Le Cercle Rive Droite Tasting

This tasting was held at the Hotel Grand Barrail in St. Emilion.  It was just a beautiful gorgeous day with hot and sunny weather – which is really rare during en primeur week.

This was also the toughest tasting I have ever been too. These wines were huge and not in a good way.  Many of them were too alcoholic, with too much acidity and too much tannin.  After tasting 10-12 wines, I found it hard to continue and I was, quite possibly, a little tipsy from the alcohol – even though I was spitting.  The general conclusion from this tasting is that this was not a good year for the Merlot based wines.  With the hot and sunny weather the grapes matured to levels that made making an elegant wine very difficult.  The wines that are normally very concentrated were over the top.  The wines that are normally very elegant and lithe – were extremely concentrated.   The surprise of the tasting was that many of the lower quality wines that are often thin with astringent tannins – made wines that are plush and sweet with mature tannin.  Here are some notes on the highlights of the tasting:

Wine of the tasting:  It was not the best quality wine of the tasting but I really liked the Clos des Jacobins– it was just dripping ripe fruit with a beautiful balance and amazing structure.  Depending on the release price it could be a real value this year.

Showed Well:  The most surprising wines of the tasting were some of the Bordeaux Superieur wines and wines from the Cotes.  In particular, Chateau Thieuley had surprising concentration and structure and Ch.  La Tour Mirambeau and Ch. Reynon were just a notch below.  Of the more recognized names the two that I really liked were: Ch. Rol Valentin was distinct and had a wonderful aromatic structure; Ch. Quinault L’Enclos was beautiful and concentrated – but this is not the typical elegant Quinault L’Enclos (you have been warned!).  Other wines that showed well included: Ch. Fleur Cardinale,Ch. Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac,  Ch. La Fleur de GayCh. Le Bon Pasteur, and Ch. La Clemence.

 Disappointments:  I felt like the Ch. Faugeres and Peby-Faugeres were a little over the top this year.  Their super-concentrated modern style was just not well suited to the vintage.

2007 Wines:  The lunch at the Rive Droite tasting is always wonderful – if a bit chaotic.  This year there was a nice selection of back vintage wines to choose from during lunch.  I got there a bit late and so most of what was left was Right Bank wines from the much maligned 2007 vintage.  And, I am surprised to say, I was pleasantly surprised by these wines.  The 2007s have matured extremely fast and are already showing some wonderful tertiary aromas and flavours to go with fruit that is still fresh.  I particularly liked the 2007 Clos des Jacobins which had beautiful fruit combined with soft tannins and a wonderful maturing nose of Bordeaux funk.  If you are looking for wines to drink now 2007s are something to consider.

Note:  I was not able to taste as many wines at this tasting as I usually do – so there were probably a lot of gems at this tasting that I was not able to identify.