Inspirational Growths: over-achieving Bordeaux wines

The historic classification of Bordeaux wines – specifically the wines of the Médoc with the notable exception of Château Haut-Brion from the Graves commune – continues to influence the wine world and fascinate lovers of this classic French region.

xRecently, Berry Bros & Rudd held a tasting in London where they showed 10 Bordeaux wines from estates that they consider to be ‘Inspirational Growths’ – a new classification of those Bordeaux properties which have shifted up a gear in the last decade or so, and which, in Berry bros’ opinion, are out-performing their official classification. Wine Director for Berry Bros, Alun Griffiths MW, says “Since the great 2000 vintage our Bordeaux, buyers feel there has been a distinct upward shift in quality across the whole spectrum in Bordeaux. Wines which are making the most obvious forward strides are not only the well-established First Growths and the ‘Super Seconds’ (Ducru Beaucaillou, Léoville-Las Cases and the like) but new superstars that are making exciting, enticing and mostly affordable wines, creating a new, unofficial classification which we have named ‘The Inspirational Growths’.”

The wines

2000 Ch. Branaire-Ducru, 4ème Cru Classé, St Julien
Big, plummy and ripe, this has masses of overripe, deeply set fruit. There’s a suggestion of something gamy and wild too. Quite complex. Lovely sweet fruit on the palate, and a very svelte structure beneath. Drinking well, but will cellar. 92/100. £122.00 per magnum,

2001 Ch. la Conseillante, Pomerol
Very dark, earthy, plump fruit character and plenty of game and plumpness. There is a real creamy quality on the palate, but then the fruit has a tight, blue-black edge to it too. The spice and cedary finesse comes through, but there is a smooth, sinewy depth. 91/100. £72.00

2003 Ch. Giscours, 3ème Cru Classé, Margaux
This has a bit of wild, gamy Margaux character and perfume, and on the palate there’s a schisty, dark, black olive and juicy black cherry fruit. This has terrific life and grip, with juicy, savoury intensity and good structure though perhaps shows a touch of harsher tannin from the vintage. 91/100. £41.50

2003 Ch. Léoville Poyferré, 2ème Cru Classé, St Julien
Beautiful ripeness and elegant, juicy suggestion of sweetness. There’s a bit of gamy character , and quite exotic Sandalwood spice. On the palate this is very sweet and full; a glorious mouthful of very sweet fruit and a refined, racy character to the tannins and acidity. Lovely, serious stuff. 94/100. £112.00

2004 Ch. Pavie-Macquin, 1er Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion
Delightfully ripe, rich, really plump and full. A solid layering of creamy oak, and all sorts of smoky sweetness. The palate has lovely fruit too, with all the juiciness and plump fruitiness and yet structure too. 93/100. £45.00

2004 Ch. Pontet-Canet, 5ème Cru Classé, Pauillac
Meaty, very solid black fruit quality, with a taut feeling of smooth, silky black fruit. On the palate this has real juiciness again, with masses of kirsch-like cherry, and a dry, bittersweet tannin structure. 91/100. £39.50

2004 Ch. Haut-Bailly, Grand Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan
Lovely refined, cedary quality, with a raciness suggested by the sweet black fruit and a suggestion of gravelly minerality. Fine, sweet fruit, with delightful, juicy character and fine length and structure. 92/100. £55.00

2005 Ch. Moulin-St Georges, Grand Cru, St Emilion
Very tight blackcurranty fruit, with a lovely aromatic perfume of incense and very fine cassis quality. The palate has a firm, dry, very tight and savoury backbone, with the sweetness of fruit pushing through, and lovely tight structure. 91/100. £49.00

2005 Ch. Lynch-Bages, 5ème Cru Classé, Pauillac
Beautifully tight, refined, vinous nose, with crisply defined red fruit and a svelte, plummy depth beneath. Oak is very well integrated already. The palate has terrific density and juiciness, with a very nice structure and refined tannins that suggests great potential. 94/100. £123.00

2005 Domaine de Chevalier, Grand Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan
Bright, crisp, schisty quality, and has that racy minerality. Very juicy and ripe, with lots of tightly-structured and racy fruit and a cherry and plumskin and density. Lovely and has refinement and elegance. 92/100. £55.00

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