1997 seems a long time ago: cuddly Bill Clinton was the US president, guitar-wielding Tony Blair was our funky new Prime Minister, dot.coms powered the stockmarket, Dianna and Dodi graced the front pages of the tabloids, Oasis were the new Beatles, and the Bordeaux vintage was… lacklustre.
Early April 2003, and the world is at war: Tony has stopped playing guitar and wears a permanent frown, the dot.coms precipitated a world-wide economic slump (with the exception of porn sites, friendsreunited and wine-pages.com of course), Oasis were the new Freddie and the Dreamers, and those 1997 Bordeaux wines – well a lot of them – are still waiting to be sold.
Of course, we still descend on Bordeaux eagerly, spittoons and pens at the ready, keen to assess the new vintage of the world’s greatest wine region. But at the end of the day, en primeur is about money: creating cash-flow for châteaux, merchants, consumers and investors. The wheels of logic fell off the en primeur band-wagon after 1997, when the fundamental correlation between quality and price was lost. Consumers shunned the notion of Bordeaux as a purely “prestige” product sold at high prices.
Along came that magic number 2000, the weather played along, and suddenly en primeur was vindicated once again as prices spiralled ever-upward. Consequently, Bordeaux is priced out of the budget of the regular wine consumer, and reserved for the very well-heeled and investors. But the absence of regular claret drinkers is now starting to take effect, especially when you consider that claret is not rare: even the elite First Growths make around 30,000 cases each. The 2002 vintage needs to attract the average, middle-class, wine-drinking man and woman who has reluctantly switched to other wine-making areas. The only way to do this is to slash the prices by 40-60% in order to make claret an attractive investment and decent value drink. It was disheartening to hear the same old euphemisms and spin when I spoke to the châteaux proprietors, many of whom claimed that a 20% price reduction would be seen as “good value” by consumers.
Yet the fact remains that even this would be instantaneously wiped out by exchange rates against a strong Euro. The problem is, that many Bordelais turn a blind eye to the world economy. In face of customers turning elsewhere, the Bordelais must swallow their pride (something many do not seem prepared to do). Indeed, one or two suggested they would rather withhold their whole allocation of 2002 if prices did not match what they deemed appropriate. Their coffers are still full from 2000, so why not sit and wait for the market to change?
In my opinion, that would represent the final nail in en primeur’s coffin. With Léoville-Las Cases withdrawing last year and Moueix declining to show his wines this year, the possibility of more and more châteaux abandoning en primeur looks increasingly likely. Even before this campaign the lack of interest was clearly visible; there seemed to be an air of window-shopping this year, rather than serious buying. Score sheets were filled in, but order sheets… well, we’ll have to wait and see.
The weather in 2002 can be compared to 1978, when a terrible start to the vintage was saved by a wonderful dry September. I remember visiting Château Palmer in July last year on a torrential Monday, our guide putting a brave face on the fact that coulure and millerandage had produced a poor fruit set and consequently lower yields. The quantity harvested in 2002 was lower, but to the wine-growers’ credit, strict green harvesting and the increasingly wide-spread use of vibrating sorting tables to weed out rotten berries, led to very few incidences of rot.
Although the September weather saved the vintage from being a disaster, the rapid ripening of the grapes in a short period of time meant that the skins were thicker than usual and the wines more tannic and astringent. I found this a great problem with many of the barrel samples, my notes frequently containing the words “tannic”, “aggressive” and “harsh”. Many seemed to lack charm and personality: this was not a pleasant vintage to taste en primeur.
It is definitely a Cabernet Sauvignon vintage; the poor early weather hampering the earlier budding and maturing Merlot. Therefore many of the wines on the Right Bank were unripe and hollow, with the exception of châteaux enjoying a higher percentage of Cabernet Franc (in particular Cheval Blanc). Pomerol was particularly disappointing, and St. Emilion not much better, although in each there are exceptions. Over on the Left Bank, at Château Margaux, the manager Paul Pontallier (right) was dismissive of the Merlot in 2002 and stated that they were gradually decreasing the percentage year by year: only 7% was used in the final wine, the lowest ever. Even the stalwart St. Julien wines seemed less reliable this year, again with the exception of Léoville-Barton, perhaps the most reliable performer over the last decade. It was the Northern Médoc which performed the best: some fine Pauillacs (special mention to Lynch-Bages, Pichon-Baron, Pichon-Lalande – the usual suspects) and St. Estephes (the best Cos d’Estournel for a few years).
Of the First Growths, Mouton was the château that delivered this year: a marriage of great power and finesse that was bursting with ripe Cabernet fruit. The rigorous use of their vibrating sorting table, and meticulous attention during elevage with a gentle extraction at a stable 28 degrees, made a particularly great Mouton. Lafite and Latour both performed admirably, though I was not so impressed by Margaux (which was very pretty but not intellectually demanding as First Growths ought to be) and Haut-Brion (which was very tannic and a little hard).
In general, the vintage may indeed turn out like 1978: a similarly masculine, tannic and perhaps charmless year. Someone else described it as “the style of 1996 with the ripeness of 1994”, which I would not disagree with. Reading back over this report, perhaps I have been too critical. But I still firmly believe that Bordeaux is the greatest wine region in the world and part of that greatness derives from the fact that some years just do not work out for the best. There are some very fine wines to be found on the Left Bank, but the consumer will need to pick and choose very carefully.
Château Lafon Rochet 2002
15/25. A stalky green nose. The palate has high acidity with harsh austere tannins. My note reads “unpleasant”.
Château Les Ormes de Pez 2002
19/25. Much more rounded and ripe on the nose than Lafon. Lots of blackberry and plum aromas. The palate is ripe cassis, lots of New Oak with good concentration. A lovely sweet blackcherry mid-palate with a rounded finish. An excellent wine.
Château Phelan Segur
18/25. Nothing on the nose. But the palate has good concentration (but not as well-built as Ormes de Pez). Lacks some finesse but it’s a good effort.
19/25. A slightly reductive nose. A spicy exotic palate with robust tannins. Notes of raisins and prunes: this is quite a fun-packed wine to be enjoyed over 5-7 years.
Les Pagodes de Cos
19/25. Nothing on the nose. Then a toasty, tannic palate with a very pure cassis/blackcurrant mid-palate. Quite bullish and sturdy, this is a fine second wine.
Château Cos d’Estournel
21/25. A return to form after the lacklustre 2000 and 2001. A muted nose. But a very bold and upfront palate full up ripe blackcurrant, New Oak and well-knit tannins. Doesn’t quite match Lalande’s class but this has fine complexity and concentration to last 10-15 years.
14/25. A dry hollow nose is matched by a light weedy palate palate with faint notes of cranberry and redcurrants. Little tannin or structure this is a poor wine.
16 /25. Very closed on the nose. The palate has sweet, almost cloying fruit with strawberry and blackcherry notes. Very compact and lacking weight and complexity. Disappointing after recent excellent vintages.
17/25. Very little on the nose: wood and cedar notes. The palate has harsh tannins with a very green stalky mid-palate. A dry black dusty finish, this is surprisingly below-par for Gruaud Larose.
21/25. Yet again Barton shows its class. A fragrant cassis and cedar nose. The palate is very elegant and showing the harmony lacking in other St. Julien wines. Lots of cedar and blackcurrant fruits, so much sophistication and class. Superb wine.
19/25. Very closed nose. Poyferre is almost more high-toned and flashy than Barton and this continues the trend. Succulent toasty blackcherry fruit, lots of New Oak with a sweet blackcherry finish. A younger brother to the 2000.
17/25. A disappointing wine from Talbot this year. Like Poyferre and high-toned, slightly ostentacious nose. The palate is sharp and anhular with harsh tannins and a blunt finish. Lacks balance and harmony. Early drinking only.
Clos du Marquis
18/25. The nose seems a little synthetic and plastic to me. This is a lighter style Clos du Marquis unlike decadent other vintages. Nice toasty vanillary mid-palate, moderate tannins but again lacks a little depth. A good but not great wine.
Château Léoville-Las Cases
19/25. The nose is fairly closed and slightly herbal. Then you taste the wine and I have never tasted such a massive Lascases en primeur. Huge chewy tannins, layers and layers of fruit: this is a wine built for the long-term. Whilst I admire its build, what it sacrifices is its nuance and subtlty of the previous vintages. It will either turn into a legendary Lascases or, like the 1982, collapse under its own weight.
Le Petit Mouton
18/25. A very deep inky hue. Dense plummy nose. The palate has dry tannins with a muscular grip. A bit brutish and coarse with aggressive tannic finish. Moderate length. Lacks charm and finesse.
18/25. The nose is muted: some dull earthy notes. Like Le Petit Mouton: very tanninc but with a little more complexity. Black tarry fruits and cigar box notes. Quite dry on the finish. Again a little charmless.
19/25. Clerc Milon continues the trend for masculine, tannic and quite aggressive style for 2002. A little monolithic and with an enormous tannic grip. Perhaps this may dry out before the tannins soften?
Château Mouton Rothschild
23/25. A very attractive nose: tobacco, black coffee. The palate has a little more power and concentration than Lafite. Again, a masculine wine but the tannins and soaked in rich cassis. Similar to the 1988 but with more class and balance. This is a great success for Mouton and my favourite First Growth this year.
14/25. A straw/lemon colour. The nose is very commercial: grapefruit and lemon. The palate has moderate intensity but quite low acidity. Very commercial and lacking complexity and nervosity. I think they should stick with the red wine!
Château Grand-Puy Ducasse
18/25. A very weedy and weak nose. The palate is quite angular with harsh tannins. Tidies itself up on the finish but this is a little disappointing: lacks cohesion and harmony. Wait and see.
21/25. A very elegant nose (especially coming after G P Lacoste!) Concentrated ripe cassis and blackcurrant: very pure. The palate is well-balanced, with lush rounded black fruits, no harsh edges and a certain decadence and sophistication. A very good wine for the vintage.
21/25. A succinct understated smooth palate with vanilla and sweet strawberry notes. The palate is more elegant the Lynch Bages though not quite as powerful. Well-balanced, stylish and pure. This is a lovely wine.
19/25. Deep purple colour. A muted nose with a savoury note. Concentrated, ripe and well-integrated on the palate. Qutie toasty and rounded, Pontet-Canet is approaching the levels of Lynch Bages and Pichon Baron. Very fine.
Pauillac (de Château Latour)
18/25. A light blackcurrant nose. Muted cassis and blackcurrant on the palate. Quite gamey. A fine simple 3rd wine which will drink over the next 2-3 years.
Les Forts de Latour
21/25. Very closed on the nose. Lovely toasty palate: very pure with great balance. Well-knit tannins, quite robust and bullish but with more finesse than Le Petit Mouton. Very fine.
22/25. Deep opaque, purple core. The nose is pure cassis: very powerful and dense. The palate is note the most complex I’ve tasted en primeur but has a potent plum/cassis core and an iodine finish. A superb wine, but I prefer Mouton this year: a little more complex and suave.
17/25. A fine succulent meaty, fleshy nose with a savoury dimension. Firm tannins and structure, quite savoury agains with a note of marmite! Let down by a hard and brusque finish. Shame the palate doesn’t match the nose.
Reserve de la Comtesse
20/25. The nose is closed. The palate is concentrated, good grip with harsh tannins but excellent fruit concetration. Loaded with cassis and blackcurrant with a harmonious finish. An outstanding second wine.
22/25. A lovely nose: fragrant cassis, plum and blueberry. Wonderful perfume and purity. The palate has supreme balance with rounded voluptuous black fruits and a massive grip. Second only to Mouton. A great Pichon lalande.
Carruades de Lafite
18/25. A very light nose; seems to lack a bit of vitality and depth. Notes of anis and biscuit. The palate had good ripeness, low tannins and not much grip. Tarry fruits on the finish. This will make fine early drinking.
19/25. Very closed on the nose. A backward, cassis and tobacco palate with light elegant tannins. Well-balanced with good concentration and a smokey finish. Medium-bodied – this is a fine, light-style of Duhart.
22/25. A very backward nose, less expression than Latour and Mouton at this stage. But the palate has Lafite’s typical elegance and grace with a velvety texture and succulent blackcherry/pencil-lead notes. Probably better than the 1999, this is a more feminine version of Mouton.
Pavillon Rouge de Chateau Margaux
19/25. A bright ruby colour in the glass. There’s a lovely rounded nose to this, quite savoury, meaty with blueberry and damsons. A dense, smooth palate which is both flattering and elegant. A fresh, violetty finish. A very fine Pavillon.
21/25. A deep purple/ruby colour. A lovely violet, cassis nose with notes of damp earth (though I’m sure I detected an unwanted “metallic” note). The palate is very fine, full of toasty tannins, sweet cherry flavoured fruits and usual floral flamboyance. Yet it lacks the complexity I expect from a First Growth: not an intellectual wine: more pretty and flowncy. Paul Pontallier said that the Merlot was not ripe enough and was affected by coullure and millerandage and so only 7% ended up in the cepage. But I’m not sure if this is a positive move as it seems to miss that extra dimension at the moment.
Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux
20/25. A fragrant almond and coconut infused palate. Quite light in style with lemon, grapefruit and almond on the palate. Very perfumed and with fine vitality and grace (though not as good the 2001 according to some.)
18/25. A dumb nose. The palate is soft, elegant and supple with peppery black fruits. Low tannins, good balanced with a bitter cherry finish. But it lacks complexity and depth to warrant a higher mark.
19/25. A fine blackcurrant nose with notes of black expresso. Still quite muted though. The palate has firm tannins, good concentration with notes of blackberry and burnt toast. There’s admirable depth to this wine: one of the best I’ve tasted from this estate in recent years. A good effort.
14/25. An oxidised nose: thin and mean. The palate of soft, very forward with lots of jammy black fruits and completely devoid of structure. For early drinking only.
14/25. Very little on the nose.A high-toned, pinched palate with high acidity and low tannins. Lacks harmony and depth. A light liquorice note on the finish. A poor wine overall.
19/25. A closed muted nose. But the palate has good concentration and acidity with firm tannins and lots of plummy/cassis fruits. Quite chewy and full-bodied: this is certainly one of the superior Margaux wines. Excellent.
18/25. A closed nose: a little savoury and smoky in style. The palate is dry with good defintion with blackcurrant and pencil-lead notes. Quite elegant. Does not have the depth for a long-term wine but fine early drinking.
17/25. Zilch on the nose. A rustic coarse wine from Kirwan with quite aggressive tannins. There is good concentration on the mid-palate but the finish is very harsh and dry. O.K.
17/25. A light stony, minerally nose. The palate has good grip with lots of toasty New Oak. Moderate concentration with well-knit tannins, what it lacks is cohesiveness and charm. Too much Oak and not enough wine for me.
Château Malescot Saint-Exupery
19/25. A fine nose of blackberry, tar and liquorice. A fine spicy, savoury palate with good depth and well-integrated New Oak. Lots of blackcherry fruits and quite herbal on the finish. A very fine wine from the improving estate.
Château Marquis d’Alesme Becker
13/25. Nothing on the nose. A tart, sweet cloying palate with no structure and complexity. Fruit juice. Very poor.
19/25. A muted blackcherry nose. A well-balanced palate with lots of toasty oak. Racy acidity, spicy with well-knit tannins and an attractive tobacco finish. Very fine.
18/25. A muted nose with hints of plum and vanilla pod. The palate has high acidity, moderate concentration with lots of peppery New Oak. Good balance and style, this is an improvement in recent vintages (and approaching the level of Segla.)
19/25. Very muted nose. A sturdy palate with blackberry, cassis and pencil-lead. Well-balanced with a little more depth than Gassies. Backward compared to the rest of the Margaux chateaux. Quite graceful and charming.
La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion
13/25. A deep garnet core. Very austere on the nose: green pepper and pencil-lead. A very soft entry leads to a weedy, vegetal palate with low tannins and high acidity. A very poor second wine. (Cepage: 3% M, 65%CS & 32% CF)
Bahans de Chateau Haut-Brion
16/25. Deeper and more opaque the Chapelle. Very little on the nose. High-toned, undergrowthy, earthy palate with a smokey edge. Moderate tannins with thin, quite weedy blackberry. Quite simple – for early consumption only. (Cepage: 30% M, 47% CS, 21% CF & 2 % PV)
Château La Tour Haut Brion
18/25. Moderate garnet/ruby colour. Well-defined oaky, minerally nose with a seaweed and tobacco notes. The palate is quite firm with good concentration: quite elegant and supple. Slightly dry on the finish but this is refined and classic in style (cepage: 51%M, 30%CS & 19%CF)
Château La Mission Haut Brion
18/25. Moderate garnet core. Very muted nose: scents of dark chocolate and earth. The palte is austere but quite elegant. Well-integrated, good balance, smooth but this lacks complexity and depth. A crisp leagy finish. An average wine for La Mission. (cepage: 52%M & 48%CS)
Château Haut Brion
20/25. Deep garnet core. Nose is very closed with slight whiffs of dark chocolate and blackberry (similar to La Mission at this early stage). A pretty wine, crisp, medium-bodied but in no way profound. Very broody, muted and does not want to please. Perhaps this will improve but this was quite disappointing after such good recent vintages. (cepage 51%M, 40%CS & 9%CF)
Château Laville Haut Brion Blanc
20/25. Light silvery hue. A citrousy, grapefruit nose – not complex with a touch of apricot. A steely palate, good acidity with a bitter lemon finish. Crisp but not overly complex. A good wine: may get better.
Château Haut Brion Blanc
20/25. Moderate lemon/silver colour. A Rhone-like nose: gooseberry from the high Sauvignon Blanc content. White flowers. Quite full-bodied, high acidity, complex with honey and quince. Very crisp on the finish. A fine wine although only 400 cases made. Quite exotic for Haut-Brion Blanc.
Château Carbonnieux Rouge
17/25. A fragrant, quite floral nose. Bu then the palate has tough tannins, aggressive and masculine with a dry finish. Perhaps this will mellow over the next couple of years.
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc
14/25. Clear. A fine powerful citrousy nose but then the palate taste like fruit-juice. Low acidity and very little definition and complexity. Perhaps this was a poor sample?
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge
19/25. The Blanc was poor but the rouge is very fine. A bold upfront nose of cassis and blueberry. Lots of creamy vanillary New Oak here. An elegant palate with good structure and balance. Quite and aristocratic wine: very stylish with good vigour. Definitely one of the better Graves wines.
Château De Fieuzal Rouge
20/25. Wow – this is a surprise! A dumb, slightly liquorice nose but then a delicious toasty palate with fine concentration and balance. Thick ripe black fruits, quite smokey with cigar box notes. A lovely finish. Bravo!
Château Haut-Bergey Rouge
17/25. Very little on the nose: plum and damson and hedgerow. The palate is again rather tough, leathery and charmless with relatively lower tannins. A bit average.
Château Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc
19/25. The nose is very closed. But there is fine definition on the palate, lots of well-integrated vanillary New Oak, quite creamy in texture with a lemon finish. Good length – this is very fine.
Château Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge
17/25. Very little on the nose and seems a bit oxidised and leathery to me. A dry earthy palate with black pepper notes. Medium-bodied: it just seems to lack vigour and vitality. I prefer the Blanc this year.
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion
19/25. A similar nose to Pape-Clement: blackberry, cassis: a bit jammy. The palate is better: meaty and quite savoury in style with low acidity and tannins but a good overall balance. Will make fine early drinking.
Château Pape Clement Rouge
17/25. A rather jammy blackcurrant nose which lacks the verve of the 2000 or 2001. Again, the palate is quite monolithic and reminds me of “strawberry jam”. Lacks definition and poise. Disappointing from such a fine property.
Château Pape Clement Blanc
18/25. An attractive nose: white flowers, coconut and lemon. The palate has moderate acidity, a lot of New Oak with a touch of spice. Lot of grapefruit and melon flavours with a nice supple finish. Medium length. Better than the Rouge this year.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc
19/25. A very Sauvignon Blanc character nose: gooseberry and cut grass. The palate has good complexity: lemon, apricot and quince and fine acidity. This is quite spicy and exotic and yet again, I prefer it in qualitive terms to the rouge.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge
18/25. A very fine plum/fig nose: quite rich and enticing. The palate is off-dry, good concentration, earthy with sturdy, rustic tannins. A fine attaching finish. A good solid wine.
Moulis, Listrac & Médoc
17/25. The nose is completely closed. A very tannic palate, quite dry, especially on the finish. Like many others, it lacks personality and charm.
16/25. Deep purple core. A pure plum/cassis nose that is rounded and plump. The palate is a let-down: harsh tannins, astringent, sharp acidity and aggressive. A gritty/stony wine. Average.
14/25. Lean, green and stalky on the nose. The palate is harsh, angular with a hollow bitter cherry finish. A poor wine.
18/25. Quite a classy nose: blackberry and damson with moderate complexity. The palate has good grip with firm tannins and well-integrated New Oak. Again it is a good but simple wine. Early-drinking (but then again – look at the superb 1997!)
15/25. A lean, weedy vegetal nose. The palate is hollow, lean with little to write about. It does pull together towards the finish but the dry finish leaves it unappealing.
12/25. Nothing on the nose. Harsh, astringent palate with mouth-puckering acidity. Terrible wine.
15/25. Another lean vegetal nose. The palate is surprisingly smooth with simple cherry/raspberry fruit. But overall its plain dull and not engaging.
13/25. Like the other Listrac wines: weedy, harsh, high acidity and mean. Poor wine.
18/25. A better nose than expected: raisin, fruit-cake and a little brett. A forward wine, good acidity with a good grip. Moderate black fruit intensity with fine balance overall. This is an attractive simple wine.
17 /25. A cabbagey nose like an old Burgundy! But the palate is much better: well-integrated New Oak, quite sharp and spicy with good focus. A shame that it dries on the finish but not bad.
16/25. A hollow austere nose. The palate has a soft entry, high acidity with a fleshy feel. Bitter cherry, the again a dry after-taste. A bit disappointing.
16/25. At first I thought the nose was much deeper than Camensac and then a dry cardboardy edge appeared. The palate is dry and dusty with moderate fruit. Quite aggressive on the finish. Average.
18/25. Smoky black fruits on the nose: a little hollow but not too bad. A soft entry, quite smooth on the palate with well-knit tannins and a good grip. Lots of black fruits – quite rustic. This is a good solid wine. Good effort.
16/25. A reserved understated nose with a floral, violet note. The palate is quite high-toned with moderate tannins. It lacks cohesion and harmony at the moment with a bitter acidic finish. Again quite average.
Château De Lamarque
19/25. An impressive plum,cassis & pencil-lead nose with well-integrated New Oak. Good definition on the palate with moderate tannins, well-integrated New Oak and a cohesive feel. This is a very fine wine for the vintage.
Château La Lagune
17/25. Slightly fecal, bretty nose. The palate is quite compact, dry with blackcurrant and pencil-lead notes. A simple wine that is still quite aggressive and masculine. Should have been better.
Château La Tour Carnet
16/25. Very little on the nose. Hollow, mean and muted. There’s a lot of oak here but I think it’s masking the lack of fruit concentration. Tannic and harsh with light cassis notes. Abrupt finish. Average.
15/25. A muted smokey, tobacco nose. Distinct green stalky palate with moderate to high acidity and a dilute finish. Dull.
13/25. An awful first bottle which was definitely corked already – though the second wasn’t much better. A hollow palate with high acidity and complete absence of fruit. Poor.
Château La Tour de By
16/25. Very little on the nose – quite characterless. The palate is better: nice concentration with a herbal element. Raspberry, cassis and plum. Well-integrated tannins. A good wine let down by the lack of aromatics.
Château Cheval Blanc
22/25. It took 3 tries in the green harvest to make this magnificent Cheval which is more broody and backward on the nose than usual. But the palate has a wonderfully elegance, dense savoury Cabernet France coming to the fore. Very rich, almost decadent at birth (in contrast to the stubborn L`Eglise-Clinet), this is a superb wine in an otherwise “iffy” St. Emilion vintage.
Le Petit Cheval
19/25. Very fleshy nose and palate on this fine second wine. Ripe blueberry and plum with good acidity and a fine length. Quite simple, though like the first wine, the Cabernet Franc adds weight to the mid-palate. Fine.
13/25. A very reductive nose that reminded me of gravy! The palate is poor, over-extracted and can only be described as fermented grape juice. A poor wine.
17/25. Limpid ruby colour. The nose is hard, metallic and mean. The palate has brutish tannins, moderate fruit concentration and is quite aggressive. Certainly a step away from the highly extracted style of late but perhaps a poor vintage to go in that direction?
Château Balestard la Tonnelle
17/25. A muted plummy nose with a little vanilla from the New Oak. Good concentration on the palate but one-dimensional. Good clean fruits but a dry astringent finish. Not bad.
Château Beausejour Becot
17/25. A light plum and damson nose with attractive purity and finesse. A sappy black fruity palate with moderate tannins. Clean but not complex and then dries towards the finish. Started well but just let down at the end.
18/25. A good wine from Canon this year. The nose is totally closed and the palate has dry, slightly coarse tannins with notes of blackberry and tar. Quite abrupt on the finish but this wine has more body and harmony than most other Right Bank wines.
20/25. At last a decent wine. An immediately charming nose of raisins and plums. Very good ripeness here. The palate is concentrated with well-knit tannins, very focussed with integrated New Oak. An attractive herbal finish leaves this one of the best Right Bank wines.
Château Cap de Moulin
15/25. An over-extracted cloying nose with oodles of sickly sweet red fruits. The palate is tart, one-dimensional with a dry abrupt finish. Not undrinkable but utterly charmless.
16/25. The nose lacks definition, monolithic strawberry and cherry flavours and seems over-sweetened. The palate is quite peppery, slightly harsh tannins with another astringent finish. Not terrible, but not attractive either.
18/25. The nose lacks definition, flabby and quite thin. The palate has sturdy tannins, quite minerally but has a green streak running through. Quite compact and easy-drinking in style. I expected a little more from Figeac.
16/25. Very little on the nose. The light palate is clean but lacks depth. Very simple cherry/strawberry fruit. Certainly what I would describe as a “hollow” wine. Below par.
Château Clos Fourtet
17/25. A weedy plummy nose. The palate is medium bodied, with moderate tannins. The fruit concentration is a little greater than others, quite chewy in the mouth with a dry, slightly bitter strawberry finish. Average.
18/25. A very over-extracted nose with little depth. But the palate was surprising: medium bodied, well-balanced with good definition and acidity. There`s an attractive minerally texture, a good balance although never complex. Fine early drinking wine.
Château Grand Mayne
19/25. An attractive raspberry/plum nose. Quite rounded and plump. The palate has good concentration, firm tannins with a little spice. Moderate complexity with a pure blackberry finish. Still a vastly under-rated property.
Château La Couspade
17/25. A rounded plum, damson nose, perhaps a bit flabby but just about acceptable. The palate is quite harsh and astringent with a woody hollow mid-palate. Tannic and one-dimensional. A tough wine.
Château La Dominique
16/25. A very muted fleshy nose with notes of blueberry and cassis. The palate is chunky and masculine with harsh tannins and disappointingly mean finish. A poor wine from a reliable chateau.
Château La Gaffeliere
16/25. A rounded plummy nose which is quite perfumed and intense. The palate is disappointing, lacking structure and definition with one-dimensional stalky black fruits. For early consumption.
Château La Tour Figeac
17/25. My note for the nose simply says “ribena”! The charmless palate has monderate tannins, simple black, cassis fruits although improves in the mouth, gaining more balanced and harmony. Quite acidic on the finish. Perhaps this will improve before bottling.
Château Larcis Ducasse
15/25. A surprisingly intense savoury nose with plum, cassis notes. Quite complex. But the palate is a real let-down: dry, harsh, aggressive and mean. Oh well.
Château Troplong Mondot
19/25. The nose is quite closed, but there is some dense black fruits lurking underneath. A compact, masculine palate: quite minerally with plum and blackberry notes. A nice floral finish. A good wine for the vintage.
19/25. A high-toned plummy, grassy nose with a hint of mint. A good mid-palate with fine concentration: lots of raspberry and blackcurrant flavours. Well-balanced with a nice spicy finish. Quite elegant and suave. One of my favourite Pomerol`s for 2002.
17/25. A thick plum, tar and liquorish nose. Quite focussed with a touch of anis. The palate is dry, quite harsh tannins, compact with good grip but quite light. I prefer the Beauregard which has more style.
17/25. A very green nose. The palate is medium to full bodied, dry tannins, stalky, hard with black tarry fruits. Medium length – this lacks charm and is too aggressive.
Château La Cabanne
18/25. Quite a dense redcurrant/cranberry flavoured nose. High-toned with a lot of oak. The palate is quite plump and rounded with good acidity but a bitter cherry finish. Medium length. A good wine.
Château La Conseillante
19/25. Good depth on the nose: perhaps too much oak with lots of black fruits, spice and musk (?) The palate is balanced with good weight: quite muscular, though a little thin on the finish.
Château La Croix de Gay
17/25. Nothing on the nose. The palate has moderate/weak tannins, quite light and feminine in style. Notes of liquorice and cassis, again with a dry finish. Average.
Château La Pointe
19/25. Good depth on the nose, a little vegetal but not enough to warrant concern. The palate is quite spicy, good concentration, black liquorice fruits and good length on a quite creamy finish. A fine wine.
19/25. The nose is very closed. Medium bodied palate, quite toasty with delicate black fruits, liquorice and tar. Not a powerful wine like usual from L`Evangile, far more reserved and a bit jammy on the finish. A decent wine but not by L`Evangile`s standards.
16/25. A rather wimpy nose. A dry earthy palate, light tannins, light black fruits. Thin and hollow. I expected a lot more from Petit-Village – this is quite poor.
22/25. The aromatics are still closed at the moment. As usual, this is so difficult to assess when young as the tannins smack you in the face. But left in the glass there is obvious a lot of broody black brambly fruits underneath which will come out in the first year. More muscular than the 2001, I hope it isn`t too tannic. But still near the top of the Pomerol League.
La Petite L`Eglise
18/25. Again the nose is very closed. Quite rustic and austere, this may be a little too coarse for my liking. Give it 2-3 years as it may balance out and make a superb 2nd wine.
La Fugue de Nenin
17/25. A rather mean, minerally nose. A soft supple palate with spicy black fruits, truffle and an almost volatile hot spicy finish. Lacks a little focus and restraint.
18/25. A pruney, raisin nose. A medium-bodied wine with soft tannins and a liquorice core. It lacks a bit of complexity and depth at this stage. May improve by time of bottling though.