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Bordeaux 2004 - Part III

by Tom Cannavan

Margaux, Moulis and Listrac

These southerly appelations of the Médoc have turned in a very solid performance. There are no wines here that "scored" quite as highly as the very best of Pauillac and St-Julien for me, but lots of very good wines and good consistency.

I found these wines all very dark and blackish in colour, without the purple tones of the northern Médoc. I think this is largely because Margaux, traditionally the lightest and most "feminine" appelation, has been doing a lot of work to get extra extraction and a slightly "bigger" style to suit a perceived requirement of the modern world market. In most cases this has been acheived very successfully in this vintage - the wines are fairly strapping and full for Margaux, but most have retained quite delicate aromatics and a sense of elegance. One or two are more obviously manipulated and quite un-Margaux-like in my opinion, but these are still good wines. There were only one or two disappointments from 30 wines tasted.

Margaux

Château Brane-Cantenac, 2nd growth 2004
Very dark crimson. Immediate ripeness and harmony on the nose, with glossy blackcurrant fruit and a touch of chocolate. There's just a slick of coffeeish oak beneath. The palate doesn't quite deliver that quality of fruit at present, with a massive dry tannic extract coating the palate, and a savoury plumskin quality of bittersweet fruit just showing into the finish. There is plenty of spicy, toasty underpinning oak, and a really grippy finish where liquorice and a touch of charcoal play against hints of sweeter fruit. Good structure. 91/100.

Château Cantenac Brown, 3rd growth 2004
Quite inky cherry fruit, but then a fragrant note of violet and a touch of dark chocolate develops, really quite deep fruit. The palate is quite cool and elegant, with a medium-bodied finesse and a really solid core of cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Tannins are ripe, supple and quite chocolaty and a generous but vivid acidity adds to a clean, but very characterful finish with fruit sweetness and richness persisting. 92/100

Château d'Angludet, Cru Bourgeois 2004
Crimson chink of light on rim. Very ripe, light and fragrant nose, with lots of floral nuances, though an earthiness to the fruit. Quite rounded and supple on the palate, with a silky texture and medium body, and ripeness of fruit carries through well. Quite light, the tannins are very dry, but the overall effect is harmonious with a nice chocolaty richness cut by dry cherry acidity. An attractive, elegant wine. 89/100

Château Dauzac, 5th growth 2004
Very dark and opaque. Slightly inky, vinous nose, with a deep-set core of plum and blackcurrant emerging. Quite a good fruit depth here. Big, dry, chocolaty tannins coat the palate, but the fruit here is ripe and glossy, and it has a supple mid-palate appeal. Acidity does a gentle but good job of sharpening the finish as toasty oak notes and the sweetness of fruit persist. 88/100

Château du Tetre, 5th growth 2004
Very opaque and dark. Quite closed, with a dark blueberry and black cherry fruit, but very tight. Smooth, rich, very seamless core of silky black fruit on the palate. Smooth textured and glossy, with a ripeness of tannins that is powerful, but doesn't ruffle the smooth, glossy black fruit quality. The finish is dry, and balanced by a nice dry acidity, and there is harmony here and ripeness. 89-90/100

Château Durfort Vivens, 2nd growth 2004
Very black. Quite meaty and meat-stocky on the nose, with rich, plummy fruit beneath. Quite fragrant, with a touch of floral character coming through. Quite a lot of vanillin oak on the palate here, and a very smooth, deep fruit character. Dry in the finish, with a big extract, it also has a chocolaty depth and roundness. 89/100

Château Ferrière, 3rd growth 2004
Vivid, deep purple/black. Fragrant nose, with floral scents and lightness and sweetness of blackcurrant and cherry. The palate here has a silkiness and full-bodied texture, with a very pure core of black fruit that runs through the mid-palate and into the finish. There is a dry, plum-skin grip of tannin and deeper fruit, and a very nice, crisp, lively acid structure. Quite long, and harmonious. 89/100

Château Giscours, 3rd growth 2004
Vivid dark crimson. Lots of red cherry and fragrant rose-hip and violet notes, with a nice underpinning of chocolate and touch of charry oak. The palate displays a bit of rather raw oak at present, and together with tough, incisive tannins gives a slightly aggressive character. There is a good quality of fruit, and the tannins become a little more chocolaty and yielding towards the finish as spice and warming oak pushes through. It is balanced by decent acidity, but a slight niggling worry remains about the firmness of this wine. I suspect it may well deserve a couple more points. In time. 90/100

Château Kirwan, 3rd growth 2004
Very dark crimson/black. Almost schisty, dark-edged plum and cherry skin qualities on the nose here. There is an espresso bean and chocolate depth and real vivid darkness. On the palate the tannins are quite assertive and roughening, with a plum-skin, palate coating dryness. Fruit is deep and dark, with plum and dark cherry skin fruit quality. Very dry, and again the tannins are overpowering, but this has balance as well as structure. 89-90/100

Château Labégorce, Cru Bourgeois 2004
Deep, vivid crimson. Touches of ox-tail and gamy fragrance here, and an earthy, solid character. Lovely sweetness of fruit as it strikes the palate, with a really sweet cassis note and broader, plummier underpinning. Tannins are powerful and perhaps a touch rustic, and there is a big core of acidity. Good structure here and lovely sweet fruit, though a touch more rustic than some. 88-89/100

Château Lascombes, 2nd growth 2004
Intense and opaque. Meaty again, with a meat-stock and gamy character, a polished, almost cedary oak quality, and then a bold black fruit emerges. Supple, rounded and very concentrated in the palate, there is a bittersweetness to this with plum and very unctuous black fruits against chocolaty tannins and that charry. espresso bean edge of wood. Good balance, and a deep, powerful, but harmonious wine. 91-92/100

Château Malescot-Saint-Exupéry, 3rd growth 2004
Very dark, purple rim. Nice fragrant cherry and kirsch nose. A touch of blue/black, deeper fruit and a compact, deep character. A very sweet quality of fruit persists on the palate, with a chocolaty sheen of smooth fruit and oak, and a silky texture. There's a coffeeish note and more bitter chocolate character as it finishes, where the tannins are actually quite sweet and very well managed. 90/100

Château Marquis d'Alesme Becker, 3rd growth 2004
Blackish, light on rim. Darker, meatier aromas again here, with some earthiness and perhaps a touch of reduction. Palate is rather grainy and a touch inky, and though some sweet, cherry and plum fruit emerges, it remains rather grainy and dry into the finish. 87/100

Château Marquis-de-Terme, 4th growth 2004
Very deep, glossy black/crimson. Highly scented, floral, almost slightly volatile nose with sweet vanillin notes and lots of estery qualities. Rather marzipan new wood dominates the palate and along with firm tannins, makes this very dry. A cherry fruited sweetness and juiciness does battle through, and there is nice crisp acidity to balance, leaving this quite fresh. An unintegrated wine (even by these youthful standards) so difficult to judge, but a cautious 88-89/100

Château Monbrison, Cru Bourgeois 2004
Very bold and dark. Quite vinous, dark, a touch earthy, but closed and rather ungiving. Solid, muscular, dense and deep-set fruit quality that is very dark and plummy. Sweetening oak and roughening tannins join a good blackcurrant acidity to make a quite harmonious, but rather compact, foursquare wine. 87/100

Château Prieuré-Lichine, 4th growth 2004
Very, very dark and opaque. Tight and muscular on the nose, with a brooding, very closed character. A little glimpse of black plum and a ripe, sweet cassis does emerge with coaxing. Big, glossy, full chocolate and plum fruit and oak power through the mid-palate. Quite flashy and confident, with ripe tannins not managing to get on top of this one. Balanced, with a generous acidity but stays focused on deep-set plummy fruit and creamy oak. Very modern and a touch monolithic, but undeniably successful of its style and lovely fruit. 91-92/100

Château Rausan-Gassies, 2nd growth 2004
Vivid, intense but at last slightly lighter crimson/purple. Ripe black fruits, a touch of charcoal or mineral quality and some gamy fragrance. On the palate this is quite bold and juicy, with a real tang of lip-smacking cherry and bold blackcurrant fruit. Very concentrated and supple through the mid-palate, there is a sweetness here and a nice ripe tannic profile. Cherry acidity brightens and lifts the finish in a harmonious, well-made wine. 92/100.

Château Rausan-Ségla, 2nd growth 2004
Opaque, dark, but purple rim. Again a little minerality and a touch of schisty quality here. Very bold cassis fruit is ripe and pure, with a touch of floral lift and a little cedar. Smooth, composed, very elegant palate with a chocolaty concentration of cassis and plum fruit and a tooth-coating dry tannic structure. But the tannins are fine and supple, and the sweetness and depth of fruit persists through the mid-palate. This is a powerful wine, with good balance and already a nicely supportive framework of oak into the finish. 93/100.

Château Siran, Cru Bourgeois 2004
Dense, solid dark crimson. More subdued on the nose, with a gently meaty aroma and an earthy character. Just the merest hint of a cherry fruitiness. The big, dry, slightly rustic tannins grip this wine at this stage, with a bold cherry acidity adding to the palate drying effect. But there is quite a solidity to the fruit too through the mid-palate. Some black plum and a juicy cherry, with a meaty character too. Really rather a nice wine, with concentration and decent length. 88-89/100.

Moulis

Château Chasse-Spleen 2004
Extremely dark, black and dense. Very deep, intense, black plum and kirsch-soaked black cherry fruit is dramatic. Very fruity. On the palate it is quite sleek and dark, with a slightly raisiny quality but lots of dark-edged bittersweet fruit and very firm, liquorice and plum depth. A lot of tannic extract here, and a dry floral, violetty aspect, but really there is a lot of complexity and finesse. 90/100

Château Maucaillou 2004
Also very dark blackish crimson. Creamier, more sweet and forward cassis fruit quality. Very attractive. On the palate a much lighter style, with pretty cherry fruit but rather light against a streak of tougher tannins. Good balance with fresh, dry acidity and decent length. Nice, and quite elegant, though a touch dry. 86/100

Château Poujeaux 2004
Extremely dark blackish colour. Rounded, quite fruity nose with a slightly more plummy fruit character. Sweet fruit on the palate, with a kirsch-like almost jammy edge before very dry, liquoricy tannins add a bittersweet edge. There is a savoury, supple quality to this though, and despite a raft of dry tannic extract it is well balanced and has potential. 88-89/100

Listrac

Château Clarke 2004
Again, a very black colour with little crimson/purple. Slightly reduced nose, a touch dull. The palate has a big raft of very dry tannins and swamps the fruit. Perhaps not the best sample, but rather brutish. 84/100

Château Fonréaud 2004
A touch of crimson on the rim of another black wine. Quite toasty, with a charry edge of oak to quite soft, plummy fruit. Lots of sweetness on the palate, with a light, but silky texture, but somehow a little hollow through the mid-palate. Tannins and acidity are both moderate, but very noticeable, and there is a sweetness to the fruit, but perhaps a little too extracted and oaky. 86-87/100

Château Fourcas-Dupré 2004
Very dar, crimson at rim. Quite a nice plummy and cherry fragrance here, with sweet cassis notes and a hint of mint. Lovely sweetness on the palate; quite an elegant cherry fruitiness, though it is creamy-textured and full-bodied. There are powerful, dry tannins and very dark cherry acidity, but the fruit gives a bittersweet character that is appealing. 89/100

Château Fourcas-Hosten 2004
Very blackish colour again. Very dry, vinous and dark on the nose. Closed and dark, with a little plummy fruit. Quite earthy too. On the palate a rather raw edge of oak at first, and it remains rather dry and a touch inky, with Lots of extraction and dry cherry acidity overpowering the fruit. Again, there is some sweetness there, and a good rich texture, so perhaps will come good. 87/100

Médoc

Château Greysac 2004
Crimson rim to blackish colour. Very attractive, lush blackcurrant fruit on the nose, with a suggestion of real ripeness. On the palate that sweet-edged, ripe blackcurrant pastille fruit quality comes through, and there's a sweetness and sense of harmony through the mid-palate, though it lacks a little flesh. The tannins are quite ripe and supple, with a good balance and in-fill of coffeeish oak. Very attractive. 88-89/100

Château La Tour de By 2004
Very deep, opaque crimson/black. Quite earthy and gamy, with a slightly bloody fragrance but a touch reduced also. There is quite a nice rounded plum and earthy quality on the palate, with good ripeness and a chunky tannic quality adding a roughening edge. Balancing acidity is well-managed and this has a lot of charm and is attractive, if slightly more rustic than some. 87/100

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