2012 Commanderie du Bontemps – “Ban du Millésime” Dinner

Every year the Commanderie du Bontemps hosts a dinner to celebrate the official release of the new vintage – the “Ban de Millésime”.

And, every year I try to go because this is the one event in Bordeaux where you get to taste the most back vintage Bordeaux.

The event is held in downtown Bordeaux in the hall of the CAPC Centre of Contemporary Visual Art. It is a beautiful, majestic, and magical space with a high arched stone ceiling. Tables of 8-10 settings are spread throughout the hall in a stylized patchwork pattern. It is really – the perfect setting for the event.

Photo Credit: Commanderie de Bontemps

Once you enter the hall – the appetizers and apertifs – are located in the smaller arched walkway around the central room that supports the balcony above.  In this more intimate space, you get to mingle, taste some wines, and have a bite to eat while you locate your table and your dining partners.  Waiters in tuxedos present appetizers to you off of silver trays.  The wines offered before dinner as an apertif were: 2008 Chateau Chantegrive (Blanc), 2007 Chateau Piada (Barsac), 2005 Chateau Coufran (Rouge).

The tradition of the dinner is trade bottles of wine from table to table.  This is facilitated by each place setting begin provided with 3-6 empty glasses at it.  Once you are seated the Commanderie presents 4-8 back vintage wines per table.  This year the wines were: 2000 Chateau Fieuzal, 2005 Chateau Haut Marbuzet, 2002 Chateau Giscours, 2003 Chateau Doisy Vedrines.

Beyond that, each table is sponsored by a negociant or a Chateau and they bring a selection of wines as well that are placed on the table. This year we sat at the Mouton Rothschild table. So, needless to say, we were presented with a stunning and abundant selection of additional wines, including: 2001 Ch. Mouton Rothschild, 2007 Le Petit Mouton, 2003 Clerc Milon, and 1989 Coutet (Barsac).

Dinner was a buffet that required at least three visits: Appetizers, Main Course, and Dessert.  I have included a picture of the menu below:

As I mentioned, tradition would normally dictate that we trade our wines for other wines – once we had a chance to taste some. Luckily, there was a general consensus around our table that, in life, sometimes it is better to quit when you are ahead. So, for the most part, we sat back and enjoyed the wines that we had brought. No trading. With one exception, at one point during the dinner I was presented with a glass that contained 1947 (1949?) Ch. Calon Segur from a 6-litre bottle. It was divine.

I have included tasting notes on a few of the wines from the dinner below.  If you are interested in knowing how any of the others tasted – please let me know – I will be happy to share the tasting notes.

2007 Le Petit Mouton: This was an excellent wine.  It was starting to develop on the nose with strong aromas of cassis, earth, and a touch of leather. Light and refreshing on the palate but with good tannic structure. An example of the fact that 2007 produced some really good wines.  I could drink a lot of this – too bad it is so expensive . . .


2001 Mouton Rothschild: This wine is really unbelievable.  It looks so young.  Dark and opaque in colour.  Showing almost no signs of aging.  Closed when first opened (we did not decant). Opened nicely as dinner progressed.  In perfect balance. This will easily last another 20 years.


2003 Clerc Milon:  It is easy to see the similarities between the Mouton and the Clerc Milon when they are tasted side by side.  I think this wine was not showing its best. It was a touch closed and primary right now. Needs more time. Seems to be one of the 2003s that survived the aging process and will get better. Dark and opaque. Nice balance and length.

2000 de Fieuzal: This was surprisingly good. Very mature profile but enjoyable. Intense nose of cassis, earth, barnyard, with a hint of licorice.  Just beautiful.  An example of a lesser known Bordeaux wine aging with grace. Lighter on the palate than the other wines at our table but silky and smooth with a pleasant finish.  My note says “Buy some.” – which I tried to do after the dinner – to find out that it is sold out across Bordeaux.  Oh well.

1989 Coutet: For me this was the wine of the night.  I have tasted quite a few 1989 Sauternes and Barsac wines but this has to be the best one yet.  1989 Sauternes have a tendency to be a bit hot.  This was was in perfect balance.  Quite dark in colour – amber gold.  Exploding nose of tropical fruit and creme brulee. Just perfectly balanced in the mouth with refreshing acidity.  I felt bad – because I went back for three glasses . . .

For my blog post on the Ban de Millésime dinner from 2010 go here.