2005 Bordeaux @ Union des Grand Crus

San Francisco, CA
Tasted Saturday, January 19, 2008 by hcampana with 1,017 views

Introduction

This was a great event. It sure was crowded, but the lines moved quickly and you hardly had to wait for more than a couple of people at each producer's table. The UGC representatives had a lot of owners, including many recognizable names (Comte Von Neipperg, Patrick Maroteaux, Nicolas Thienpont, Ronan Laborde, etc.).

The number of wines were excessive for a 3 hour event though. I hardly lost any time conversing with people and passed on appetizers in order to taste all of the wines I wanted to taste. Except for Smith Haut Lafite Rouge and Suduiraut, no table ran out of wine before I could taste it.

Flight 1 - Pessac Leognan (4 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Haut-Bailly 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    One of the best noses of the night. Black fruits, cinammon and scorched earth are woven together by a chocolatey core. Dense, full-to-medium body, tannic but delicious. I see why people are excited about this wine. This is not the intellectual weakling I was expecting.

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  • 2005 Château Haut-Bergey 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    Very modern nose. Ripe black fruits, and New Worldish exotic. Merlot nose, intense flavors, medium bodied, with very fine tannin. Not for classicists, but yummy.

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  • 2005 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    Very expressive nose of smoke and black fruits. The palate is tighter, but coverage is good. Medium to full bodied and intense. Better than I expected.

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  • 2005 Château Pape Clément 95 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    I lack experience with Pape Clement since 1998, so this was a revelation. What an amzingly ripe, concentrated, flavorful wine. So full of fruit it is amazing. new worldish but also offering finesse. One of the best of the night.

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Flight 2 - Margaux (6 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Brane-Cantenac 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    Beautiful nose! Flowers, minerals & red fruits. Medium bodied, elegant finish.

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  • 2005 Château du Tertre 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    Not as exotic as brane Cantenac's. Offers red fruits and cinammon in a riper profile. Medium bodied and a drier finish than Giscours.

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  • 2005 Château Giscours 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    Expressive and exotic nose of flowers and sweet red and black fruits. Medium bodied, a bit tannic but excellent. I may have to give Margaux a chance.

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  • 2005 Château Kirwan 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    In the nose: smoky coffee, black fruits and spices. Very fragant. Fuller bodied than all other Margaux and showing substantial tannin and oak and a slightly drying finish. If tannins don't bother you, you will enjoy this.

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  • 2005 Château Lascombes 87 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    Great nose of deep black fruit, smoke and oak. The palate dissapoints though. Slightly hollow mid palate and a tannic, drying finish. If fruit is absent when young, fruit will be absent forever.

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  • 2005 Château Rauzan-Ségla 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    Very fragant nose of minerals and a primarily red fruit profile. Medium bodied with powerful flavors. Excellent.

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Flight 3 - Saint Julien (8 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Gruaud Larose 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Nose is reticent. Full bodied but not rustic. lacking a bit of mid palate coverage. Not nearly as bad as some have reported.

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  • 2005 Château Lagrange (St. Julien) 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Nose is very exotic and attractive. Roasted coffee, pencil shavings and pure black fruit. medium to full bodied, nice coverage, long finish. Excellent St. Julien.

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  • 2005 Château Langoa Barton 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Intense nose of black fruit and oak. No green flavors anywhere. What were others tasting? A bit of rusticity in the tannin, but overall an excellent wine.

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  • 2005 Château Léoville Barton 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Now we are talking. On a different level than many wines in the tasting. Intense nose full of black fruits, vanilla and graphite. In the palate it is very, very tight and unforgiving but the core of fruit is undeniable. Needs a lot of time. Not a blockbuster at this time, and is thus a slight dissapointment given the critic praise.

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  • 2005 Château Léoville Poyferré 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Solid core of fruits and offering attractive minerality. Full bodied, intense and very tannic at this point. Great potential if it rounds up a little.

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  • 2005 Château Talbot 87 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Softer nose than all other Saint Juliens tasted. medium bodied, lacking a bit of fruitiness and flavor intensity. Do not buy.

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  • 2005 Château Beychevelle 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Beauty of a nose. This is quite open for business. Vanilla, minerals and black fruits. medium bodied, with very good palate coverage.

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  • 2005 Château Branaire-Ducru 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    The nose is quite attractive. Black and red fruits, flowers and graphite. Intense fruitiness in palate but lacking "punch" and slightly grainy tannins. A bit under whelming given the Parker score.

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Flight 4 - Pauillac (6 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Clerc Milon 87 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    The nose is reticent, but offers hints of mocha and steel. This is all structure at this point. Very unforgiving.

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  • 2005 Château d'Armailhac 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    More open than its sibling Clerc Milon. Also softer, medium bodied and a slightly clipped finish. Not in the same league as the 1995 at this point.

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  • 2005 Château Haut-Bages Libéral 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Nose is approachable and diverse, but this medium bodied wine lacks flavor intensity and has a drying finish to score higher. Still very decent.

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  • 2005 Château Lynch-Bages 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Die hard Lynch Bages fans will not hate this wine. Although a bit softer than other vintages, I believe it will develop the flamboyantly exotic nose of its older siblings. If it had more weight and density, it would be a stellar Lynch Bages.

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  • 2005 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    This is clearly in a different level (together with Pontet Canet) than all other Left Bankers. The nose is intense, offering ripe, aromatic cassis, pencil shavings and vanillin. Great fruit density, full body, big extract and very fine tannin. Amazingly...this is very approachable now.

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  • 2005 Château Pontet-Canet 96 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    This is a slightly more rustic Pichon Baron with a level of additional flavor volume. What a great wine this is. Rich, full of black currant, ripe, intense and the longest finish.

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Flight 5 - Saint Estephe (1 Note)

Flight 6 - Saint Emilion (11 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Angélus 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Nose is dominated by lactic aromas. Butter, animal fat and loads of fruit. The palate coverage is absolute. Tannins are substantial, but very fine. The palate is long. I would have liked more diversity in the nose, but this is nevertheless excellent.

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  • 2005 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Very extroverted nose oozing with minerality and black fruits. Medium to full bodied, flavorful, with a somewhat tight palate and very fine, although abundant tannins.

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  • 2005 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Very exotic nose (obviously the product of its 45% Cabernet Franc component). Spicy, fruity and very flamboyant, this medium to full bodied wine is very concentrated but not a brute. Tannins are very velvety. Drinking very well tonight.

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  • 2005 Château Figeac 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    This was a revelation for me. Histgorically Figeac has disspointed me, but tonight was different. This is very minerally, tight and concentrated, but showing a roundness and flavor intensity that makes it great.

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  • 2005 Clos Fourtet 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    The nose is pure fruit extract. This essence of the vine liquid is pure and complicaed by mocha and animal fat. Excellent wine.

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  • 2005 Château Grand Mayne 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Lactic aromas dominate the initial nose. After swirling, bitter chocolate and black fruits. Good concentration but finish is dominated by a buttery scent.

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  • 2005 Château La Gaffelière 89 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    A lot more structure than the Canon La Gaffeliere. This is tight, structured and tannic. There is good fruit, so this may become more enjotyable with more time in bottle.

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  • 2005 Château La Tour Figeac 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Modern, ripe nose. Full bodied, dense and powerful if a bit rustic. Not for finesse lovers.

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  • 2005 Château Larcis Ducasse 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Beautiful minerally nose crammed with fruit. Tighter and more structured than Pavie Macquin. The flavors are intense and the finish very long. This is to Pavie Macquin what Pontet Canet is to Pichon Baron this vintage. Excellent potential.

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  • 2005 Château Pavie Macquin 96 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Much better than from barrel. The nose is one of the most expresive of the whole tasting. It keeps you coming back for more. Bundles of fruit, vanilla and minerals cover the entire palate. Full to medium bodied, with very fine tannin and an overall finesse that you don't expect from such a dense wine.

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  • 2005 Château Troplong Mondot 96 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Very ripe nose of black fruits, intense minerality that is somewhat reticent. The palate though, is intensely flavored. Long, tannic, layered and offering a lot of power. The length of the finish is remarkable. A palate wine at this stage.

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Flight 7 - Pomerol (3 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Clinet 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    Very tight nose. In the mouth, this is excellent. A lot of flavor intensity, great palate coverage. The tannins arfe a bit grainy. Also a palate wine at this stage.

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  • 2005 Château Gazin Pomerol 89 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    Pure fruit in the nose. Tannic and a bit rustic, this wine's tannin are a bit grainy and lacks a bit of mid palate coverage.

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  • 2005 Château La Conseillante 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    Pure red fruit in the nose, which is further complicated by a spice component. Very tannic, medium bodied. Very pure wine. Not as flamboyantly fruity as in barrel.

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Flight 8 - Sauternes (7 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Climens 95 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac

    The nose on this wine is absolutely fantastic. Pure essence of apricot with substantial spicy botrytis, it is opulent, rich and dramatic. The body is its usual elegant frame and good acidity. This was at the very top of the sweet wines together with de Fargues (in a substantially different style).

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  • 2005 Château Coutet 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac

    Very sweet and thick. Dominated by tropical fruits and the sweetness. It lacks the aromatic complexity of Climens, but very fine indeed.

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  • 2005 Château de Fargues 95 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    This was the other blockbuster sweet wine of the night (along with Climens). It is the opposite of the latter wine. Full bodied, viscous, tropical and with substantial botrytis and a very long finish.

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  • 2005 Château Doisy-Daëne 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Fresh, medium bodied. On the citrusy side of the spectrum. Not as attractive as the top wines.

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  • 2005 Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Fresh, medium to full bodied and very flavorful. A great dessert wine, but not a blockbuster.

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  • 2005 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Very ripe nose of tropical fruits. Lacking the spice of others, but very fine. Full bodied and with great length.

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  • 2005 Château Guiraud 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    less expressive nose than others but the palate makes up for much. Full bodied, long and concentrated. This is better than the 3-4 bottles of 2001 I have had.

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Closing

Some conclusions:

1. The overall quality of the wines presented is high for such a broad representation, but there were surprisingly few blockbusters for a vintage of this reputation. Most of my scores landed in the 90-92 point range. Caveat: I like Bordeaux best after 12-15 years in bottle.

2. 2005 Left Bank wines are a lot more approachable than initially reported. Pontet Canet was my co-WOTN, for example.

3. Margaux is seriously good this year. I typically eschew this appellation because my taste runs towards fuller bodied, more intense wines and often Margaux comes across as diluted to me. Not this year. Giscours, Brane Cantenac, Kirwan and Rauzan Segla are all packing their elegance in a sturdier, more concentrated package this vintage.

4. Pomerol did not impress me as much as it has impressed others. I haven't tasted any blockbuster Pomerols from this vintage except for perhaps the one with the poorest terroir: Le Bon Pasteur (not in this tasting). Even highly acclaimed L'Eglise Clinet was under whelming (not in this tasting).

5. Saint Emilion is indeed a treasure chest. Pavie Macquin, Larcis Ducasse, Troplong Mondot, Angelus and Canon La Gaffeliere are extraordinary (especially the first three who were also at the top of my preference among all wines tated), but I cannot see them getting 100 points in the near term.

6. Pessac Leognan is also very high in quality. All of the wines tasted from this appellation were impressive: Haut Bailly, Haut Bergey, Les Carmes Haut Brion and, especially, Pape Clement (a fantastic wine that is, unfortunately, too expensive to buy for me given the bang for the buck competition it has this vintage).

7. Pauillac was under represented and not very exciting except for Pontet Canet and Pichon Baron. Same for Saint Estephe.

8. Sauternes were also high in quality but few were in 92+ point territory and it doesn't seem like most of these have the acidty of 2001s. The two primordial examples of their own styles were Climens (amazing nose in an elegant frame) and Fargues (ripeness, tropical and visocus). I missed Suduiraut.

9. Positive surprises: Lagrange, Beychvelle, Giscours, Brane Cantenac, Langoa Barton, Les Carmes Haut Brion & Haut Bailly.

10. Underwhelming: no 97-100 point experiences, but again, if you love Bordeaux for the appealing aromas it develops with age, it is hard to experiment sublime experiences with wines this young. If, however, the 2005 La Mondotte barrel sample I tasted in Bordeaux had been in this tasting though, it would have likely made it into that coveted bracket with the benefit of additional bottle age.

11. Class Act of the night: I had a very enjoyable conversation with Nicolas Thienpont and the person representing Larcis Ducasse. I reminiscenced about our great visit in 2006 with the energetic, enthusiastic Irish woman Sara. We also talkede about several current affairs in the wine world. Before I left the event, I made sure to stop by again to say good bye and thank you to both of these nice gentlemen and...out comes a bottle of 2005 Pavie Macquin as a gift to me!!! Mr. Thienpont (through his associate) said he wanted to thank me for supporting their wines and buying them. I was very happy and truly moved by this gesture.

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