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