2005 Bordeaux Test Drive

North Square
Tasted Tuesday, December 2, 2008 by Keith Levenberg with 803 views

Flight 1 (2 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Fleur Cardinale 78 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Nose of cigarette ash. Ripe, plump berry fruit is the first thing evident in the initial attack of sweetness and fat, followed seconds later by layers upon layers of tannin -- refined tannin to be sure but a hell of a lot of it. At that point the fruit totally vanishes and it's all wool, textured but completely tasteless. Quite a peculiar sensation given the abruptness of the division between sweet fruit and nothing but tannin, two totally different wines in the space of five seconds. Normally you wouldn't want to drink a wine so tannic but the fruit was so overdone you welcome the closure.

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  • 2005 Château Beausejour (Duffau Lagarrosse) 86 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Totally mute on the nose despite having been decanted in the morning. Again, so tannic it's more like drinking a sweater than something made from fruit, though somehow it seems deeper in complexion with a vague sensation of plumminess anyway. I like the restraint here and the bracing kick to the acidity even if it's too backwards now to really be enjoyed.

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Flight 2 (3 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Clinet 84 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    Not so expressive on the nose, a quiet whiff of deep fruitiness is all you get, but the sensation of ripeness on the palate is powerful. This has the blackest fruit complexion of all the wines tonight and is saturating in its inky concentration. Too much for me, really, but at least it's not blowsy since it has a nice bite to it. I've had good experiences with Clinet before but as soon as I saw the slick new label and gratuitously fat glass bottle I said Uh-oh. And indeed the bottle tells you all you need to know.

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  • 2005 Château Haut-Brisson 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    The nose is quiet but inky ripe, then much more restrained with the traditional plummy merlot fruit on the palate with fine, sophisticated tannins sweetened up by a sort of oatmeal cookie/graham cracker inflection to the fruit. This is one of the few wines that got better with each sip. But I was dismayed to look on wine-searcher and find the going rate for this is fifty bucks because I ws thinking it could make a pretty little house wine. In Bordeaux? Ha!

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  • 2005 Château Lucia 77 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    I was expecting a spoofmonster here. Not really, but neither is it anything special. It's abrasively tannic, so who knows what's lurking underneath. I didn't find it as New Worldish as others probably because the structure made it so backwards, though I would have pegged it Tuscan way before Bordeaux.

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Flight 3 (2 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Haut-Bailly 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    Sweet aroma like sniffing a cookie jar becomes deeper and craggier with airtime. This wine is so finessed that after the five Right Bank wines this is almost like switching to pinot noir, with its mild and silky tannin. The only wine tonight that isn't hiding its figure under a thick wool sweater. This is a wine I would want to own, except current prices have it costing more than I paid for the 1989 as recently as a few months ago. This craziness can't last.

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  • 2005 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 68 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    S.H.L., R.I.P. It's hard to overstate my disappointment here. Going back to the 1998 vintage, Smith Haut Lafitte has always been one of the only modern-styled Bordeaux I actually liked. More than liked, actually. The '98, '00, '01, and '02 were all delicious, black-fruited and scorched in a way that underscored the natural scorched-earth characteristics of Graves terroir. Yes, they were soup, but they were Graves soup! Not so here. It opens with a strange gamey aroma that's attractive but not at all the S.H.L. I know; the fruit isn't the usual sinister blackness but reddish and intensely -- undrinkably -- sweet. More like a sweetened cup of coffee than a glass of wine, this tasting note is just a long-winded way of saying that what we have here is a total piece of crap and I find the critical accolades it's gotten not just disagreeable but incomprehensible.

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Flight 4 (3 Notes)

  • 2005 Château Pontet-Canet 87 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Largish in scale though it seems to go back and forth between muscle and fat. The fruit is on the plummy side for a Left Bank wine and combines some up-front sweetness with a deeper brothiness. Still, the tannins are so burly it's hard to get at what's inside here.

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  • 2005 Château Béhèré 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    This is both less tannic and less expressive than my last bottle. Some fresh herbal leafiness on the nose but the textbook Pauillac lead pencils are much subtler than before. The lighter tannin gives this more leanness and pliancy than most of the other wines on the table today, and I found it much easier to drink (if less rewarding to "taste") as a result.

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  • 2005 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Bright, ripe, red cherry fruit but not jammy. Definitely sweet but not over the top. Has a touch of the usual Pauillac graphite and shows its oak on the finish, but there's good suppleness here and more of the fruit peeking through than most of the other wines today.

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Flight 5 (3 Notes)

  • 2005 Château d'Issan 86 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    Amazingly consistent with my August 20th note.

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  • 2005 Château Léoville Poyferré

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Quiet nose of gingerbread cookies. Alluring, but couldn't get much out of this wine after that. Enters dry, feels dry, finishes dry. At this point it's hard to distinguish between the tannins in this wine and the buildup of tannin and extract in my mouth from all the previous ones.

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  • 2005 Château Kirwan 71 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    Palate fatigue does not, however, get in the way of noticing the scents of fruit pie and alcoholic vapors in this wine. Tastes like you'd expect, fruit pie, alcoholic vapors, and tannin tannin tannin. A sucky wine and even if you ignore the jammy fruit the alcoholic sting is an obnoxious defect.

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