TN Paul D's Graves Dinner at Piccolino 13.05.22

Thanks to Paul D for organizing this very, very enjoyable evening at Piccolino. It was good to be back in the private room after two years where it is easy to converse and we're left to do our own thing. Also, only being nine people gave us slightly more generous pours which was nice. The wines were of a very high quality and very difficult to rate and rank. We started at very good and went higher, especially with the reds. There was a good spread of vintages too, reaching back to 1982.

Château Carbonnieux Pessac-Leognan blanc 2017 ***½
40% semillon, 60% sauvignon blanc
Initially a nose marked by semillon, crisp with a hint of fresh underripe hazelnut and later a hint of Meyer lemon custard tart. Some white flower notes on the palate, finishes crisply with a mineral twist. Enjoyable.
Château la Louvière Pessac-Léognan blanc 2015 ***
100% sauvignon blanc
A little reductive initially with struck match and phosphorous notes. This took a while to subside, but it did improve to give hints of quince and other stone fruit on the nose. Modern and young tasting, easy-going on the palate, finishes quite broadly with a sense of glycerol. Possibly in an awkward phase.
Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 2014 blanc ***½
25% semillon, 75% sauvignon blanc
Lemon, lime, and grapefruit on the nose tending towards a touch of wet wool and baked apple after time. Crisp and yet fullish on the palate with a touch of oak noticeable on the finish. There was debate as to whether this is on an accelerated evolutionary path, but I was not sure either way.
Château Pape-Clement Pessac-Léognan 1982 ***½
This had a much darker colour than the SHL of the same vintage. Initially I thought that there might be just a touch of TCA on the nose, but this turned out to be only a bit of persistent funk. Notes of milk chocolate emerge on the nose and palate after time hinting at a highish merlot component. Deep, tobacco-y fruit on the palate. Fully evolved but no sense of tiredness. Cool-fruited, savoury and elegant. On the night I preferred the middle aged wines that had a little more energy to them, but these two 1982s were a treat.
Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 1982 ***½
A very light colour here. Very much in the ethereal category and tasting of an era now well and truly in the past. On the nose there is a touch of brown sugar as well as an undertow of liquorice. Cool, elegant, and very light-footed on the palate. Decent length here. A gentle wine just avoiding tipping over into fragility.
Château La Tour Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 1996 ***(*)
This on the other hand, was a very vigorous and energetic 1996 with a strongly cedar and tobacco nose; green tobacco in fact. Leafy, fresh and drives on over the palate; a lovely texture here. Cool 1996 fruit. There is still some tannin on the finish and this will improve over the next few years. Better than I was expecting to be honest.
Château Pape-Clement Pessac-Léognan 1996 ***½
Sharing plenty of characteristics with its 1982 brother this displays milk chocolate on the nose leading to dusty red fruit on the palate. Fully resolved compared to the LTHB. Persistent fruit – finishes well.
Château Les Carmes Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 2000 ****
This is a wine I’d been looking forward to trying. There is graphite on the nose together with clean, dark red fruit. Very fragrant. This is ripe and quite full on the palate with the tannins melting away. Hedonistic and yet still reined in enough for this to be correct. Generous. Finishes well. Plenty of time in hand, but this is drinking now.
Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 2000 *****
I’ve been lucky enough to drink two really exciting DdCs recently, this and the 1996 at Bordeaux WIMPS. This is everything you want from DdC. The nose is darkly red fruited with a hint of minerality, warm brick and even a hint of smoke. It pulls off that famous DdC trick of being deeply fruited while being beautifully, precise and detailed all the way through to the finish. Packed with positive energy. Just entering the drinking window. Perfect Graves for me.
Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 2005 ***½
This is definitely a more modern rendition of DdC, albeit a very good one. Openly ripe on the nose with a hint of milk chocolate. Ripe and broad on the mid-palate, with an embonpoint that strains the corset a little. A little less defined and detailed than DdCs of old. I didn’t notice this level of ripeness in the 2006 and 2008 though. Very good.
Château La Tour Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 2001****
The first bottle was not correct. A back-up was very generously opened, and it turned out to be excellent. There’s a fresh lifted nose here with cranberry and redcurrant intertwined with green tobacco notes. Long, fresh, cool, and delicious. I really loved this wine.
Château Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 2002 *****
Thanks to David Pope for very generously bringing his only bottle of HB 2002 to share with us. This is a lovely wine and very much in the mould of 2002. There are notes of tobacco and cigar box on the nose leading to a wine with deliciously cool fruit. Elegant, restrained and long with first growth weight. It has that savouriness which I so like. Not yet at its peak I guess, but so delicious to drink now. A little tannin bursts from cover at the finish. If you are lucky enough to own any, perhaps best to wait another 5-8 years. A proper first growth experience here.
 
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Yes, as Richard says it was great to be back at Piccolino - the room is an excellent setting for a relaxed, sociable offline, which this certainly was! The wines were really on form too - pretty much all of them singing their Graves origins, great to start with a proper white flight and also a privilege to taste the 82s.

My notes (below) unfortunately didn’t make it as far as the last two wines which I also don’t have much memory of - except that I wasn’t as impressed by the Haut-Brion as others were and the first bottle of 2001 LTHB was a bit balsamic.

GLORIOUS GRAVES AT PICCOLINO - Piccolino, Exchange Square, London (13/05/2022)

  • 2017 Château Carbonnieux Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Pale lemon. Lime, grapefruit, spice - intense. Medium bodied, grapefruit, spice, touch of mineral, hint of creaminess, crisp acidity, long finish. Excellent. (92 pts.)
  • 2015 Château La Louvière Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Pale/medium yellow, gold tints. Nose if quite rich, with grassy fruit and a touch of butter, Medium/full bodied, quite weighty and rich, grassy fruit, nice acidity, decent length. Attractive if not overly complex. (89 pts.)
  • 2014 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Quite waxy, wet wool notes, baked apple. Fresher on the palate with some grapefruit coming through, quite long but tiring quite quickly in glass. Based on this bottle I would be starting to drink up. (87 pts.)
  • 1982 Château Pape Clément - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Deep garnet. Intense cigar box nose, blackcurrant fruit, spice. Medium bodied, quite rich dark fruit, cigar box, soil, soft tannins, fresh acidity, fans out into a long finish. Excellent, drinking beautifully. (95 pts.)
  • 1982 Château Smith Haut Lafitte - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Medium garnet. Slightly dustier, red fruited nose, some tobacco and leather notes. Smoke. Medium bodied, red fruit, earth, smoke, tobacco, firm but fine tannins, elegant, classic, vibrant acidity, good length finish. Lovely. (92 pts.)
  • 1996 Château La Tour Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Deep/opaque garnet. Rich, dark fruited nose, smoke, spice, tobacco. Touch of fruit cake. Medium/full bodied, rich dark fruit, tobacco, smoke, vibrant acidity, touch of grip on the finish. Excellent, drinking well. (91 pts.)
  • 1996 Château Pape Clément - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Blackcurrant fruit, some sweetness, liquorice, tobacco.Medium bodied, blackcurrant p, spice, tobacco, soft tannins, long harmonious finish. Excellent. (93 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Red and black berry fruit, lots of smoke, tobacco, earth. Medium bodied, smoky red and black fruits, tobacco, fresh acidity, slightly grainy tannins on the finish. Lovely though. (90 pts.)
  • 2000 Domaine de Chevalier - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Notes becoming a bit sparse by this point - attractive cool dark fruit, notes of smoke and liquorice, fresh acidity good length lightly grippy finish. (91 pts.)
  • 2005 Domaine de Chevalier - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    No formal note - quite rich and ripe, full bodied, soft tannins, accessible and attractive if not overly complex. (90 pts.)
Posted from CellarTracker
 
Château Carbonnieux Pessac-Leognan blanc 2017

Was marred by being served too warm. But you could still detect an an excellent wine marked by fine acidity and precision, with lemony and grapefruit notes. Carbonnieux tends to make classical white and red graves which offer good qpr but rarely excite. This was another such example. This might merit a higher score after a couple of years, for now 89

Château la Louvière Pessac-Léognan blanc 2015

A rounder more inviting wine, already drinking well, with richer honeyed, waxy notes, and a bit of green apple and mown grass thrown in. You would not guess this is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Another excellent QPR especially after Waitrose discount. 89

Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 2014 blanc

A much more expensive wine than its flight mates and its class shone through. Already drinking well this has more complexity than its flight mates with intense lime and spicey-herby notes and a hint of passion fruit. While I don’t think this needs drinking up I would be nervous owning a whole case of it. But DDC Blanc these days is like Russian roulette and it is thus a poor vfm proposition, 91

Château Pape-Clement Pessac-Léognan 1982

I was not optimistic about either of the 82s in this flight but I should not have fretted - two delightful fully mature 1982s. This Pape Clement burst out of the blocks and was richer and more exuberant than its flight mate with trade mark soil and cigar box notes overlaid with complex tertiary notes of fruit cake. It still has plenty of vigour and as Paul noted it fans out beautifully. My wotn, the group’s second, 94

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 1982

Compared to its flight mate a little slow and wobbly out of the blocks and clearly more of an old school claret. More evolved, more tertiary and more old school claret in every way with molasses and brown sugar overtones, this nevertheless put in a splendid performance over the night. Rather than fade it went from strength to strength and after a while it was starting to reel in the Pape. This was easily the flight of the night, 93

Château La Tour Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 1996

Compared to its 1996 flight mate this was a bit of a shrinking violet with an introverted personality and an austere streak which permeated the wine through out. It had cool menthol and fruit notes, but I found it to be a very attractive wine and a nice foil for the Pape Clement. I would be pleased to own this. 91

Château Pape-Clement Pessac-Léognan 1996

The 1996 Pape Clement is a very complete wine and is a younger version of the 1982 - note this estate went over to the dark side after 1996 - but nevertheless well into its drinking window. Fabulous trademark graves notes of scorched earth, tobacco, cigar box and rich red plums. I think it will improve further as it develops more aged complexity, but hard to resist now, 93

Château Les Carmes Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 2000

A very easy, spirity wine with low acidity, weak structure, diffuse with no focus. It does, however, flatter to deceive, so you can drink a glass but I think a bottle would be a hopeless ordeal. This was another example of the poor wines made at this address in the late 90s through the early noughties. I will give it 85 but that is generous. It is a wine which again divided opinions on the table.

Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 2000

This wine has a lot of good raw materials, and a lot of stuffing, but is going through a clunky awkward stage right now. It comes across as clumsy. I was hoping for better after the exquisite 1996. It has a lot of time in hand and better to come back and take a look in a few years. It is at least recognisably Graves which is more than you could say for the 2005, 89+

Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 2005

Oh dear what happened here? A big thick soupy mess which is spoofulated and not recognisably Graves. This was after the consultant Stefan Derenoncort took over, and enacted a style change every bit as egregious as at Pape Clement around the same time, 85 is generous.

Château La Tour Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 2001

The first bottle wasn’t quite right and the back up was better but not 100% on the money either. Shame because I think there is an excellent wine there, with very classical graves notes and definitely on the cool fruited side, 89

Château Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 2002

This was a bit reticent, shy and austere to begin with but as it gently unfurled it revealed its class and then at the end really went up a couple of gears to challenge for my wotn - it was the group favourite. A very classical rendition of Haut-Brion, with impeccable breeding, class and balance, 93

It was great to be back at our old hunting ground. Thanks Paul for organising. Now for the scores in the doors:

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Interesting to see the spread of opinion so far on the 2000 DDC.
I have two very positive notes - most 'recent' bottle drunk in 2017.

I have not touched my DdC red 2015 & even have a magnum. Having read this thread, rather nervous as to its prospects.

As for DdC blanc - drink it very young. I only have 2010 remaining. :eek: Recently almost purchased 2017 & see that 2021 receives rave reviews. But I've suffered too many poor bottles to be so reckless as to buy anymore.
 
PAUL D'S GRAVES GREATS - Piccolino, Exchange Square, London (13/05/2022)

First dinner in the private room at Piccolino for a couple of years and was great to be back. Once again the space and side table and ice buckets let us just get on with things.

Although the glassware did not have the very thinnest rims was good. And we recalibrated how much to pour pretty well after a lack of practice!

I wonder how Burgundy might fare in these glasses?

Whites
  • 2017 Château Carbonnieux Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Served a little warmer than would be ideal but second pour after time in iced water helped it to show more. Some lime cordial on pouring later some lanolin and a certain rice pudding creaminess with just a touch of nutmeg. (89 pts.)
  • 2015 Château La Louvière Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Some reduction on pouring which begins to dissipate after some time in the glass. Some blood orange and grapefruit notes to the nose emerge then some oatmeal and toasted brown breadcrumbs. Fresh and long. Nice mouthfeel. (88 pts.)
  • 2014 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    This wine seemed to ebb and flow and somewhat and divided opinions around the table. There is a subtle mandarin juice quality to the nose as well some lime zest. Some wet wool and baked apple makes an appearance in time. Nice texture. Don't have any but if I did, on this showing, would probably begin to accelerate drinking through. (88 pts.)
1982
  • 1982 Château Pape Clément - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    On first pour there is something odd about the nose, suggestive of low level cork taint. Mercifully after 10 mins in the glass this largely blows off and the wine is enjoyable. There is something a little minty to the nose in addition to very Graves tobacco characteristics. Lovely savouriness to it. There are some notes of grated milk chocolate to the nose too. A treat. (90 pts.)
  • 1982 Château Smith Haut Lafitte - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    In a lovely place and such a treat to enjoy a wine from this great vintage at 40. There is a lovely brown sugar sweetness to the nose with some cool green leafiness. Certainly à point tonight although suspect unlikely to improve much from here. Palate very fleet of foot and light. A treat my 5th favourite wine of the night in a very, very tight field. (92 pts.)
1996
  • 1996 Château La Tour Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Very classical LTHB. Rich and deep, with some smokiness and subtle tea notes (Russian Caravan perhaps). Also layer upon layer of dark fruits. The palate has more of the same but the tannins are not fully resolved. Lovely as this was tonight with another 5 years I suspect even better. My second favourite wine of the night. (93 pts.)
  • 1996 Château Pape Clément - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Cigar box nose with some grated chocolate. Palate is fabulous with perfect balance and lovely texture. Unlike the LTHB the tannins are fully resolved here. An outstanding wine. My wine of the night. (94 pts.)
2000 & 2005
  • 2000 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    This is a very serious wine and in a lovely place. Real depth of smokiness to the nose and textured fruits. There is also an almost Bakewell like almond sweetness there too. Palate beautifully textured and long. Some talc notes with time in the glass. My 4th favourite wine of the night. (93 pts.)
  • 2000 Domaine de Chevalier - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Another belter. Dark fruits, hints of nutmeg, lovely richness. Classical Graves. Palate has fabulous detail and impressive length. Has time ahead. Love it. (92 pts.)
  • 2005 Domaine de Chevalier - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    A much more modern DdC and stylistically I much prefer the 1996 or the 2000 but this is not a bad wine. As to it's future hard to say where it will end up. There is a glossiness to the fruit and the work in the winery is more to the fore that on any other wine tonight. (88 pts.)
Haut Brion Taste Off
  • 2001 Château La Tour Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    First bottle a little balsamic and not right. Backup very generously opened and acquitted itself very well give that it had not had time to breathe. There is a lovely fresh almost lingonberry jam tartness / sweetness to it. Also something meaty to it. Almost a bacon fat character. Also a classic Graves tobacco edge. One again 2001 strikes gold in Bordeaux. Lovely. (92 pts.)
  • 2002 Château Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    A very generously shared single bottle of this. Nose is just beguiling. If soley based on the nose - wine of the night by a mile for me. There is real depth of cool blue fruits with a leafy freshness and tobacco depth with some classy wood notes. On the palate the wine's relative youth moves it down a couple of places based on absolute hedonistic pleasure of drinking tonight (the yard stick I use for comparisons) the tannins have a way to go and some of the detail on the nose is a bit reticent. Still a remarkable wine and will be outstanding in 5-10 years. Tonight a stingy 3rd wine of the night but such a treat to savour. (93 pts.)

Great job with the flights Paul and for bringing some tasting sheets.

Thanks for everyone's contributions, It was also lovely to be able to talk to the whole group over the course of the evening given the relative calm of the space.

À la prochaine.

N

Posted from CellarTracker
 
Thanks for all the in extenso notes everyone. There's a healthy range of preferences on display, but the standard of the wines and the condition of the individual bottles were generally very high. Personally, I love these Graves wines. It will be interesting to see how more modern vintages of DdC show. The 2005 was a bit disappointing in context (but not a bad wine to be fair), so I wonder what vintages like 2010, 2014 and 2015 will be like. My brief acquaintance with 2006 and 2008 is positive, certainly in comparison with the 2005 (if that bottle is typical).
 
As for DdC blanc - drink it very young. I only have 2010 remaining. :eek: Recently almost purchased 2017 & see that 2021 receives rave reviews. But I've suffered too many poor bottles to be so reckless as to buy anymore.
If so, that's a dramatic, and tragic, change for the estate.

In 2001, I had the privilege to attend a dinner at the estate where we were served reds and whites from vintages ending in "1" all the way back to 1941 blanc. They, especially the whites, were superb. I still have some 1988 blanc, which I last opened 2-3 years ago and which also was superb.
 
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