(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.
(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.
(2019) From an interesting collaboration between the top Pessac-Léognan estate of Domaine de Chevalier and Stephane Derenencourt, this is mostly Merlot with 30% of Cabernet Franc, so presumably from 'right bank' vineyards given that blend. It's a deeply spiced and plummy wine, offering instantly appealing depth of aroma, touched with cedary olive character, but mostly about the plummy Merlot fruit. In the mouth the silky texture, soft creamy tannins and weight of mid-palate fruit flow across the tongue, before a bright finish where pert acidity and a bit of structure pull the wine through to a long finish. Approachable Bordeaux, but more substance than many at a similar price.
(2018) Blaye is an appellation of Bordeaux's 'right bank', and typically this is predominantly Merlot, with 5% each of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon too. Reduced to £13.49 at time of review. It's a plummy and silky expression of Bordeaux, a little coffee and cream, dense fleshy plum and a light pencil-shaving note too. In the mouth the creaminess of the fruit, plush tannin and texture add up to a fairly straightforward, but nevertheless delicious and balanced glass of quality claret drinking well now.
(2017) Made for C&B by the illustrious J-P Moueix of Pomerol, intriguingly the suggestion is that this is the perfect match for Murgh Tikka Makhani - a choice that surprised me, though I can see the logic in a wine with power and a bit of real grip that might well take on curry. Mostly Merlot, pencil-shaving notes over plum fruit, before a firm palate, the dark-toned fruit has a bit of bittersweetness, and the acidity gives the cut rather than the tannins which are sandy but not dominant.
(2017) I last tasted this wine 'en primeur' in 2011 when I rated it 89 points, so nice to come across it again with six years more in bottle. The estate is managed by Alain Vauthier of the famous Château Ausone, and the wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. There's a gentle floral aspect to the nose, but that's part of a fairly complex picture with savoury, dark fruit and hints of earthiness, green pepper and some cocoa. On the palate it is juicy and lean, the tannins and very plum-skin grip of acidity give it definition, but there's a hint of cocoa and coffee again, and sufficient berry fruit to make it very appealing along with some roast beef perhaps.
(2017) Last tasted in 2015 when I rated it 90/100, this is cellaring very well indeed, still showing that ripeness of fruit that is modern and appealing, but not at the expense of classic Médoc character, a hint of game, cedar and liquorice, a pleasing dose of volatility leading on to a curranty, dry palate, but there's a slick chocolate to the tannins, the 14% alcohol no doubt aiding that generous mouthfeel, into a long finish where the sweet fruit persists.
(2016) This estate was purchased by Alain Vauthier of Château Ausone in 2008. It feels youthful yet approachable, with touches of cedar and stemmy green Cabernet to solid black fruit (that some will like more than others), though the elegant framework of supple tannin, easy acidity, coffee and fruit concentration harmonious on the palate. Drink or hold for a few years.
(2016) Very pure, dense, sweet black fruit, creamy, with very nice mouth-filling and coffee touched character, great tannins and fresh cherry acidity. Lovely balance. Long and composed, but with great fruit expression.
(2016) A high 25% Petit Verdot in the blend here, aged in 50% new barrels. Delightful nose, with spices and a hint of real exoticism, plenty of fruit too, dense and sweet, with some floral aspects on the nose that translate into a fine, sweet fruit core, good structure and a lovely tannin and acid balance. Five years+ cellaring potential.
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