(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.
(2017) I last tasted this wine 'en primeur' in 2011 when I rated it 89 points, so nice to come across it again with six years more in bottle. The estate is managed by Alain Vauthier of the famous Château Ausone, and the wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. There's a gentle floral aspect to the nose, but that's part of a fairly complex picture with savoury, dark fruit and hints of earthiness, green pepper and some cocoa. On the palate it is juicy and lean, the tannins and very plum-skin grip of acidity give it definition, but there's a hint of cocoa and coffee again, and sufficient berry fruit to make it very appealing along with some roast beef perhaps.
(2017) Production of this Merlot-dominated blend seems to be taken quite seriously, produced only in excellent years when Maltus can source fruit of the correct quality, and stated as having at least five years cellaring potential.
(2017) I've previously reviewed and recommended the St Julien 2010 bottled for FromVineyardsDirect from the vineyards of a famous second growth Chāteau, and I have to say this 2014 Pauillac is equally good. Once again the producer is not revealed, but it is a declassifed Cru Classé, possibly made from the estate's younger vines, or simply a surplus that was not needed in the blend - this wine is dominated by Merlot. It is svelte and plush on the nose, deep black fruit and a hint of graphite and cedar. In the mouth it has tension and structure, a grip of youthful tannin, but the savoury, lightly gamy and meaty presence speaks of the wine's class and heritage, the finish long, chewy, but agile. Though drinking well already, this will cellar for several years.
(2017) I have previously enjoyed the 2009 vintage of this Cru Bourgeois wine from the Médoc, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, that has good, intense fruit event nine years on, currant and plum and a spicy richness. In the mouth the ripeness is apparent, a hint of lush, sweet red berries, but then classic left-bank firmness of tannins and the stripe of acidity give the finish a taut, if very slightly lean appeal.