140 km – 5 appellations – 5 châteaux – 70 wines – 1 superb lunch overlooking horses working the vineyard – 162 g of sugar per litre – 1 party of the season at the Opera, but what about THE numbers.
We left Bordeaux early this morning to start with the St Julien Grands Crus tastings at Château Léoville Poyferré. The atmosphere was quiet, silent, you could almost feel the elegance of the wines in the air! This appellation is the smallest on the Left Bank and accordingly the wines normally display very similar characteristics. Surprisingly 2014 has proved not to be as consistent as usual. We all appreciated Léoville-Poyferré, Léoville-Barton and Beychevelle but I was told that the difference in quality of the wines of St Julien this vintage will come from the quality control work done, or not, by the estates to produce their first wine. Evidently some sorted through their grapes diligently, some didn't, and it shows!
We then moved on to Château Lynch-Moussas, owned by the powerful Castéja family, where we tasted the wines of Saint-Estèphe and the Pauillac. This was crowded and noisy – a typical primeurs ambiance! I personally think that Château Lafon-Rochet and Château Phélan-Ségur did well this year. We also all agreed that Château Lynch-Bages was ‘the wine of the room’; it showed power and finesse at the same time, complexity and balance, a future great classical Pauillac!
Following a much needed espresso by the river close to Château Montrose we progressed onto Château Pontet-Canet where we were welcomed for lunch. I must admit that Pontet-Canet 2008 perfectly complimented the superb duck breast and a special mention to the Chef there for the amazing cheese choice!! Mélanie Tesseron, the chateau’s delightful owner, then provided us with a very technical tasting. It was clear to us all that Pontet-Canet 2014 will be the red wine of the day, without any doubt. Such a balance with such elegance, they have produced a huge Pontet, and very probably one of the best value wines of this vintage.
Bolstered by Pontet’s superb hospitality we travelled onto Château Dauzac to taste the wines of the Margaux appellation, where we were, unexpectedly, a little disappointed. It was almost too difficult to define a top three for the region, because, for once, the appellation was extremely homogenous. But, at a push we would argue that that Château Rauzan-Ségla, Château Giscours and Château Marquis de Terme were the Margaux 2014 winners.
Back to Bordeaux, we stopped by at Château La Lagune for a taste of sweetness: Sauternes and Barsac. And if, as usual, some of these châteaux still do not understand the importance of balance in a Sauternes wine, some others produced magical golden juice. Château de Fargues, Château Sigalas-Rabaud and Château Coutet produced probably one of their best vintages of the last decade. The wines have everything you expect and more: sweetness of course (162g / litre for Coutet), but also freshness, volume in the mouth, aromatic complexity, length, etc… pure pleasure.
Finally, the day concluded with the ultimate pleasure at Yquem's party at the Opera. Some of the Vin-X team were tasting Château d'Yquem for the first time and I could feel their excitement. There are no words to describe this ‘ultimate pleasure’. When you taste Yquem, whatever the age, you don't spit!! You savour and try to hang onto that memory! Yquem 2014 is absolutely a giant! It is powerful, pure, elegant, perfectly balanced, fresh, and it never ends. Yquem 2014 could be the wine of the year, I would bet on it. Such a purity and finesse; you can compare it to a Japanese ancient sword; so thin, so delicate, so sharp but so powerful. Thanks to Sandrine Garbay, the winemaker and her team; they have touched perfection. Frédéric Dard, the French writer, said that ‘Yquem was like "drunken light"’, in translation perhaps ‘drinking light’ – and so we did.
Throughout our marathon day we note the growing debate about the pricing of 2014 and already rumours abound both in the Bordeaux community and the world’s press. We are taking note and at the end of our week here will give our view as En primeurs 2014 draws to close.
Finally, exhausted but elated at the end of day 2 of the 2014 En Primeurs, we look forward to another huge day tomorrow and acknowledge that yes, we are still lucky."