Dark cherry red. In the nose, this was very clean and pure, black cherry, some oak spice, a bit monolithic and not super complex, some ethereal herbal notes and green pepper as well. In the mouth, this was young, very tannic, a bit bitter, very classic old-school Bordeaux, structured, a tiny bit rough in the finish.
Opaque ruby/garnet. Nose is very youthful, lots of vanilla, blackcurrant, a slight minerally edge emerging with time in glass. Medium/full bodied, rich blackcurrant fruit, fine but still slightly firm tannins, decent acidity, long finish. Excellent, on this showing needs a bit more time. ***(*)
Cantmerle @ RSJ (RSJ, London): Really quite vanillary on the nose. Cleans and get far more proper after 45 mins or so. Proper claret beneath the youthful gloss. Still seems a little richer than I might have thought for a 96, and this bottle seems pretty youthful (I've drunk 3/4 of my case, and they seem to be getting younger with age). Still five years off on this showing. ***(*)
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(Château Cantemerle (Haut-Médoc)) It's only fair that I immediately make clear that I tasted this wine non-blind, and that I have a certain soft spot for this wine, having bought a case many years ago now, at a time when I was much more used to buying the odd bottle here or there. This has a dark and mature hue, and the nose is similarly mature, with elements of roasted meat, violets, gravel and yet still, surprisingly, there are still hints of damson and blackcurrant. There is also a very wild and gamey edge to it, but it is subtle, and it is certainly the brighter, perfumed, seductively aged notes that dominate. The palate has remarkable energy considering its age, a fleshy weight at the start, a little touch of creamy cassis texture in the middle, and bright acidity and ripe, broad and velvety tannins too. Absolutely delicious, long and spicy. This still has years and years ahead of it. It is a testament to the ageing curve of Bordeaux, even from the 'lesser' classed growths.
(Chateau Cantemerle Haut-Médoc) Opened and left to stand for an hour or so, and then briefly decanted before serving. Remarkably, it is more than three years since I last tasted this wine, and yet it still seems as delicious today as it did back in late 2005. The colour is maturing, but there is still plenty of rich, deep pigment here. The nose has a lovely, bloody, meat and iron aroma, tinged with elements of leather, all of which together sings of elegant maturity. On the palate it is firm, savoury, refreshing and yet full, and the endpalate shows a lovely, spicy, crisply defined character. There is balance, substance, texture and a violetty, perfumed edge to the fruit. This is delicious stuff; well stored by me over the last nine years, and well worth every penny of that initial £13. Very good indeed.
(Chateau Cantemerle Haut-Médoc) Great colour when poured, still quite definitely red although with a dense, mature element. Lovely nose, still exhibiting some youthful, smoky blackcurrant at first, although this does yield to more mature leather and cedar character. Full, moderately dense on entry, with cedary claret flavours that flow across the palate. Lovely definition and presence, and great typicity. Claret at its most pleasant, and certainly affordable. It has developed very well since last tasted in 2004. Drink over the next 5-8 years.
(Chateau Cantemerle Haut-Médoc) Still has a remarkably good colour which shows only early maturity. The nose takes hours to open out, eventually yielding mature aromas of smoked meat and baked fruit, with a dusty edge. Initially a little lean and foursquare, it develops weight and texture as the nose opens. Medium bodied, good style, minerally, meaty fruit. Clearly a little awkward at present, and certainly not as approachable as it seemed on last tasting; decant for several hours if drinking now. Although I think I will leave mine for a couple of years before broaching another.
(Chateau Cantemerle Haut-Médoc) Another from this case. There is maturity quite evident on the colour now. A similarly mature nose, full of claretty fruit with a slightly roasted character and a twist of pecan nuts, together with more elegant notes of perfume, violets and a little smoke. A lovely impression on the palate, which is full of extract and supple tannins balanced out by mature fruit, correct acidity and some texture.
(Chateau Cantemerle Haut-Médoc) Another try at this wine which also featured in a recent tasting of 1996 clarets. Red with just a tinge of purple. Smoky, crunchy blackcurrant fruit on the nose, with a cassis richness. On the palate medium bodied, with primary blackcurrant fruit. Fairly lean through the midpalate, with some chalky tannins and good acidity. Some extract which shows up on the finish. No length of note.
(Chateau Cantemerle Haut-Médoc) Lovely red-purple colour of youth. The nose, after a few minutes, gives off some delightful sweet cassis fruit, with cigar box character. Later more rose petal and violet nuances appear. Plenty of extract on the palate, which has good, floral fruit, with a smoky, burnt edge, and ripe tannins, although with a dry, chalky edge. Correct acidity. Sweet and peppery fruit, which later takes on a burnt plum jam character. Firm, masculine texture despite the floral edges. Needs 2-3 years.
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