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Bordeaux 2004 - Part V

by Tom Cannavan

Sauternes and Barsac

Yquem is now owned by Louis Vuitton-Moet-Hennessey (LVMH) and the Comte de Lur Saluces has gone. There is a massive restoration of the Château underway, and for the first time ever we are invited to tasted Yquem at the same time as all the other Sauternes, which means of course it is not a finished wine, but one that has at least one more year in barrel.

Yquem's notes on Sauternes say that early indications from June 2004 were of a potentially very large crop, following an early summer of almost unbroken sunshine. However August was described as "almost tropical", with rain 2 days out of 3, and small pockets of early rot having to be eliminated.

Conditions for noble rot did arrive by early September, as the weather once again became warm, dry and sunny. At Yquem the first picking took place September 20 - 23, with reported excellent fruit and high sugar levels. Six picking at Yquem ended on the 4th November, and the 4th and 5th "tries" following perfectly dry, hot months of late September and October, meant the overall vintage should be highly rated. Yquem has 129g/l of residual sugar, 4.8g/l of acidity and 13.5% alcohol.

25 wines were tasted. Yquem was tasted at the Château, then all others were tasted blind at Château de Malle on Monday April 4th.

As a summary, I think this is a good to very good Sauternes vintage. The best wines display good Botrytis and real complexity, and there seems to have been no problem with ripeness - the wines are almost universally sweet and luscious, with very rich textures. But an overall theme seems to be a slight lack of complexity in many wines, and Botrytis that doesn't deliver the real unctuous blast that one might hope for. Balance and acidity is good, and many of these are delicious, with real concentration, late-harvest sweetness and weight, but missing that final complexity that would make them "great".

If prices are sensible, a very decent vintage to buy, and concentration suggests these will age.

Sauternes and Barsac

Château d'Yquem (Sauternes) 2004
Luscious mid-gold colour. Beautifully limpid and pure nose of dried apricot, a gently figgy toastiness, and lots of very lightly caramelised orange fruit. Exudes a creamy quality on the nose. On the palate there is full, luscious weight, with a terrifically oily texture, and intense fig and concentrated dried fruit flavours. There's a freshness and ripeness suggesting pieneapple and really ripe mango, but a lovely core of tea-leaf, tobacco and herbs that adds massively to the complexity. Acidity seems very well integrated and stays gently in the background, but it really persists in the finish and plays against the concentrated apricot and nectarine skin concentration of fruit. With fabulous length, this looks like a very good Yquem in the making, and along with Rieussec, my wine of the vintage. 94/100.

Château Suau (Suaternes) 2004
Medium yellow gold. Quite subdued on the nose, with a gentle nectarine and apricot fruitiness, some light botrytis and light woody notes. On the palate it is thick and unctuous and quite alcoholic and heady. There is a rich, thick fruit sweetness and a background of nutty, almond flavour, before that rich, concentrated and powerful finish. 88/100

Château Romer du Hayot (Sauternes) 2004
Brilliant glowing gold colour. More botrytis, with rich, lightly honeyed fig and apricot fruit, and a nice twist of barley-sugar. On the palate this is ripe, full and unctuous, with lots of honeyed, full botrytis and opulent fruit flavours. There is lovely acidity here, providing a real lemony, almost grapefruity cut. A lot more drama than the previous wine, though perhaps not quite the length or concentration. 88/100

Château Bastor Lamontagne (Sauternes) 2004
Light gold, tinged green. Not a lot of botrytis at this stage, with a green fig character and some pear fruit. Quite clean and a touch ungiving at this stage. The palate has a medium- to full-bodied texture and a fairly cool, pear and melon fruit quality. It is cool and fairly light, with good concentration, but perhaps lacking a little unctuousness. 87/100

Château Caillou (Sauternes) 2004
Pale- to medium green/gold. Green fig and herbal, slightly nutty aromas. Little botrytis notes and quite solid fruit. The palate has a thick, viscose texture, and a very nice balance of minty, ripe, very pure pear and apricot fruit and hints of nectarine and pineapple richness. There's a great cutting sweep of lemon that cuts through the honey and nutty richness, to leave a very clean, long, tantalising finish. 90/100

Château Lamothe Guignard (Sauternes) 2004
Nice glowing gold colour. Lots of toast and nutty, warm and rich aromas with a sense of opulent fruit beneath. Some delicate hints of tea-leaf and herbs. Palate has a fine, rich, very honeyed character, with masses of thick, oily fruit that coats the tongue, and a buttery, full and very sweet unctuous quality. Masses of depth here, and a lovely knife-edge core of mineral and lemon acidity that gives excellent length. A delicate yet fully botrytised style. 91/100

Château Lamothe Despujols (Sauternes) 2004
Brilliant yellow, slightly cloudy sample. A nice nutty, ripe fig and dried apricot character. Voluptuous palate, with lots of pineapple and very rich, sweet nectarine and mango. Real powerhouse stuff, but good balance too, with masses of honeyed botrytis and a prcise, powerful core of concentrated lemon acidity. 91/100

Château Filhot (Sauternes) 2004
Brilliant yellow/gold. Honey and toast notes are quite delicate, but dominate the nose at present. There is a green tea and Chinese herbal note too. That herbal, greengage and a yellow plum fruit quality is joined by decent botrytis on the palate, with notes of toast and a delicate lemon acidity. 88/100.

Château de Malle (Sauternes) 2004
Pale- to medium yellow/green and a little cloudy. Richly honeyed and buttered crumpet nose, with quite fat, ripe fruit and a concentrated dried apricot and lemon peel firmness. Very full, rich, botrytis palate, flooded with unctuous honey and laden with sweet, juicy ripe nectarine and very ripe pear fruit. Delicious balance, with a supporting breadth of toasty, vanillin oak, and good levels of citrus and mineral acidity adding to a classy, very composed finish. 92/100

Château Doisy Vedrines (Barsac) 2004
Lovely light gold, tinged emerald. Little complex notes of stewed compote fruit, tea and iodine. Some nice honeyed notes, and clean pear fruit. This has a very fine palate; it is immediately unctuous and sweet, with full-texture and very ripe tropical fruit, with lots of pineapple and syrupy mandarin orange bite. But the warmth and creamy support of vanilla and cocoa bean, plus a striking, waxy lemon core completes a fine, complex but balanced and stylish wine. 91/100

Château de Myrat (Barsac) 2004
Bold, solid yellow colour. Powerful, full, honey and ripe apricot nose, with hints of dried fruits and apricot kernal. Less weight and richness on the palate, but fine, sweet fruit and a pineapple and juicy nectarine sense of ripeness and sweetness. There is a lot of honey and limpid, sweet richness, but all with a light-body and crispness about the texture. Good balance, with clean acidity but the sweetness and richness of fruit persists. Lovely in a lighter style. 90/100

Château Doisy Daëne (Barsac) 2004
Greenish yellow colour, and a slightly subdued, vanilla and pear-fruited nose, with some hints of tea and tobacco. Another slightly lighter style (though perhaps more weight than wine 10) with emerging honey notes and a real minty, almost Jack Daniels grip of rather raw oak on the palate at present. There is plenty of rich, sweet, orange and very ripe pear and melon fruit, and a great solid core of minral acidity which, along with citrus elements in the wine, gives a powerful finish. This would seem to have a lot of potential. 91/100

Château d'Arche (Sauternes) 2004
Warm yellow/gold with an emerald tinge. Slightly leafy, fairly subdued pear and apple fruit, with white fruit purity and just hints of honey. Very focused, sweet, precise fruit quality on the medium- to full-bodied, rich palate, with a real focus of tangy, lime and ripe, very sweet pear fruit driving through the core in a creamy, vanillin-edged push. There is good freshness and precision throughout, though maybe not so many nuances as other wines at this stage. 89/100

Château de Fargues (Sauternes) 2004
Vibrant yellow/green. This is fairly subdued, fairly neutral at this stage. White fruits and hints of nettle and herbs, and the lightest touch of honey. Mdium- to full-bodied and richly textured, this has plenty of sweetness, with a big, central core of honeyed, ripe very unctuous fruit, that is very fat and juicy. There's a tantalising, tongue tingling acidity, and a vanillin richness fills in, and this has plenty of power with a real edge of concentration. It lacks a little complexity at present, but has masses of personality. 90/100

Château Nairac (Barsac) 2004
Light yellow/gold, tinge of green. Green fig, passionfruit and waxy lime dominate the nose, with hints of a barley-sugar botrytis. On the palate it is quite rich and unctuous, with a mouthfilling, oily texture and rich core of nectarine and ripe, juicy peach fruit. That slightly green, fig and herbal quality adds and edge, and this has very good concentration. The lemony acidity cuts nicely through into a long finish, where delicate creamy wood notes underpin the fruit. Nicely balanced. 89/100

Château Rayne-Vigneau (Sauternes) 2004
There's a definite botrytis richness on the nose here, with fig and quince and a coating of honey. On the palate the immediate impression is thick and rich-textured, but dominated by creamy vanillin oak. An intense, very concentrated, almost minty quality of super-sweet fruit beneath adds a real edge of richness and concentration, with lush fruit qualities, but also a very natural fruit acidity like grapefruit and tart orange, that adds a lot of edge to the extremely powerful, concentrated finish. 91/100

Château Siglas Rabaud (Sauternes) 2004
Bold yellow, tinged green. Elegant, full, yellow plum and ripe peach fruit on the nose, with some dried apricot and little tea-like, dried glace fruit notes. Thick-textured and very unctuous, there is a real shimmering core of fruit sweetness and concentration here. Very powerful and very concentrated, but also has that firm, plum skin and tangerine skin bite of acidity and concentrated power. Very long, this has subtle vanilla and almond notes filling out the finish. Very stylish. 91/100

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey (Sauternes) 2004
Brilliant yellow colour. Limpid, honeyed, very elegant nose, with gentle tea-life and quince nuances to a core of fig and ripe pear fruit. Lovely precision on the palate, with poised, mandarin orange and cool, melon and pear fruit, but a lovely buttery underpinning of cream and honey and voluptuous fruit sweetness. There is a medium-to -full texture here, and though it is rich, there's a sense of elegance and lightness, with crisp mineral clean, lemony acidity and just a background of vanilla. 91/100

Château Rabaud Promis (Sauternes) 2004
Pale to medium green/gold. Herbs and gentle toast dominate the nose here, with a pungent, slightly leafy, nettly quality beneath and lightly honeyed white fruits. The palate is sweet and rich, with a medium- to full texture and rich, fig and apricot richness of fruit, with just hints of honey and barley sugar boytrtis. There's a nice orange marmalade quality that shows through in this wine, that fills outs and becomes very bold on the mid-palate, with a lovely balancing acid into a long finish. 89/100

Château Coutet (Barsac) 2004
Bold, bright yellow colour. There's a deepness about this wine on the nose, with plenty of oak, but also a slightly vegetal, dark, toffee and unctuous peach fruit. Bold and concentrated on the palate too, with plenty of rich fruit, but perhaps a little less clean, a little less precise than others, with a tiny rotten note that is not totally convincing for me. I am certain this was a bad sample, but must score only 85/100

Château Guiraud (Sauternes) 2004
Very vibrant, quite deep gold. Herbs, wild flowers and sweet pear fruit give a very attractive complexity on the nose. On the palate vanilla and very sweet dried fruit qualities, but pretty one-dimensional, with a great, concentrated core of nettly, pungent pear fruit adding some complexity, but a lemony acidity sweeps in forcefully onto the finish. Good length, and very difficult one to call, but for now 88/100

Château Suduiraut (Sauternes) 2004
Bright yellow colour. Refined honey and gentle peach nose, with modest nutty and toasty notes. A sense of harmony. The palate has lots of pear and succulent apricot and juicy nectarine, with super richness and sweetness, but perhaps missing a little real complexity. Lovely bite, lovely racy acidity extending the finish, but shows this vintage's slight lack of botrytis complexity perhaps? 89-90/100

Château Clos Haut Peyraguey (Sauternes) 2004
Quite a light gold colour. Nice toasty, smoky, warm woodiness to this with caramel and deep, orange and honeyed quince fruit. The palate has warmth and a nutty richness too, in a medium- to -full-bodied palate with a good, rich texture. The fruit is clean and bright, with lots of waxy lemon and lemon-drop, and a precise apricot and peach sweetness. Herbs and a touch of tea-leaf and nettle add more complexity to this and the finish is long. 91/100

Château La Tour Blanche (Sauternes) 2004
Vibrant yellow/gold. Richly honeyed, with barely sugar and toffee notes over orange and dried apricot fruit. Small herbal nuances. Lovely sweetness on the palate, with a rich texture and medium- to -full bodied weight. Lovely tang of bright orange and marmalade fruit, with finely-wrought oak adding cream and vanillin nuances and plenty of ripe fruit at its core. A very stylish and composed with good concentration. 90-91/100

Château Rieussec (Sauternes) 2004
Brilliant yellow, tinged green. Quite delicate, orange and tea-leaf notes with some dried herbs and sweet, marzipan notes. Very good central core of nectarine fruit. On the palate this is unctuous and very full-textured. The fruit is rounded and very tangy, with lots of verve and sweetness. Apricot, tangerine and small tropical notes along with some nettle and tea. Lovely acidity completes a balanced and harmonious picture, though there is plenty of concentration and good length here too. 93/100.

back to Bordeaux 2004 tastings index