(2022) A mature Bordeaux that is 58% cabernet sauvignon, 35% merlot, 5% petit verdot, 2% cabernet franc given 12 months in oak barrels, 33% new. Proper claret nose, with a little blood and game, black fruit and a hint of cedar. In the mouth there's an obvious ripeness and sweetness to the mid-palate fruit that is reasonably fleshy and creamy. Spicy, tight tannins and acidity do assert in the finish, but this drinks well.
(2022) From the Cadillac region of Entre-Deux-Mers, this 2016 is majority Merlot. It is worthy of note that Patrick Leon (ex-technical director of Mouton-Rothschild 1984-2004) was consultant here from the family’s first vintage in 2007 and, apparently, he twice tried to buy the property. It is a plush and svelte Bordeaux, with a graphite edge to plum and blackcurrant on the nose. There's a cool sense of elegance and controlled power on the palate: the fruit remains plush and deep, but it is so savoury, the tight, fine-grained tannins and keen edge of juicy acidity giving precision. The edges are barely blurred by softening coffee-ish oak, as crisp acids and bittersweet fruit lingers on the finish. £250 per dozen, in-bond. Approximate per-bottle price quoted.
(2022) Esprit de Pavie is a Bordeaux AOC wine that blends 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon coming from both the famous Château Pavie in Saint-Emilion, and nearby Château Clos L'Église in the Côtes de Castillon, which was purchased by Pavie's owner, Gerard Perse. There's an herbal twang to the fragrance, cedary and tobacco-like too, then a firm cherry and Asian plum fruit comes through. That firmness continues on the palate, a stripe if liquorice underpinning the black fruit, the wine finishing on food-friendly acidity.
(2022) From a very good vintage in Bordeaux and with a handy 12 years already under its belt, this is a Merlot-dominated red. I was initially surprised to find it closed with a modern DIAM technical cork, but that is explained. The colour shows a little development but is still solid at the core. There's a hint of tinned plum tomato on the nose that gives a savoury character, a little spice too. In the mouth that spiciness of red and black fruit continues, not a lot of barrel component showing, but firm tannins are resolving nicely and the overall balance is good.
(2021) A Cru Bourgeois I have not come across before, a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon from their Médoc vineyards. Apparently, the château once belonged to Château Lafite, and it is sited on the highest plateau in the Médoc. It's remarkable to find a 2010 Cru Bordeaux on the shelves at under £20, so how does it taste? The colour is still quite deep (this wine comes directly from the Château's cellars) and there is graphite and cedar to open, the fruit dark, touched with espresso, but mostly about blackcurrant and damson plum. It's really very youthful at 11 years old, suggesting there's no hurry to drink, the palate balanced with good fruit and a gently supportive framework of tannins and acidity.
(2021) A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc aged in barrel for a year, this has a lovely nose: very appealing and alluring with cedar and tobacco, and quite a ripe, creamy black and blue fruit character. In the mouth there is lovely fruit here, this 2015 just softening slightly though tannins still firm and black cherry acid still keen, but the flesh of the fruit and the lightly charry and creamy barrel component adds layered complexity. Drinking well with some cellaring potential - 8 to 10 years.
(2020) A blend of 5% Cabernet Franc and 65% Merlot, some of the Merlot vines planted in 1957, in a tiny 0.35ha plot. The vinification is the same as Block One, with ageing in second- and third-year 225l barriques for 11 months. Deep aromas of plum and cocoa, but there are highlights of more floral and cherry scents, a warming touch of fudge or vanilla in the background. In the mouth this is substantial and chewy, with ripe but grippy tannins and a nice line of acidity to cut through the supple, weighty black and red fruits. Finishes with a nice sour cherry tang.
(2020) From a 0.45ha vineyard of 25-year-old Cabernet Franc on clay-based soils, certified organic in 2016. Aged in 225-litre barrels, typically second and third year use, for just under a year. Quite a vibrant purple/crimson colour, and lots of brightness to the aromas: soaring cherry and spices, a touch of cedary briar and a cool, ashy quality, there's a lighter feel to this than Block Two. In the mouth the fruit is cool and smooth, with very good ripeness and fruit sweetness, quite slick black cherry and compote spices touching on cinammon and clove. Creamy, silky tannins and good juicy acidity balances into a long and impressive finish.
(2020) Youthful, inky and vibrant purple in colour, this Merlot made without added sulphur has a certain meatiness on the nose, dark savoury fruit and a lightly balsamic quality. In the mouth it is easy-drinking and smooth, quite concentrated too, the creamy tannins, spicy character and fruit intensity giving it texture and richness.
(2020) Tasted once before in 2019, the 18 months extra time in bottle for this Bordeaux Merlot hasn't changed the crimson colour too much, and the nose is similar too: cocoa-dusted dark fruits, warm and plummy with a little fudge-like richness. In the mouth the fruit is really quite fresh - a crispness to the acid helps, the brisk tannins too, but the fruit is supple and savoury, edged with pepper and spice in a wine that does defy its 14.5% alcohol. Yes you feel it in the finish, but it is a bold and juicy style.