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Bordeaux 2004 - Part I

by Tom Cannavan

Graves and Pessac-Léognan

Yves Glories of the Faculty of Oenolgy in the University of Bordeaux has been involved in monitoring five reference vineyards in St-Emilion, Paulliac, Margaux, Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers for many years. The 2004 vintage has followed on from the most extreme drought vintage for decades, and they have been surprised by the fertility of the vines this year, perhaps in reaction to the stresses of 2003. Subsequently more grapes grew on heavier, larger bunches, so that despite severe crop thinning, yields are still quite high.

M. Glories confirmed that it was the hot, dry spell of the 2004 Indian summer that saved this vintage, and concludes that the final balance of the grapes at harvest was "classic" with sugars and acids within norms. The most notable point about this vintage was the amount of extractable anthocyanins - double the levels of 2003 for most of the Médoc's limestone plateau, and up 30% or more in Graves.

The trick of handling this potentially huge phenolic extraction was to manage the tannins in the winemaking and, of course, to have enough fruit ripeness.

Graves seemed to be of good quality. There are definitely some difficult wines that have succumbed to the vintage conditions in my opinion, with deficient fruit to balance tannins and extract, but some real successes too.

The Graves of course is equally famous for its white wines, made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and sometimes Muscadelle. Here the wines are very successful overall, particularly those witha higher proportion of Semillon in my opinion. At this stage the wines have taken up very little oak influence from the barrels (they will have one more year in barrel).

Graves Blanc

Château de Chantegrive (Graves) 2004
Pale to medium yellow/green. Very fresh, lemon-scented nose. Lots of grassy notes, but quite delicate. Mouthfilling texture and good fruit: green fig and ripe pear notes, with lots of lemony acidity. Sweet, crisp pear is dominant through the mid-palate, with hints of herbs and a clean, fresh finish with delicate oak support. 87/100

Château Ferrande (Graves) 2004
Pale green/straw colour. Fresh, tanky pear drop nose. Minimal oak. Pear fruit. Rather neutral, clean orchard fruit flavours and plenty of acidity. Fresh and simple. 84/100

Château Rahoul (Graves) 2004
Pale green/gold colour. Hints of green fig and pear fruit, with a little oatmeally background. Fresh, pear and apple fruit on palate. Very crunchy and crisp, with a streak of grapefruit acidity. Quite fresh and tangy style, decent length. 86/100

Pessac-Léognan Blanc

Château Bouscaut (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Quite a rich gold/green. Honey, vanilla and an exotic lychee note on the nose. Quite tangy and herbal. Rounded, waxy lime fruit beneath. Nice mouthfilling texture with lots of waxy, zesty lemon, a hint of passionfruit and more tropical lychee flavours, and a background of mealy, lightly honeyed fruit and oak. Far more intensity than previous wines. 89/100

Château Carbonnieux (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Light, pale gold with lots of green. A subtle nose, with small almond and mealy notes, and lemon fruit. Crisp apple and lemon dominates the palate, with medium body and rather a neutral character. Slightly underpowered mid-palate, and a certain spiciness and touches of vanillin adding some depth to the finish, with a pithy acidity. 86/100

Domaine de Chevalier (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Quite a pale, straw/gold flecked with green. The nose is quite powerful, with skin-contact notes of pear-skin and wax, and a certain richness. Some minerality too, and powerful pear fruit. Quite a mouthfilling texture, and an initial attack of lemony fruit. Underripe apple and cool melon notes on the mid-palate, with emerging spice and a gentle toastiness into the finish. Good concentration and intensity here. 90/100

Château de Fieuzal (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Very pale green. Delicate pear drop notes, but hints of honeyed depth and ripeness beneath - all rather restrained at present. A nice weight of fruit on the palate, with a very delicate use of oak and a mealy, slightly nutty richness to basically crisp orchard fruits before a lovely core of mineral acidity. Spice and gentle toast of oak begins to bite in the finish, adding a warming undertone of vanilla. Beautifully made. 92/100

Château de France (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Pale to medium green/gold. Clean pear fruit on the nose. Touches of green fig and a greengage fruit. Moderately-handled oak. Palate is quite restrained, with orchard fruits and a sour lemony fruit. Quite long and juicy, with a tang of grapefruit to the acidity, and again a spiciness and very gentle toastiness building on the finish. 89/100

Château Haut-Bergey (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Very pale, very delicate green. More obvious oak on the nose at this stage, with sweet, creamy almond and vanillin notes overlaid on quite rich, fig and quince fruit. Lemon dominates the palate at present: lots of tang and verve and crispness, with just hints of a richer, leesy pear and pear skin character that is quite juicy. Lemon acidity overtakes again, with the oak nicely in the background adding spice and just a little weight. 90/100

Château La Louvière (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
A very pale, delicate green. Very closed, with minimal aromatics at this stage. The palate has lots of lemony fruit, with quite a tangy, waxy, lime quality building through the mid-palate, but it remains rather straightforward and citrussy. Oaky flavours show up as spice and a touch of toast in the finish, but all rather flat at present. 86/100

Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Pale yellow/green. Quite a deep, waxy lemon quality with a certain richness. Small notes of oatmeal and almond. The palate is quite full and rich, with lots of ripe pear and melon fruit, a delicate spiciness and quite a powerful, full mid-palate. There is good mineral and lemon-zest acidity in the finish, with warming notes of nutty, spicy oak. 92/100

Château Latour-Martillac (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
A very pale, delicate green. Quite rounded and lanolin rich on the nose, with sweet oak adding vanilla and cream over ripe orchard fruits. Cool, crisp apple and lemon on the palate, with a medium-body and quite rich texture. Lemon drives through the mid palate, and into the finish with only the most delicate touches of oak to round it out. A little spiciness does emerge, and this shows potential. 89/100

Château Malartic-Lagravière (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Pale to medium yellow/green. Quite delicate pear and citrus aromas. Melon and dry, nutty notes beneath. Quite rich and round on the palate, with apple and pear fruit and again that dry melony note. Intense and quite powerful through the mid-palate, with a big core of lemony acidity, but quite fat and generous in a way, and just touches of the supporting oak. Very fine with good length. 91/100

Château Olivier (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
A very pale green. There's a peachy, delicately tropical nuance on the nose here, and really ripe pear fruit. There's a mealy, nutty quality beneath. On the palate quite a bold fruity quality, with great concentration and power though the mid-palate, that is mostly about zesty, waxy lemon at this stage, with pear-skin and bold, almost nettly notes adding interest. Huge lemony acidity in the finish, with spices and just the merest hint of toast at this stage. 93/100

Château Pape-Clément (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Very cloudy pale yellow sample. Quite a fat, waxy, bold lemon fruit with cashew and crushed almond richness and hints of peachy fruit. On the palate there is plenty of power and concentration, with a grassy streak to full, but still lemony and crisp fruit with lots of weight and texture. Richness persists, and the finish develops fine nutty, toasty notes with lots of spice playing against the lemon zest. Great concentration. 94/100

Château Picque Caillou (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Quite a deep golden yellow, tinged green. A touch neutral at first on the nose. Gentle nuttiness, and clean white fruit character with melon and apple to the fore. The palate continues with that orchard fruit character. It is slightly flat in the mid-palate, but an orangy, grapefruity tang is present in the background, and a sense of concentration builds with hints of figgy richness. The finish has good lemon acidity that is fresh and this has decent length. 90/100

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte (Pessac-Léognan) 2004
Pale to medium yellow/green. A tiny hint of sulphur then a fairly neutral, lemony nose. Some leesy, oatmeal quality, but rather subdued. Similar story on the palate, where a nice mineral acidity is the most prominent feature, cutting straight through the core of this wine. The fruit is citrus and crisp apple, and the oak is very delicately handled. Tangy and fresh in the finish, this has good intensity and that minerality is striking, but the weight and depth is not as great as some. 90/100

Graves Rouge

Château de Chantegrive (Graves) 2004
Quite a dark colour, vibrant magenta rim. Cherry and vinous nose, with inky notes and a dry character. The palate has quite bold and assertive tannins with a dry, cherry skin fruit quality. Texture and richness is quite good, but perhaps slightly lacking fruit ripeness against a slightly too extracted finish. 86/100

Château Ferrande (Graves) 2004
Bold, rich, even dark crimson. Quite a similar nose, with perhaps a little more earthiness and touch more ripeness. Still rather dry and extracted, but there is more suppleness and sweetness to the fruit on the palate. There's a curranty character and black cherry before bug dry tannins and quite juicy acidity in a reasonable finish. 88/100

Château Rahoul (Graves) 2004
Moderate to deep cherry colour. There's a smokiness here, and a more mineral character coming through, with qite a rich core of red fruits. On the palate it is medium-bodied with a concentration of dry, slightly rustic and leathery red ruit and tannin, and lots of grip and persistence. Some bright cherry acidity lightens the finish. Good character here. 89/100

Pessac-Léognan Rouge

Château Bouscaut Pessac-Léognan 2004
Very dark crimson/black with magenta rim. Quite closed, but a polished, quite mineral quality over tight cherry fruit. The palate is smooth-textured and medium- to full, with a concentration of cherry and black fruits. There is really good sweetness of fruit here, playing against a plumskin and liquorice-edged extract and tannic core, with juicy cherry acidity extending the finish. 90/100

Château Carbonnieux Pessac-Léognan 2004
Bold, dramatically deep crimson. The most perfumed wine so far, with delicate floral and rose-hip notes over quite creamy red fruit. There's a touch of minerality too. On the palate it is very dry, with medium body and tooth-coating tannins. The fruit is not quite as powerful or bright as the nose suggested, and is slightly weak through the mid-palate. Dry extract dominates the finish, though a little fruit sweetness reasserts. Suppport from oak also adds a little weight. 88/100

Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 2004
A very opaque, deep crimson. Lovely depth on the nose, with a slightly gamy, earthy nuance over solid red fruits. Hints of a plummy depth. On the palate this has richness and structure, with a full texture and weight, and a very solid core of ripe red fruits. Concentration is fine, and there's a really juicy, bold aspect to this. An underpinning support of gently toasty oak also fills-in on the mid-palate, and a juicy cherry acidity adds to the balance and harmony. 91/100

Château de Fieuzal Pessac-Léognan 2004
A very bold, dark crimson with lots of vibrancy on rim. Solid, dry, quite muscular and dense fruit on the nose that is a touch impenetrable at present. On the palate smooth and full, with a big tannic extract coating the palate, and that deep-set cherry and slightly inky fruit all shuttered by dry, assertive tannins and a spiciness. Quite a tough one to call at this stage. 90/100?

Château de France Pessac-Léognan 2004
Dark, vivid purple/black. Bright, violet-edged and bold cherry fruit with a kirsch-like quality. Palate is gripped by strapping, dense tannins and lots of inky extract at present. The fruit that is in there is obviously sweet and pure, but perhaps overpowerd by liquorice and plum-skin quality at the moment. But then that sweetness does persist, and spicy, toasty oak adds some breadth, so again potential evident. 90/100

Château Haut-Bailly Pessac-Léognan 2004
A very dark and vibrant crimson/black. There's a coffee undertone to supple, very suave and sweet fruit here, with lots of charm and plump ripeness. A mineral character appears too in quite a complex picture. Lovely purity and fruit sweetness here, with a smooth, medium-bodied finesse and little herbal and mineral hints. Plenty of tannin, but it seems ripe and crisp rather than inky and dry, and along with an incisive cherry acidity, it completes a very harmonious picture. 93/100

Château Haut-Bergey Pessac-Léognan 2004
Dark, even crimson/black. More subdued than Haut-Bailly, with a similar rounded cherry fruit character, but not quite the same refined character. The palate has lovely weight and a nice rich texture, with sweet, rounded fruit quality and excellent ripeness, and a hint of chocolaty richness and depth. Coffe-ish, smoky oak and ripe tannins join a crisp cherry acidity in the finish. 91/100

Château La Louvière Pessac-Léognan 2004
Deep, bold crimson. There is a nice floral-edged aromatic to this wine, with solid red fruits beneath and a hint of toast or liquorice adding a darker edge. Quite nice fruit sweetness on the palate, though slightly fades away though the mid-palate as the tannins and dry extract takes over. It does retain some sweetness, but maybe just lacks a little flesh compared to some. 89/100

Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 2004
A touch of chocolate and cherry skin adds darkness to red fruits. Nuances of earthiness and a minerality are very pleasant. On the palate a sweet, smoky oak intermingles with quite sweet fruit to give quite a plump, ripe impression. Coffee and plummy notes are deep, and the tannins seem ripe here, with quite a fleshy, full finish and balanced acidity. 91/100

Château Latour-Martillac Pessac-Léognan 2004
Very deep crimson/black. Plummy and deep, with a cherry skin, slightly aromatic note and firm black fruit flavours. A touch of minerality and hint of smokiness add some complexity. The fruit on the palate seems quite modest, and there's a dryness that allows tannins and extract to overpower slightly though the mid-palate, with a slightly inky quality and just glimpses of sweet-edged fruit. The oak is polished and rounded, and it has depth, but a worry that fruit is just slightly lacking? 89/100.

Château Malartic-Lagravière Pessac-Léognan 2004
Deep and very solid colour. Quite a nice aromatic nose, with kirsch and slightly jammy blackcurrant fruit, but good ripeness joined by sweet coffeeish oak and a hint of plummy depth. Tannins are bold and structured and this has good weight. Rather dry in the finish again, but some harmony here. 89/100

Château Olivier Pessac-Léognan 2004
Harmonious from the start here, with a rounded, sweet fruited character, a smoky, earthy quality and good fruit. There are hints of herbs and kirsch. On the palate thiere is a sweetness of fruit that is bold and quite creamy, with a raspberry and cherry quality and plenty of power through the mid-palate. Tanninsare ripe and supple, and join with a toasty, quite chocolaty oak and tannin quality and good but rounded acidity in a polished finish. 91/100

Château Pape-Clément Pessac-Léognan 2004
Dramatically aromatic here; far more floral, ripe, kirsch and violet red fruit character than other wines. Lovely cherry and chocolate depth too, with a wrapping of sweet oak. Harmonious palate; fine, luscious, full fruit that has h Flesh through the mid-palate, and a sweetness and persistence. Deep and chocolaty tannins are plush and supportive, with good espresso bean hints of oak and excellent balance. 94/100

Château Picque Caillou Pessac-Léognan 2004
There's a smoky, slightly schisty quality here, with good red cherry fruit and nice fruit quality. On the palate there's a slightly harsh element, but this has staying power if it is just a little underfruited. 87/100

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 2004
Smoky and coffeeish aromas are very plush and rich, with good fruit and a very rounded, plummy character.. The quality here is very good, with a creamy texture and a fine drak ripeness. Good fruit on the palate and a lovely ripeness of tannins at last, with balance and power though very gtrippy and dark at this stage. 91/100

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