In addition to having the society connections of old family history, the Grand Cru producers of Bordeaux have an association much like the Napa Valley Vintners association or other coalitions of wine growers found in the United States. Like its Napa counterpart, since 1973 the Union Des Grand Cru de Bordeaux has served as a marketing, outreach, and advocacy organization to improve the visibility, accessibility, and reputation of the producers of Grand Cru classified wines in Bordeaux.
Each spring, the main producers of Bordeaux hold a week long series of events called "en primeurs" where journalists and critics from around the world arrive to taste the latest vintage of recently barreled Bordeaux wine. In recent years, such events have been taking place in the United States as well (albeit with wine that is already in bottles) -- most recently, this event that I attended last Friday here in San Francisco, which showcased 67 of the 130 Chateaux in the Union.
The 2002 Bordeaux growing season started out a little scary. The winter was very cold and a lot drier than many years in recent memory, bringing with it about half as much rain as expected. This lack of rainfall continued into the spring, though temperatures warmed to allow the vines to grow. June, however, brought with it cool and humid weather that interfered with the flowing of many vines, and the summer that followed was not as sunny as one might hope for given the cool start to the season.
However, towards the end of the summer, the weather was at least consistent and while slow, most grapes were able to ripen, and for those producers patient enough to wait, the end of the harvest season brought with it the ideal cool nights and warm sunny days that push red grapes especially to the point of optimum ripeness.
The resulting harvest was considered very good to excellent, depending on the appellation, and while fruit yields were low due to the winter and the thinning that was required during the cooler summer, in general it is deemed to be a good year, not quite as good as 2001, and certainly not the stellar year of 2000, but definitely above average.
My tasting upheld the general consensus, as I found a few outstanding and many very good wines to be had. Margaux was clearly the standout, with Pauillac and Pessac-Leognan following close behind in terms of overall quality.
For most of the reports I make of public tastings, I record here only the wines that I found to be worthy of note, but in the interest of completeness I am listing every wine I tasted (which equates to every wine on offer) at the event. I have highlighted a few favorites at the top and below I have grouped them by appellation. All wines are red unless otherwise noted. I have also tried to provide prices where they are available on the Internet.
Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Leognan: 9.5. $28.
Chateau Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Leognan: 9.5. $28.
Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere, Pessac-Leognan: 9.5. $33.
Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Margaux: 9.5. $36.
Chateau Ferriere, Margaux: 9.5. $51.
Chateau Giscours, Margaux: 9.5. $35.
Chateau Lascombes, Margaux: 9.5. $38.
Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes: 9.5. $45.
Chateau Siran, Margaux: 9/9.5. $22.
Chateau Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Leognan: 9.5. $28.
Chateau Poujeaux, Moulis-en-Medoc: 9. $28.
Chateau d'Armailhac, Pauillac: 9. $25.
And now the wines listed alphabetically, by appellation (AOC):
Chateau Carbonnieux (white): 8. $28.
Chateau Carbonnieux (red): 8.5. $26.
Domaine de Chevalier (white): 7.5. $25.
Domaine de Chevalier (red): 9.5. $28.
Chateau de Fieuzal (white): 8. $40.
Chateau de Fieuzal (red): 8.5. $55.
Chateau de France (white): 7.5. $??.
Chateau de France (red): 8. $??.
Chateau Haut-Bailly: 9. $40.
Chateau Haut-Bergey (white): 8. $??.
Chateau Haut-Bergey (red): 8.5. $??.
Chateau La Louviere (white): 7.5. $34.
Chateau La Louviere: 8.5/9. $??.
Chateau Latour-Martillac (white): 8.5. $??.
Chateau Latour-Martillac (red): 9.5. $28.
Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere (white): 8. $?? .
Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere (red): 9.5. $33.
Chateau Olivier (white): 8/8.5. $??.
Chateau Olivier (red): 9/9.5. $??.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte (white): 8.5/9. $??.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte (red): 9/9.5. $47.
Chateau de Chantegrive (white): 9. $??.
Chateau de Chantegrive (red): 8. $??.
SAINT-EMILION GRAND CRU
Chateau Angelus: 8/8.5. $89.
Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot: 8.5. $44.
Chateau Canon-la-Gaffeliere: 8.5. $48 .
Chateau Deassault: 7. $??.
Chateau Figeac: 8. $55.
Chateau Franc-Mayne: 8.5/9. $??.
Chateau Grand Mayne: 8.5. $44.
Chateau La Couspaude: 8. $50.
Chateau La Gaffeliere: 7.5. $40.
Clos Fourtet: 8.5/9. $40.
Chateau Gazin: 8.5. $45.
Chateau La Cabanne: 8.5. $??.
Chateau La Conseillante: 8.5. $60.
Chateau La Pointe: 9. $??.
Chateau Petit Village: 9. $??.
Chateau Clarke: 9. $??.
Chateau Fonreaud: 8.5/9. $??.
Chateau Beaumont: 8.5/9. $??.
Chateau Belgrave: 9. $??.
Chateau Camensac: 8/8.5. $30.
Chateau Cantemerle: 8. $24.
Chateau Coufran: 9. $??.
Chateau La Lagune: 8.5/9. $35.
Chateau Greysac: 7. $??.
Chateau Chasse-Spleen: 9. $48.
Chateau Poujeaux: 9. $28.
Chateau Brane-Cantenac: 9.5. $36.
Chateau Cantenac Brown: 8.5/9. $32.
Chateau Dauzac: 9. $34.
Chateau Durfort-Vivens: 9. $50.
Chateau de Tertre: 7.5. $16.
Chateau Ferriere: 9.5. $51.
Chateau Giscours: 9.5. $35.
Chateau Labegorce: 9. $??.
Chateau Lascombes: 9.5. $38.
Chateau Siran: 9/9.5. $22.
Chateau Beychevelle: 9/9.5. $58.
Chateau Brainaire-Ducru: 8.5. $35.
Chateau Gruaud Larose: 8.5/9. $61.
Chateau Lagrange: 8.5/9. $32.
Chateau Leoville Poyferre: 8. $34.
Chateau Talbot: 8.5/9. $37.
Chateau Clerc Milon: 8.5/9. $38.
Chateau d'Armailhac: 9. $25.
Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal: 9. $27.
Chateau Lynch-Bages: 8. $55.
Chateau Pichon-Longueville: 9/9.5. $58.
Chateau Pontet-Canet: 9/9.5. $58.
Chateau Cos Labory: 9. $??.
Chateau Les Ormes de Pez: 8.5/9. $34.
Chateau Phelan Segur: 8/8.5. $28.
Chateau de Fargues: 9. $??.
Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey: 8.5/9. $37.
Chateau Suduiraut: 9.5. $45.
Chateau Doisy Daene: 9/9.5. $??.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 4, 2015 Vinography Images: A Shaggy Guardian Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 26, 2015 Vinography Images: Above the Coast 2015 Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 6, San Francisco Imagining a Better Future for the Soils of Champagne A Brief Video Lesson in Champagne Disgorgement Vinography Images: The World of the Leaf Book Signing on May 9th, at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Doorman: Changing My Wine Delivery Life
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune