ROGER VOSS

CHARTING BORDEAUX'S TREACHEROUS WATERS: BORDEAUX 2000: SPECIAL REPORT



Published:

Bordeaux 2000
A Legend In The Making

Bordeaux was lucky in 2000. The magic date on the label was destined to influence collectors, regardless of the quality of the wine. Luckily, the quality of the wine lived up to its millennial label. After the mistakes of the late 1990s (when prices and quality did not necessarily coincide), the 2000 vintage could be the year when Bordeaux makes a comeback.

There's no doubt that 2000 is a very good vintage. For some producers it is a great vintage. Paul Pontallier, the director of Château Margaux, is rightly ecstatic: "It's an exceptional year, that's a fact. It's among the greatest and most concentrated wines we have made."

In Saint-Emilion, other producers are just as enthused. "I've never seen a harvest with such good fruit," says Stephan von Neipperg, owner of Château Canon La Gaffelière, who has been making wine at the family chateau since 1985. "It was so ripe, so much in harmony. And the wine has so much power, so much color, tannins, but not hard tannins. This looks to be a very great vintage."

Von Neipperg's words are echoed by Dominique Bécot of Château Beauséjour-Bécot, also in Saint-Emilion: "There was such concentration—I have not seen anything like it. If we had ordered the weather we couldn't have done any better."

Last fall, the grape growers of Bordeaux watched first with amazement, and then with delight as the sky stayed blue from mid-July until almost mid-September, which has been unheard of since 1990. By this point, the Merlot was almost all harvested. Even the normal equinoctical rain showers during the third week of September were not enough to dent the quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Growers who had worked their vines well during the year and who had cut their yields were able to harvest superripe grapes of a quality rarely seen in Bordeaux.

The wines from 2000 will be in great demand. For U.S. importers of fine Bordeaux, the market is already hot. Daniel Greathouse, president of Heidelberg Distributing near Cleveland, believes that "the 2000 vintage will introduce Bordeaux to a generation that has never drunk these wines before. The vintage is good, the value is there, and there is a sense of discovery."

And the prices? Nobody in Bordeaux is saying at the moment, unless the slight smile playing 'round their eyes is a giveaway. But if rumors of 800 francs a bottle or more (up from 500 francs in 1999) for first growths are correct, then 2000 is not going to be cheap. But, says David Kohl of Market Wine in Davie, Florida, "people are expecting 2000 to be expensive, but they still want to buy. If the prices are high but the scores for the wines are also high, then they won't mind. They are determined to have the wine."

When it comes to writing the final report on vintage 2000, the headlines are made by the magic circle of 40 or 50 classed growths of the Médoc and Saint-Emilion. They will certainly be more expensive than they were in 1999; if the dollar weakens again, they will be more expensive still. These are for collectors, more than drinkers, where buying futures can be more important than uncorking the wine.

But Greathouse and other observers of Bordeaux are excited about a category of wines that is still largely unknown to American drinkers: cru bourgeois. The 2000 vintage shows how well these estates in the Médoc can deliver at sensible prices. These are wines that may be consumed young for the most part, but many will develop well for 10 or 20 years.

When the next century turns, will there be 2000s in cellars in as drinkable a state as the rare 1900s were last year? With their combination of tannins and acids, the 2000s will certainly age remarkably. But with their sweet, ripe fruit, the wines also will be drinkable relatively soon. Even classified growths could be opened in 10 years. A vintage that provides long-term and short-term gratification? It sounds like the best of both worlds to me.

European Editor Roger Voss spent the end of March in Bordeaux, visiting various chateaus and tasting barrel samples. Here are his picks for the 2000 vintage, a vintage that is shaping up as the best for red wines since 1990.

Margaux

97-100
Château Margaux. A beautiful, heart-stopping wine. Acidity, sweet fruit, a sense of power, a mark of great style. It's black, solid, but so elegant and poised.

95-98
Château Palmer. Deep color. Spicy fruit on the nose. Dusty tannins with classic fruit, juicy but fine acidity. Good extraction. Fine and opulent.

93-96
Château Rauzan-Ségla. Spicy wood on the nose. Palate is quite firm with solid tannins. Sweet fruit and perfumes at the end. Classic and powerful.

93-96
Château Durfort-Vivens. Great acids and sweet ripe fruit. Powerful, but also delicate. Perfumed nose, ripe and delicious.

92-95
Château Dauzac. High-toast wood, but also fruit. Quite sweet, should develop well. Juicy black currants at the end.

92-95
Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry. Ripe and dry. Dusty tannins with a dry element. Solid, quite extracted but not excessive. Beautiful.

91-94
Château Giscours. Sweet fruit, dusty tannins, black currants and cranberries. Elegant fruit with a juicy component. Classic and rich.

91-94
Château Monbrison. Lovely sweet fruit, ripe and soft. Balanced, sweet and ripe. Not huge, just very elegant.

90-93
Château Labégorce. Rich wine with concentrated soft fruit. Tannins are firm. Blends power and structure with sweet fruit.

Saint-Julien

94-97
Château Léoville-Barton. There's been a change in style here from traditional to something more modern. It works beautifully. Spicy-sweet wood and perfumed fruit.

93-96
Château Lagrange. Sweet vanilla aromas. On the palate, excellent, fine tannins. Beautifully structured wine, fruit and wood coming into balance.

92-95
Château Léoville-Poyferré. Big serious wine, firm closed fruit and excellent acidity. One of the best wines from this estate in years.

92-95
Château Branaire. Dry tannins but sweet fruit. Perfumed, smoky flavors. Chocolate at the end. Superb.

Pauillac

97-100
Château Lafite-Rothschild. Huge black-colored wine. It has richness, sweet fruit and finely balanced acidity. Combines elegance and power, a potentially flawless wine.

95-98
Château Latour. Spicy wood on the nose. Huge, rich and concentrated. Ripe spice and sweet fruit, but also firm, tough tannins. All the power of classic Latour.

94-97
Château Mouton-Rothschild. A hugely, powerful and concentrated wine, sweet and rich with dense black fruit. This will be opulent but not gaudy, rich but not overwhelming.

94-97
Château Pichon-Longueville Baron. Smoky, meaty fruit on the nose. Hugely rich, with sweet Cabernet fruit. Tannins, new toasty wood and power.

93-96
Château Grand-Puy Ducasse. A fine wine. Spice and new wood, rich Cabernet and solid dusty tannins. Sweet ripe fruit dominates.

93-96
Château Lynch-Bages. A powerful wine with layers of concentration and complexity. This is a wine that could last forever.

90-93
Château Lynch-Moussas. Very juicy, very rich. Layers of ripeness and sweetness. New World spice, but Pauillac power and structure.

90-93
Château Clerc-Milon
. Brings together richness and opulence with firm structure. A serious, classic wine.

Saint-Estephe

95-98
Château Cos d'Estournel. Mint and eucalyptus on the nose. Full of oriental spice and black-fruit perfume. Wonderful and elegant, with a great future.

91-94
Château Les Ormes de Pez. Powerful, with huge fruit tannins. With its strength and concentration, this is a fine expression of Saint-Estèphe.

90-93
Château Cos Labory. Classic tannic structure with ripe flavors. The fruit is black, brooding. Acidity comes through. Well-made, coming into balance.

Listrac

90-93
Château Lestage. Spice and sweet wood flavors. Beautiful and powerful, with some good ripe acidity. Elegant tannins and spice.

Haut-Medoc

90-93
Château Belgrave. Perfumed tarry fruit on the nose. Sweet fruit and concentrated wood flavors. Powerful, modern in style, with extracted tannins.

90-93
Château La Lagune. Vanilla on the nose. Wood, caramel and ripe fruit. Dusty tannins, toasty perfumes. Firm and dry with excellent solid acidity.

88-91
Château d'Agassac. Piles of sweet wood and fruit. Great tannins with lovely acidity. Tobacco and sweet fruit, with lovely modern spice.

88-91
Château Lamarque. Ripe fruit with acidity. Solid and dry, with wood tannins and lots of wood spice. Fine, firm, elegant and solid. Good balance.

Saint-Emilion

96-99
Château Cheval Blanc. The wine creeps up on you softly, subtly. Then there is an explosion of sweet, perfectly ripe fruit with layers and layers of complexity.

94-97
Château Magdelaine. Understated, elegant wine. Layers of perfumed fruit and complexity, alongside spice and acidity reveal its power by degrees.

93-96
Château Grand Mayne. Finely perfumed wine, poised, sweet fruit and soft tannins acting in harmony. Immediately appealing, but there is also power.

93-96
Château Franc-Mayne. Solid wine, firm and dry. Serious and structured, full of tannins, but there is also ripe fruit. Built for the long haul.

92-95
Château Beauséjour-Bécot
. Wonderfully concentrated fruit with ripe acidity. A hint of mint gives it a sense of elegance.

92-95
Château Canon
. Closed, firm. Elegant perfumes and ripe tannins. A finely structured wine, flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon, dark fruits and dusty tannins.

92-95
Château Rol-Valentin
. Black fruits with wood and fruit tannins working together. Layers of complexity.

91-94
Château La Tour Figeac
. Ripe fruit, new wood flavors. Smooth, polished modern fruit, with some good, dense tannins. Very appealing.

91-94
Château Pavie
. Almost black in color. Tannic, extracted, very modern in style, with classy polished fruit. Huge and in-your-face.

91-94
Château Troplong-Mondot
. Big fruit, dominated by enticing perfumes and sweet fruit. Dusty tannins and good acidity give it style and distinction.

91-94
Le Dôme
. Beautiful perfumed wine, smelling of violets. Also huge power there,with dusty tannins and ripe, black fruits. Considerable aging potential.

90-93
Château Canon La Gaffelière
. Concentrated ripe fruit. Soft extract because of ripe tannins. Perfume of violets and roses.

89-92
Château de Valandraud
. Soft, with almost sweet fruit. Concentrated fruit toned by fine, vanilla flavors. Chocolate along with red fruits. Intensely delicious.

89-92
La Mondotte
. Dark black in color. Hugely ripe, voluptuous fruit. Acidity and firm tannins to give structure. It feels solid and chunky.

Pomerol

96-99
Château Pétrus
. Sweet, ripe, classic fruit. The fruit has power, sweetness and opulence, but also restraint. Wonderful, black, lingering juicy fruit to finish.

94-97
Vieux Château Certan
. A firmly structured wine, bringing out the Cabernet flavors of spice, chocolate and dark coffee. Good aging potential

93-96
Château La Fleur du Gay
. Almost black in color. Solid tannins. Great fruit under excellent structure. Opulent wine, a fine expression of superripe Merlot.

92-95
Château Certan de May
. Lovely ripe, modern, powerful fruit with spice and wood flavors. Rich, with positive acidity that shows through well.

92-95
Château Le Bon Pasteur
. Big, concentrated extracted wine. Solid fruit, hugely ripe black flavors, giving an immensely powerful statement.

92-95
Château Trotanoy
. Dry, firm, big structured wine. Flavors of tobacco and spices. Solid, firm, ripe and concentrated. A blend of power and elegance.

91-94
Clos l'Eglise
. Solid fruit and serious tannins. A blockbuster wine, which still contains some elegance and class.

91-94
Château Hosanna
. Juicy, black flavors. Layers of delicious spice and tobacco. This is full and powerful, just shy of being over the top.

90-93
Château La Fleur Pétrus
. Excellent spicy fruit with sweet, juicy flavors. Fine, poised concentration and tannins. Never overwhelming. Poised and elegant.

Pessac-Leognan

95-98
Château Haut-Brion
. A firmly, finely structured wine, bringing a palate of exotic flavors, sweet acidity and dusty tannins. Classic Haut-Brion, with elegance and built-in longevity.

94-97
Château La Mission Haut-Brion
. Aromas of wonderful fruit and spice. Acidity on the palate, sweet, generous, fruit. Firm tannins give balance to the intensity of the fruit, the wood slipping into place.

92-95
Château Pape-Clément
. Wonderfully rich and dense, with sweet tannins. Black, brooding fruit balanced with acidity and a layer of smokiness.

89-92
Château de France
. Determined strides in quality are now paying off. Rich, with good tannin balance. Dusty flavors, some acidity, fine poised structure.

88-91
Domaine de Chevalier
. Caramel and vanilla on the nose. Tannins and classic black-fruit flavors. A powerful statement of classic, ripe fruit.

Sauternes

90-93
Château Rieussec
. Gold color. Very rich, oily concentrated wine, with piles of honeyed, botrytized fruit. Full of richness.

89-92
Château de Malle
. Powerful wine, full and fat and rich, with a deliciously perfumed, honeyed nose.

88-91
Château Guiraud
. Rich rather than sweet, typical of the Guiraud style. The botrytis is beautifully concentrated. Layers of complex, weighty fruit.

Related Articles

Napa Mountain High

Head to the hills to discover some of this famous region’s best bottles.

An Alternative Guide to Napa

Places to go when you need something different.

Mastering Sangiovese

Italy’s winemakers have finally found the sweet spot for Chianti Classico.

Italy, By Way of California

Only a few of Italy’s hundreds of indigenous grape varieties can claim success in California. Here’s your (short) shopping list.

Add your comment:

Subscribe

You can unsubscribe at any time. View an example of our newsletter.

>

Related Web Articles