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In The Pursuit of Knowledge: Medoc 2000 Vintage - 30th September 2011
I had the good fortune to attend a horizontal tasting of the 2000 Bordeaux vintage last night, where twenty eight of us enjoyed the hospitality of the Glass Boat restaurant in Bristol.
Having joined the wine trade in the early 90’s this was the first vintage with the star quality of 1961, 1982 and 1989/90 that I handled ‘en primeur’ and my expectations of their final quality have always been high. In recent years the 2000 vintage has had to share the limelight with the outstanding 2005, 2009 and 2010 vintages in Bordeaux, but the 2000 on last night’s showing clearly deserves its place in the pantheon of great vintages.
We tasted the following selection – each wine double decanted at 4.30pm (into a jug, rinse the bottle and returned to the bottle), prior to being served from 7.30pm
2000 Chateau Cantemerle, Haut Medoc
Great colour, still strong to rim, redcurranty nose and quite leafy too, 3rd time I’ve had this during 2011, I find it a bit light and not entirely ripe, the finish is grippy and whilst this would work with food I do not find it entirely convincing. However, it has proved very popular on each occasion that it has been served! (What do I know?!)
2000 Chateau Rauzan Segla, Margaux (John Avery recalled his honeymoon at the Chateau at which time the house pouring claret was the 1961 vintage!)
Very deep colour, still very solid to rim. Fantastic nose, really ripe and generous, almost chocolaty. The palate is glossy, silky and refreshing all at the same time – really wonderful balance, and on returning to it after completing the tasting this ranks as one of the top wines of the night.
2000 Chateau Gruaud Larose, St Julien
Immense colour with a lovely, if not slightly reductive nose giving a leathery touch. Palate is still tannic and sinewy and this really needs more time, the finish is exceptional, it builds and builds into a peacock tail which expands across the palate. This is a stunning wine which should continue to age magnificently.
2000 Chateau Leoville Barton, St Julien
Huge colour with a lovely nose – some refreshing red fruits as opposed to the solid black fruit of some 2000’s. Tannic, muscular and immensely powerful, one of the most backward wines of the night, this kept it from flying higher on the night, but returning to it at the end of the tasting it began to give a glimpse of how beautifully balanced it really is – hold for at least another 5 years.
2000 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste, Pauillac
A wine that I have had the good fortune to try on a number of occasion in the past couple of years, and one that is already showing beautifully but clearly still has many years life in it. A beautifully poised nose with refreshing red fruits and super ripe black fruits combining impeccably. The palate is really expressive and fleshy, middling weight but gorgeous balance. For me this falls into Hugh Johnsons’ category of a ‘two bottle’ wine – i.e. it slips down effortlessly and it is amazing how the bottles empty themselves!
2000 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac
Expectations were running high by this point, and we were not disappointed. This is a huge wine with a really open and expressive nose and a really flashy, powerful palate with huge yet ripe tannins. The colour remains almost opaque and the signature blackcurrant
notes were clearly evident. Is this ready? Not really – hard not to enjoy a wine of this intensity at any stage in its life, but another 5 years should see the tannins start to integrate and allow its undoubted finesse to shine through.
2000 Chateau Pichon Longueville, Pauillac (Baron)
This wine leaves me in a quandary, it consistently receives outstanding reviews, and last night was voted the wine of the night alongside the Montrose, but for me its proportions were almost ‘too much’. Immense colour, flamboyant super ripe (but fresh) blackcurrant nose, the oak sits apart for me and given its intensity I am not sure at what stage, if ever, it will integrate. However, the palate is incredibly rich and long and this is undoubtedly an outstanding wine. Given its almost unanimous popularity there is clearly no issue with its wider appeal! I had a similar experience when tasting the 2000, 1990 and 1989 last year – there appears to be a heightened level of sweetness from the new oak which I find uncomfortable.
2000 Chateau Pichon Comtesse Lalande, Pauillac
Sadly the Comtesse did not sing last night, a very youthful colour but quite a sappy nose (perhaps from the Petit Verdot?), this is sublimely elegant with fantastic length on the palate, however the consensus was that these two bottles were not on form and probably not representative of the true quality of the estate in 2000.
2000 Chateau Montrose, St Estephe
A surprise to me, Montrose is always so recalcitrant when tasted en primeur it is hard to know when it is going to peak out of its shell, but last night it graced us with its company and really was a shining light. This has a huge thick colour and an incredibly fine nose. The palate is both broad and defiantly long. This is fiercely tannic but the tannins are so fine they are sensational. Clearly this is still on the young side but to me this was a ‘complete’ wine, finely balanced, intensely flavoured and offering a glimpse of something sublime – this could last another 50+ years if you are really feeling patient!
It was a great treat to taste the above selection from the 2000 vintage, the vast majority of bottles had been purchased en primeur and stored carefully since their shipment to the UK. The range and selection are testament to the care of the Commanderie de Bordeaux who made this tasting possible.
With many thanks to all those who made it such a splendid evening.