Category Archives: Bordeaux

Dec 12 2012

50 Wines to Try in 2013: No. 3 Chateau Pontet-Canet – A Brilliant Biodynamic Bordeaux

Posted on December 12, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

You wouldn’t normally think that Château Pontet-Canet, a fifth-growth chateaux in Bordeaux, would be one of the leading examples of what the Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker describes as “profound evolution in quality” in Bordeaux over the past 30 years.

Since proprietor Alfred Tesseron took over the 200 acre Pauillac estate from his father in 1997, he has ushered in a series of innovations in both viticultural and winemaking practices that have led to a remarkable lift in the quality of his wines. Of the 2009 vintage, for example, Robert Parker remarked that it was “A wine of irrefutable purity, laser-like precision, colossal weight and richness, and sensational freshness, this is a tour de force in winemaking that is capable of lasting 50 or more years.”  (Wine Advocate #199 February 2012)

Granted, 2009 was a spectacular vintage, but Parker’s 100 point score was by no means a fluke. The wine has earned ratings of 93 or higher in both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator tastings since 2000.

Château Pontet-Canet is a neighbour to plots owned by illustrious first-growths Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Latour. Tesseron told the Wine Spectator’s Jo Cooke that “Every morning…we wake up and say, ‘We are a fifth-growth surrounded by first-growths, so we have to do better.’ We want to get as close as we can to the quality of our neighbors.” (Climbing the Pyramid: Alfred Tesseron is raising quality at Bordeaux’s Pontet-Canet by Jo Cooke, Wine Spectator, 30 April 2008).

Tesseron has made significant investments in both the vineyards and the cellar to achieve his lofty goal. Pontet-Canet was one of the first Bordeaux estates to eschew the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Since 2007 both the vineyard and winery have been biodynamic.

At times the natural approach to vineyard management has presented significant challenges, probably not surprising given Bordeaux’s reputation for fickle weather. For Tesseron and his winemaker/vigneron Jean-Michel Comme the move towards becoming fully biodynamic has meant developing very intimate, labour-intensive approaches to vineyard management… [Read More]

Dec 12 2012

50 Wines to Try in 2013: Number 1 – 2009 Bordeaux

Posted on December 12, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

By all accounts the 2009 vintage of French Bordeaux is living up to the hype it created when it was barrel-tasted for those critical reviews that determine the en primeur pricing. You may recall that after a barrel tasting in 2010 legendary wine critic Robert Parker announced that “for some Médocs and Graves, 2009 may turn out to be the finest vintage I have tasted in 32 years of covering Bordeaux. From top to bottom, 2009 is not as consistent as 2005, but the peaks of quality in 2009 may turn out to be historic.”.. [Read More]

Jul 07 2012

Château Cheval Blanc: An Irresistibly Alluring Cabernet Franc Blend

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

For me, Julia Harding’s captivating review of a barrel sample of the sublime 2011 vintage of Château Cheval Blanc explains the irresistible allure of this famous St Émilion blend for the past 150 years:

Deep dark cherry crimson. Delicately floral and fruity, so subtle but gently aromatic. A touch of oak sweetness and spice but very restrained. Very very fine grained, you can feel the tannins but they melt across the palate. There’s intensity but it’s so TENDER. It’s dark-fruited rather than savoury. There’s minerality in both taste and texture... [Read More]

Nov 11 2011

Wine Tasting: Château Rauzan-Ségla – An Exceptional 2nd Growth!

Posted on November 11, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Last Wednesday night I attended a Bordeaux Shippers‘ tasting at the Royal Automobile Club in Sydney. These tastings are a great opportunity to sample out-of-reach legendary Bordeaux wines like the Château Mouton Rothschild, Premier Cru Pauillac 1996 ($1,142) as well as some excellent Bordeaux in more affordable price ranges.

One of my favourites of the evening was the Château Rauzan-Ségla Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe Margaux 1996 ($185). Ok, not exactly a bargain, but this wine is widely regarded as a “super-Second”,.. [Read More]

Aug 08 2011

Château Pétrus 1990: Is it worth the price?

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you’ve recently scanned the Cellarit Wine Market you may have noticed that a bottle of 1990 Château Pétrus is available for $4,700. It’s not the most expensive bottle on the list. That honour belongs to a 375 ml 1952 Penfolds Grange signed by Max Schubert and available for $12,500. But nevertheless the price does seem extraordinary for an item that, after all, is designed to be eventually consumed! (Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate, who scored the 1990 Pétrus 100 points,.. [Read More]

May 05 2011

Chateau Lynch-Bages: A Wine that Defies Official Classification

Posted on May 05, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

One of the most important things I’ve recently learned about Bordeaux is that while the official Bordeaux Wine Classification of 1855 can be a good indicator of quality and terroir, the wine region is also home to to a growing number of top producers whose wine regularly exceeds the expectations of their original lowly classification.

Château Lynch-Bages is certainly an example of a wine that consistently punches above its rank. The estate is classified as Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus), but the deliciously rich,.. [Read More]

May 05 2011

Château Latour: The Epitome of Great Bordeaux

Posted on May 05, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

This Thursday evening I’m attending a very special tasting of classic Bordeaux wines at Wine Vault in Artarmon. Sponsored by Bordeaux Shippers, our host for the evening is The Wine Front’s Gary Walsh. Thursday’s session is sold out, but I believe tickets may still be available for a second session on Thursday 2 June.

One of the highlights of a very special lineup is the Château Latour 2001. It sells for around $1,000 a bottle, so I’m sure Thursday night will be one of my only chances to sample this great wine… [Read More]

Feb 02 2011

Château La Mission Haut-Brion: The Unofficial 6th First Growth

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I was looking back at the Robert Parker reviews for Château La Mission Haut-Brion. The 1982  scored a 100 points, but what was even more remarkable is that the release price Parker quoted: $US245 a case! (Robert Parker, Wine Advocate # 183 June 2009)

Just to be sure, I checked the price history of La Mission Haut-Brion on the Liv-ex: The Fine Wine Exchange. The current 2009 vintage, which Parker has rated 98-100, will set you back a cool £6,200… [Read More]

Feb 02 2011

Château Pape Clément: Creating Wine of First-Growth Quality!

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

One man who is considered just as influential in Bordeaux as the legendary American wine critic Robert Parker is the oenologist Michel Rolland. Rolland is a consultant oenologist to hundred of wineries in the Bordeaux and around the world. He is credited with turning around the quality of such famous estates as Château Lascombe and has been a consultant to some of the best estates in California, counting names like Araujo, Harlan Estate and Dalla Vale among his clients… [Read More]

Feb 02 2011

Château Haut-Bailly: Reaching New Heights with the 2009 Vintage

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Like Château Haut-Brion, the fortunes of Château Haut-Bailly have greatly improved under the direction of an American financier. American banker Robert Wilmers bought Haut-Bailly in 1998, and like Clarence Dillon of Haut-Brion, he saw the wisdom of retaining top talent – promoting Veronique Sanders, the granddaughter of the previous owner, to the top job as manager of the estate.

In less than a decade, Sanders has succeeded in elevating Château Haut-Bailly to such a level that the esteemed American critic Robert Parker believes it a worthy contender to the icon wines of Pessac-Leognan: Pape-Clement,.. [Read More]