Robert Boutflower

The big guns of the Left Bank

Bordeaux 2015 is so good we needed to call in some reinforcements! In fact, the reports from last autumn when the harvest came in had already steered us to send over more bodies than usual so that this vintage – the best since 2010 – could have a thorough examination from the Tanners team.

Robert Boutflower (your scribe) and Graham Mason were the advance party, with Stephen Crosland, John Melhuish, Rachel Armstrong and James Tanner doing the second week. The task in week one is always to get round the Union des Grands Crus tastings, where one château from a particular commune or village shows all the wines from its neighbours. It’s a bit of a bunfight, a bit of a snapshot with often quite a lot of inconsistencies and, alongside the sheer quantity of wines to get through, it’s the main reason the second group visit the individual properties and make the most of the calmer tasting conditions. It wasn’t all a scrum for us however, as we also had visits to Chx Montrose, Cos d’Estournel, Lafite, Pontet-Canet, Léovile Las Cases, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Margaux and Palmer lined up.

These château visits soon demonstrated a couple of things:

  • Top châteaux have made top wines
  • The style and quality is somewhere between 2005 and 2010
  • There’s a lot of alcohol about (in the wines of course)
  • The best wines have superb balance of pure fruit, silky tannins, and integrated alcohol
  • Some wines have a lot of ripe fruit, a lot alcohol and a lot of big tannin

Our first visits demonstrated: a very harmonious, although showy Montrose alongside stable companion Tronquoy-Lalande which was simply beautiful; Cos and Pagodes de Cos were both very attractive and streamlined, the former with more power, the latter more fruit; some disappointed faces at Lafite but a winner for me – it will plump up and it has bags of class; Purity and increased quality at Pédesclaux (although the building is hugely extravagant); biodynamism bringing fabulous fruit and poise to Pontet Canet, great again; the jury is out on Lynch-Bages which was very big and very chewy; Pichon Lalande is as harmonious as any Pauillac with the second wine, Reserve de la Comtesse only a smidge behind.

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