Another week in lockdown and another wine post (as I know you all love them so much), with this week all about the clarets.
I don’t tend to drink a lot of claret and the two main reasons for this are:
I can’t afford the top end stuff (few can at the real top end); and
- I simply don’t know enough about the stuff I can afford to buy with any confidence.
The club’s cellar is particularly strong on the claret front and it is a tradition of the club to taste the best vintages of clarets when they are 10 and 20 years old.
A silver lining to the dreadful 2020 was that it happened to be 20 years on from the rather well regarded 2000 claret vintage. This vintage has garnered perfect 10 out of 10 scores, with it being described by Jancis Robinson as follows:
“Nature’s benevolence coincided with the commercial imperative to have a good vintage in this numerically exceptional year. Great consistency and balance. The petits châteaux represented some of Bordeaux’s best value for many years though most are ready to drink or even starting to decline. The best wines should last well into their second or even third decades. “
The December 2020 tasting saw, as ever with the Mystere Wine Club, a nice mix of wines from across the spectrum. The list included some real big hitters (at least in theory) at the end.
We had our now usual (in these Covid time) virtual tasting format, which is sorted by way of a rather well oiled distribution machine.
I personally think the club should be very proud of how it has adapted to these trying times. A case, very much, of needs must when it comes to drinking good wine (of which there is always a need, now more than ever).
So to the wines.
Chateau Cazeau (Premeries Cote Du Blaye)
An extra wine (to our usual line up of 8), which was kindly donated by a member.
Still quite a dark colour, although there was a bit of lightening on the rim.On the nose it was a touch muted, with a smidgen of boiled sweets, pencil case and cedar.
On the palate there was a bit of oak, followed by dark fruit. As with the nose it was all a bit muted. Nice enough, but time to drink up I think.
Price : £33
Chateau Cap de Faugeres (Cote de Castillon)
Really dark colour to this wine, which really didn’t give much indication of its age.On the nose, I got a initial hit of menthol followed by plum and blackberry and then a touch of cedar.
On the palate, it failed to live up to the promise of the nose. All a bit flat and stalky. The fruit had gone, but no teritary notes had replaced it.
Not keen, with this being my lowest scoring wine of the night.
Chateau D’Aiguille (Cote De Castillon)
Again quite a dark colour, with limited sign of its age.On the nose there were rich notes of cherry, then dried herbs followed by a touch of leather and tobacco.
On the palate, it had a lively freshness to it with a good dollop of blackcurrant.
Really enjoyed this (equal 4th best wine of the night for me) and a marked step up in class from the first two wines.
Chateau du Tetre (Margaux)
First wine to me that was showing a bit of aging in the colour, with a element of bricking to the rim.On the nose I thought it quite earthy, with more coffee and mocha than fruit and some floral notes coming through at the end.
On the palate there was blackcurrant, but I felt it was just lacking something. I was in the minority in not being that fussed with this wine and in preferring the much cheaper D’Aiguille.
Chateau Sociando Mallet (Haut – Medoc)
Quite dark colour to this wineand a glorious nose of pencil shavings, graphite, cedar and cigar box, followed by a real perfumed hit.
On the palate is was really clipped and precise in nature and flavour, with bag loads of cassis and blackcurrant. Real big on the cab. sauv. notes this wine.
Proper old school claret this – I absolutely loved it. My second placed wine of the night.
Chateau Lagrange (Saint-Julian)
Deep rich colour, again with no appreciable signs of ageing.On the nose there was a big initial hit of mocha, which then morphed in to a sort of fruit and nut milk chocolate bar.
On the palate, it was all boozy fruit/ kirsh and an almost liquor chocolate finish. So different from the Sociando.
Chateau Gruaund Larose ( Saint-Julian)
Another pretty opaque number,this time with a more complex earthy nose. Touch of cedar, tobacco and then milk chocolate coming through.
On the palate, nice fresh red (cherry) fruit and a touch of spice on the finish, which to me was just a touch short. Nice, but lacking the wow factor as it fell away a bit. Perhaps past its peak.
Chateau Angulus ( St Emilion)
This is a wine with a big reputation and a very big price to match. I came to it with mixed feeling. Would it live up to the hype and the price tag or would it be all fur coat and no knickers.
The colour on it was “heart of darkness” black.On taking a good sniff of this, the first word I wrote on on my tasting note sheet was ” Wow” followed by “wow” and then”wow”.
Massive nose on this beast of a wine, with initial aromas of cedar, graphite and pencil shaving wafting up from the glass, followed by rich dark black fruit (plum and black cherry) and then more complex aromas of black truffle and a tarry finish.
On the palate, it was as big as the nose suggested it would be. Rich fruit, with intense blackberry and licorice notes. Silky smooth tannins and a finish that lasted for eons.
Years still left in this beauty, which is a muscle bound, body builder, of a wine. Modern, yet total hedonistic.
Is it worth the money? Depends how much you have I suppose, as these things are all relative. Back of the sofa small change for some, but I can’t afford it! Wish I could and wish I had bought it (as the club did) back in the days when it was £50 a bottle. My second best wine of last year – just fabulous.
All fur coat and diamond studded knickers this stuff!!
Chateau Leoville Las Case (Saint – Julian)
A lighter colour from the brooding beast that preceded it,this was a much more subtle wine.
On the nose there was red fruit, tobacco, an earthiness and graphite.
It felt a touch young, even green, in the mouth. An initial hit of damson was followed by distinct floral notes and a finish that had more than a touch of asphalt to it. Tannins were still quite grippy.
I think this suffered a bit from being tasted after the Angelus and may well have scored better if tasted before it rather than after. I still really enjoyed it though.
I drank the remnants of it the next day (before I also revisited the Angelus – still glorious) and it had really opened up. In much finer fettle a day later, than on the night of the tasting, with some real elegance. It was great with a cheese burger (yes, I am a philistine).
The hype surrounding the 2000 vintage was certainly lived up to in this tasting. Some fantastic wines on offer, with a number drinking gloriously now (but still having years and years left in the tank). I was amazed at how youthfully these 2000 still are.
My top three was as follow:
- Chateau Angelus
- Chateau Sociando Mallet
- Chateau Leoville Las Case.
When bringing (inevitably) price into the equation, the wine of the night for me was a toss up between the Sociando and the
D’Aiguille. Much as I loved the Angelus, the nigh on £500 price tag is way too rich for my blood.
Another class tasting by the Mystere Wine Club, with one plus of 2020 being tasting these wines on their 20th anniversary. Class act the 2000 clarets.