Bordeaux Tasting and Dinner
21st November 2008

A group of wine enthusiasts met at Manchester's Market restaurant again for this tasting and dinner.  I thought the food was a bit better overall this time; well at least mine was. There's a pleasing simplicity to the food, and the kitchen seems to be working within its competences.

I particularly liked my plate of pig: a huge chunk of very lean and meaty belly pork with some very good crackling, some delicious braised cheek with a real depth of flavour to the braising liquor. The final piggy element was roast fillet that fell just short of being excellent by being very slightly overcooked. Very good mash and root vegetable purée. I thought it was good value at about £40 for three and a half courses (we shared a number of cheese plates in pairs), plus another fiver corkage.

Our aperitif, was a little off-topic, but who's going to complain about a glass of Francis Boulard's 2000 Millésimé, Champagne Raymond Boulard?
This had a lovely evolved nose with nice pear fruit. Clean and rich on the palate, this was showing well, and very impressive. 91/100
bottle of Raymond Boulard 2000
2002 Château Carbonnieux Blanc, AC Pessac-Léognan, 12.5%
Interesting nose - quite grassy with green melon peelings. Round and open with quite a milky mouthfeel. There's good acidity on the finish. Quite green overall. 86/100

1988 Château La Louvière Blanc, AC Pessac-Léognan, 12.5%
A bit of a curious nose, that's not wholly attractive to me, with some piney-resin notes. It's nice on the palate though, showing its age, and carrying it very well. There's a very slight hint of maderisation, but that's not unattractive. The finish is a bit weird, with green fruit and toffee. 87/100

1995 Château Calon-Ségur, AC St. Estèphe, 12.5%
An attractive mature nose. Slightly foxy black fruits with an air of green leafiness. Fairly closed and lean on the palate. Firm tannins on the finish. 87/100

1988 Château Calon-Ségur, AC St. Estèphe, 12.5%
Much more open on the nose than the 1995 with some concentrated blackcurrant fruit. Open and minty on the palate, with much more of a hedonistic feel than the 1995. Good integrated structure. 91/100

1996 Réserve de la Comtesse, AC Pauillac, 13%
Lovely nose with black and red fruits, a nice meatiness and pencil wood. Riper and readier than maybe it should be, but I find it very attractive and very impressive. 93/100

1998 Réserve de la Comtesse, AC Pauillac, 12.5%
There is no family resemblance to the 1996 on the nose at all. This is much more floral and scented. On the palate, it's much leaner and more closed. Much less giving. 86/100

1995 Château Malescot St Exupery, AC Margaux, 12.5%
There's tobacco and cigarette smoke on the nose. Then some deep black fruit. Not as impressive on the palate as on the nose. It feels a touch simple on the palate, though there are a nice balance and a good structure. But it's a bit unsatisfying. Some sour fruit on the finish, adds a bit of interest, but no further pleasure. 86/100

1989 Château Langoa Barton, AC Saint Julien
Mushroomy and vegetal on the nose with hints of black fruit. Open and attractive palate. Very balanced with huge length. Very fine after. With time, this reveals itself to be a good, classic St Julien. 90/100

1988 Château de Fieuzal, AC Pessac-Léognan, 12.5%
Quite a minty, volatile-her-oil nose that doesn't really augur that well. Fairly high-toned on the palate and quite lifted. Lacking fruit and feeling a bit dried out. Distinctly unimpressive. 80/100

1998 Château La Vieille Cure, AC Fronsac
The nose is rich, with chocolatey black plummy fruit. Blind, I'd put this in Australia, maybe a Margaret River Bordeaux blend. Very pleasant, gently caressing palate. Very good structure and balance. There's a certain rawness and hardness, especially on the finish. 91/100

1999 Château Monbousquet, St Emilion Grand Cru, 13.5%
A lovely black-hedgerow fruit nose that's very deep with rich chocolatey notes, though it's also a touch spirity. Overtones of mincemeat are evident, once somebody mentions it. Velvety, warm palate. It feels quite modern in style: very attractive and approachable, but with quite drying tannins on the finish. There's very ripe fruit, but overall it feels fairly restrained. A very interesting wine that is probably going to improve. 91/100
After an hour or so, it hadn't improved at all.

1996 Château L'Evangile, AC Pomerol, 13%
High toned and volatile on the nose, the volatility dominating completely, with just the barest hint of fruit trying to fight through. There's definitely a life on the palate too, and again the volatility is utterly dominant. Faulty.

1983 Château Larmande, AC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé, no alcohol content shown
Earthy hedgerows and sous-bois on the nose: it's a touch lifted, but this time in a nice way. Very pleasant palate. It feels much younger than 25 years old. Pleasant, easy drinking. But it lacks complexity and any great interest. 87/100

1985 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, AC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
The nose has mature, evolved, herbal black fruits. Very attractive attack, but it quickly falls away to very little. Very, very short. Remarkably, and worryingly little to it. 84/100

1971 Château La Tour Capet, AC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
A very spongy cork. The nose is very cooked with beefy, Oxo overtones. Old, not quite dead, but on the way to the funeral. After a few minutes in the glass, it actually improved, and it's nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, given its very dodgy provenance. It's still drinkable and doesn't taste like madeira. 82/100

Château Guiraud, 1er Cru Sauternes, 14.5%
Very in your face, orangey-marmelade nose. Very sweet and very direct. Lacks elegance. 84/100

1988 Château Coutet, AC Barsac, 13.5%
An elegant, floral nose. Light and fragrant on the palate. This has much better balance that the Guiraud. If Guiraud is golden syrup, this is a single estate, pure cane syrup. 91/100

Overall, there was nothing here to convert a Bordeaux sceptic.

Later, post-offline:
2002 Escherndorfer Lump Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Horst Sauer, Franken
Absolutely marvellous. There's huge acidity, that's not quite obvious enough to start hurting your teeth. There is a full and intense sweetness, but there's so much acidity that you scarcely notice it.
The balance and purity is astoundingly good. 95/100



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Last updated: 8 December 2008