(2018) At 33-years old, in a more or less perfect place for me, pouring with still a healthy ruby at the core and the nose absolutely à pointe with some herbal Cabernet character, but loads of precise graphite and black fruit and a waft of rose-like perfume somewhere in the background. In the mouth still rich and substantial: a wine that has shrugged off its three decades, still a hint of muscularity and taut athleticism, but there is a softening touch to the fruit, a little Muscavado sugar caramel, but lovely, lovely resolution of the tannins and acids into a harmonious and quite long finish. Could it be a tad more complex? Maybe, but I'm very happy to have one more bottle left in the cellarfor drinking over the next few years.
(2018) A delightful and classic Sauternes, made for C&B by Château Giraud, a blue-blooded estate of the Sauternes aristocracy. A blend of Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc, it has the rich glycerine and honey aromatics of gentle Noble Rot, a touch of curry leaf and raisin, but plenty of apricotty fruit. Not too heavy on the palate, the juiciness of citrus cuts the richer, sweeter flavours and texture, to give this lovely presence, and clean, fresh finish. Price is for a 37.5cl half bottle. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) A blanc de Noirs from Bordeaux, using typical grapes Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this rosé crémant is made in the traditional method with a second fermentation in bottle. Pale peach in colour, there's a fine strawberry sherbet character on the nose, just a little echo of creaminess too. In the mouth the sweet ripeness of the summer berry fruit is very pleasing, an orangy tang of acidity adding a gentle but precise freshness to the finish.
(2018) This Crémant is made from an alliance of Cabernet Franc and Semillon - certainly an unusual blend of unexpected varieties. Made by the traditional method, it is also on offer at just £8.99 from Ocado until 1st January 2019 - a big factor in making it my choice. Crisp, sherbetty and instantly light and appealing, it could not be more different from the Larmandier-Bernier Champagne tasted alongside, akin to a rather serious Prosecco, with a little more yeastiness, but bags of citrus and apple fruit and a long, clean finish. Dry, not lean or mean, but tightly-drawn, it is a fine inexpensive fizz for the party season at its offer price. One of my two sparkling wine picks for Christmas 2018, watch the video for more information.
(2018) In Bordeaux, 1985 is my favourite vintage bar none. Yes, '61 may be more legendary, '49 more revered, but I have bought and drunk a lot of '85s over the past 30 years with unfailing success in the wines being both sumptuous and structured, in an immensely pleasurable vintage. This Margaux may be the pinnacle, a heavenly depth of graphite and cedar-touched ripe, but not overripe, black fruits, the lightest nuances of game and vanilla, and just a gorgeous, ethereal Margaux perfume. In the mouth the tannins are now resolved of course, but the fine-grained, supple nature is lovely and the fresh acidity gives this an alert, still energetic character at 33 years of age. Wonderful fruit, again just touched with cedar and game on the palate, but a depth of blackcurrant and edged by black plum and chocolate bittersweet notes. Long, not fading in the glass after an hour, and possibly with substantial time ahead for well-cellared bottles.
(2018) Introduced by Château Suduiraut a few vintages ago, 'Lions' is not so much a second wine, as a contemporary alternative to the slightly richer, age-worthy traditional Sauternes. Still made from Suduiraut's own immaculate vineyards of botrytis-affected Semillon (with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc), the glowing golden colour leads on to a glorious nose, soaring from the glass with ripe apricot, honey and glycerine, a marmalade richness following through to the palate, a little biscuity rounding of vanilla from its time in oak, then lemon rind, zesty acidity to cut through the rich texture. It does have freshness and directness, making it very appealing now, but I'd wager there's cellaring potential too. Price quoted for a half bottle. Watch the video for food-matching ideas and more information.
(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.
(2018) A Bordeaux Blanc blending 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, the grassiness and bold stone-fruit aromas of the Sauvignon just about dominate the nose, but there's zesty lemon and a touch of chalky minerals too. On the palate this is keen and focused, with none of the tropicality of some Sauvignons, instead cool orchard fruit bite and plenty of zipping citrus freshness leave it tongue-tingling and juicy. Seafood and sushi would seem like natural bedfellows.
(2018) At 31 years old this is in marvellous condition and magical form. Cellared by me for the past 20 years or so, the colour is a bright, rich gold, and the nose is laden with botrytis notes of honey and glycerine, barley sugar and tea. There's a minty echo of oak and ripeness, but it is gloriously pure. In the mouth it is weighty without being sticky, with those lovely glycerine tones to the peachy, apricot and then lemony fruit, the sweetness perfectly balanced against the fresh, long, dry acidity that elongates the finish. What a lovely wine. Available as listed below at time of writing.
(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.