Richard Bampfield MW and Jean-Christophe Mau of Chateau Brown
For this tasting, Master of Wine Richard Bampfield and winemaker Jean-Christophe Mau took us through a range of left-bank and right-bank wines from the good-but-not spectacular 2014 vintage.
A large number of the attendees were trainee MWs, looking to learn the nuances of Bordeaux terroir.
After trying all the wines sighted, we re-sampled them blind and were invited to guess which was which. I still don't know how many I got right - if any - but it was a fascinating exercise.
Freshness, aromatics, red more than dark fruits, balance; not as bold a year, but good definition within a smaller frame
All of these wines showed lifted fruits and perfume; shown in increasing order of quality, the last two wines were the most substantial, but for me the Sociando-Mallet and Brown showed best on the day.
Ch Poujeaux, Moulis-En-Medoc soft, supple, ripe fruit with former rustic / raw tannins, less generous on the finish
Ch Brown, Pessac-Leognan mintier, mineral and substantial; more ripeness and finesse with cedarwood
Ch Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc more sour-cherry and coffee flavours; fuller and more generous
Ch Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estephe cool mint, more closed up, fresher and leaner, firmer tannins and grippier. Opens up more over time.
Ch Marquis de Terme, Margaux spicier, cool mint, plump and supple; harmonious and substantial with smooth, round tannins.
For these wines Richard explained that the Left Bank Cab-based wines tend to be more back-palate vs the more front-palate Right Bank Merlots of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion.
I found myself continuing to prefer the more contemplative Left Bankers; on a technical assessment, the last two Saint-Emilions were the more substantial and complex suggesting greater aging potential.
Ch Lagrange, Saint-Julien cedar-wood, plump and ripe, harmonious, fruit-forward
Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac grilled and earthy with cool mint; focused and pure, intensity and concentration, firmer structure, ripe tannins
Ch Taillefer, Pomerol cedary, roasted with spice, sweet fruits and freshness; pure cherry fruit. Precise and refined with very fine tannins.
Ch Dassault, Saint-Emilion supple with cool mint and sweet, ripe dark-cherry fruit. Very fresh, pure and concentrated. Plenty of well-integrated oak.
Ch Bellevue, Saint-Emilion mocha and cherries, firm-yet-fine tannins, very fresh and pure. Sweet fruit, freshness, prominent oak and rounded tannins