gagnard – Batard Montrachet – Grand Cru – 2006. This is a very powerful wine, though the nose is remarkably tight at present. A big wine that still needs a few years for the powerful fruit to fully integrate with the oak and show its best. (From Magnum).

Red Burgundy

The Burgundies were accompanied by a complex and artistically prepared dish of braised lamb. A delicious dish, with the natural acidity of the wines complementing the richness of the food.

Pousse d’Or  – Volnay – 1er Cru – Caillerets – 1990. This bottle had, perhaps, seen better days as it was very earthy and old fashioned. (From Magnum).

Armand Rousseau – Ruchottes-Chambertin – Grand Cru – Clos des Ruchottes – 2007. Silky, sweet fruit with pepper and lovely spice highlights. The texture, balance and power have all the hallmarks of a great wine! Despite the powerful fruit, this is elegant, refined and very long. A great wine!

Mommessin – Clos de Tart – Grand Cru – 2008. Pepper, spice and cinnamon come to the fore here. Superb length and balance combine with a silky texture to make this a stunning wine. (From Magnum).

Mongeard Mugneret – Clos de Vougeot – Grand Cru – 2005. Leaner and more structured than the Clos de Tart, this is still youthful, long, fine and powerful. There are cherry fruit notes, while the finish fans out like the proverbial peacocks tail. A superb wine that is immensely long. (From Magnum).

Bordeaux and Dry Reds

From a food perspective, the roast pork that accompanied the bigger reds was spectacular. The crispy skin combined beautifully with the succulent meat. There were Asian cues to the preparation with galangal being an integral part of the seasoning.

In many respects, this dish stole the show!

Chateau Léoville Las Cases – St Julien – 2001. A brilliant wine, though the fruit is wrapped up in a very structured cloak. The tannins are firm, though very fine, while the supple oak complements the fruit perfectly. A powerful wine that will last for years, yet is a joy to drink now. (From Magnum).

Chateau Cos d’Estournel – St Julien – 2000. This is a great wine. The fruit is sweeter than the Las Cases (perhaps reflecting the year), though the wine is still very powerful. Wonderful length and texture, the fruit framed by very fine tannins. A complete wine. (From Magnum).

Chateau Leoville Barton – St Julien – 2000. Another stunning effort. This wine is silky and supple, with wonderful tannin and oak management. The most structured of the three St Juliens, this is masculine and very youthful. (From Magnum).

Joseph Phelps Eisele Vineyard  – Cabernet Sauvignon – 1986. Perhaps more than any wine here, the Phelps polarised the group. Spectacular fruit quality and power, but the wine initially appeared a little rustic and old fashioned courtesy of a touch of Brettanomyces. Certainly evolved in the glass and improved significantly as it opened up. (From Magnum).

J L Chave – Hermitage – 1983. This wine is totally, seductive, elegant and fully mature. The palate is defined by its finesse and length, the acidity providing drive right through to the close. From a drinking point of view, this wine was my favourite of the reds! (From Magnum).


At the end of such a spectacular lunch and with plenty of red wine still on the table, we finished with a selection of cheeses. An excellent way to end a memorable day.

Franck Bonville – Champagne – Blanc de Blanc – 2006. A superb way to end the meal, the freshness, balance and power left the palate refreshed (although it did not really refresh my mind at this point!)


Bordeaux 2006

A Boot-full of Wine Tasting Notes from Italy (and beyond!)

Brendan Jansen

8 February 2011

Just off the plane from London and the Institute of Masters of Wine Annual Claret Tasting of the 2006 vintage, I thought I would pen my thoughts while they are still fresh.

The Annual Claret Tasting has a long history and dates back to when the IMW was the Vintners’ Company, one of twelve Great City of London Livery Companies. It is held annually in Vintners’ Hall, a wonderful venue worth a visit in its own right if you are ever in London.

The 2006 vintage in Bordeaux was a difficult one, and was always going to struggle in the shadow of the stellar 2005 vintage. In summary, bud break was late and flowering affected by coulure (failure of fruit set). April frosts were followed by variable temperatures over summer, with June/July being very warm and August very cool, but worryingly, also damp. The heat returned in September, and then heavy rain hit in mid September. Dry conditions then returned till harvest in October.

Therefore, there was some water stress to contend with (which, with the earlier frost damage, reduced yields), fluctuating temperatures (the cool August led to uneven ripeness), the risk of dilution due to the rain near harvest, and for some, the risk of rot. The last concern was compounded by the fact that many did not spray for rot given the warm July, and no leaf thinning (or green harvesting, which usually go hand in hand) was done due to the smaller yields and earlier heat. These conditions produced a real test of terroir.

In terms of soil types, and in particular relating to water delivery to the vine, the current state of thinking is that the quality of soils relate to their ability to deliver a modest level of water even in dry conditions, yet be free draining enough not to be affected by too much water in times of excess.

So in the best sites, 2006 has the potential to be a great year. In other areas, there might be dilution effects due to the rain, or lack of phenolic ripeness in those forced to pick early and quickly due to the risk of rot, with Merlot particularly at risk.

Though there were 96 wines at the tasting, and I got through 45 of them, I will not outline tasting notes for all of them – that would be just too boring! I thought instead I would outline my approach to the tasting, and share some of my discoveries.

On to the tasting….

So, here we were, in this beautiful, grand setting, in a Hall filled with Masters of Wine, who know Bordeaux like the back of their hand. Where to start?

The tables were laid out thus – one table for the slightly more southerly regions of Pessac/Graves, Haut Medoc and Margaux, another for the northerly St Julien, Pauillac, St Estéphe and Médoc, a third table for right bank St Emilion and Pomerol, and finally, a (small) table for (5) First Growths.

This is what I decided to do – taste 5 or 6 examples from each region, looking for similarities and differences. I would then try 5 or 6 from another region. I paid special attention to the potential differences between left and right banks, ie Cabernet Sauvignon vs Merlot dominant wines, using two glasses to taste representative samples of each at the same time.

For the First Growths, I decided to try a good producer from the exact same region (where I could, a Second Growth) and then try the relevant First Growth, again, in a pair.

What did I learn from the tasting? Well, there are some very smart 2006 Clarets out there. But there certainly are a few that show the dilution effect mentioned above. Some were very sulphurous on the nose, possibly indicative of the late need to spray on several occasions for rot, though I cannot be certain of this.

Some wines showed incredibly high levels of alcohol – 14% – reflective of warm conditions during parts of the growing season. Perhaps the earlier ripening Merlot based wines were more likely to show this tendency to a greater extent, if not picked early to avoid problems with rot.

Quality variability was at times striking, though most striking when the First Growths were compared against ‘lesser’ counterparts. They inevitably showed more power, more length, more complexity, more finesse, or indeed a combination of all of these.

Let me share just one example. On tasting the Château Lafite-Rothschild, I found it initially closed and rather austere and angular. Certainly there was less of the powerful fruit than the Mouton-Rothschild. It had nonetheless good complexity, and the essence of Cabernet fruit, with tomato leaf notes, cassis fruit, and firm tannins. Though not exactly underwhelmed, I wondered about what all the fuss was about. Then, as is my usual practice at tastings, I waited for the flavours to dissipate so that I could move on to another wine…. I waited and waited… I cannot remember when I have had to wait as long – the persistence of flavours was amazing!

The art and science of distinguishing between Left and Right bank wines is a real mug’s game. Cabernet and Merlot are not as distinctive in Bordeaux as they are in Australia. However, I came to the conclusion that palate weight rather than structure of the tannins was more helpful for me.

As for the distinguishing features of each region (like telling a St Julien and a Pauillac apart), I found picking them even more difficult.

Quality based on the classification system too is difficult to gauge. The Cru Bourgeois Château Chasse Spleen being the most obvious example.

Here are a few of the 2006 Bordeaux wines that caught my eye:



Château Brown (17.25). Mocha notes to start, with blackcurrant fruit breaking through on the subdued palate – clearly needs time.


Château Belgrave – 5éme Cru Classé (17). Tomato leaf and capsicum on the nose, herbaceousness on the palate without being too ‘green’. Blackcurrant fruit, the essence of cabernet.


Chateau Lascombes – 2éme Cru Classé (17.5). Deep and dense, great “line” (to borrow Len Evans’ term, which I mean to imply lip to throat flavour presence) despite predominant Cabernet fruit.

Château Rauzan-Gassies – 2éme Cru Classé (17.25). A bit sulphurous to start, but soon blew off. Delicate (in this case in keeping with the reputation of Margaux), and good structure.

Château Rauzan-Ségla – 2éme Cru Classé (17.25). Perfumed nose (again, in keeping with Margaux), rich with cassis, evident also on the palate. Lovely mouthfeel.


Château Chasse-Spleen (17.25). Capsicum and blackcurrant nose and palate with firm but not overwhelming tannins. A beautiful mid weight Cabernet dominant wine that still needs time.


Château Gruaud-Larose – 2éme Cru Classé (17.75). Well proportioned wine with leafy Cabernet notes and enticing spicy complexity. Elegant mouthfeel.


Chateâu Pavie-Decesse – Grand Cru Classé (18). Big nose of coffee and dark red fruit. Menthol hints add complexity to a bold palate, ripe tannic grip.

Chateâu Trottevielle – Premier Grand Cru Classé (17.75). Again, coffee evident on the nose. Rich full palate of currant fruit.

Château Figeac – Premier Grand Cru Classé (17.75). Strong Cabernet – perhaps Franc – notes without being ‘green’, fresh and lightly tannic.


Château Clinet (17.75). Inviting nose of rich redcurrant, kirsch and plum fruit, with a lovely round palate.

Château Gazin (17.75). Less ‘heavy’ than the Clinet, with a menthol, even eucalypt lift, to a cassis driven palate, very persistent.


The vintage was thought to be at its best in Saint Julien and Pauillac (not represented above – perhaps I just chose the wrong examples to taste in the limited time available) and in the free-draining gravel slopes of Saint Emilion and Pomerol (better represented by wines that created an impression on my palate above).

For the record, all the First Growths scored gold medal points, each impressing for various reasons – the Haut-Brion for its complexity, the Margaux for its power and length, the Lafite for its modesty yet persistence, the Mouton for its incredible depth, and the Cheval Blanc for its ballet of flavours on the palate that just went on and on….

Ciao for now!

Brendan Jansen

Bordeaux & Sauternes

15th June 2010

Where do I start? This was an extraordinary event, and I don’t say that just because I was leading the discussion on the night. John Jens and the team at Lamont’s in Cottesloe put together an amazing selection of wines. The fact that they served a meal and only charged $125 per person makes it an absolute bargain.

My suggestion is to get on to their mailing list as their tasting program is second to none. Keep an eye out for the upcoming champagne tasting. I will lead the discussion again and the wines are breathtaking.

Whilst it would be easy to rave about the near perfect Chateau D’Yquem 2003, the highlight for me was the 2000 vintage Leoville Las Case. This is one of the greatest cabernets I have ever tasted.

If you are interested, this tasting forms part of an ongoing series, so there are more of these to come.


In Order Tasted

Chateau Bernadotte – 2005 (16.8). This has lovely sweet and fragrant fruit on the nose. Really floral with a touch of spice. The palate is on the lighter style, dominated by fresh, plumy fruit and a touch of cedar. Good drinking. (Haut Medoc).

Clos du Marquis – 1996 (17.9). More leather here, reflecting the bottle age. Really supple, quality fruit with spice, earth, tar and some herbal characters. Starting to drink very well. (St. Julien). This is not a second wine of Leoville Las Cases, this is from a different vineyard entirely.

Chateau Lafleur Petrus – 2006 (18). Surprisingly masculine for a Pomerol. Really lovely nose on this. Blackcurrant fruit is supple and rounded and there is a whiff of vanillin oak too. The palate is structured, firm, closed and tight. Develops floral fruit with air. There are plenty of tannins and oak, but these are very fine and elegant. (Pomerol).

Chateau Montrose – 2005 (18.5). Wow, this is good! Floral characters tend towards Violets. There is also leather and spice, but this wine is all about power and structure. The palate is fantastic! Very tight and long, this is very structured and intense. The fruit is fantastic, but it needs 10-20+ years to open up. (2nd Growth – St Estephe).

Chateau Palmer – 2003 (18+). From a very warm year, this is classic Margaux. Really seductive and much more approachable than the Montrose. While the fruit is silky and supple, this is still very structured. Excellent oak supports the quality finish. (Margaux).

Chateau Pichon Lalande – 2006 (17.8). A complex wine that has more of the earthy characters than some. The palate is quite complete with plenty of leather, earth and mocha notes. The tannins and oak are more dominant, and the fruit less ripe. May take years to come around. (Pauillac).

Chateau Pontet Canet – 2001 (18.5). Very fragrant yet with understated power. The nose has complex dark fruits, leather and earthy notes. The palate is supple, and has a spicy edge to the lovely fruit. The very long finish is starting to show some bottle age. (Pauillac).

Chateau Pichon Longueville – 1995 (18.5). A powerful wine that is developing a lovely leathery/savoury note to the floral fruit. The palate is silky, elegant, long, textured and really refined. This is a beautiful wine that will last for many years. (Pauillac).

Chateau Leoville Las Cases – 2000 (18.9). A gorgeous nose. This is a classic case of having an iron fist inside a velvet glove. The fruit is tremendously shy and at 10 years, this is just starting to hint at its potential. The palate is seamless and stunning. A great wine and one of the best cabernet based wines I have ever tasted! (St Julien).

Chateau Latour – 1985. (Cork Tainted).

Chateau Palmer – 1985 (18.5). A lovely developed nose with leather and spice. The palate is fantastic. Fragrant, floral, spiced, mellow and supple. At 25 years of age, a lovely aged claret. (Margaux).

Chateau du Pavillon – 2005 (16.5). Fresh apricot and musk. The palate has almond grip to the sweet fruit. Not complex but a good drink.

Chateau Guiraud – 2005 (18+). Closed and a touch sulphurous on the nose. The palate is a revelation. Classic orange peel, marmalade and marzipan fruit with tremendous length and structure. Will score higher in years to come.

Chateau Suduiraut – 2004 (18). Still tight, but a more restrained style compared to the Guiraud. The finish is spot on and the complexity builds. Great length and has a long future.

Chateau D’Yquem – 2003 (19). A gorgeous wine with stunning floral fruit that opens, evolves and builds for an age. The palate has immense power and structure, and the length is like no other. The flavours evolve in the mouth and never seem to end. Arguably the greatest estate in all of Bordeaux and possibly the world. At $650 per bottle, this is a bargain!

Bordeaux versus Margaret River

28th June 2009

The aim of this tasting was to compare wines from Bordeaux and Margaret River. It is my view that Margaret River region produces the best new world cabernets and in quality terms, the wines can match the best of Bordeaux. All wines were served blind and in pairs. The wines were matched for vintage, and with the odd exception (sorry guys), there was one from each region.

Style wise, the wines from Bordeaux wines were characterised by their firmer (but fine) tannins. The New World wines tended to have slightly riper fruit characters, but this was not uniform. The tasting highlighted the quality of wines from both regions, but also serves to highlight the much better value that the Australian wines offer. With the best Margaret River wines nudging $100, they represent better buying than the best bordeaux’s (the 2008 indents are charging $400 – $500 for 1st Growths).

Myles emphasized that our palates get used to certain styles of wines. This is very true, and people who only drink big Australian Reds would find some of these wines challenging. Preferences were spread across the group, with no real tendency towards one style or the other.

Thanks to Norbert and Kerry Fandry for hosting this tasting and dinner.


Vasse Felix – Cabernet – 1982. (17.5) Colour still bright with an orange rim. The nose is soft, fragrant and perfumed. There is a touch on mint and menthol, but the wine is balanced and smooth. The palate is fine, long and silky. The fruit is fading, and the tannins are soft but present.

Chateau Branaire Duluc-Ducru – Bordeaux – 1982 (18.5). Colour still bright with an orange rim. Leads with earthy characters. This is a complex wine. Opens up with air to reveal some lovely perfumed fruit. The complex palate still has bright fresh fruit characters. It is very long and fine, with some cedar/cigar box to close. Lovely

Phelan Segur – Bordeaux – 1994. (Corked)

Penfolds – Bin 407 – Cabernet – 1994 (18). Mint and menthol to open, but rich fruit develops with air. The palate is long, bright and earthy. Serious complexity. The finish is round soft and succulent. Very good

Chateau Soutard – St Emillion – 2001 (18.5). Complex nose with typical cool fruit characters. The palate is complex, deep, long and fine. The tannins shut down the fruit still. Chocolate to close (5yrs)

Arboleda – Merlot – 2001 (17). Unusual nose of dried herbs. Continues on the palate, but is swamped by sweet fruit with chocolate overtones. textured and long. The palate is better than the nose.

Vasse FelixHeytsbury – Cabernet – 1997 (18+). Wow, powerful fruit. Dense, ripe with a touch of menthol.The powerful palate is full of chocolate fruit that is long and layered. There is some licorice to close. There was a question over whether the tannins would outlast the fruit. Drink up and lets not find out.

Chateau Lagrange – Pomerol – 2005 (17). Mint and cassis on the nose. The palate is lean right now with pronounced drying tannins. May evolve.

Leeuwin EstateArt Series – Cabernet – 2002 (18.7). Complex, earthy with a touch of classic Margaret River Mortem. This wine is all about the superb structure and texture on the palate. There is minty fruit, but this wine will need 10 years to show its best.

Chateau Branaire Duluc-Ducru – Bordeaux – 2002 (18.5). Tight and long with a touch of cassis. The palate is fine and tight, though the tannins shut down the finish. Will be very good. (10 years)

Voyager Estate – Cabernet Merlot – 2004 (18.3). Powerful. Ripe and succulent fruit with a touch of mint, tobacco and complex earthiness. Lots of ripe cassis on the palate with a silky textured finish. A bit of a fruit bomb, so will appeal to many.

Chateau du Pez – St Estephe – 2004 (18). A complex wine with a touch of herbal/menthol fruit. A touch of mocha and meaty characters too. The palate is complex and surprisingly ripe. The finish is fine and silky. An elegant wine that needs a few years to open up.

Leoville Poyferre – St Julien – 1995. (18). Earthy fruit with chocolate and coffee notes. The palate is long and silky, with complex earthy fruit. Tannins remain firm.

Devils Lair – Cabernet – 1995 (17.5). Cooler style with minty fruit. Develops chocolate fruit as it opens. The palate is a touch lean and drying.

Rauzan Segla – Bordeaux – 1994. (17.5). Complex, ripe and earthy. The palate shows cassis, lanolin and earthy notes. The mid palate fruit is flattened by drying, dusty tannins.

Pierro – Cabernet Blend – 1994 (18). Both Chocolate and mocha on the nose. The palate displays cassis fruit, with a touch of mint and menthol. Ripe fruit, good texture and viscous. Drinking well

Stony RidgeWaiheke Island – Cabernet – 1996 (17.9). Gorgeous nose. This displays ripe powerful fruit with a touch of herbal complexity. The palate is complex, and powerful with tobacco and menthol.

Les Forts de La Tour – Bordeaux – 1996 (18+). Leathery, complex and earthy. The palate is big, rich and ripe. Very long with leathery edges to the black fruit.