2015 is a very special vintage in Bordeaux and it’s getting better every time we look at it. Last Thursday saw the 271 Cru Bourgeois du Médoc wineries showing off their wares at the annual London tasting and there is nothing but good news, especially for the sommelier, with many wines able to serve so soon after bottling.
The style of the wines range from those that make full use of 2015’s concentration, and others that opted for a more restrained, elegant wine – it’s certainly a winemaker’s year.
The more you get a look at Bordeaux 2015 the more you realise just how good a vintage it is. Last Thursday was the turn of the Cru Bourgeois du Médoc to show off their newly bottled 2015 to the press in London.
The headline is that these wines are seriously good with a lot of quality at an affordable price. The wines are fresh and perfectly balanced and, although most are drinking well now, these will age delightfully over the next 18 months. Sommeliers will like this vintage a lot as many you could serve today.
Perfect conditions in the two months up to harvest meant that winemakers could harvest at a perfect speed, knowing that everything was coming to the wines – colour, tannin, freshness and aroma and, unlike say the similarly concentrated vintage of 2009, vinification was easy. 2015 had quality and quantity.
This year there were 271 wineries that passed the Cru Bourgeois selection process – a blind tasting two years after harvest – which was seven down on 2014. The wines are from seven appellations and account for 32 million bottles of wine, or 31% of the Médoc production.
We tasted across the range of 190 wines on show and the ease of the harvest is apparent in the wines – there is an almost effortless quality to the wines, there is a sense that they don’t have to try too hard or turn up the volume on one component to compensate for a lack elsewhere.
There is also a good range of individual winemaker style particularly within the Médoc and Haut-Médoc – the main difference being between those winemakers opting to show off the voluptuousness of the fruit and those making more elegant, restrained wines.
There were many quality and interesting wines. Ones of particular note are as follows
Château Tour Séran (Cambridge Wine) had a good balance between concentration and light touch with a lovely persistence on the finish. A clever twist was having ‘The World’s Best Sommelier’ blending the four varietals for the wine, a fact that is proudly displayed on the label. Cambridge Wine is also importing Château Rollan de By which was far more concentrated, albeit with the vintage’s customary freshness.
You have to go direct to the Château if you want to get hold of Château La Branne but it’s worth the effort. Lighter in colour with an attractive nettle-like nose, this had an easy, light mouthfeel, fresh, herby, lovely cream on the finish and good structure. Château La Cardonne (direct) was seriously impressive, again of the slightly lighter style with good complexity in the fruit profile. Château Les Ormes Sorbet (Farthinghoe) was similar with attractive youthful tannins. Château Castéra had a touch of funk to it which is probably why Borough Wines have it in the UK, again fresh, fruity, balanced with a lovely texture.
To give you an idea of how affordable some of these wines are take Château Le Bourdieu (Enotria&Coe) which has an RRP of £12, Château Fleur La Mothe (R&B Wines), which really creeps up on you, has an RRP of £12.35.
For those who like big, punchy Claret and forceful Aussie Shiraz try Château Arnauld (Liberty) that was deep purple with a big rich nose and well priced (RRP £12). Similar, but for a few pounds more, is Château Beaumont (Wine Society) which had nice lifted fruit on the nose and a finely textured finish.
I preferred Château d’Agassac (Bibendum) which had an attractive bouquet of ink, violets, touch of Plasticine, great texture and length, Clos la Bohème (direct) which was lighter and more refined; Château Cissac (Averys) which had thyme and oregano on the nose, Château Larose Trintaudon (Liberty) which was lighter in colour and had real vibrancy and Château Reysson (Champagnes and Châteaux) which had a nose of irises and stone, a nice mouthfeel and would be a real crowd pleaser.
Of course there were far fewer wines on show from the other appellations – in the case of Pauillac just two: Château Fonbadet (Fine+Rare, BBR) and Château Plantey. The Fonbadet is a good example of how a Cru Bourgeois can punch above its weight – lighter style, fruity, elegant, with a lean, slightly green finish – but then we are talking about a different price band, closer to £35 as an RRP.
Price-wise the bargain from this commune was Château Tour de Pez (Millesima UK) that is retailing at £12 and should be filed under ‘good, ordinary Claret’. Better by a long way (but at almost double the price) was Château Le Boscq (Champagne and Châteaux) that had a lot of flesh on the bones but well structured and Château Clauzet (Goedhuis) that was delicious – a fairly full nose but clean and focused.
All nine wines on the Margaux table were showing well particularly Château d’Arsac and Château la Fortune but all bar two you have to go direct to the Châteaux for. The exceptions to this are Château Haut Breton Larigaudière (Private Cellar) whose high acidity and leaner structure I liked a lot and Château Mongravey (3D Wines) that was pure juicy, ripe fruit.
A commune that is often a great place for attractive price points, Château Anthony (Paul Adams) had a nice herby nose, crunchy blueberry fruit, chalkiness and lots of structure, RRP a modest £14.
My pick here was Château Fonréaud (Goedhuis, Tanners, BBR) which had freshness, big structure and texture, but all well balanced with a not-unattractive touch of hay on the nose. Château Saransot-Dupré and Château Cal Léon Veyrin were also very good indeed although you have to go direct to the Châteaux if you want to pick these up.