WSDC Event - Tasting of Clarets from South Bordeaux

What: Tasting of Clarets from South Bordeaux  
When: 14 Dec 11 ,18:30 -20:30
Where: Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining SW1Y 5DB map
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This tasting is a wonderful opportunity to try some very impressive wines, mainly from the Club's reserves. The region in question is Pessac-Léognan, immediately to the south of Bordeaux, and part of that is Graves, where suburban housing is pressing right up against the fences of châteaux such as Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion. The word 'Graves' owes its existence to the gravelly ground of the terroir, and wine has been produced here since the 16th century.

You will be welcomed with a glass of The Society's Celebration Crémant de Loire, a stylish sparkler with so much depth of flavour that it surpasses many inexpensive champagnes.

The first white wine is Vieux Château Gaubert, 2008, Graves Blanc, which has excellent structure due to the barrel-fermentation of sauvignon and semillon. The same wines are used to make Château Carbonneiux Blanc, 2006, Pessac-Léognan, and this is one of the top Bordeaux whites, with an expressive nose and balanced, gentle acidity. 'Class in a glass' is one description.

From our reserves, Chateau Couhins-Lurton 1998, Pessac-Léognan, a sauvignon blanc, now fully mature, smoky and toasty on the nose, fresh taste and very long.

Now to the first red wine, from a 'difficult' vintage, Château Ferran 2007, Pessac-Léognan, forward and fragrant, with the early-drinking charm of merlot. Then we will have another young wine, Château Bouscat, 2008, Pessac-Léognan, where a touch of malbec is added to cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Lovely round, supple fruit and a spicy texture. It will be interesting to compare this wine with Château La Garde 2005, Pessac-Léognan, from a much better vintage, producing a lovely fresh claret, aromatic, velvety and good structure.

We will change gear now, and move to the wines from our reserves, starting with Domaine de Chevalier 2002, in the south west of Pessac-Léognan. You may find cranberry freshness, and spice or tobacco, due to the use of two thirds cabernet sauvignon, plus merlot and small amounts of cabernet franc and petit-verdot.

Then we can compare two vintages of Château Haut-Bailly, 2004 and 1995, Grand Cru, where, I'm told, vines were planted as far back as 1461 (on a Wednesday!). The 2004 is just approachable, deeply coloured, complex aroma and firm tannins, whereas the 1995 is right on song, so we can see how the wines from this popular château develop. Ten years on the wine is still dark, with an interesting and varied aroma, full palate, and very good length.

So to Château La Mission Haut-Brion 1996 Pessac-Léognan, where some members of the Club had a memorable visit back in 2001, captivated by the wonderful wine and enchanting guide! This wine is a Grand Cru, made mainly from merlot and balanced with cabernet sauvignon. A really enjoyable wine, sensuous texture, full fruit and the tannins have receded, giving style, substance and finesse.

I will be asking you: do you prefer La Mission or Chateau Haut-Brion 1994, Premier Cru? The two chateaux have the same ownership, and are adjacent. Here cabernet sauvignon is the dominant grape, with merlot and some cabernet franc. This is one of the greatest vineyards in the world, and according to Clive Coates MW this Haut-Brion 'is superbly crafted, beautifully balanced, and as pure as a wine can be'. Limited quantities!

As Christmas is looming, we should finish with a port, from our reserves, Dow 1983, very sweet and raisiny, ripe, round and lively, and still young.

I hope you enjoy these wines. We will visit this region again with a dinner in late 2012.

Remember to get tickets for the Club’s raffle!

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Dates for the Diary:
Rhône dinner, Carlton Club, 31st January 2012
250th Dinner: Ch. Margaux, late March 2012.

Booking Form

Vintages available from The Wine Society:
Château La Mission Haut Brion, 2000, Pessac-Léognan
Château Haut Brion, 1998, Pessac-Léognan
Dow's, 1980