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10.01.2011

2008 Bordeaux: Some Tasting Notes

ugcb_logo.gifIt's a measure of just exactly how busy I am these days at work that it's taken me approximately eight months to write this post.

Way back in January, I happened to be in New York City when the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux came to town to show off the 2008 vintage. I had about an hour and a half to kill before I had to run to the airport and catch a flight home, so I got the chance to taste through some of the wines. It's taken me some time, but I finally managed to transcribe all my notes, and get them ready for publishing this weekend.

This is a tasting I look forward to each year, as, apart from some pre-auction tastings, it is my biggest opportunity to taste a lot of Bordeaux wines each year. I enjoy these tastings as an opportunity to refresh my palate memory about the region and its wineries, as well as a chance to build my own sense of the vintage (not that I follow them that closely, or really use that assessment for anything).

The 2008 vintage was a tricky one for Bordeaux. The weather was all over the map, but generally very cool throughout the beginning of the summer, and at the end of the summer, with only July heating up a bit. As the grapes marched fitfully towards harvest with greatly reduced yields, a wet couple of weeks in early September meant some mildew and rot problems for some growers. But as occasionally happens, things warmed up and got sunny starting the second half of September, redeeming many and resulting in good and even great fruit for those who managed their vineyards well. The vintage as a whole is generally regarded (by pundits who spend a lot of time examining such things) as good to very good, but not great.

In tasting through the wines that I did manage to get to in my time there, and given what I had heard of the vintage, I was surprised to find a lot to like. Quite a few producers made excellent wines, and I found myself liking many more wines than the 2006 vintage tasting that was most recent in my memory.

The white wines were very good overall, with the Sauternes not quite as great as I've experienced in past vintages, though some of the best producers made great wines as usual.

I'm far from a Bordeaux expert, so I appreciate the opportunity to educate myself at this tasting every year, and offer my thoughts and favorites below for your reading pleasure.


White Wines

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10

2008 Chateau Climens, Sauternes
Medium gold in the glass this wine smells of apricots and honey and gorgeous white flowers. In the mouth it is bright and wonderfully honeyed, with a sweet, strong character of jasmine. Riddled with fantastic acidity, this wine is electric and stunning and phenomenal. Cost: $90. Click to buy.

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2008 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of green apples and cold cream. In the mouth it offers an explosion of crushed wet rocks that is quite wonderful, laced as it is with lemon zest and green apple. As the wine finishes its stony character lingers beautifully. Outstanding. Cost: $87.Click to buy.

2008 Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte Blanc, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of savory buttered sourdough toast. In the mouth the wine offers delicate and beautifully filigreed flavors of lemon and pink grapefruit zest shot through with a stony minerality. Beautifully bright acidity zips the wine along the palate leaving a waxy parchment quality in the finish. Lovely balance. Delicious. Cost: $95. Click to buy.


WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5

2008 Chateau Carbonnieux, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Pale gold in the glass this wine has a bright lemon and floral aroma with wet stones underneath. In the mouth the wine offers flavors of lemon zest and cold cream with that same underlying minerality. Great acidity and nice crisp finish. Cost: $40. Click to buy.

2008 Domaine de Chevalier, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and custard. In the mouth, flavors of paraffin and lemon, parchment and grapefruit rind swirl amidst zingy acidity. Very tasty. Cost: $100. Click to buy.

2008 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyrauguey, Sauternes
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright dried mango and white flowers. In the mouth bright acidity brings fairly sweet flavors white flowers, dried mango, and orange blossom water to life, while hints of apricot sneak into the finish. Cost: $80.Click to buy.

2008 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of honey and candied lemon peel. In the mouth the wine is bright with acid, very sweet, and offers flavors of candied lemon, dried mango, candied papaya, and pineapple, with a very long finish. Cost: $110. Click to buy.


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9

2008 Chateau Fieuzal, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers. In the mouth flavors of tart unripe apples, and the vanilla of sweet oak mix with a nice stony quality. Excellent acidity.

2008 Chateau Latour Martillac, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and green apples. In the mouth flavors of green apple, lime juice and lime zest vie for attention while a stony minerality runs away with the finish.

2008 Chateau Pape Clement, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Light gold in the glass, with a nose of vanilla and white flower aroma, this wine tastes of vanilla and lemon curd, and a hint of sweet oak, especially in the weighty texture of the wine. Pleasurable and reasonably balanced.

2008 Chateau Rahoul, Graves
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells a bit of burnt match along with wet stones. In the mouth, flavors of wet stones and lemon zest have a tart, austere aspect that turns decidedly chalky through the long finish that is also laced with lemon zest. Interesting and tasty.

2008 Chateau Coutet, Sauternes
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of candied orange peel and honey. In the mouth it is weighty, with a deep silky texture, and very sweet flavors of honey, apricot, peach and candied orange. Moderate finish.

2008 Chateau de Rayne Vigneau, Sauternes
Light gold in color, this wine smells of candied orange peel, pineapple, and honey. In the mouth it is quite sweet with flavors of honey, candied orange peel and dried mango. Decent acidity, long finish.

2008 Chateau Doisey-Daene, Sauternes
Light gold in color, this wine smells of pineapple and honey. In the mouth the wine is achingly sweet with pineapple, honey, and white floral flavors, but with enough acidity to keep it lip smacking in the glass.

2008 Chateau Sigalas-Rabaud, Sauternes
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of apricot, peach and candied orange peel. In the mouth, bright orange peel, sweet honey, and pineapple flavors dance with decent acidity and linger in a finish with mango and pineapple flavors.

2008 Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Pale greenish gold in the glass this wine has a nose of apples and unripe pear aromas. On the palate the wine is bright and fresh with flavors of apple, pear, and custard tinged with the sweet vanilla of French oak.


WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9

2008 Chateau Olivier, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of green apples and gooseberries. In the mouth the wine offers tart mineral and green apple flavors with fantastic acidity.

2008 Chateau Chantegrive, Graves
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and sweet oak. In the mouth, flavors of sweet oak and lemon curd layer over a deep minerality. The finish is long with fairly dominant flavors of lemon and sweet oak. A bit too much wood for its own good.

2008 Chateau Giraud, Sauternes
Light gold in color, this wine smells of honey and white flowers. In the mouth it is sweet with honey, white flowers, and orange blouson water. Decent acidity but lacking a certain electricity that would make it better.

2008 Chateau Haut Bergey, Graves, Pessac-Leognan Blanc


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5

2008 Chateau Bouscaut, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of burnt match heads and lemon juice. In the mouth the wine has an almost metallic minerality with wet stones and lemon juice flavors.


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8

2008 Chateau la Tour Blanche, Sauternes
Light gold in color, this wine smells oddly of sweaty socks. In the mouth it offers satiny flavors of candied orange, dried mango and honey. Very sweet, the wine turns slightly bitter and tangy on the finish. A bit bizarre. Checked two bottles to ensure this wasn't just an off bottle.


Red Wines

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2008 Chateau Pichon Longueville, Médoc, Pauillac
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and tobacco and black cherry. In the mouth it is supple and smooth with velvety but aggressive tannins. Rich flavors of cassis and wet earth incorporate hints of graphite through the long finish. Good acidity. Cost: $ .Click to buy.

2008 Chateau Gaffeliere, St. Emilion
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries and cocoa powder. In the mouth, flavors of cherry and bittersweet chocolate mesh in a creamy texture, as notes of cassis and graphite creep into the long finish. Beautifully balanced, with supple tannins and great acidity. Cost: $ .Click to buy.

2008 Chateau Canon, St. Emilion
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry and plum aromas with hints of cedar and violets. In the mouth cherry and plum fruit is welded to an underbelly of chocolate and cedar with suede-textured tannins. Good acidity and a very long finish. Cost: $ .Click to buy.

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9

2008 Chateau Angelus, St. Emilion
Medium to dark garnet In the glass, this wine smells of bright black cherry and cassis. In the mouth it is smooth, and offers flavors of black cherry, cassis, and tobacco wrapped in a glove of satiny tannins. Sweet oak emerges on finish. Nice acidity, and quite an attractive texture. Cost: $ .Click to buy.

2008 Chateau Pavie Macquin, St. Emilion
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cassis and raisins and chocolate. In the mouth, the wine offers flavors of chocolate, cassis, and raisins wrapped in velvety tannins. Long bright finish and good acidity.

2008 Chateau Troplong Mondot, St. Emilion
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco. These flavors dominate the palate, with notes of cocoa powder creeping in to marry with the earthiness underneath the wine. Lightly grippy tannins and notes of orange peel linger in the finish.

2008 Chateau D'armailhac, Médoc, Pauillac
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of wet stone, graphite, and cherry. In the mouth, fine grained tannins provide a backdrop for flavors of tart cherry, wet tobacco, and wet wood. The wine has wonderful acidity and overall leaves an impression of juiciness.

2008 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse Lalande, Médoc, Pauillac
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of tobacco and cedar and chocolate aromas. In the mouth, flavors of cocoa powder, cherry, tobacco, and wet dirt are embraced by sturdy, thick tannins, with hints of black olive on the finish.

2008 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal, Médoc, Pauillac
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of violets and cassis. In the mouth taut tannins lift flavors of cassis, cherry, and graphite across the palate, with nice acidity, providing an overall fine grained impression. Good finish.

2008 Chateau Beychevelle, Médoc, St. Julien
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a sweet aroma of cherry that wafts out of the glass. In the mouth, smooth cedar scented tannins wrap around flavors of cherry, cassis, and wet forest floor. An aromatic sweetness creeps into the finish in a very pleasing way.

2008 Chateau Lagrange, Graves
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a bright, juicy nose of cherry and graphite aromas. In the mouth great acidity makes cherry and mulberry flavors leap across the palate, chased by a wave of fine grained tannins that linger through a long finish.

2008 Chateau Fieuzal, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet cherry and sweet oak. In the mouth that same sweet oak and cherry flavor dominates, surrounded by restrained tannins and softer flavors of chocolate and cedar. Despite the obvious presence of oak, the wine is quite balanced and lovely.

2008 Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of almond and hazelnut skin. In the mouth tart cherry, tobacco, and earth flavors are wrapped in grippy tannins that linger through a long, woody finish.

2008 Chateau Clinet, Pomerol
2008 Chateau Larcis Ducasse, St. Emilion
2008 Chateau Phelan-Segur, Médoc, St. Estèphe
2008 Chateau Beaumont , Médoc, Haut-Médoc
2008 Chateau Rauzan-Segla, Médoc, Margaux
2008 Chateau Dassault, St. Émilion
2008 Chateau Prieure-Lichine, Médoc, Margaux


RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9

2008 Chateau Lynch-Bages, Médoc, Pauillac
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis, green herbs, and a hint of green bell pepper. In the mouth, the wine offers bright cassis flavors that are quite juicy, wrapped in thick, leathery tannins. The wine has a long finish with some sweetness to it.

2008 Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and sweet plum. In the mouth smooth grippy tannins wrap around a core of cherry and dark earth flavors tinged with wet wood. Bitter finish, good acidity.

2008 Clerc Milon, Médoc, Pauillac
2008 Chateau Clos Fourtet, St. Emilion
2008 Chateau Figeac, St. Emilion
2008 Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse, Médoc, Pauillac
2008 Chateau Cos Labory, Médoc, St. Estèphe
2008 Chateau Ferriere, Médoc, Margaux
2008 Chateau Branaire-Ducru, Médoc, St. Julien
2008 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Médoc, St. Julien
2008 Chateau Leoville-Poyferre, Médoc, St. Julien
2008 Chateau Kirwan, Médoc, Margaux
2008 Domaine de Chevalier, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
2008 Chateau Latour Martillac, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
2008 Chateau Pape Clement, Graves, Pessac-Leognan


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2008 Chateau Brane Cantenac, Médoc, Margaux
2008 Chateau Grand Mayne, St. Emilion
2008 Chateau Poujeaux, Médoc, Moulis en Médoc
2008 Chateau de Pez, Médoc, St. Estèphe
2008 Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Médoc, St. Estèphe
2008 Chateau Talbot, Médoc, St. Julien
2008 Chateau Bouscaut, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
2008 Chateau Carbonnieux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
2008 Chateau Chantegrive, Graves
2008 Chateau Haut Bailly, Graves, Pessac-Léognan


RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2008 Chateau Cantenac Brown, Médoc, Margaux
2008 Chateau La Couspaude, St. Emilion
2008 Chateau Haut Bergey, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
2008 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
2008 Chateau Olivier, Graves, Pessac-Leognan
2008 Chateau Rahoul, Graves

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