Le Grand Tasting

Carrousel du Louvre, Paris

Tasted November 30, 2012 - December 1, 2012 by Cesar Riviere with 757 views

Introduction

This tasting features more than 300 domains picked by Bettane and Desseauve. Most wines presented were from France but some foreign wineries were represented.

Flight 1 - Clos Saint Jean, Chateauneuf du Pape, 2010 in bottle and 2011 samples (7 notes)

I tasted those wines on day 1 and day 2 and they were truly outdebating everything I've had at the Grand Tasting. Vincent Maurel considers his 2010 over his 2007 and told me he has been expecting four 100s form RP for his 2010s (Chimere included). He does't have the 2011s in his heart, ranking them between 2008 and 2009; and he is expecting his 2012s to be really close to his 2010s. 2011 and 2012 will be, anyway, extremely heterogenous vintages in CdP.

White
2011 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
90 points
Very fresh and delicate, it's a nice and innocent definition of white CdP. Good job although the final is quite short.
Red
2011 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
90 points
Again, a fresh and fruity -though not showy- ballad in CdP. There is plenty of berries underlined by "orange confites". Nice job! (89-91)
Red
2011 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Combe des Fous France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
95 points
Denser and more structured, it opens the door to great complexity of Maurel's cuvees. This vintage seems more tannic than usual, and I love that.
(94-96+)
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Red
2011 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Deus-Ex Machina France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
97 points
Dense! Dense! Dense! Dense! This wine is a true perfume! It's full of potential! Brilliant, it has the masculine tannicity that will define the great 2011 CdP.
(97-98+)
Red
2010 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
92 points
More closed and tannic than it was a year ago, it's still gourmand and fresh, full of berries and guarigues. Not as smooth as the previous wines, it's nice!
Red
2010 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Combe des Fous France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
99 points
WOW! get that in your mouth, close your eyes and enjoy the synesthesia provoked by the some masculine tannins full of every provencal flavors you need in a great CdP. An awesome showing really flirting with perfection on the second day (I'm considering the three digits here), this Combes really is full of potential and marks down the heights of what V. Maurel already calls the vintage of the century.
Red
2010 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Deus-Ex Machina France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
100 points
Man do I like to write notes on Clos St Jean's wine...they're all GREAT. Triple packed, this wine is closer to a cocktail you would order at a bar than a wine to pair at a gastronomic restaurant -i.e. drink it for itself!-, and to be more precise, it's a MOLOTOV cocktail. Wonderful effort by the Maurel, it ranks in my pantheon of wine.

Flight 2 - Two great cuvées from Deutz (2 notes)

White - Sparkling
2005 Deutz Champagne Amour de Deutz Blanc de Blancs France, Champagne
94 points
Feminine but powerfull- very enjoyable!
White - Sparkling
1999 Deutz Champagne Cuvée William Deutz France, Champagne
94 points
Nice assemblage on mature notes!

Flight 3 - A Terrible Grand Cru: Figeac (3 notes)

I heard this property was for sale... Sincerely hope the eventual owners will put this name back on the track..

Red
2007 Château Figeac France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
83 points
Nose is tacite and closed but has a nice finish; very alcoholic though.
Red
2008 Château Figeac France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
80 points
Lack any sense of complexity.
Red
2004 Château Figeac France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
80 points
Not better than the 2008

Flight 4 - Cos d'Estournel (4 notes)

A great example of a domain not playing faire game at the tasting. The wine presented were not representative of the greatness this domain can reach, and it does't seem to disturb the representatives... Too bad.

White
2009 Goulée Blanc France, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Contrôlée
83 points
OK, but commercial-ish.
Red
2008 Goulée France, Bordeaux, Médoc
75 points
Expressive-less and disruptive.
Red
2009 Les Pagodes de Cos France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
87 points
Suaver and more refined, this is more likable, offering sweet tannins but not very profoundly. The tannins are elegant and sweet. Nice not commercial wine.
Red
2007 Château Cos d'Estournel France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
89 points
Really not impressive, it's more structured and refined than the previous wines but literally doesn't have the profile of a grand vin. PERIOD.

Flight 5 - Chapoutier (4 notes)

Same here... very disappointed.

White
2011 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante-Alouette France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
85 points
Very clear and sound, it's fresh yet the final is so short I don't know where it is..
White
2010 Schieferkopf Par Michel Chapoutier Riesling France, Alsace, Alsace AOC
82 points
Strict and taciturn.
Red
2009 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
84 points
Refined, structured and masculine, it lacks impressiveness.
Red
2007 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
89 points
Humm, that's tannic and packed with much fruit hidden under the blanket. It's still a child.. so don't wake him up.
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Flight 6 - Canon and Rauzan-Ségla (3 notes)

Red
2008 Château Canon France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
It reaches higher steps, definitely, but...for the price... it's an easy pass!
Red
2009 Clos Canon France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion
82 points
Light and commercial- not impressive at all!
Red
2004 Château Rauzan-Ségla France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
89 points
Masculine and dense. Nice wine.

Flight 7 - Bouchard (3 notes)

White
2009 Bouchard Aîné et Fils Corton-Charlemagne France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
92 points
Extremly fresh but with a fat final, awesome stuff.
Red
2010 Bouchard Père et Fils Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
88 points
Feminine and packed.
Red
2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Grèves Vigne de L'Enfant Jesus France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
87 points
Sophisticated, for sure, yet hard to puzzle out.

Flight 8 - William Fevre (5 notes)

The 2009 are way more approachable right now, good potential on the 2010 though.

White
2011 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis France, Burgundy, Chablis
86 points
Nice and fresh
White
2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
89 points
Very nice potential! Approachable now and should evolve nicely.
White
2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis 1er Cru Montmains France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
90 points
More elegant and structured than the Beauroy.
White
2009 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
91 points
Fatter and fruitier than the Montmains, nice wine!
White
2009 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
94 points
Great structure, fat but light, and rich, this is a great Chablis!

Flight 9 - A GREAT surprise: Mordorée RdB 2011 (1 note)

After this + Clos St Jean 2011, I get that, again, CdP will have some stars in its newborn vintage.

Red
2011 Domaine de la Mordorée Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de la Reine des Bois France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
96 points
WOW WOW WOW! Two decalages:
1/ With the average level reached in this tasting
2/ With the supposed level of 2011 CdP

I feel that great 2011 CdP apparently have soft and important tannins with dense level of berries. I was shocked how concentrated this wine was.

(95-97)

Flight 10 - Disappointed: Les Cailloux (4 notes)

White
2012 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
89 points
Mostly made out of Roussanne but don't expect to get as much as in Grand Veneur La Fontaine. Very candy-ish too!
Red
2011 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
87 points
Extremely tannic and built up- it does give something out but is too restrained.
Red
2010 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
88 points
Too sweet and very tannic. I'm disappointed.
Red
2010 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Centenaire France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
92 points
Anesthetic, here it is! Forget it for a long time as it's extremely dense, concentrated, compact, tannic, and sweet. There is plenty of matter to it, thus the score, but 1. does not worth the money and 2. is not at all in a good stage right now.

Flight 11 - Bodega Contador (4 notes)

On the paper, this winery was supposed to present their Contador, but they just offered their commercial wines. El predicator white really surprised me while the red 2010 definitely needs age; I would advise going on the 2008 and 2009 first.

White
2010 Vins del Massís Catalunya Macizo Spain, Catalunya
87 points
More restraint and fine, it's regretfully closed, like a painting under shadow- in a bad way.
White
2011 Benjamin Romeo Rioja Predicador Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
91 points
Really well done- it's fresh, mineral but first and foremost fruity and structured. Everything is right in its place.
Well made!
Red
2010 Benjamin Romeo Rioja Predicador Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
86 points
Way to backward, there is much to make constrasts but it does't get together yet. It's full of potential and will probably reach the height of the 2009... but what do I know?
86+
Red
2009 Benjamin Romeo Rioja La Cueva del Contador Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
92 points
More in place than the predicador 10, both because of the vintage and the structure: a very fine work although not worthing the entry ticket.

Flight 12 - Beaucastel (1 note)

White
2011 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
93 points
A vintage representative of the average level reached by this wine, it's great and, as usual, the most impressive part being the violoncello like final describing the finesse Roussanne has to deliver.

Flight 13 - Unnecessary fanciness: Perrier Jouet (1 note)

White - Sparkling
2004 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Belle Epoque France, Champagne
89 points
I wasn't impressed by the regular cuvée from this domain but what a disappointment when it came to the Belle Epoque! This champagne cost 100+€ and I would not give more than 20€ for it... Not impressive at all.

Flight 14 - Some great, expensive champagnes: Ruinart (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2006 Ruinart Champagne "R" de Ruinart Brut France, Champagne, Montagne de Reims, Champagne
91 points
Had this after the Belle Epoque 2004, and it literally blew it away. Nice and well structured, it's a great upgrade of the brut.
White - Sparkling
2002 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs France, Champagne, Montagne de Reims, Champagne
96 points
Gorgeously fathom what Ruinart can be all about. One of the best Champagne I've ever got to taste, I will challenge the Dom Perignon 2002 without any difficulties.
Rosé - Sparkling
1998 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé France, Champagne, Montagne de Reims, Champagne
93 points
A unique rose champagne, it's fine and delicate but too expensive..

Flight 15 - Brane Cantenac (1 note)

Red
2009 Château Brane-Cantenac France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
92 points
Very velvety and soft, it's a great Bordeaux 2009. I don't see how this wouldn't seduce. Nice effort and kudos to those who bought it en primeur..!
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Flight 16 - Two ports: Fonseca and Taylor (2 notes)

Red - Fortified
2001 Fonseca Porto Guimaraens Quinta do Panascal Portugal, Douro, Porto
93 points
Sweet and compact, it's fruity and round although tacitely expressive.
Red - Fortified
2001 Taylor (Fladgate) Porto Vintage Quinta de Vargellas Portugal, Douro, Porto
94 points
That's a "Horny Jazz" kind of wine... More feminine and velvety than the Fonseca 2001, richer but not too sweet.

Flight 17 - Delas (4 notes)

This winery produces top notch wines at, still, reasonable prices. Highly recommended.

White
2011 Delas Frères Condrieu Clos Boucher France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Condrieu
92 points
Zesty and fresh- it displays lime and citrus in a fat but light fashion.
White
2011 Delas Frères Hermitage Blanc Marquise de la Tourette France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
95 points
Even zestier and fresher, it's delicate, structured an elegant! Awesome
(94-96+)
Red
2010 Delas Frères Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
96 points
Tannic and profound, it's packed with fruit, delicate and has an underlined structure. 96++
Red
2007 Delas Frères Hermitage Les Bessards France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
94 points
Extremely fine and structured it has this beautifully delined fruity flavors...
good stuff!

Closing

The average quality of the wine presented was pretty nice. I was blown away by Clos St Jean and Delas; and some Champagnes did perform extremely well. Some domains though don't play fair by displaying only their "weak" or commercial wines thence receiving lower scores. Cos d'Estournel was a perfect example with scores between 75 and 89.

Such a tasting is a great opportunity to discover a wide range of wines, but nothing substitutes the visit one can make at a winery.