(2021) The 4th growth Beychevelle from 1985 has been one of my favourite ever wines for three decades now, a bottle from a case bought around 1989 having been drunk every few years. This the last of the dozen. Now the colour is still a lovely ruby, a hint of brick on the rim, though the nose and palate both show some age. There's a little autumn leaf, vegetal note that was not there on the previous bottle seven or eight years ago, but it does not detract: there is still so much to like. The palate still has that quite sumptuous, plummy fruit depth and swirling smokiness and hints of fudge and chocolate generosity, and the framework of tannins and now slightly more angular acidity give it tension and drive, making for a really enjoyable wine. Would I buy more of the 1985 at this stage? I'd say it is definitely just past its peak, but possibly would at the right price. Current price is shown below.
(2021) This 54-year-old white Bordeaux from Graves, and what would now be the Pessac-Léognan appellation, is from the year in which André Lurton became 'tenent-farmer' of this prestigious property, coming to that arrangement on hearing that the then owner was about to grub-up the vineyards. It remained that way until 1992, when having already purchased part of the land, Lurton acquired the château and cellars, completing the creation of Château Couhins-Lurton. The wine pours a deepening yellow colour, but still vivid and fresh. On the nose, some custard and waxiness, like old waxed parcel string, then a very pure and elegant, quite fat and solid lemon fruitiness, but there's something almost green, certainly herby too, giving it an extra strictness and unwavering quality towards a long finish, with the elegant white fruit and lemon acidity carrying it forward.
(2021) Unoaked, the blend is 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. Robust, dark ruby in colour, it's a big, plummy, creamy Merlot nose, the two Cabernets adding just a hint of green olive austerity somewhere in the background, but nothing much interrupts that Merlot fruit. The palate has plenty of fruit too, tannins dry but quite fine and plenty of cherry-skin and plum-skin tart acidity to balance. Enjoyable, quite big-scaled, everyday Bordeaux.
(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.
(2021) Lovely nose, suffused with cassis and ripe black cherry, there's a mocha depth to this too, a little hint of cedary pencil-shaving, a hint of earthiness, but really quite bold fruit. In the mouth classy and classic Bordeaux character, the black fruit very nicely ripe and creamy, but there is structure, a certain firmness to the tannins and suppleness to the acidity, grippy but the sweet fruit dominating the mid-palate. Very complete, very harmonious.
(2021) A wine I have been lucky enough to enjoy regularly since first tasting it 'en primeur' in 2003, this was from a half bottle and was absolutely glorious. The nose of this has always fascinated, not only heaving with a depth of marmalade, honey and toast, but the exoticism of saffron and candied fruits, and a wonderful suggestion of truffle and dry, Botrytis-rich curry-leaf. In the mouth it is so concentrated, so vital, the intensity of the dried apricot and Seville orange, mouth-filling sweetness, beeswax weight and richness, then the clarity of confit lemon, mineral salts and again, that truffle character adding soulful depth. Quite majestic. Price quoted is for a half bottle.
(2021) Like the other wines of Suduiraut, the Blanc Sec comes from all estate fruit, predominently Semillon at 52%, with 48% Sauvignon Blanc, like the 2020, 25% was aged in barrels, 23% new. Very pale green/straw in colour, it's an elegant and composed wine, taut with lemon and minerals to the fore, a little leafiness and almost Chablis-like river stones. In the mouth a little more of the Sauvignon vivaciousness comes through, a burst of more nectarine like fruit, but always restrained by classic acidity, the finish long and bone-dry. Perhaps slightly less vivacious than the 2020, but makes up for that in sheerness and intensity. Around £17.50 by the case.
(2021) This vintage blends 54% Semillon with 46% Sauvignon Blanc, co-fermented, 25% of the blend aged in barrels for six months, 30% of the oak was new. Pierre says he was worried about this vintage after a very hot start to the summer and the potential for acidity to be lower, but in the end the vintage came good. The nose has delicate floral and lightly herbaceous fruit, but there seems to be real lusciouness here too, a tropical edge to the fruit. The vineyards lie on both the clay soils closest to the boundary with Chateau d'Yquem, and on the deeper gravels closer to Chateau Suduiraut. There is great sweetness and ripeness as it strikes the palate, but that very racy lemon, tangerine and salts acidity pushes through. A slightly more vibrant wine than the 2020, with punchier fruit but equal acidity. Pierre says it drinks well for several years, the 2017 still tasting very fresh. This wine will be shipped in early summer 2021.
(2021) From a vintage that was poor for Bordeaux's red wines, but very good for Sauternes. This was a vintage where the first trie was not promising, with more grey rot than Botrytis, but luckly the weather changed in October and successive tries produced very good Botrytis and fruit. The blend is 90% Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc, 15% made in new barrels, 85% in older barrels for 18 moths. 148g/l of residual sugar. Lots of orange blossom, honey and a little leaf tea and bergamot, the palate luscious and very creamy, with masses of sweetness of apricot and golden sultana, but the acidity dazzling and fresh. Very long and concentrated, it finishes on the dry Botrytis flavours that make these wines so appealing. Half bottle price given.
(2021) Pierre says the development of Botrytis was excellent in 2010, comparing it to 1990, and that the proportion of 10% Sauvignon is unusually high, because the Sauvignon was so good in this year. It spent 20 months in barrels, 50% new and 50% one year old, and has 145g/l of residual sugar. This was a big crop, with over 80,000 bottles produced from a yield that is always between 15 and 20 hectolitres per hectare. I've enjoyed several tastings of this vintage over the years, and it's a wine with realy charm and elegance, but a fabulously approachable sweetness and easy-drinking appeal. There is honey and quite exotic apricot and mango on the nose, more delicate floral notes flit in and out, as well as the light earthy character of Botrytis. Beautiful fruit and texture on the palate, mouth-filling and glycerine-rich, but that orange and tangerine character of the acidity, that persistent touch of leafiness, gives this real freshness even although the concentration and Botrytis character persists in the long finish. Price for a half bottle.