2004 Bordeaux

 

16AROMATIC AND TASTY WINES - CLASSICAL BORDEAUX VINTAGE OF HIGH QUALITY

Jacques Guinaudeau tells pickers where to pick Merlot in the vineyard - Château Lafleur in September 2004

Weather conditions

After a relatively calm winter-time and capricious spring, flowering arrived in the beginning of June. It normally takes around two weeks, but in 2004 flowering went on with rocket speed. 3 days was simply enough.

During flowering Bordeaux happily avoided two major and dangerous diseases, coulure (missing buds) and millerandage (buds stop developing and fall off). Already at that time it was obvious of very large harvest happening due to incredibly many buds on vines, in the second half of September.

And this forecast became true, for yields in 2004 is far above vintages 2002 and especially 2003.

Summer 2004 offered a bit of everything; long spells of warm and sunny weather, but also several downpours of rain and violent hailstorms. The latter didn't affect however vineyards. Green harvest in the end of July, which meant removal of 25-30% grapes from vines in order to strongly decrease yields per ha, was vastly used in whole Bordeaux.

In August, a whole 80 mm rain fell in Bordeaux. It was especially Right Bank (Pomerol, St.Emilion and Fronsac), who suffered the most. August is extremely important for grapes, especially for their ripeness. But rain and a rather lukewarm weather in August delayed ripeness to great extent. Another explanation for delay was the fact that vines still suffered from the extreme heat last year and hadn't fully recovered. The ever changing weather contributed also to this delay.

You didn't see many happy faces around among winegrowers in August, only growing concern about development of the vintage. Some winegrowers started to fear the worst and did compare 2004 to 1992 or 1993, two relatively weak Bordeaux vintages.

September started warm and sunny, and brought optimism right back. The ripeness of the grapes speeded up and 2004 vintage looked really nice. It was clear, that harvest will start 14 days later than normal, because of bad weather in August. Two weeks of hot weather and lot of sunshine, interrupted by a few short-lived thunderstorms, were followed by a week of cold weather and little rain. Then, the warm weather returned.

Light rain on Thursday the 23rd September kick-started Botrytis cinerea fungus, which attacked perfectly ripe grapes in Sauternes & Barsac. It looked incredibly promising. Long spells of fog in the morning and hot afternoons during several days – this resulted in perfect conditions for wide-spreading of botrytis. Climens started harvesting on the 27th September, while Nairac began on 30th September. It took for many properties about 1.5 months to finish harvest.

Harvest of "white" grapes began already on the 6th September at Haut Brion with Sauvignon Blanc. Haut Brion and sister-château La Mission Haut Brion/Laville Haut Brion are always at least one week ahead with harvesting compared to others. The explanation is higher temperature (2-3°C) in the vineyard of these châteaux, compared to other places in Péssac-Léognan.

Domaine de Chevalier hadn't even finished with "white" harvest by the 28th September, which is 2.5 weeks later than normal! Olivier Bernard was simply stunned seeing "white" harvest finish in the mid-October for the first time during his reign at Chevalier!

From Friday the 24th September to Thursday the 7th October, the weather was hot and sunny, and this allowed many wine-growers at Right Bank to bring in perfectly ripe Merlot of high quality.

Ripening process of Cabernets and Petit Verdot speeded up, but these varieties had to wait anyway. They were indeed ripe inside, but not outside (grape skins). By chewing grape-skins you could feel a certain bitterness still being present. Cabernets and Petit Verdot lacked obviously the so-called phenolic maturity, which is so vital for the wines.

Shortly speaking, grapes must be perfectly ripe inside and outside, so bitter and green sensations together with hard tannins and lack of balance in wines can be avoided. Harvest of Cabernets started on Monday the 11th October but after few days, it rained quite a lot. 70-80 mm of water. Strangely enough, it didn't affect grapes at all.

It was quite new development from the oenological point of view. Maybe the explanation is very dry soil, still recovering from immense lack of water from 2003. That's why water didn't have time to come up all the way up to the grapes. Other explanation and maybe the most true one is, that grapes simply stopped their growing cyclus as grapes became ripe before the rain came, so they didn't need to "drink" water.

From the 18th October it became again warm and sunny and the harvest of Cabernets and Petit Verdot went splendidly and quiet.

Merlot on the Left Bank was brought also in superb condition, while Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot strongly benefited from long ripening process. This allowed these three late ripening varieties to develop perfect maturity and keep the freshness, flavors and aromas intact.

Simple remedies are used at Le Pin, one of the world's most expensive wines - please notice the red bicycle spender to hold pipe fast and the digital termometer outside the vat.

FIRST IMPRESSION

Having spent 12 days in Bordeaux from the 2nd April to 14 April 2005 and tasting around 300 wines, I believe I've got a real picture of 2004 vintage.

This vintage is neither so homogenuos as 2001 nor so "hot" as 2003. Unfortunately, some wines are terribly tannic, mainly owing to very poor care of the vineyard, harvesting too early and excessive extraction in order to compensate for lack of ripeness. This is mostly found in lower appelations. The best wines are real classics with silky fruit and tannin, fresh, aromatic and well-balanced wines. They will have long life.

Sauternes & Barsac made again a classic vintage with fine botrytis, pure, classy and extremely elegant. Several properties managed to end up with wines whose quality is between 2001 and 2002 vintage. But it was hard work in the vineyard due to ever changing weather conditions and quick decisions had to be made.
Climens described the end of the harvest just fine in their vintage report - "AT LAST on November 9th we finished harvesting, half dead but fully satisfied!"

Graves/Péssac-Léognan in both colours succeeded also very well with many impressive wines. White 2004 is close in quality to the fabulous 2001 vintage.

In Haut-Médoc, it's particulary Margaux commune, which delivers pure delight to many wine-lovers.

Saint-Émilion and Pomerol are in my opinion generally on the level with 2001 vintage. 2004s in these two districts seem to have fresher fruit and better balance, than their 2003 brothers and sisters.

Until now (ultimo May 2005), only few properties announced their opening prices and these didn't indicate enough fall to attract significant attention of buyers.

If prices in general won't go down at least 25-30% compared with 2003 prices and settle around 2002 prices, then Bordeaux will face a difficult case of having huge stock of wines and not being able to sell them. And there still are plenty of unsold older vintages, like 1997 and 1999. Bordeaux has a simple choice - either the wines will drop significantly in price or chateau owners will drink 2004 by themselves!

Unless stated otherwise, the following tasting notes were sampled at BLIND tastings organized by Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. All wines were assessed according to 100 points scale.

SAUTERNES & BARSAC

Rieussec - this one is really wonderful. Yellow, incredibly deep and pure botrytis on the nose with catching aroma of tropical fruits. Very deep on the palate, very sophisticated and very long on the palate with stunning aftertaste. Exceptional wine with 15-20 fine years ahead. 95p.

Clos Haut Peyraguey - almost like Suduiraut, but with more depth and richness. This is fabulous effort for this property, who has been on the run since its stunning 2001 vintage. 94p.

Rayne Vigneau - this wine always fares very well when I taste it en primeur. Sophisticated, classy and deep botrytis. Perfectly balanced with fine acidity. Incredibly catchy and seductive wine. Keep it for 10-15 years. 93p.

Doisy Daëne - really intense and deep botrytis. Fabulous on the palate with gobs of fruit and corresponding acidity. Long and caressing aftertaste. How exceptional it could have been if blended with 'Extravagant"!!! 93p.

Suduiraut - mouldy, stylish and pure botrytis on the nose, intense, very sappy and full on the palate. Rich with many nuances and splendid balance. Fabulous wine to keep for at least 15 years. 93p.

Filhot - stunning botrytis, extremely elegant and refined. Smooth, concentrated and long on the palate. Lingering aftertaste. Makes friends with you very fast. 92p.

Caillou - deep refined nose of acacia honey. Full-bodied and with long aftertaste. Well made and tasty wine for 10-12 years enjoyment. 91+p.

Sigalas Rabaud - nice botrytis with acacia, citrus and apple on the nose. Nuanced on the palate with splendid structure. A joy to taste. 91p.

Lafaurie Peyraguey - as always this property gives us an impeccably sophisticated and refined wine with lot of finesse and richness. Stylish, well-balanced and seductive. 91p.

Nairac - mouldy botrytis with apple jam flavors, sugary, harmonious, stylish and rich wine. Fine and long aftertaste. Splendid now, but will improve even more. 10-15 years. 91p.

De Malle and La Tour Blanche - fine acidity in close dance with citrus peel, lemom and acacia flavored fruit, impeccable balance, smooth and caressing aftertaste. Seductive and splendid wines. To keep for 10-15 years. 90-91p.

Guiraud - citrus peel and orange peel flavors, fine depth, structure and concentration. Pure and classy botrytis. 90+p.

Coutet - powerful botrytis, intense on the nose, complex with very long aftertaste. Keeps the style with pure elegance and finesse. Give it 10-12 years. 89-90p.

de Fargues - a sibling of Coutet but I've a strong feeling that this wine needs time to develop all the goodies, 6-8 years. Will be much better then. 89-90p for now.

De Myrat - very fine effort for this property. Apple and peach aroma, honeyed, very concentrated and sugary, exemplary balance. 89-90p.

Romer du Hayot - like Myrat, this property is turning out fine wines recently. 2004 is no exception with pure botrytis, acacia honey and lingering aftertaste. 89-90p.

Lamothe Despujols and Lamothe Guignard - both are quite full with peaches and mango. Nice aftertaste, charming and attractive. Not for long term drinking. 88p.

Well-made and pleasant wines with nice botrytis and fine balance - D'Arche, Bastor Lamontagne, Doisy Vedrines, Rabaud Promis and Suau. They get well-deserved 87p.

Other wines - not tasted blind:

d'Yquem - extremely sophisticated, elegant and rich wine. Incredible finesse and silky texture. It's not a thunderstruck d'Yquem, but who really cares? 20-25 years in heaven. 96+p.

Climens - close in style to 2001 vintage. However, not that intense and complex. Still, one gets wonderful balance, richness and incredibly pure botrytis. 15-20 years. 94+p.

Raymond Lafon - only 35% of the harvest became Grand Vin and one can taste it. This wine is simply sublime with its stunning botrytis, extremely aromatic nose of mango, peaches, melon and oranges, richness, fabulous structure and length. Great wine to keep for at least 20 years. 95p.

Les Justices - from owners of Gilette. This is fine effort with purity and elegance, fresh tropical fruit (pineapple, apricot and honey melon) and a lot of finesse. 88-89p.

PÉSSAC-LÉOGNAN/GRAVES

Red wines:

Les Carmes Haut Brion - dark red, very deep and aromatic on the nose with black berries. Perfectly ripe fruit on the palate, splendid balance and long aftertaste. Fabulous effort from this property. 93p.

Smith Haut Lafitte - black red, very tightly knitted, strong structure, ripe black berries with spicy touch, well-balanced. Clever winemaking. Long time runner. 92+p.

Pape Clement - tight and strongly structured, lot of oak but balance doesn't suffer in this wine. Big scaled wine made in modern style. 92p.

Carbonnieux and La Louviere - both are dark red, seductive and aromatic on the nose, meaty and fleshy on the palate with fine and caressing aftertaste. Beautifully balanced and seductive wines. 12-18 years. 91p.

Olivier - this property is on the quick march towards top of the district. New winemaker, Laurent Lebrun arrived here three years ago and the improvements are obvious. Ripe tannins and ripe berries, tight and well-structured, fine concentration and length on the palate. Very catchy wine. 91p.

Domaine de Chevalier - very stylish and elegant wine with lot of finesse. Meaty structure, well concentrated with fine support of ripe tannins. 90+p.

De France - well made wine with ripe black berries in fine cooperation with tannin, fleshy texture and fine aftertaste. 90p.

Bouscaut and Ferrande - both are really fine efforts from these underachieving properties. Spicy red fruit, very tasty, nicely structured and with considerable depth. 88+p.

Chantegrive, Fieuzal and Haut Bailly - medium weight, tight, well-balanced and fruity wines, who merit attention of winelovers. 88p.

Very good wines: Larrivet Haut Brion, Malartic Lagraviere and Rahoul. 87p
Correct wines: Haut Bergey, Latour-Martillac and Picque Caillou. 86p.

Other wines tasted (not blind):

La Mission Haut Brion - contains 55% Merlot, 42% C.Sauvignon and 3% C.Franc. This is a very distinguished and sophisticated wine with silky tannins and silky texture. Great intensity and aroma of blueberry fruit. An exceptional piece of work. 20-25 years. 94-95p.

Haut Brion - contains 61% Merlot, 20% C.Sauvignon and 19% C.Franc. Quite closed, oaky and tannic, but has an excellent potential. 94p for now.

La Tour Haut Brion - quite tannic, strong structure, ripe fruit everywhere, fine concentration and complexity. 89p.

Bahans Haut Brion and La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion - nicely structured, very fruity, round and tasty wines. Very useful second wines. 87-88p.

White wines:

Real stunners and long-lived wines: Smith Haut Lafitte and Olivier (93+p), Domaine de Chevalier (92+p), Carbonnieux, Chantegrive, de France, La Louviere, Malartic Lagraviere and Rahoul (all fully deserve 91-92p).

Splendid wines with fine potential: Larrivet Haut Brion and Pape Clement. 89-90p.

Very good wines: Bouscaut, Ferrande, Haut Bergey, Latour Martillac and Picque Caillou. 87p.
Correct wine: Fieuzal. 86p.

Other wines tasted (not blind):

Laville Haut Brion - 83% Semillon + 17% Sauvignon Blanc. Great aromatic nose of pineapple and lemon, fat and concentrated on the palate, well-structured and long. Formidable wine. 92p.

Haut Brion - 49% Semillon + 61% Sauvignon Blanc. Very concentrated, fat, sophisticated and powerful wine. Gobs of acacia and lemony flavours. This is a real treat. 94+p.

MÉDOC/MOULIS/LISTRAC

Maucaillou - big surprise! Very powerful on the nose and palate with ripe fruit everywhere. Long on the palate with fine aftertaste. 89-90p.

Chasse Spleen and Poujeaux - two sappy and well-structured wines with fine tannin grip and considerable depth. 88p.

Nicely made wine: Fourcas Hosten. 87p.
Correct wines: Fonreaud, Fourcas Dupre and Greysac. 86p

HAUT MÉDOC

Belgrave - ripe nose of blueberries and blackberries, tasty fruit, splendid structure and balance. Stylish and well-made wine. 90p.

Beaumont - aromatic nose with great intensity, delightfully ripe fruit, no hard edges here. Nice aftertaste and a lot of charm. 89p.

La Lagune - nicely structured wine with grip, succulent, very fruity and with seductive aroma of blueberries. 88p.

Lamarque - in same league as La Lagune. Silky tannins. 88p.

Very good wine: Cantemerle. 87p.
Correct wines - Citran, Coufran and La Tour Carnet. All rated 85-86p.

MARGAUX

Lascombes - black red. Aromatic nose with black cherries, intense and with fine depth. Fleshy and meaty on the palate with formidable structure and impressive length. Excellent effort from this property, which is clearly back on track. 93p.

Marquis de Terme - as impressive like Lascombes, but this one is more oaky with stronger tannin. 12-16 years. 92p.

du Tertre - another impressive wine from this property. Classic Margaux style with lot of elegance, finesse and aromatic touch. Extremely attractive and seductive wine. 91+p.

Malescot St.Euxpery - this property continues its revival seen in the recent vintages. Strong backbone, meaty and full-bodied, ripe black fruit and fine depth. Classy wine. 91p.

Siran - great success here. Very aromatic and powerful wine with style and attractive approach. 90+p.

Labegorce - surprise, surprise. Aromatic and seductive wine with fine length and tasty fruit. 90p.

Cantenac Brown, Giscours, Kirwan and Monbrison - all four are very stylish wines, oaky and tannic, but in fine balance and without rough edges. Succulent and with strong backbone. 88p.

Very good wines: Brane Cantenac, Rauzan Gassies and Rausan Segla. 87-88p.
Reasonably made wines: d'Angludet, Dauzac, Durfort Vivens, Ferriere and Marquis d'Alesme Becker. 86p.

Other wines tasted (not blind):

Margaux - 78% C.Sauvignon + 18% Merlot +2% P.Verdot/C.Franc. Marvellous wine with stunning richness, sheer elegance and lot of nuances. Sophisticared and true Margaux wine. I prefer this vintage to 2003. Keep it for 20-25 years. 94+p.

Pavillon Rouge - 40% Merlot + 55% C.Sauvignon + 4% P.Verdot + 1% C.Franc. Light, seductive with silky tannins and tasty fruit. Nice to drink early. 87-88p.

Palmer - return to classic style from the somewhat atypical 2003 vintage. This is an extremely elegant wine with much finesse, silky texture and tannins. Long and caressing aftertaste. 93+p.

Alter Ego de Palmer - very catchy, fruity, well-balanced, round and attractive wine. 88p.

SAINT-JULIEN

Branaire - black red. intense and deep on the nose with ripe and aromatic flavour of dark berries. Superbly concentrated and structured with long aftertaste. Real class. 91p.

Gruaud Larose - nice tannin grip, sappy, well-structured and with strong backbone. Fine balance. 88-89p.

Lagrange - same quality and style as Gruaud Larose. 88-89p.

Leoville Barton - stylish, compact and well-structured wine, which seems quite closed at the moment. Will certainly improve. 88-89p.

Leoville Poyferre - like Leoville Barton. 88-89p.

Langoa Barton - round and pleasant with attractive aroma of blueberries. Nicely structured and sappy. Well-made wine. 88p.

Very good wine: Beychevelle. 87p.

Correct wine: Talbot. 86p.

PAUILLAC

Clerc Millon - fine effort for this property. Ripe nose of black- and blueberries, very well knitted, splendid structure and fine balance. Tasty wine with much finesse. 90-91p.

D'Armailhac, Batailley and Lynch Moussas are all three powerful and sappy wines, well-balanced with nice aromatic fruit and strong but ripe tannin. 15-20 years horisontally. 88-89p.

Grand Puy Ducasse - very fruity with fine aroma of blueberries, sappy, tasty and elegant. A real charmeur. 10-15 years. 88p.

Pichon Baron - doesn't show the usual power, intensity and concentration, but I believe it will come with age. 88p for now.

Very good wines: Haut Bages Liberal, Lynch Bages and Pontet Canet. 87p.
Correct wine: Croizet Bages. 85-86p.

Other wines tasted (not blind):

Lafite - this a real thrill. Sublime everywhere with velvety texture, silky tannins, exquisite depth and structure, great length. Racy and sophisticated. For sure it can last for 20-25 years. 96+p.

Carruaders de Lafite - rounder and more aaproachable than Grand Vin, attractive with long aftertaste. A joy to drink. Splendid second wine. 88p.

Duhart Millon - this one is very fineseful and elegant wine, packed with black fruit and with nice structure. Well made wine with style, 88p.

SAINT ESTÉPHE

Phelan Segur - Oaky and tannic but fine depth and intensity on the nose. Strong with ripe fruit, fine balance and tasty. 90+p.

Les Ormes de Pez - more round and friendly than Phelan Segur, very fine effort for this property. 90p.

Lafon Rochet - tight and strong, well-trimmed and sappy, Needs time to be round and pleasant. 10-16 years horizontally. 88-89p.

Very good wine: Cos Labory. 87p.

Other wines tasted (not blind):

Cos d'Estournel - very aromatic wine, strong and powerful, has a lot to offer but needs time because of its tannic attitude. 91-92p.

Pagodes de Cos - on the light side. Nice fruit and good structure. Reasonable second wine. 86p.

Marbuzet - good fruit and structure, round and quite attractive, 86-87p.

Goulée - dark red, spicy fruit, well-balanced, nicely structured. 88p.

Montrose - oooh I'm in love. This wine is so pretty - like pretty woman, well-shaped and well-dressed without any sign of being vulgar. Black red, very sophisticated, silky and velvety. A dream wine. This property is so, so hot. 95p.

La Dame de Montrose - maybe the best second wine for the price. Extremely delicious and tasteful, pure elegance, finesse and surprisingly well-concentrated. 90p.

POMEROL

L'Evangile - dark red, very powerful and complex, fat and well-structured wine. Excellent. 91+p.

La Conseillante - very attractive on the nose, deep and sophisticated with plenty of finesse. Nice to meet you. 91p.

La Cabanne and Gazin - both are a lighter version of L'Evangile and offer tasty cherries and blackberries in fine company of velvety tannins. Seductive wines, 90-91p.

Clinet - big powerful wine with gobs of dark cherry fruit and tannin. Very concentrated with long aftertaste. Slightly clumsy but this will disappear. 88-89p

Very good wines: Beauregard, La Pointe and Vieux Ch. Certan 87p.

Other wines tasted (not blind):

Bon Pasteur - intense blackberries, strong structure, packed with perfectly ripe berry fruit, very complex and long on the palate. Brilliant wine to enjoy in the next 12-16 years. 91p.

Cantelauze - dark red, very aromatic on the nose, lot of finesse, dark cherries, fine balance and depth. Splendid wine. 91p.

La Clemence - stunning effort from this property. Very aromatic and long on the palate. 90p.

La Croix St.Georges - fine and intense nose of blueberries, sappy and well-concentrated on the palate, full-bodied with splendid balance and fine tannins. Cleverly made. 90p.

Lafleur - very dark red. Beautiful and sensual nose of aromatic dark cherries/blackberries, very deep and intense. Silky tannins, full-bodied, sophisticated and with breathtaking length. C'est un vin magnifique! 94+p.

Pensées de Lafleur - aromatic, round, nicely structured and tasty, Fine second wine. 87p.

Mini vertical of Lafleur in the open

SAINT EMILION

Beau Sejour Becot - black red. This is a blockbuster wine. Very ripe dark fruit, lots and lots of everything. Incredibly powerful, deep and long on the palate. 93+p.

Pavie Macquin - a real classy wine. Intense nose of black ripe cherries, wonderfully deep and sophisticated. Very concentrated, powerful structure and long aftertaste. 92p.

Angelus - very attractive, deep and intense nose of blackberries, strong structure, ripe berries, quite extracted wine. Excellent. 92p.

Franc Mayne - great effort from this underachieving property. Dark red, dense. Meaty wine with strong backbone, aromatic fruit and splendid structure. 91p.

Troplong Mondot - the proprietor, Christine Valette, delivers once again wine which reflects her personality. Kind and strong at the same time. It's packed with ripe, aromatic and tasty berries. Stupendous wine. 91p.

Grand Mayne - same style as Franc Mayne. Fine quality. 90p

Larmande - Fine and attractive nose of dark berries, candy like on the palate (cherry drops), very elegant with finesse. Nicely balanced. Very fine wine. 90p.

Well-made wines with promising future: Cap de Mourlin, La Dominique, Figeac and La Gaffeliere. 88+p.
Very good wines: Belair, Berliquet, Clos Fourtet, La Couspade, Dassault, Larcis Ducasse and La Tour Figeac. 87p.
Correct wines: Balestard La Tonnelle and Trottevieille. 86p.

Blind tasting of 11 Premiers Grands Crus Classés de St.Emilion

Beau Sejour Becot - like at Union des Grands Crus tasting. 93+p.

Pavie - very intense and deep nose of dark cherries, very concentrated and extracted, strong and long on the palate. Stupendous wine made in modern style. 92p.

Angelus - like at Union des Grands Crus tasting. 92p.

Magdelaine - strong tannic beast, very long on the palate, fleshy and succulent. Not the normal elegance and finesse, but power instead. 91p.

La Gaffeliere - this barrel sample showed more power and length on the palate than the one at UGC tasting. 91p.

Canon - much better and fresher sample than at UGC tasting. 88p.

Beauséjour Duffau - dark red, fine aroma of blueberries, sappy, elegant with finesse. Fine classic wine. 88p.

Belair, Clos Fourtet, Figeac and Trottevieille - same appearance as at UGC tasting.

Other wines tasted (not blind):

Ausone - very intense, deep and nuanced nose of blackberries. Very sophisticated, full-bodied, strong structure and silky tannins. Superb long aftertaste. Exceptional wine, ready for laying down 20-25 years. 96+p.

Canon La Gaffeliere - fine and elegant wine with considerable intensity of fruit. Lacks a bit of structure and length. 88p.

Chapelle d'Ausone - pleasant, round and charming, ripe tannins. 87p.

Cheval Blanc - slightly on the light side, elegant and a bit subdued. Quality and potential is there, but the question is, if it will be fulfilled. 90+p?

Clos de L'Oratoire - strong, well-balanced and quite aromatic wine, some finesse and well-structured. 87p.

Clos St.Martin and Rol Valentin - two very aromatic and elegant wines with silky tannins and finesse. 89-90p.

La Confession - aromatic (blueberries), luscious and well-balanced wine. 88p.

Corbin Michotte - very intense and aromatic on the nose with black cherries, strong structure and splendid balance. This is very attractive and seductive wine with lot of style. 89+p.

Fonbel - dark red, meaty, gobs of tannin and fruit. This wine is a clear proof, that grapes were picked at exactly right time. Full-bodied and long on the palate. 88p. Made by Ausone's Alain Vauthier.

Monbousquet - strong, very sappy, fine structure, style moderne. Well-made wine. 89p.

La Mondotte - extremely concentrated wine with perfectly ripe berry fruit, lot of nuances. Keep it for 20-25 years. 93p.

Moulin St.Georges - delicious nose of ripe berries (black cherries and blackberries). Very sappy, harmonious, well-shaped and with caressing aftertaste. Attractive wine. 89p.

Pavie Decesse - strong very tannic and tight. Long on the palate with fine depth. 90p.

Rolland Maillet - impressive wine from Michel Rolland with aromatic black cherries, nice concentration and fresh attitude. 87p.

Tertre Roteboeuf - as usually Francois Mitjavile delivers incredibly sensual and sophisticated wine with perfectly ripe black fruit, impeccably balanced and with delightful aftertaste. Great wine. 93p.

Other districts

Bordeaux Superieur - Le Conseiller (87-88p), La Croix Mouton (ex. Mouton) 87p and Girolate (87p).
Canon-Fronsac/Fronsac - Barrabaque (87p), Fontenil (88p) and Moulin Pey Labrie (88p).
Côtes de Bourg - Roc de Cambes (strong and powerful) 88p.
Cotes de Castillon - Aguilhe (87-88p), Ampelia (87p) and Veyry (87p).
Lalande-de-Pomerol - Bertineau St.Vincent (87p) and de Chambrun (very intense and aromatic) 88-89p.
Premier Côtes de Bordeaux - Reynon (88-89p).

RECENT TASTING NOTES ON VINTAGE 2004

2004 D'AIGUILHE: Strong and tannic, but at the same time aromatic with ripe fruit. Well balanced and with nice length on the palate. Needs time to get round and charming. 88p. Tasted four times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 ANGELUS: Very attractive, deep and intense nose of blackberries, strong structure, ripe berries, quite extracted wine. Excellent wine. 92p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 LES ARUMS DE LAGRANGE (white wine): Aromatic and round, tasty and pleasant. Uncomplicated wine for garden parties. 86p. Tasted in August 2005.

2004 BASTOR LAMONTAGNE: Fine botrytis, full-bodied with good acidity to support fruit, attractive and very enjoyable. Fine quality. 89p. Tasted in August 2005.

2004 BEAUREGARD: Nicely made wine, which had improved in bottle. Round and tasty with fine flavours of raspberries, cherries and scent of truffles. Good balance and good depth. To drink from 2009. 88p Tasted twice - last time in September 2007.

2004 BRANAIRE: Black red. Intense and deep on the nose with ripe and aromatic flavour of dark berries. Superbly concentrated and structured with long aftertaste. Splendid. 92p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 CANON-LA-GAFFELIERE: Fine and strong wine with considerable intensity of fruit. Full-bodied and tight wine. 89p. Tasted four times - last time in September 2008. Not consistent notes.

2004 CANTEMERLE: Well-composed and tasty wine, meaty, fine balance, very seductive. 89p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 CARMES HAUT BRION: Dark red, very deep and aromatic on the nose with black berries. There was ripe fruit on the palate, splendid balance and length. This property is improving fast. 92p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2010.

2004 CHASSE SPLEEN: Sappy and well-structured wine with fine tannin grip and considerable depth. Gained some more depth and structure since April 2005. 88p. Tasted in August 2005.

2004 LA CLÉMENCE: Stunning effort. Very aromatic, harmonious and long on the palate, with gobs of perfectly ripe Merlot. Violets, milk chocolate and fine cherries. 92p. Tasted four times - last time in September 2010. Consistent notes.

2004 CLOS DE L'ORATOIRE: Strong, well-balanced and quite aromatic wine, with some finesse and fine structure. 88p. Tasted four times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 CLOS FOURTET: Very nice aroma of crushed dark berries, long on the palate with fine structure and lasting finish. Catchy and seductive wine. 90p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Not consistent notes.

2004 DESTIEUX: From the owner of La Clemence. This wine is dense, strong, very concentrated with lot of ripe blackcurrants, well supported by strong but ripe tannin. Splendid length and structure. 90p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER red: Aromatic, racy and elegant wine with lot of finesse. The nose is simply a blast with wonderful spicy aromas of cherries and blackcurrants. Meaty on palate with fine structure, well concentrated blackcurrants and fine support of ripe tannins. 92p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER white: Freshness and elegance, sophisticated, very stylish and sophisticated. Acidity of this wine is great and corresponds just fine to sweetness. A classic. 94p. Tasted in August 2005.

2004 DURFORT VIVENS: Aromatic nose with dark berries, meaty and well structured wine. 88p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Not consistent notes.

2004 FERRIERE: Delicate, sweet fruit, fine structure and well balanced wine. Makes friends very quickly. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. 89p. Not consistent notes.

2004 LES FIEFS DE LAGRANGE: Delicious, elegant and very charming wine, however quite simple. 87p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 FOMBRAUGE red: A bit lazy wine for my taste. Maybe this wine hasn't developed in full yet. Rather light in intensity and concentration, but other ingredients are OK and balance and aftertaste are nice. See you in 2-4 years time. 86+? Tasted in November 2009.

2004 LE GAY: Quite light wine with nice structure and tasty fruit. Won't make old bones. 87p. Tasted in October 2007.

2004 GISCOURS: Very stylish wine, in fine balance and without rough edges. Succulent and with strong backbone. 90p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Consistent notes.

2004 LA GURGUE: Classic wine for Margaux commune with perfumed nose, fine balance and velvety taste. 89p. Tasted in August 2006.

2004 HAUT BAGES LIBERAL: Ripe berries and ripe tannin, round and nicely balanced wine. Adorable. 88p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Not consistent notes. Better showing in September 2010 with more developed flavors, more depth and length. 89p.

2004 HAUT BAILLY: Medium weight, tight, well-balanced wine with ripe berries. Nice structure and good length. 88p. Tasted in August 2005.

2004 LABEGORCE: Dark red. Aromatic and seductive wine with fine length and tasty fruit. Surprisingly well made. 91p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 LABEGORCE ZEDE: Very aromatic, meaty, fine structure and fine balance. Full of black berries. It was really an impressive wine. 90p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Not consistent notes.

2004 LAGRANGE: Lot of elegance and finesse, tasty dark berries, superb structure and long finish. 91p. Tasted four times - last time in September 2009. Consistent notes.

2004 LEOVILLE POYFERRE: Stylish, compact and well-structured wine, harmonious with fine finesse and elegance. 90p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Not consistent notes.

2004 PAPE CLEMENT red: Extremely aromatic with great intensity of ripe black fruit. Strong and robust on the palate, classy and stylish, almost aristocratic in its appearance. Incredibly elegant with firm yet smooth finish. Great stuff! 95p. Tasted in November 2009.

2004 PETIT VILLAGE: Aromatic but light. This wine was round and elegant with nice structure and luscious fruit. 88p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Not consistent notes.

2004 PHELAN SEGUR: Oaky and tannic, but fine depth and intensity on the nose. Strong with ripe fruit, fine balance and tasty. 89p. Tasted four times - last time in September 2010. Consistent notes.

2004 PICHON BARON: Half way between traditional and modern style. Very aromatic and very powerful, exciting minerality, great depth and length. Much better bottle than when tasted in September 2007. High class here. 91p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Not consistent notes.

2004 PONTET CANET: Juicy, concentrated, chewy, very aromatic, splendid depth and long on the palate. Lot of ripe blackberries here. Will last 10+ years. High quality. 93p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 POUJEAUX: Splendidly well-made wine, aromatic, powerful, meaty and with fine balance. Will provide a lot of enjoyment in the next 10-12 years. 90p. Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Consistent notes.

2004 RAUZAN SEGLA: Dark red. Aromatic nose of black cherries and blackberries. Full-bodied and concentrated on the palate with quite large quantities of tannin. Long aftertaste marked by tannin. Needs time. 91p. Tasted in June 2007.

2004 SMITH HAUT LAFITTE red: Black red, very tightly knitted, strong structure, ripe black berries with spicy touch, well balanced. It's to keep for long time. 90p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Not consistent notes.

2004 SMITH HAUT LAFITTE white: This wine was aromatic with pure elegance and great length on the palate, tasty with splendid structure and depth. It's fabulous wine. 93+p. Tasted in August 2005.

2004 SUDUIRAUT: Stylish and pure botrytis on the nose, intense, luscious and full-bodied on the palate. Rich with many nuances and splendid balance. Fabulous wine to keep for at least 15 years. 93p. Tasted in August 2005.

2004 DU TERTRE: An impressive wine from this property. Classic Margaux style with lot of elegance, finesse and aromatic touch. Extremely attractive and seductive wine. 92p. Tasted three times - last time in September 2008. Consistent notes.

2004 VALANDRAUD: Dark red. Intense and deep on the nose, flattering raspberries and blackcurrants, concentrated sweet fruit on the palate, splendid balance and long aftertaste. Really successful wine for the vintage. 93p. Tasted in October 2007.

Latest news

2017 VINTAGE LOOKS VERY GOOD INDEED - FOR LATEST NEWS CHECK "HARVEST 2017" IN CHAPTER "HARVESTS".

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RECENT ADDITIONS - PROFILE OF LA CABANNE, CERTAN DE MAY, HAUT BAILLY AND LEOVILLE LAS CASES

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DURING TWO WEEKS FROM END OF MARCH TO MID-APRIL 2017, I TASTED APP. 420 BARREL SAMPLES OF 2016 VINTAGE. PLEASE READ MY REPORT WITH A LOT OF TASTING NOTES AND CONCLUSIONS IN CHAPTER "VINTAGES".

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HERE ARE MY TOP TEN WINES OF 2016

1. Montrose 1990 100p 2. Latour 2000 100p 3. Lafleur 2000 100p 4. Le Pin 1990 99p 5. Cheval Blanc 1990 99p 6. Lafite 2000 99p 7. Montrose 2010 99p 8. Yquem 1986 98p 9. Tertre Roteboeuf 2000 98p 10. Certan de May 1982 98p

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THAT'S THE WAY TO CELEBRATE 70TH BIRTHDAY - CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE WITH SAME TITLE IN THE CHAPTER "HORISONTAL AND VERTICAL TASTINGS"