Crus Bourgeois 2014 is an early drinking vintage, that is of good quality, with some very good bargains to be had – exactly what sommeliers need when placing a Bordeaux on the wine list. The Haut-Médocs in particular are well worth taking a look at. Here’s the wines from the London tasting that we rated.
Thirteen wines from the Médoc and Haut-Médoc that we rated as being excellent buying choices for early drinking. Plus – be a 5-minute expert on Crus Bourgeois.
There’s always something reassuringly traditional about the tasting of a new Bordeaux vintage – sort of Old School for Old World.
For starters they are serious affairs – hushed tones in grand old settings. Well dressed sommeliers attend the world-renowned wine critics with flights of bottles to help them get through two or three hundred wines. The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin is there, for example, having taken up residence for the day like an undergraduate cramming for finals – spectacles, stationery, water and a myriad of bottles and glasses all arranged neatly on his table. People tiptoe around him.
On Twitter he says ‘The 2014 Cru Bourgeois are important reminders how Bordeaux produces great wines that are affordable.” Quite.
There is always a good turnout of the ‘good old boys’ too – blazers and neckties, sideburns, grey moustaches stained on the lip from an afternoon of young claret. Chaps who will retire to their clubs afterwards and no doubt talk loudly about the latest vintage before taking a nap on their trains back to the Home Counties. Their businesses will invariably have Bordeaux in the title.
And so it was with the annual tasting of the 2014 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc wines, 182 of the 278 châteaux that makes up the Official Selection, on show.
The tasting was held at the Royal Academy in London that framed these young wines with the requisite age, opulence and gravity – a perfect foil for considering each wine’s youthful impetuosity.
The good news was that there were some very fine wines on show and true to the Bordelais pronouncement, here indeed was a fine vintage for drinking young. Given the price point of many Crus Bourgeois this is manna from Heaven for the on-trade.
The headline is that 2014 Crus Bourgeois belongs to the Haut-Médoc. There are some very nicely made wines from the Médoc but overall the Haut-Médoc wines were drinking better, had more rounded, fruit-driven profiles where the Médoc wines tasted leaner and, on the downside more sappy and resiny on the poorer end. None of the other appelations did I rate or taste, because either they didn’t hit the mark or they had run out – make of that what you will.
Seven wines to recommend from the Haut-Médoc appellation
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot
Light ruby, attractive ‘pretty’ floral nose, bags of fruit and an attractive mouthfeel, light on its feet but still with good texture. Tannins appear on the finish, nice wine though.
90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
Light ruby, uplifted aromatics of fruit and flowers, good fruit and freshness with surprising balance given the amount of Cabernet in the blend. This is mouth-watering, with tannins less apparent and really refreshing.
47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot
Dark ruby, classic Bordeaux nose, full dark fruit, rounded with some tannin but altogether very drinkable. From Fine+Rare and with less persistent tannin than other wines on their list in this vintage.
35.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37.5% Merlot, 14.5% Cabernet Franc, 12.5% Petit Verdot
Medium dark ruby, slightly spicy on the nose with a bit of incense, well-structured, good tannin giving an attractive texture and balance. A real step-up here. Excellent.
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 60% Merlot
Medium ruby, uplifted aromatics of wild bramble fruit, attractive mouthfeel with lots of juicy, fresh fruit and a good length on the finish. Very nice wine.
58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot
Medium ruby, savoury nose with a bit of ‘funk’ there, an explosion of parma violets on the tongue. Good structure.
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 58% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc
Dark ruby. Distinctive, black fruit nose. It feels a much ‘bigger’ wine with plenty of wood, tannin and possibly more alcohol, but it is fresh at the same time and works together nicely.
Also good but with some reservations: Château Belle-Vue, Château Cissac.
Six wines to recommend from the Médoc appellation
25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 65% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot
Alluring ‘classic’ claret nose, medium bodied, attractive mouthfeel with little apparent tannin or resiny qualities. Nicely made wine with a lean slightly creamy finish.
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot
Deep claret, a subtle sweet nose, attractive fresh mouthfeel, youthful tannins and fruit but all in proportion, nicely put together and very drinkable. Tannin persistent on front palate on the finish.
52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 14% Petit Verdot
Medium ruby, elegant restrained nose, excellent fruit flavours in the mouth. Tannins are there but not aggressive and fade well.
Château Patache d’Aux
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot
Deep ruby, attractive nose of red fruit, excellent ripeness and fresh balanced mouthfeel, well integrated tannins, persistent finish.
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot
Medium-dark purple. Different style – more savoury on the nose (Marmite) and on the palate with notes of red meat. Fresh, fruity and slightly sweet in the mouth. Integrated tannins.
38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 58% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc
Medium-dark purple. Unusual but not unattractive nose with some farmyard notes, full mouthfeel, good flavours, tannins on the persistent side.
Also good but with some reservations (bit too resiny, sappy etc): Château Chantemerle, Château Lousteauneuf, Château Noaillac.
Be a Crus Bourgeois five minute expert
In 2009 a new quality assurance system was set up by the Crus Bourgeois du Médoc in which to qualify, each wine has to be presented at a blind tasting two years after the harvest.
The new official selection consists of 278 chateaux corresponding to 30 million bottles of wine, or nearly 33% of the Médoc’s production across seven appleations: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis, Margaux, Pauillac and Saint-Estephe.
Of the wines selected and on show at the tasting:
Médoc – 13 of the 68 wines selected are available in the UK
Haut-Médoc – 19 of the 68 wines selected are available in the UK
Listrac-Médoc, – none of the seven wines are available in the UK
Moulis – 3 of the 12 wines selected are available in the UK
Margaux – 2 of the 10 wines selected are available in the UK
Pauillac – 2 of the 3 wines selected are available in the UK
Saint-Estephe – 4 of the 15 wines selected are available in the UK