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Friday, 21 March 2014

Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux - 2013 En Primeur Tasting

A tasting of Grand Cercle de Vins de Bordeaux en primeur 2013s - pictures by kind permission of Colin Hampden-White

- There's an old joke - um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible."

- The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

Annie Hall (1977)

Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux is a new association uniting top chateaux from both the right and the left banks - this was a tasting of over 50 crus en primeur from the 2013 vintage.

2013 in Bordeaux (and much of Europe in fact) was not an easy year - like an off album from an otherwise generally dependable rock band, the words approach with caution spring to mind.

Low harvests due to hail would be bad enough, but cool growing conditions throughout the season mean that quality is not great either.

The optimist's view that, if the wine is not great, at least there isn't too much of it is cold comfort to a vigneron trying to make ends meet.

As to the consumer wondering whether to buy Bordeaux 2013, based on the wines I tasted, there are at least some decent ones - but you'll need to choose carefully.

In general, the whites - both dry and sweet - showed best, whilst the best of the reds have an aromatic freshness.

However, too many reds have too much acidity and tannin without enough fruit. Judicious use of oak can, like the right sort of supportive underwear, make something more of the little that nature gave you and cover up for an intrinsic lack of substance. But what passes muster at first inspection may not be something to fall in love with.

With all of that said, a small number of the reds showed well - most will drink best young whilst still fresh and pert; time will not be kind to them.

Here are the wines I liked:
Dry Whites

Chateau Cote Montpezat, Cuvee Compostelle, Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux fresh, aromatic and balanced

Chateau Hostens-Picant, Cuvee des Demoiselles, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux enjoyably fresh and aromatic

Chateau le Sartre, Pessac-Leognan aromatic, fresh and elegant; zingy but with some weightiness

Dry Reds

Chateau Vray Croix de Gay, Pomerol perfumey, plummy and soft with some firmness on the finish - an OK easy-drinker

Chateau La Fleur de Bouard, Lalande de Pomerol complex aromatic nose, sweet ripe fruit, sweet vanilla, firm but not overly grippy, substantial and plump with a balanced finish. Feels like it has some aging potential. Good.

Chateau Siaurac, Lalande de Pomerol perfumey, plummy and soft, ripe and rounded if slight and insubstantial, delicate grip on the finish

Chateau Patache d'Aux, Medoc fruit, sweet vanilla, freshness, firm finish, not too grippy

Chateau Haut-Bacalan, Pessac Leognan ripe redcurrant, sweet vanilla, freshness


Chateau Haut-Bergeron, Sauternes fresh, peachy apricotty, roasted peach and beeswax, precise and elegant. Very Good.

Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes overripe peaches, freshness and sweet warming spice

Recommended Wines
Dry white: Chateau le Sartre
Red: Fleur de Bouard
Sweet: Chateau Haut-Bergeron

Other related articles
Crus Bourgeois 2011 at The Cambridge Tasting
Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux - 2011 tasting
Innovation And Change in Bordeaux
Crus Bourgeois 2010 At The Cambridge Tasting‏

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