by Gareth Groves
There’s been one main hot topic of conversation today: the name of Alex’s soon-to-be-born baby. With a surname like Marton the options are clearly limited. The current favourite option is Anthony Leoville Marton. Daddy is secretly hoping it might get us an extra big allocation.
Apart from Marton Jr, we’ve been talking about the weather (we are Brits after all, and the mercury has been pushing 28C here today) and the wine – lots of wine.
The news from the frontline is much the same as yesterday. 2010 is a strong left bank vintage that is big on tannins, big on freshness and big on alcohol. There are lots of very good wines and fans of traditionally-styled Bordeaux to age will find much to enjoy. One nameless chateau principal described it as a vintage for Les Anglais, compared to the richer, more exuberant 2009s which they suspect are more suited to wine lovers across the Atlantic.
We started and finished in the Medoc with a detour via the Graves. An unscheduled early morning trip to Lanessan was an unexpected highlight. The chateau is a delight – a properly lived-in house full of curious chandeliers and awful paintings. The wine is even better. It will be at the top if our list of cheap wines to buy.
The Margaux UGC was very good. Too often in recent years, this tasting has been a mixed bag at best. Today there were a number of very good wines. Durfort Vivens, Giscours and Rauzan-Segla all excelled but best in class by a country mile was Malescot St-Exupery.
Down in the Graves, we found some very fine reds and some outstanding whites. The latter – led by Haut Brion and Domaine de Chevalier – are brilliant this year. Will anyone buy them? Probably not. Should they? Definitely. Value tips include Carbonnieux, Couhins-Lurton and Malartic-Lagraviere. The best have expressive grapefruit-scented fruit underpinned by fantastic, focused acidity.
The red Graves were tannic and bright with a dense core of sweet fruit. Fans of Haut Bailly will be delighted to know it has excelled again. We tasted it next to the 2009 and 2008 and it more than held its own. The 2010 is blessed with wonderful purity of fruit and focused, precise tannins. The 2009 is creamier, richer and full of joy. The 2008 is less than half the price and an absolute steal.
One of our last visits was Haut Brion – our first 1st Growth of the campaign. Potential buyers will be pleased to know that is built to last. It is chock-full of tannins with wonderful freshness and layers of silky, mineral-infused black fruit. The only downside was the lack of a goody bag.
We love a good goody bag.
Today’s Top 5 wines (in no particular order but excluding Haut Brion)
1. Malescot St Exupery – Everyone’s darling chateau at the moment but it really is worth the hype. Great expectations, justified
2. Lanessan – buy in bulk
3. Domaine de Chevalier Blanc – The red is brilliant but the white is even better. Focused, taut, mineral and fun
4. Haut Bailly – Outstanding. Most of the team preferred it to the much lauded 2009
5. Pichon Lalande – The team is divided about which Pichon is best this year, but there is no denying the purity and elegance of La Comtesse in 2010