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Bordeaux 2008

Bordeaux

Tasted June 1, 2009 by PanosKakaviatos with 886 views

Introduction

High quality and wallet friendly

In Bordeaux for Vinexpo, the massive bi-annual wine fair last month, I re-tasted the 2008 vintage. The initial impression from the en primeur tastings in April of a ripe vintage with smooth tannins, structure, power and focus from the better terroirs was confirmed. 2008 seems very good and sometimes even great for certain wines. The vintage may be over-hyped, coming off a mediocre and vastly overpriced 2007. Positive and in some cases lofty Robert Parker scores have led to market buzz, despite the financial crisis. But 2008 is no 2005, qualitatively speaking - mainly because of climate realities leading up to and during the harvest. And for some estates, particularly on the Right Bank, I am not convinced it is that much better than 2006, either.

Many observers do praise the strength of Pomerol however and I would agree that Pomerol has shown very well - both en primeur and in June. Given the late picking season seeming to favor Cabernet, this may seem counter-intuitive. But Edouard Moueix of the Moueix family in Libourne, owners of several high profile Pomerol estates from Petrus to Latour α Pomerol explains the vintage as “lucky” because of weather changes that made the harvest work well for Merlot. First off, a late budbreak because of colder Spring weather meant that the Merlots would not have been ready for picking in early September, as normal. July was largely sunny after an initial week of rain, so the grapes thickened their skins to prepare them for the cooler than usual August. Then came the Indian Summer, with more luck. On 3 October, Moueix told me, a thin layer of botrytis attacked the grape skins and most people in Pomerol began losing their hair thinking all was lost. But a frost the next morning basically killed off the mold. The result? Relatively high natural alcohols from slow maturation into the picking û as late as 12 October for Petrus, known for its precocious harvests - but low yields also due to poor grape sets. A recipe for success, comparable to 2006, but perhaps not quite as good. The consumer difference? Less expensive prices at this stage.

So the 2008 vintage offers high quality and may be - still - the best futures buying opportunity in a while: less expensive than 2007, 2006 and 2005. A savvy consumer who buys the best of these wines will find quality at a relatively low price. Just be sure to purchase from a reliable source.

Flight 1 - FIRST GROWTHS (5 notes)

Red
2008 Château Latour Grand Vin France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
95 points
Tasted en primeur. The estate was not happy with its Merlots - including the old Merlots - which were largely used for the second wine, Les Forts de Latour (which contained a whopping 31.5 percent Merlot). Subsequently Latour in 2008 has a particularly high concentration of Cabernet (harvest ending on 19 October): 94 percent. Not seen since the 2004 vintage, which this resembles, but seems more focused, more precise. In fact, it reminded me more of the 2002, and winemaking director Frederic Engerer agreed. While the second wine showed finely-combed tannins, it was both creamier and simpler. Latour showed violet and white flower aromas, with a very linear and precise palate, certainly rich as well, but with extremely fine tannins and a disciplined power: a good sign for the barrel aging period. 93-96
Red
2008 Château Mouton Rothschild France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
94 points
Tasted en primeur. Also a very substantial proportion of Cabernet, with 83 percent and the rest Merlot. The nose is floral with underlying black currant, preceding a very silky palate. I agree with critic Jancis Robinson, who noted that this is almost Lafite-like. Indeed a very elegant and feminine showing, but with solid Pauillac flavor intensity, albeit very smooth. There is also a very pure expression to the fruit. A special Mouton, in line with a series of fine efforts from winemaking director Philippe Dhalluin. 93-95
Red
2008 Château Lafite Rothschild France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
95 points
Tasted at the estate before dinner the opening night of Vinexpo, the wine has gained power and concentration since early April, while increasing a polished elegance, marked by pure, deep notes of cassis and cedar on both the nose and the palate. Certainly the 83% Cabernet Sauvignon is asserting itself over the 13% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Balancing power with grace (12.7 percent alcohol), the wine gave off a bold and somewhat foreboding impression, but with a long, impressively echoing finish. Large-scaled Lafite, which seems headed towards greatness. 93-96
Red
2008 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
93 points
Tasted during en primeur week. A discrete nose, somewhat floral and elegant - what is to be expected from this majestic estate. The 87% Cabernet Sauvignon was just almost too discrete on the palate though I liked the cassis and the floral aspects. Nonetheless, it reminded me just a bit of the more small-scaled 2007, which we again tasted. That is to say, while very good, 2008 was not a great vintage for Margaux, and certainly not as impressive as all the other First Growths I tasted. We then also tasted the 2006, which was superior in quality to both the 2008 and 2007. 91-94
Red
2008 Château Haut-Brion France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
95 points
Tasted at the chateau during Vinexpo. Only 35 percent made it into the first wine, with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc. The nose shows ultra fine espresso and cassis, and the palate is haut couture like leather, with tobacco leaf, cedar and black fruits. A powerful yet subtle, enveloping feel, somewhat tight, but apparently more open than it was en primeur. Most impressive was its layered texture on the palate, promising volume and complexity: a great showing from Haut Brion, deftly handling its 13.7% alcohol. Very impressive and perhaps the top First Growth, but very close... 93-96+
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Flight 2 - Pauillac (8 notes)

This was the perhaps the most successful Medoc appellation , showing power and finesse from many estates

Red
2008 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
93 points
Tasted again in late June, this 2008 fulfills its promise as the best of the non first growth Pauillacs. It shows substance and energy, with subtle chocolate and vivid blackberry and cherry aromas, also cassis and cherry, in a full-bodied, finely structured palate, which is focused yet rich, with good vibrancy, and a pleasing creaminess. A low 52 percent of the total crop went into the first wine, after two green harvests (beginning July and end August), with average yields of about 36 hectoliters per hectare. The blend includes 71 percent Cabernet aging in 80 percent new oak, which seemed again very well integrated. If the futures price remains interesting, this is a strong buy recommendation as it flirts with First Growth quality. 92-95
Red
2008 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
92 points
Nose is discrete yet complex in the late June tasting, which showed an improved performance from April. Violet, licorice and wintergreen mingle with blackberry (29% Merlot in the mix) on the nose, and the palate shows good sap and freshness, also displaying impressive Pauillac power and a smoother finish than en primeur. But it lacks a bit of the verve and substance of the Baron. 90-93+
Red
2008 Château Pontet-Canet France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
93 points
: Very fine, fresh nose of black cassis fruit, with good floral lift. The palate is rich yet brooding, showing much strength and underlying power. This seems to be quite special. One has to applaud Alfred Tesseron's steady output here since the mid 90s, although the prices have headed far North in later vintages. 92-94+
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Red
2008 Château Haut-Batailley France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
90 points
Only tasted en primeur, this shows fine fruit and a silky aspect. Quite refreshing, light and elegant and certainly a pleasing drink. 88-91
Red
2008 Château Lynch-Bages France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
92 points
Since tasted en primeur, when it was more full bodied, robust and suave, the wine seems to have tightened up in June, retaining pure black cherry and cassis aromas with black licorice and hints of toast , but more tannic and just harder to evaluate but evidently showing promise. 91-93+
Red
2008 Château Batailley France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
91 points
Showing a rather serious and full, mineral-like nose. Licorice and ripe cassis on the palate, which is especially nicely structured and rich enough. Imposing without being overpowering. Impressive job û and likely a great QPR. Par for the course for this up and coming estate. 90-93
Red
2008 Château Clerc Milon France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
90 points
More supple and elegant compared to the above, showing red and black fruit on the nose and palate. It just seems to lacks focus and precision û as again experienced in June. 88-92
Red
2008 Château Pibran France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
90 points
Tasted only en primeur, this has to be among the best cru bourgeois, showing a lovely nose, with good concentration on the palate. There is ripe fruit here and clear step up from other cru bourgeois tasted. This may be a great QPR. 89-91+

Flight 3 - St Julien (8 notes)

I did not taste either Ducru Beaucaillou or Leoville Las Cases, but what I did taste again in June confirmed that St. Julien was consistent, if not the most exciting appellation in 2008.

Red
2008 Château Beychevelle France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
90 points
Good brambly fruit, with agreeable red and black fruits on the palate and nose. A bit lacking in focus, but tasty juice. 88-90+
Red
2008 Château Branaire-Ducru France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
91 points
Great focus on the nose and palate, red cranberry and cassis. Some floral elements with just a hint of dark chocolate. Very nice job here. 90-92+
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Red
2008 Château Gruaud Larose France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
90 points
Very rich and full, even showing some early hints of meatiness. I like the volume and texture although it is a tad rustic. Still, the chutzpah is there and this should prove fun to drink. 88-92
Red
2008 Château Lagrange (St. Julien) France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
89 points
Suave and elegant. Very drinkable, supple, but not complex or particularly nuanced. 88-90
Red
2008 Château Langoa Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
92 points
Truly lovely nose and palate. The best in a long while from this estate with an impressive aromatic display of deep cassis and plum, and cohesive and caressing on the palate. 91-93+
Red
2008 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
92 points
Much better performance than en primeur, with typical depth, substance and breed. Layers of flavor, showing cassis and cedar but just a baby, with prodigious tannin and structure making this a brooding Barton. But it displays more elegance than most of the Margaux I tasted... 91-94
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Red
2008 Château Léoville Poyferré France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
91 points
Nice dark color. Greater extract than the Barton, with lots of concentration and depth, although not as poised or as polished as its neighbor. Slightly New World St Julien. 89-92+
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Red
2008 Château Talbot France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
90 points
The nose shows off red fruit and just hints of stalk, but with an easy-going and juicy palate lacking depth and power but making up for this in charm. 88-91

Flight 4 - Margaux (15 notes)

Margaux seems the least consistent of the Medoc appellations.

Red
2008 Château Palmer France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
93 points
Certain flower elements on the nose as per usual, but not quite as exuberant compared to better vintages. There is a good concentration on the palate (13.5% alcohol). Good acidity, good freshness, too. I like the quality of the tannin here. Some ripe plum and cinnamon on the nose and palate. Broad full bodied feel (51% Merlot and 41% Cabernet, 8% Petit Verdot). Very nice û and perhaps better than Chateau Margaux in 2008. 91-94+
Red
2008 Alter Ego France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
91 points
Probably candidate for best second wine in 2008. Soft aromas of strawberry and light oak tones: 52% Merlot and 48% Cabernet. Very elegant and refreshing aspects. There is a pleasing ripe plum aspect, as the wine is dominated by the Merlot at this stage. Very fine. 88-92
Red
2008 Château Brane-Cantenac France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
92 points
Nice pine forest aromas. Fresh medium bodied palate, poised with an overall impression of Margaux elegance, showing flower-like perfume. Lacks a bit of the precision and especially the depth of better vintages û certainly the 2006 shows more û but quite successful for the appellation. Barrel aging will likely bring this score to the higher end: Brane constitutes quality and value for 2008. 90-93
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Red
2008 Château Cantenac Brown France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
88 points
The nose is showing some oak and red fruit but a harder and more extracted feel on the palate, lacking the elegance one expects from Margaux. 86-89
Red
2008 Château Dauzac France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
90 points
Much nicer than the above. An under-the-radar chΓteau that in recent years, even in lesser vintages, impresses. There is good sap and verve on the palate. Not particularly complex, but a fine drink. 88-91+
Red
2008 Château Desmirail France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
87 points
There is something rather anonymous about this wine. While not bad, and certainly fresh, it lacks depth and nuance. 85-88
Red
2008 Château du Tertre France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
89 points
This tasting confirmed my en primeur notes. A better performance than Giscours, also owned by Eric and Louise Albada Jelgersma. This wine exhibits lovely spice on the nose and a solid if slightly dilute palate, but certainly honorable within the context of the vintage for Margaux. 88-91
Red
2008 Château Ferrière France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
90 points
Only 2 percent Cabernet Franc but it shows off much mint freshness, and the palate retains a mentholated aspect. Good texture and a silky elegant feel, if not that concentrated. Fine effort. 89-92
Red
2008 Château Giscours France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
89 points
I tend to prefer the elegance and silk of Giscours compared with the rich spice of Du Tertre, but not this year. The nose is somewhat unfocused, certainly showing fine floral elements, but lacking precision û also on the palate, which does exude strawberry and generally red fruit, but lacks punch, and focus. 88-90
Red
2008 Château Lascombes France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
90 points
Not sure why this estate keeps using so much new oak even in more difficult vintages. The 80 percent is noticeable here again, diminishing potential grace. At this stage, it smells and tastes more like its individual elements rather than incorporating them. Disjointed. But one expects it to come together in bottle, especially because the palate shows substance and concentration. 88-91
Red
2008 Château Marquis de Terme France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
88 points
This shows a bit more cohesiveness than the above. Not particularly elegant û even four square û but at least the elements complement one another better and there is a decent floral aspect on the finish, however light. 87-89
Red
2008 Château Prieuré-Lichine France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
87 points
Good and solid, another rather four square Margaux with medium body, showing red and black fruit, but just a bit monolithic. Where is the elegance? 86-88
Red
2008 Château Rauzan-Gassies France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
87 points
A bit green here, but the palate is better, showing substance and underlying power, although û again û lacking elegance. 85-88
Red
2008 Château Rauzan-Ségla France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
91 points
Usually a top performer, in 2008 this has a rather muted nose followed by much more substance than its less illustrious neighbor. Brooding at this stage, but more raw than elegant. In the two+ months since en primeur, it has even shut down a bit. 90-92?
Red
2008 Château Siran France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
89 points
Very good for the vintage, shows bright fruit and an easy approach somewhat similar to the Dauzac though not as successful. 88-90

Flight 5 - Graves and Pessac Leognan – reds (18 notes)

The reds show smooth tannins, good ripeness and an easy palate feel. In some cases, the whites rival the great 2007 vintage.

Red
2008 Château de Chantegrive Graves France, Bordeaux, Graves
90 points
Suave menthol and fruit aromas, with a fine palate texture infused with black fruit, delivered in a smooth manner, showing balance and energy. Fine Graves and a bargain. 88-91+
Red
2008 Château Ferrande France, Bordeaux, Graves
89 points
Also fine in June, with the same raspberry red fruit freshness detected en primeur. Palate is medium bodied but some choppiness and excess warmth on the finish detract a bit 87-90.
Red
2008 Château Rahoul France, Bordeaux, Graves
90 points
Good green tobacco leaf nose, fine sap on the palate, showing balance and overall real pleasure. Nice job. 88-91+
Red
2008 Château Bouscaut France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
89 points
Good delineation, some tonic austerity, perhaps just a tad dry but fine overall. 88-90
Red
2008 Château Carbonnieux France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
92 points
Very nice cherry aroma, then red cassis, with good sap on the palate, more intense than, say, Rahoul and a real classy feel to it, showing breed. Bravo! 91-93
Red
2008 Domaine de Chevalier France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
Red, black fruit and menthol, with a smooth, elegant medium body, although a tad short on the finish. Consistent notes en primeur, but give it time to fill out in barrel. 89-92
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Red
2008 Château de Fieuzal France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
90 points
Dark cassis jam, and rich, yet also balanced with lifting notes of green tobacco. Some excessive extraction noted on the tannic finish but this packs flavor. 89-92
Red
2008 Château Haut-Bailly France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
93 points
Sheer perfumed nose: a noticeable step up from all the wines tasted beforehand. The palate displays clear ripe, red fruit flavors, tobacco leaf and iodine freshness with a pleasing tannic edge. Crunchy red fruit on the finish, still baby-like tight but much promise, similar to the 2004 vintage, only riper and bolder. 92-95
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Red
2008 Château Haut-Bergey France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
90 points
The jury is out on this one. In April, it seemed fresher with floral notes infused with deep black fruit aromas and flavors. It showed sap on the palate, and concentration without evident extraction û just the right tannic qualities for the long term, despite a slightly drying finish. But in June, I got more evident extraction of dryer, even harder tannins. Thick and rich on one level, but slightly gum aching on another. Will the ample concentration hold up against the tannins in the long run? 88-92?
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Red
2008 Château La Louvière France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
Fresh and substantial in a mid-bodied manner, with chocolate notes characteristic of this estate in a ripe vintage. A real pleasure, soft and smooth. A good bargain. 90-92
Red
2008 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
89 points
A whiff of evident woody toast, but there is decent fruit and concentration. Still, I feel this is just a bit superficial overall, lacking in structure and length. 87-90
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Red
2008 Château La Tour-Martillac France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
Has closed down since en primeur when it showed ripe plum aromas and flavors. The palate shows fine tannic grain and a pleasingly warm feel with good freshness. 90-92+
Red
2008 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
93 points
What lovely perfume of brambly fruit, floral elements and tobacco, rivaling Haut Bailly's aromatic complexity. The palate is harder though, with fruit and freshness but just a bit of dry tannin. Still the nose and the concentration show promise for the future. 91-94+
Red
2008 Château Malartic-Lagravière France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
92 points
Forest strawberry on the nose, with wintergreen, and the palate is mid-weight with good concentration, showing a nice tannic edge that is a good sign for barrel aging. 90-93
Red
2008 Château Olivier France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
Good fruit driven nose with hints of oak derived toast. Palate is cohesive, shows good energy. Despite a slightly drying finish, this is rather enjoyable. 90-92
Red
2008 Château Pape Clément France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
93 points
Very dark fruit and tar on the nose û just a hint of asphalt û with a brooding licorice like palate infused with blackberry, black cherry and some cinnamon and chocolate elements. Structure, depth and ample concentration, but it has closed down just a bit since April. A bigger, ômodernö style of Graves. Very successful in that sense. 92-94+
Red
2008 Château Picque Caillou France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Freshness and fruit on the nose, but is there just a hint of stalk? The palate is mid weight, again fresh and quite smooth with soft fruit, but seems to lack focus. 87-89
Red
2008 Château Smith Haut Lafitte France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
92 points
Jammy fruit but not overdone. The nose and nicely structured palate show blackberry and cassis fruit, with smooth, quality-grained tannins. Not as refined as Haut Bailly, but showing perhaps more ample rounded body at this baby stage. Fine job. 91-93+
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Flight 6 - Pomerol (17 notes)

In tasting a re-tasting many Pomerol 2008s, I was convinced of this appellation's regularity in quality, more so than in St. Emilion

Red
2008 Château Latour à Pomerol France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
92 points
Tasted at ChΓteau Hosanna in June, this was more closed than in the Spring, its evident volume tightening up but displaying creeping aromas of crushed cherry and showing off a very nice palate texture, with good tannic grain. I am sure this will be fine once in bottle. 90-93+
Red
2008 Château La Providence France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
92 points
This is also tighter than in the spring. But shows deep blackberry, plum and spice, with a broad-based, almost modern styled texture albeit with fine lift on the finish. 91-93
Red
2008 Château La Fleur-Pétrus France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
93 points
Very pleasing black cherry and ripe plum aromas and flavors but firm on the palate, although shows a nuanced minerality and layers of flavor that brings this up a notch compared to the previous wines tasted, with a rich finish en plus. 92-94+
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Red
2008 Château Hosanna France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
94 points
Very bright nose, precise and pure fruit expressions with lovely floral notes. A hint of fresh, almost mint-flavored dark chocolate which I had also detected en primeur. A very smooth texture and a fine tannic grain. This one is very special indeed, showing better than it did in April. 92-95
Red
2008 Château Trotanoy France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
94 points
This has also filled out since en primeur and is certainly the most dense outside Petrus. Shows off milk chocolate, ripe plum, damson and an iodine freshness combined with a silky texture. Not as deep as the 2005 or the 2006 for that matter, but very pleasing and layered. 92-95
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Red
2008 Château Certan de May France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
93 points
Only en primeur notes, when it showed a flower-driven nose and a fine rather opulent body, similar in texture to La Fleur PΘtrus, showing also very good structure. 91-94
Red
2008 Pétrus France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
95 points
Also only tasted en primeur. The nose is a very subtle mixture of black cherry, fresh red plum and spice, not that expressive, preceding a body that reflects the layering complexity and depth one expects from this terroir û indeed very full-bodied but not powerful. I think this is a very good PΘtrus, but does not quite reach the heights of the 2006, nor especially the magical, already mythical 2005. 93-96
Red
2008 Château Beauregard France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
91 points
Shows off violets on the nose, quite floral, combined with ripe plum. The palate is richly medium bodied, with an overall feel of elegance and minerality on the finish. A very fine effort. 90-92
Red
2008 Château Clinet France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
92 points
Very ripe aromas of black cherry and cherry pit and even a custard aspect. I get at first a large whiff of new oak which should integrate (hopefully). The palate is broad and full-bodied , rather modern, but without being heavy. It is just slightly disjointed at this stage, with a bit of a drying finish, but it should be OK at bottling. 91-94
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Red
2008 Clos du Clocher France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
90 points
Crushed strawberry nose, showing nice fruit as well on the palate with freshness. Showing also pleasing chocolate notes, the palate seems just a bit angular and even hard on the finish, so time in barrel will hopefully smoothen the edges. 88-91
Red
2008 Château La Conseillante France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
93 points
A very fresh nose with floral notes, white pepper and some hints of fine milk chocolate. The palate is juicy, even sumptuous, with good sap and concentration, also giving off a Cabernet Franc-driven mint freshness (86% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc). The 90% new oak is well integrated û a very fine effort from this remarkable estate, but, again, I do not get the same depth as in 2006, nor the peerless balance and sheer poetry of the 2005! 92-95
Red
2008 Château Du Gazin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Canon-Fronsac
93 points
One of the best Gazins I have ever tasted, near to the quality of the 2005 and matching the 2000 and 2001. Fine aromatic complexity, an almost Black Forest cake-like mixture of dark chocolate and cherry with a smooth and juicy palate, though not quite as juicy as La Conseillante. Fine corpulence accentuated by a tonic finish which shows good non-drying austerity, indicating a need for barrel age. 91-94+
Red
2008 Château Mazeyres France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
91 points
Now this is a find. Not an expensive Pomerol and one which delivers the goods with freshness and red fruit focus, rather candied. Showing nice palate texture, perhaps lacking great concentration but making up for this in fresh fruitiness and a smooth finish. 89-92+
Red
2008 Château Petit Village France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
89 points
The nose is discrete and the palate shows good ripe red fruit, although it is a bit hollow on the mid palate and drying on the finish. Not the best performance from this estate, the site of much recent renovation and work to raise quality. 88-90
Red
2008 Château Rouget France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
91 points
Intriguing notes of vanilla bean, flowers, hints of cola along with dark fruit. The palate is ripe and ôstraight upö, no angles, showing pleasing dark chocolate and toasty oak on the finish. Rouget is getting better and better and the 2008 is no exception. 90-92+
Red
2008 Château Vieux Maillet France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
90 points
This is user-friendly and probably inexpensive Pomerol from the owners of ChΓteau de Lussac and Franc Mayne in St. Emilion. Not very complex, but pleasingly drinkable, with chocolate and licorice aromas and flavors, a mentholated freshness and a smooth texture. 88-91+
Red
2008 Vieux Château Certan France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
94 points
Alexandre Thienpont calls 2008 a good but not great vintage for his estate, although I think he is being modest. At 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine reflects a late harvest, with fine acidity. The aromas show fleur de vigne, plum, black cherry û rather complex. The palate is fresh, even candied, fuller than it was in the spring. Although we then tasted the 2006 and 2005 to illustrate what a ôgreat vintageö means, he stressed, the 2008 is something special. 92-95
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Flight 7 - St Emilion (12 notes)

St. Emilion varied especially according to the quality of the terroir. Most of the 15 classified premiers grands crus were splendid, with a more mixed bag for the 50+ classified grand crus, all generally marked by good sap and smooth tannins.

Premiers Grands Crus
I had initially tasted most of these estates blind in April. Those which I re-evaluated in June confirmed the success of these terroirs.

Red
2008 Château Angélus France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
93 points
Very rich and powerful, showing blackberry and custard, with cinnamon notes. A typically hedonistic Angelus in a good vintage which reminds me a lot of the 2004... but not reaching the heights of say 1998or 2005. Similar notes to when tasted blind in April. 92-94
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Red
2008 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Lovely bright nose of dark red fruit with hints of oak-derived toast. Good palate, not the most complex, but refined and fulsome. Similar notes to when tasted blind in April. 91-93
Red
2008 Château Beausejour (Duffau Lagarrosse) France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
91 points
Nose is just a bit closed showing hints of extraction and black cherry. Palate is fine, not too extracted, with a tonic aspect that is refreshing. Cherry pit fruit is subtle and there is warmth without the alcohol being too present on the finish. Fine. 89-92+
Red
2008 Château Canon France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
91 points
A softer nose than Angelus , showing cherry and plum, and the palate shows fine balance between freshness and sweet fruit. It seemed to just lack a bit of concentration on the mid palate, but overall quite good, with a refreshing finish. Somewhat closed compared to the blind April tasting. 90-93
Red
2008 Château Cheval Blanc France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Tasted only en primeur, with a discrete nose. Not quite integrated oak, at this stage and the palate shows power that seems a bit compacted. There is a lovely dark chocolate aspect. With time, the nose improves, showing lovely layers of aromas, repeated on the palate and echoed on the finish. But all is not in place, showing a disjointed aspect. Not the best Cheval Blanc en primeur, but has potential... 89-94
Red
2008 Clos Fourtet France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
93 points
Good chocolate notes with toast and plum on the nose precede a rich palate, showing fine concentration, some tannic austerity on the finish, but showing more tonic than dry, as it did in April. Very fine and will be lovely after barrel aging. 92-94
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Red
2008 Château Figeac France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
94 points
This is a real winner in 2008. Tasted blind and non blind in April, with consistent notes in June: lovely notes in fact, of mint and white flower and cassis. The palate is somewhat closed, but there is sap and concentration, with fine tannic grain, with a pleasingly perfumed aspect. A wine to buy without hesitation. 93-95+
Red
2008 Château La Gaffelière France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
Not showing as well as it did en primeur, with just ripe plum on the nose and hints of vanilla bean and spice. Smooth overall on the palate, but is it just a wee bit too polite? Decent if somewhat drying finish. 89-91+
Red
2008 Château Pavie France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Very dark color. Oak-derived notes. Gums attacked, but not as aggressive as in the past; this one is OK, but certainly a modern style û indicating rather that with time the elements here may well come together. Later, a pleasing cinnamon aspect, with very ripe plum. Some extraction on the finish. Largely depends on your stylistic preferences... 89-94
Red
2008 Château Pavie Macquin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Very deep and modern aspect, with jammy, dark fruits on the nose and palate. I like the hedonism of the rich plum jam, and there is backbone to this wine as well, but the alcohol just shows through a bit too much for my taste leading to drying worries in the long run... 89-93
Red
2008 Château Troplong Mondot France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
More balanced, with a cooler aspect compared to Pavie Macquin. I get a better sense of the combination of fruit, tannin and alcohol, although there is also some heat on the finish û with Merlots reaching almost 15 degrees. 90-93+
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Red
2008 Château Trotte Vieille France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Very balanced and elegant showing black cherry and cherry pit fruit with focus. The palate is highlighted by a mint freshness infused with light blackberry liqueur. A fine effort from this estate û confirming the positive blind tasting in April û which has been improving markedly in the last few years: this could constitute bargain. 91-94

Flight 8 - Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classés 2008 (34 notes)

At the level of the classés, I was struck by some very high quality wines, and by... some less than stellar examples. Here is where I think 2006 easily rivals 2008, but, again, the price is looking (sometimes far) better in 2008.

Red
2008 Château Balestard La Tonnelle France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
Very rich and deep nose and the palate is well knit but loose: friendly with plum and cherry. Fine. 88-91+
Red
2008 Château Cap de Mourlin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
Pine fresh aromas, quite warm on the palate, with a stewed cherry aspect, good tannin though oak in evidence and just slightly hot finish. 86-89
Red
2008 Château Petit Faurie de Soutard France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
86 points
The nose is muted red fruits, with austerity and just a hint of green on the palate. Showing some bright fruit, but a bit prickly. 84-87
Red
2008 Château Bergat France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
87 points
Slight stalk elements on the nose mingling with ripe plum, but the palate shows pleasant fruit and freshness with a thirst quenching quality. 86-88
Red
2008 Château Berliquet France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
Very chipper, ripe strawberry aspect, with a pleasant juicy palate, although the finish is drying. 88-91
Red
2008 Château Bellefont-Belcier France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Warm and smooth, black fruit on the nose and palate which perhaps lacks some focus. Overall good plum, ripe aspect, certainly pleasing, but a tad hot on the finish. 88-90
Red
2008 Château Cadet-Piola France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Very pleasing mint aromas and the palate is fresh, showing some milk chocolate and cherry, with a smooth texture. Not the richest St Emilion but nicely structured. 88-90
Red
2008 Château Chauvin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
Nice cherry and plum notes, and the palate is corpulent. Shows some hints of over extraction, but not drying. 88-91+
Red
2008 Clos de l'Oratoire France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
Toasted cherry nose. The palate is slightly monolithic, but deep dark cherry seeping through the oak derived notes. 87-90
Red
2008 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
Improved since en primeur, showing subtle spice on the nose and palate, which is warm, with strawberry and plum. Not quite the structure of the 2006, however, also lacking the verve of finer vintages, but with good potential with barrel aging. 89-91
Red
2008 Château Corbin St. Émilion Grand Cru France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Lovely nose, very fresh. Shows fine lift on the palate: not a warm palate, but a giving palate, with fine tannins. Ripe, red fruit and toasty, well incorporated oak-derived notes on the finish. This is one to seek out! 90-93
Red
2008 Clos des Jacobins France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
A slightly jammy nose but a tasty and nicely textured palate, good overall with some cherry. A supple drink. 87-90
Red
2008 Château Clos St. Martin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Rather nuanced nose. Palate is warm and spicy, blackberry fruit with refreshing notes of dill. Good. 87-90
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Red
2008 Château Grand Mayne France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
91 points
Plum and chocolate notes on the nose and palate, rich yet also showing fine structure but not quite as deep as in better vintages. Showing full-bodied pleasure and a rich finish: a wine to drink and enjoy without much afterthought. 90-92+
Red
2008 Château Les Grandes Murailles France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Subtle, more closed nose. Palate is more concentrated, full bodied, showing plum jam aspects and a bit of heat on the finish. 87-90
Red
2008 Château Laroze France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
87 points
Lactic nose, hints of oak, palate is fine with medium body and some drying tannins. 85-88+
Red
2008 Château Larcis Ducasse France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
91 points
Pure nose of black cherry and blackberry. A dark fruit cocktail, somewhat jammy, but fine with well integrated oak. Vague heat on the finish, but overall a big style with lots of class. 89-93
Red
2008 Château La Tour Figeac France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
87 points
Good freshness on the nose though a hint of green on the palate. Seems to lack stuffing as well, but overall not bad. 86-88
Red
2008 Château Laniote France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
Very dark, modern color. Nose not showing much here. Palate is thick and warm. Cherry and plum notes. Some oak derived spice. Hint of drying tannin that could be worrisome. 86-90
Red
2008 Château La Couspaude France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
87 points
Very dark, modern color. Nose not showing much here. Palate is thick and warm. Cherry and plum notes. Some oak derived spice. Hint of drying tannin that could be worrisome. 86-90
Red
2008 Château La Dominique France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
A much better palate. Seems to have more nuance, not at all overripe. Just ripe enough with freshness, though not as successful as Corbin. 88-91+
Red
2008 Château L'Arrosée France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
Fine, cranberry jam on the nose and palate, but something understated about this wine that seems almost too polite for its own good. A good, uncomplicated drink. 86-89
Red
2008 Château La Clotte France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
87 points
Extracted but not heady. Actually rather seductive in a big and brawny sort of way. A wine for modernists, but not my style. 86-90
Red
2008 Château Haut-Corbin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Lactic, chocolate, ripe strawberry with some floral aspects. Palate is medium bodied, showing good structure if just a bit of heat on the finish. 88-90
Red
2008 Château Guadet France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
Tonic cherry aspect. Nose is rich with hint of oak derived toast, palate shows some chocolate. Fine overall if just a bit prickly, but this estate has been improving lately. 87-89+
Red
2008 Château Grand Corbin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
More subtle nose with hints of flowers and brambly fruit, medium bodied palate, showing good lift and good texture. 88-92
Red
2008 Château Grand Corbin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Veritable bon bon anglais, a Starburst fruit chew aspect. The palate is smooth though neither deep nor complex, showing fine freshness, easy to drink qualities but does not seem to have the structure for a long life. 87-90+
Red
2008 Château Franc-Mayne France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
A more substantial palate, good structure and taste with rich notes of plum and cherry and spice. Not so complex but certainly pleasurable û barrel age will improve this one. 88-91
Red
2008 Château Ripeau France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
Not bad, good energy on the palate, a bit fuzzy (lacks focus) but overall an enjoyable drink without thinking too much. 86-89
Red
2008 Château Saint-Georges Côte Pavie France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
Nose shows extraction, palate is more structured, a more serious wine though some teeth staining tannins. 86-90
Red
2008 Château Larmande France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
88 points
Very deep color. Nose and palate pleased with violets and stewed plums/cherries. Very rich overall, but a tad monolothic. 86-90
Red
2008 Château Soutard France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Some oak-derived aromas with fruit, the palate is again rich here but somehow more nuanced, also seeming to show off more freshness, while staying deep and rich. Nice effort. 87-91
Red
2008 Château Dassault France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Rich blackberry and cherry nose. Nice nose indeed. Palate does not quite deliver the promise of the nose, but is certainly tasty and full-bodied with perhaps just some drying tannins on the finish. 88-91+
Red
2008 Château Corbin Michotte France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
77 points
What happened here? It seemed that the region of Corbin in St. Emilion did well in 2008 but not here, at least not with this sample. I normally enjoy this estate but the 08 was rather asparagus like and too much green on the palate distracting any of its other qualities. 75-80?
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