wa2.gif (4241 bytes)

abut9.gif (3095 bytes)

abut12.gif (3207 bytes)
abut10.gif (3636 bytes)

abut11.gif (4039 bytes)


Bordeaux 2005 in bottle
Union des Grands Cru de Bordeaux tasting, 29 October 2007

So popular is the Bordeaux 2005 vintage with the wine trade that the organizers of this year’s Union des Grands Cru tasting at the Royal Opera House had to operate a two-shift system. Given a choice of morning or afternoon tasting, I opted for the 10.30–13.30 band, and despite the split shifts, the place was still heaving.

In a crowded environment, tasting is made quite difficult. While the Riedel glasses, the open, airy room and the sunny weather all worked in the tasters’ favour at this event, the crowds, the jostling for position near spittoons, and the general noise level meant that the fine discriminations that need to be made in order to assess quality at the highest level were quite tricky.

Add to this the usual bugbear at large tastings – the repeated exposure of the mouth to dense, young, tannic wines – and you have a bit of noise in the system, which means that the notes and scores I made today aren’t my final word. To make this over-exposure less of a problem, I kept my sampling down to a relatively modest 40 wines, even though there were close to 100 on offer (including whites and Sauternes, which I skipped). This was my third exposure to a large batch of the 2005s – en primeur in April 06, then a second cask sample session in February this year, followed by this first look at the bottled wines.

Overall impressions? 2005 is a remarkable vintage in Bordeaux, across the board. All the appellations have produced generously proportioned, concentrated, tannic wines that look set for long development in bottle. These are not wines that you want to drink now (although I’d imagine that more commercial wines made in a lighter style will be beginning to show their best). I was repeatedly amazed by the density of fruit, usually backed up by firm tannin and good acidity, and not infrequently a fair whack of new oak. It will take a while for many of these wines to begin to harmonize. Some may be so tannic and extracted that they won’t ever achieve real balance, although it’s hard to be sure at this early stage.

I’d also say this is quite an awkward stage to be tasting these wines, because they are so tight and tannic. It’s as if they are currently bunched together in style. In time, I’d expect them to diverge more and then spotting the real gems amidst the generally high overall level of quality will be easier. I suppose more time spent with each wine in more amenable tasting situations would allow for a better separation, too. It’s important not to be seduced by the wines that are currently more open, because these aren’t necessarily the top wines. Some of the wines that are tight and a bit ungainly now will be the swans in 30 years’ time.

One final thought. Bordeaux is a bit different, isn’t it? All the winery owners, representatives and winemakers were wearing suits, or smart dresses. Many of them were wearing expensively tailored suits, too. There was lots of jewellry. You get the impression that even cellar hands in Bordeaux wear a shirt and tie. No T-shirts, no jeans, no non-conformists. The wines seem to reflect this. 

The wines
[Notes: tasted in sequence by appellation. The scores are not to be taken too seriously on such young wines. While they are capped here at 95, I anticipate that with a few years in bottle some of these wines may attain higher scores. Some may also go down a bit. At the moment they're all bunched in a fairly narrow range (which in part reflects how consistently good these wines were and their current youthful state), but it would be unfair of me to inflate any of these scores on the basis of what I think these wines will do; currently the wines aren't by any means showing all they have to offer.] 

Domaine de Chevalier 2005 Pessac-Léognan
Rich, intense nose has chocolatey, spicy dark fruits. The palate is fresh but rich with nice clarity to the dark fruits. Lovely definition here. 93/100

Château Carbonnieux 2005 Pessac-Léognan
Fresh, fine nose, with some rich coffee-like notes. The palate is a bit gravelly with pure, intense fruit. 91/100

Château de Fieuzal 2005 Pessac-Léognan
Lovely forward nose with coffee, chocolate and dark fruits evident. The palate is ripe, full and sweet with delicious intensity. 91/100

Château Haut-Bailly 2005 Pessac-Léognan
Fine aromatic nose is pure and intense, with gravelly freshness. The palate is intense and savoury with fresh minerally character and good tannin under the dark fruits. Lovely, tight and acidic. Nice. 93/100

Château Haut-Bergey 2005 Pessac-Léognan
Fresh, gravelly and a little green. Supple. Savoury, fresh and midweight on the palate. 88/100

Château La Louvière 2005 Pessac-Léognan
Fresh, slightly minerally dark fruits nose. The palate is savoury and bright with good tannins and acid. Nice purity and minerality. 90/100

Château Olivier 2005 Pessac-Léognan
Quite intense with savoury, tight dark fruits. Substantial with lots of fruit and structure. 92/100

Château Pape Clement 2005 Pessac-Léognan
Chocolatey/coffee-ish edge to the nose, which is quite intense and full. Lots of fruit and new oak. The palate is intense and full with firm tannins underpinning ripe, full, expressive fruit. This is a polished, classy sort of wine in a modern mould: oaky now but with great promise. 93/100

Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2005 Pessac-Lèognan
Very rich, intense, chocolatey nose with lots of fruit and some coffee notes. The palate is concentrated and full with dark tannic intensity. Very powerful, minerally and expressive. 94/100

Château Berliquet 2005 Saint-Emilion
Very perfumed and expressive with bright red fruits. The palate is supple, charming and quite elegant. 91/100

Château Canon 2005 Saint-Emilion
Very aromatic, pure and expressive on the nose. The palate is supple with lovely expressive fruit and nice tannic structure. A really super, well balanced wine. 93/100

Château Canon-la-Gaffelière 2005 Saint-Emilion
Super-ripe, perfumed, liqueur-like fruit dominates the nose. New worldy. The palate is rich, ripe and lush with a bit of spicy structure and some tannins. Yes, it’s modern, but it’s nice. 92/100

Château Figeac 2005 Saint-Emilion
Aromatic, rich nose. The palate is dense and rich with lovely concentrated yet elegant fruit and good structure. Lots of tannin here – a long-ager. 94/100

Château La Tour Figeac 2005 Saint-Emilion
Very sweet, open blackcurrant fruit on the nose. The palate is very ripe with open, supple fruit an some elegance. A lovely wine. 93/100

Château Beauregard 2005 Pomerol
Rich, chocolatey, spicy nose. The palate is firm with nice spiciness and generous fruit. Structured finish. 92/100

Château Clinet 2005 Pomerol
Expressive, open nose with coffee and chocolate overtones. The palate is structured with nice purity of fruit. Good tannins. Nice stuff. 93/100

Château Gazin 2005 Pomerol
Coffee and chocolate edge to the dark fruits nose. The palate has nice purity of dark fruit and firm tannins, with some spicy oak. Classy. 92/100

Château D’Angludet 2005 Margaux
Ripe, pure and quite elegant: the focus here is all on the pure fruit. 93/100

Château Dauzac 2005 Margaux
Deep coloured. Sweet, open nose of forward dark fruits. Open palate is modern and ripe. Nicely judged. 92/100

Château Kirwan 2005 Margaux
Expressive and bright. Lovely focus to the polished dark fruits, with substantial structure, too. 92/100

Château Lascombes 2005 Margaux
Delicious modern-styled wine. Dense and ripe with expressive fruit and some oak. Very stylish. 93/100

Château Montbrison 2005 Margaux
Midweight, balanced and expressive. A slightly lighter style than some of the others. 90/100

Château Prieuré-Lichine 2005 Margaux
Fresh, aromatic, gravelly dark fruits nose. Sweet, fresh palate with expressive fruit. Nice. 92/100

Château Beychevelle 2005 Saint-Julien
Dark, aromatic nose. The palate is dense and yet beautifully expressive, showing fresh dark fruits and good acidity. 94/100

Château Gruaud Larose 2005 Saint-Julien
Very aromatic and pure on the nose. The palate is sweet and intense – a really beautiful, expressive wine. Not the heaviest, but beautifully poised. 93/100

Château Lagrange 2005 Saint-Julien
Dense, quite expressive and hugely structured. 92/100

Château Langoa Barton 2005 Saint-Julien
Dark, intense ripe nose showing sweet blackcurrant fruit. Very rich and ripe. The palate is dense, full and structured, with lovely richness and good tannins. 94/100

Château Léoville Barton 2005 Saint-Julien
Refined, intense blackcurranty nose. The palate is dense, fresh and structured  with lots of tannin hiding underneath the stylish, forward fruit. Enormous. 95/100

Château Talbot 2005 Saint-Julien
Ripe, aromatic dark fruits nose. The palate is dense with lovely sweetness to the fruit. Very approachable, but structured with it. Nice. 94/100

Château Grand-Puy Decasse 2005 Pauillac
Open, elegant and structured. Lovely fruit purity here: a really nice wine that is concentrated but balanced. 93/100

Château Haut-Bages Libéral 2005 Pauillac
Concentrated, dense, smooth red/black fruits dominate. Very nicely poised and balanced. A lovely wine. 93/100

Château Lynch-Bages 2005 Pauillac
Fine aromatic nose of pure dark fruit. The palate is dense and full with a bit of oak. Lovely focus and richness. 94/100

Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005 Pauillac
Bright, pure and expressive with lively aromatic richness. The palate is concentrated and pure, with lovely blackcurranty fruit. Good structure, too. Brilliant. 95/100

Château Pontet-Canet 2005 Pauillac
Fantastic expressive, ripe nose of focused dark fruits. The palate shows expressive, elegant ripe fruits. Forward but structured. Lovely. 95/100

Château Lafon Rochet 2005 Saint-Estèphe
Very tannic and intense. Nice dark fruits. Too structured? 90/100

Château Ormes de Pez 2005 Saint-Estèphe
Aromatic pure dark fruits on the nose. Sweetly fruited palate with good structure. 91/100

Château Phélan-Ségur 2005 Saint-Estèphe
Distinct coffee and chocolate notes to the nose, presumably from the oak. Ripe, dense sweet fruit dominates with good structure. Modern styled. 91/100

Wines tasted 10/07
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

Back to top