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Bordeaux 2005 - Part IV

by Tom Cannavan

Given that these are not finished wines, please bracket all scores by + or - 2 (so 93 = 91-95) and note that 96 is the highest score possible.

Saint-Emilion and Pomerol

St Emilion seemed to me to be a much more elegant style overall than in 2000 or 2001 when I had real problems with the over-extraction in this appellation, and even the tasting of some of the garagiste and Michel Rolland wines showed massively structured wines, but not without charm and not without balance. This was possibly the strongest showing ever for a set of Pomerol wines in my eight years or so of covering these tastings. It was also hard to separate the wines qualitatively, with differences being more stylistic and in terms of "readiness" rather than in absolute quality. Emerging from the main Pomerol tasting one wag commented "excellent Chilean merlot" which is unfair, but does make a point about the approachability of these wines.


La Chapelle d'Ausone (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Fantastically ripe and rich cherry fruit. A real creamy berry nose, melding into an unsweetened black chocolate/cocoa character. Particularly crisp-edged, slightly smoky tannins and fruit, with lovely grip and racy acidity. Fine length too. Real quality. 92/100

Chateau Ausone (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Fantastic opulence layered on here, with a thick cocoa-dusted sweet black fruit character, really intense fruit and immediate impression of depth and svelte quality. The palate also has a lovely fruit quality, with a succulence and glossy, plush depth. Very fine, with terrific minerality at the core and beautiful length. 96/100 and the wine of the trip so far.

Le Petit Cheval (France) Saint Emilion 2005
The second wine will account for around 30% of the 2005 production. It has a beautifully focused, aromatic nose, with pure blue/black cherry and blueberry fruit. The palate is lithe and sinuous, with beautiful silky texture and sweet fruit supported by fine, if decisive tannins and acidity. Really good wine. 92/100

Château Cheval Blanc (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
The nose is darker, denser and less expressive at this stage, with a layering of chocolate and a dark, juicy plum richness. There is a depth of spicy, tobacco-tinged warmth. Beautiful fruit on the palate, with terrific elegance. Though marginally more concentrated than the Petit Cheval, it is elegantly structured and lithe, with slightly more polished tannins, and so it is seems lighter, though more elegant at this stage. Beautiful wine. 95/100

3 de Valandruad (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Officially the second wine of Valandruad, this is very ripe and juicy, lithe and has plenty of fruit. It is massively thick and chocolaty on the palate, with mouth coating tannins but obvious concentration and quality of fruit. Lacks a little charm perhaps. 91/100

Virginie de Valandruad (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Not a second wine as such (i.e. not de-classified from Valandruad fruit), but a separate plot. This is extremely intense and schisty, with very dense and solid plum and black cherry fruit. Very concentrated, but beautifully sweet fruit on the palate marry well with the huge tannins, leaving a silky impression in the mouth. Velvety and deep, this is pretty sumptuous and stunningly rich. 94/100

Valandruad (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Super-intense Morello cherry fruit with a fantastic richness and black fruit extraction. Real concentration here, with intense earthy minerality too. The fruit is highly focused - like a funnel of very ripe, sweet-edged dark fruit running through the core of the wine, with plenty of savoury grip and an edge of acidity. Very good length, and seems well balanced despite the extraction. 95/100

Chateau Angelus (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Quite closed, with aromatic but deep-set plummy fruit, with rich, ripe, very sweet-edged fruit on the palate, with a silky texture and plenty of depth. This is structured and very fine, with big extraction, but not unbalanced. 93/100

Chateau Balestard la Tonnelle (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Quite lean and lithe on the nose, with crisp, quite bright fruit though a certain dense, glossy blackness beneath. Really quite grippy on the palate, with a plum and blueberry skin density, but again it is not inelegant. 92/100

Chateau Beau-Séejour Becot (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Very ripe, pure, tight and muscular on the nose. Massive fruit presence on the palate, with a really sweet edge to dense, deep chocolaty fruit melding with similar tannins and a pure, rich feeling. Lovely balancing acidity too. 94/100

Chateau Beauséjour Duffau-Lagrosse (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Cherry-fruited nose with tight, focused character, underpinned by mocha-coffee richness. The palate has a really plush depth of ripe fruit and svelte, polished tannin. It is full and textured, and really expansive, though the acidity and balance is good. Long, and impressive. 92/100

Chateau Belair (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Elegant, tightly-wound, with black fruit to the fore and a certain creaminess. A slightly lighter palate, with a nice kirsch-like brightness and sweetness. Lovely elegance here with spiciness and richness to spare, but pure and focused. 93/100

Chateau Berliquet (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Cool, more muted black fruit, though quite elegant and fine. Palate has a wrapping of vanillin sweet oak, with silky black fruit. Not so expressive as some, but delicious and structured. 91/100

Chateau Canon (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
More animal, earthier character rather than the glossy purity and ripeness of the others. Lovely plum skin roughness on the palate, with plenty of grip and a bracing acid quality. A warmth and fudge-like, richness and depth begin to emerge. This a beautiful fruit and great structure. 94/100

Chateau Canon la Gaffelière (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Very, very fine, vinous, blackcurrant and cedar nose. Fine quality here, with a plush palate that has massive tannic richness and density, with thick, chocolaty fruit and plenty of grip. This verges on being a touch over-extracted for me, but is undoubtedly very good and very impressive. 92-93/100

Chateau La Couspaude (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Very ripe, very fragrant - almost floral, with minty, forward black fruit. Flattering sweet, dark, glossy fruit on the palate too, with a depth of extraction, but a layer of very sweet black fruit on top. Lovely fresh acidity. A wine that is very approachable but a bit un-knit. 90/100 but could easily be worth a couple of points more in time.

Chateau La Dominique (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Bright, focused, with very ripe, rich fruit. Palate has a flattering fruit sweetness and chocolaty depth, and the silky mouthfeel and tannins are harmonious, but perhaps lacks a bit of structure and tension. 90/100

Chateau Figeac (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
There's a certain creamy elegance to this, with bright, aromatic fruit that is pure and cool, with a long, precise and classy character on the palate. Less dense than some, and consequently more elegant and classically structured. Very fine 93-94/100

Chateau Fombrauge (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Ripe, round, plum and cassis fruit with quite a fat, black fruit character. This is forward and appealing on the nose. The sweetness of fruit comes through on the palate, set against chalky, dry tannins, but this should come round nicely. 89-90/100

Chateau de Fonbel (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Lovely minerality on the nose here. A real impression of schisty, dark, black cherry fruit. Very tight and structured. Lots of keen, tight, sinewy tannins but the fruit quality comes though. This is dark and rich, but has finesse.

Clos Fourtet (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
An earthiness about this wine, with plenty of cherryish, quite plummy and schisty fruit. Pure on the palate, fine elegance with a blue/black finesse and good balance, without perhaps the same intensity as the best. 91/100

Chateau Franc Mayne (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Quite inky and pain-boxy, with less charm and depth. Palate has moderate black fruit, but rather dulled by the extraction that is too inky for me. 88-89/100

Chateau La Gaffelière (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Very solid fruit quality, if quite reserved. Dry and tannic on the palate - a big mouth-coating dry tannin finish. But the fruit quality is good, and then firming acidity nicely weighted. Could be one for the long haul this, so a cautious 92/100 could improve.

Chateau Grand Mayne (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Much better than Franc-Mayne, with rich, thick, blackcurrant fruit and plenty of glossy, blue-black fruit depth. This is equally polished and pure on the palate, with grippy tannins adding a real edge, but supple too, with a sinewy fruit quality and fine balance. 93/100

Chateau La Tour Figeac (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Quite subdued aromatically, but with a fine, dense, tight fruitiness. The palate is muscular and dense, with a chunky black fruit quality that is chewy, with a certain plummy breadth and mouth-filling ripeness. Again, no shortage of structure in a wine that is perhaps less fine that the best. 92/100

Chateau Larmande (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Dry, dusty, a touch inky on the nose, but some pure black fruit comes through Very pure and focused on the palate, with lively acidity adding a graceful edge to thick, sweet fruit and plenty of ripe, lithe tannins. 92-93/100

Chateau Moulin Saint Georges (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
A creamy, bright, very ripe nose here with particularly bright smooth fruit and a nice background minerality. The palate has a lovely tight, bright, tightly wound focus of cherry and pure red plum fruit. Very racy and bright, with hints of a chocolaty depth, but really staying focused, balanced and elegant at this stage, despite the massive tannic structure beneath. Very good acidity again. 92

Chateau Pavie-Macquin (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Bright cherryish quality, with a herbal quality too. Almost seems a touch underripe. Certainly more herbal and raspberry character o the palate, with a touch of charcoal and schisty quality. Quite good balance, but a bit short too. 89-90/100

Chateau Simmard (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Beautifully composed, plush fruit with a crushed red berry fruit. Nice palate too, that is very composed and tight, but perhaps a little lacking fruit to be enjoyable now. Needs some time. Some earthy, dark animal notes emerging. Promising. 91

Chateau Troplong Mondot Pomerol (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
A very different beast, with big, soft, open and plummy fruit to the fore, with lots of cedar and chocolate and a very come hither appeal. Plush, thick black fruit on the palate, with huge opulence and a thick smear of fruit and chocolaty tannins coating the palate. More showy than fundamentally excellent, but I enjoyed it for what it is. 92/100

Chateau Trottevielle (France) Saint-Emilion 2005
Very fruity, cedary and plummy with an edge of kirsch-like brightness. Quite vibrant. The palate suggests more rounded, deeply set fruit with some real finesse in the finish, where tannins and acid structure are supportive but nicely balanced. 93/100


Château Beauregard (France) Pomerol 2005
Beautiful kirsch-like, spicy plum fruit. Rich and meaty aromas developing. Fine acidity on the palate, with a chocolaty richness in the mouth and a really silky feel. Very nice blue/black fruit and acidity. 93/100

Le Bon Pasteur (France) Pomerol 2005
Bright, silky, raspberry and chocolate nose, with a certain elegance. Palate has a lovely definition, with ripe, sweet fruit and a refined silkiness of tannins. 93/100

Château Clinet (France) Pomerol 2005
Fantastically ripe, sweet, quite opulent nose, with red cherry and juicy plum fruit and a tobacco background. The palate has huge grip at present, with a dense, chocolaty quality that is rich and coats the palate. Perhaps not quite the elegance of some? 93/100

La Croix Taillefer (France) Pomerol 2005
Quite a light, bright, racy nose - not as dark and plush as many Pomerol, but has an elegance. Nice light, more feminine structure, though no shortage of tannins, but somehow just lacking a little flesh? 90/100

Château Le Gay (France) Pomerol 2005
Lovely glossy dark black fruit character. Slightly raisiny aspect on the palate, a touch pruney with good depth and good structure, but missing a little plumpness and charm? 89-90/100

Château Gazin (France) Pomerol 2005
Chocolaty richness with a sensuous, velvety appeal of ripe, dark fruit and coffee notes. Very fine structure on the palate, with lovely mouthfilling density and a massive, sweet and ripe fruit quality married to chocolaty tannins and excellent freshening acidity. Fine length too, in a very impressive Gazin. 94-95/100

Château L'Evangile (France) Pomerol 2005
Beautiful fruit quality again here, with terrific ripeness evident and a rich, kirsch-like and plummy depth. Becomes quite chocolaty in the glass. The palate has very good acid structure that keeps this fresh. It is tight, and not so open and generous as Gazin, but this should be excellent. 93-94/100

Château La Conseillante (France) Pomerol 2005
Toasty, coffeeish, with new oak more apparent. Rich and ripe fruit on the palate, which is a great, broad seam of plummy fruit, but it is edgy and grippy, with lots of finesse. I really like this wine. 93-94/100

Château La Croix de Gay (France) Pomerol 2005
Delightfully silky, bright cerise and damson fruit. Excellent purity and ripeness. The palate is laden with dark, silky, pure fruit. It has structure too. 93/100

Château La Pointe (France) Pomerol 2005
A big, sweet, vanillin nose wrapping red fruits. Hints of fudge and tobacco. The oak is slightly raw on the palate at this point, but the massive fruit and tannin structure is promising, if perhaps just a touch drying and inky. It has a litheness though, and could be very fine. 92-93/100

Château Petit Village (France) Pomerol 2005
Much brighter, raspberry and cherry fruit quality with lots of elegance and a hint of minerality in this wine. Broader and more plush on the palate, with spice and a rounded berry fruitiness. Slick, supple tannins and a fine acid base are all present and correct. 94/100

Romulus (France) Pomerol 2005
Bright, youthful, cherry and slightly paint-boxy quality, with plenty of dry extract and fine balancing acidity, along with crisp-edged cherryish fruit. Tannins are bright and focused. A nice wine, again perhaps just lacking a touch of flesh - though tough to taste after Ausone. 90/100

Château Taillefer (France) Pomerol 2005
A certain crushed velvet richness to the red fruit quality on the nose, but drying slightly on the palate, where the tannins are overpowering at present. Plenty of fruit and stuffing though, and this could come good. 90/100

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