If I was this excited just tasting a selective sample group of En Primeur wines, if and when the world opens up again properly, those lucky souls that will be there, will be in Seventh Heaven. I have read and lived vicariously through some of the other En Primeur seasons by writers that I admire. To be even this close, through the generosity of my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source, is a trip to Heaven for me. As you may have surmised from plenty of my articles, The Fine Wine Source is not a corner store, it is a destination trip for me and the majority of the customers.
This tasting of wines was over the top for me, and while I have never learned the fine art of “spitting,” partly because so many of the wines that I taste as a lay-person are just too good, not to savor. I also apologize for my lack of descriptors when faced with great wines. I grew up and was mentored when one didn’t need Roget’s Thesaurus to describe wines. They would educate me, by saying this is a classic example of a Pauillac, or they would say this Saint-Julien is too young and needs another ten years in the cellar. I would like to appear erudite and sophisticated in discussing these wines, but it would never sound like me, and I think a couple of words can truly suffice when talking about quality, because I can certainly ramble on, about other subjects. I guess that I will always be the Damon Runyon of wine writers, so without further ado, here are the last six wines that I had the good fortune to taste.
Blason d’Issan Margaux 2020, the second label and the younger vines of Chateau d’Issan Margaux, a Third Growth. This is a blend of forty percent Cabernet Sauvignon, thirty-seven percent Merlot, three percent Petit Verdot and the balance is Cabernet Franc and Malbec. I have a six pack of an earlier vintage of this wine, that I am cellaring. This is a perfect example of younger vines, more fruit and a wonderful youthful Margaux; and I have had the good fortune of probably having more Chateau Margaux vintages, as well as other wines from this famed commune than any other commune.
Chateau Ferriere Margaux Third Growth 2020, one of the smallest vineyards of the Classified Growth and bought by the Villas family (Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal in Pauillac) in 1988 and they did major renovations in the winemaking side in 2013. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This wine even though it is still aging in the barrel has some very sensuous and serious tannins and I feel that after a few years in the cellar it will be excellent, as the tannins mature and the wine develops more layers of interest.
Chateau Pape Clement Rouge Pessac-Leognan 2020 a Classified Wine from Graves and part of the Bernard Magrez group of estates. It is one of the oldest estates in Bordeaux. It is basically fifty/fifty of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but they do add a touch of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc into the mix. James Suckling gave this wine a score of 97-98. Right from the start without any fuss, this wine was big and chewy with a great finish of terroir.
Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan 2020 was once part of Chateau Haut-Brion, but in 1584 gave this land to the Carmelite Order, hence Les Carmes. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with just a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, and a rather unique blend for Graves. James Suckling awarded this wine 92-93. I only wrote one word, and my partner in the tasting agreed, when I wrote “delicious.” I don’t think I could expand on it, at all.
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge Pessac-Leognan 2020 is one of the Classified Growths of Graves and owned by Oliver Bernard. Through the course of centuries, they have been able to maintain the name Domaine instead of Chateau, even though it sounds like it should be in the Burgundy region. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. James Suckling gave it a score of 96-97. The first impression was that this was a sweeter and riper wine compared to the others, there was also less oak, it was very fresh, and I would definitely give this wine some time in the cellar to mature.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Leognan 2020 is a Classified Wine of the Graves and presently owned by Florence and Daniel Cathiard. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot plus a dash of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. James Suckling gave this wine a rating of 99-100, and I only saw these numbers that I am listing after the tasting. The two of us doing the tasting were joined by the owner to repeat this wine that he had just the night before. I have had another vintage of this wine, but all I can say and it was concurred by my tasting partners is that wine is “BIG” and hit all the notes for what makes a Bordeaux wine stellar. After tasting these sixteen wines, I was more than satisfied and I didn’t need another wine, as I was savoring the memory.