Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Bored of the dough?

Cru Bourgeois and Haut Médoc: More bang for you euro, yuan, ruble, pound or buck

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles

16 May 2015

Faves? They include Cantemerle, Chasse Spleen, Fourcas Dupré and Lanessan


Twice in the last two years I have co-hosted master classes for Bordeaux’s cru bourgeois wines. Wines in this price category – rarely surpassing $30 per bottle – can constitute the best bargains for #winelovers sick and tired of ever higher prices for Bordeaux en primeur. Although 2014 futures prices have gone down – and you can for example purchase an excellent Lynch Bages or Haut Bailly for much less than certain in-bottle offerings – there remains a justified bad taste among many consumers with Bordeaux futures campaigns, with too many wines available off the shelf for the same price that they were offered from barrel thus having defeated the entire futures raison d’être.

Master Class Cru Bourgeois

Caronne Ste Gemme 2014

Fine Caronne Ste Gemme 2014, among many other cru bourgeois levels; worthy of your hard earned pay.

Anyway, back to the point of this post: if you are bored of the dough, best to seek out cru bourgeois level wines. Maybe there is no rush to purchase as futures as off the shelf prices likely will not change much, but I can say that in 2014, some of the finest wines I tried blind stood up well against classified growths. Take for example the excellent Château Labégorce from Margaux, tasted blind at Château Rauzan Gassies. I was not alone in picking this one out as among the two or three top Margaux wines from the blind tasting that included all classified growths outside Palmer and Château Margaux itself.

So here we go, welcome to the wonderful world of economically priced Bordeaux that often offers more bang for you euro, yuan, ruble, pound or buck.

Wines in bold I liked particularly, when red and bold even more and when underlined, too, wine nirvana.

Tasted blind at UGCB (at Château Phélan Ségur for Haut Médoc and at Château Rauzan Gassies for the other appellations) 

Moulis – Listrac – Médoc – Haut Médoc

Château Fonréaud (Listrac): Round and flavorful. Rich mid palate, medium and savory tannin. High acidity. Medium alcohol. Lovely job. Now the finish is just medium minus, but this is a flavorful Bordeaux that should not be too pricey. Bravo! 89-91+

Château Fourcas Hosten (Listrac): A bit more austere on the palate than the preceding wine. Medium bodied. High tannin. Steely. Medium plus alcohol and high acidity. Give it time in barrel to sort itself out. Decent juice. 88-90

Château Maucaillou (Moulis): Quite a dark pigment here, darker than most in this flight. Savory and rich if somewhat foreboding tannins that may be extracting a bit too much from the oak. Seems to have high alcohol, with more Merlot content. But there is the juicy and high-acidity character of the vintage that – like a 19th century cavalry charge – saves the day. 89-91

Château Clarke (Listrac): Somewhat austere here. A bit raw, the high tannin. High acidity and medium plus alcohol, I wonder if this lacks enough richness to put up a decent fight… Time will tell with barrel aging.  87-89

Château Poujeaux (Moulis): Listrac toughness? This has it, in spades. Raw, high tannin. Where are we going folks? Not sure about it in this case – and yet there is comforting juiciness on the mid palate. Let’s taste again once in bottle. 88-90

Château La Tour de By (Médoc): This has a savory component. A juicy red fruit aspect that fares well against the high tannin, high acidity and medium plus alcohol – but another somewhat raw wine in this flight… We shall see. 88-90+

Tasting blind

Tasting blind

Château Fourcas Dupré (Listrac): Dark fruit aromas. Blackberry and plum. Merlot driven? Juicy mid palate stands up here to the raw character of the high tannin – just enough. Steely and a touch austere on the finish, but I think here a case of barrel aging softening this to make it the prototypical 2014 as 2008 but with more rounded tannins… nice job overall.  NICE ! 89-92

Château Chasse Spleen (Moulis): Another sumptuous nose and I am thinking – Moulis? Similar in style to the preceding wine. High tannin, high acidity, medium plus alcohol with a rather full body and medium plus finish that ends somewhat metallic but savory overall. Excellent. 90-92

Château de Camensac (Haut Médoc): Fine red fruit nose. Chipper quality, high acidity, medium plus tannin, medium bodied. But to what extent does the acidity conceal the body? High toned to be sure, but ripe. de Camensac 88-90

Château La Tour Carnet (Haut Médoc): Slightly darker hue, but not black in any way. Deeper aromatics. With some oak derived spice and touches of black fruit. This has a slightly extracted feel on the finish, somewhat drying – and yet there is pleasing mid palate juiciness. Give it time in barrel to soften the edges. 89-91+

Château Beaumont (Haut Médoc): This has more fruit-driven sap – I would grade a bit higher than the preceding wine. The tannins, as always in this vintage, seem quite high, with high acidity and medium plus alcohol. There is quite a bit of substance to the mid palate and not much of an extracted feel on the finish, which is long and smooth. Nice job! 89-92

Château Citran (Haut Médoc): Here we have another “high-toned” wine. High acidity and tannin. Just ripe enough on the aromatics… Juicy on the mid palate but taut and somewhat acidulated – even a touch thin – on the medium finish. It is merely OK. 86-88+

Château de Lamarque (Haut Médoc): This estate is among the most gorgeous in Bordeaux, a medieval castle! And the sample in 2014 ain’t bad at all. Black fruit aromatics. Blackberry and plum. Brisk attack. High tannin first, then highish acidity, with medium plus alcohol. The mid palate is somewhat broad and “unfocused” but the finish is taut and drives things through. Barrel aging will bring good things for you. Tasted non blind at Vintex with similar reaction. 89-91+

Château Belgrave (Haut Médoc): Here we can sense some extraction on the finish that makes it somewhat austere. A bit like Citran, but it shows greater ripeness and a fuller body overall. High tannin to be sure, high acidity and medium plus alcohol. It will come together I think with barrel aging. 89-91

Château Cantemerle (Haut Médoc): This is an estate that was classified fifth growth in the 1855 classification of the wines of Médoc and Sauternes. Still, it is not that well known, never too pricey and thus constitutes a bargain for #winelovers. Quite a velvet touch on the nose, which is rather sumptuous in its expression of ripe fruit. There is much sap on the mid palate. Juicy fruit flavors. High tannin, high acidity, medium alcohol and a medium finish – but smooth. Nice job and a wine to seek because it will not be too expensive. 90-92+

Château Coufran (Haut Médoc): Nose is somewhat closed. There is high tannin and high acidity. Medium plus alcohol. I think it needs time in barrel to soften, as this barrel sample is somewhat non expressive. When I found out it was Coufran – known as the Pomerol of the Medoc – I was rather surprised. Could it be a sign of less than successful Merlot? 87-89

Tasted non blind at trade tastings 

Château Lanessan (Haut Médoc): This estate has a long well earned reputation for bringing fine price-quality ratios to savvy Bordeaux consumers. Once again in 2014, we have a smooth and savory palate, with more red than black fruit, medium-bodied wine, with a rich mid palate and a long finish. Highly recommended. 90-92

Château Caronne Sainte Gemme (Haut Médoc): Supple and tasty, with medium plus body and fine red and black fruit aromatics. Overall feeling of elegance if the tannins are a touch raw. 89-91

Château Loudenne (Médoc): This was a slight disappointment. Certainly medium bodied with pleasing red and dark fruit flavors and aromatics but I could not get past a certain rustic aspect to the tannins. It was not aggressive but just not as finely textured as some of the others tasted. Let’s see how time in barrel will tame those tannins. 86-89

Château Rollan de By (Médoc): A rather supple and smooth Bordeaux sample, with a Merlot like plumpness offsetting the high tannin and acidity. This promises to be very tasty and not too expensive. 89-91

Château Haut Condissas (Médoc): Made from the same producers as the Rollan de By. A more concentrated style and aiming to impress. I like it, but for some reason I almost prefer the more “fluid” style of the Rollan de By. 89-91




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