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The wines of Sichel, Bordeaux

by Tom Cannavan, 06/00

The glittering stars of Sichel's portfolio are Château Palmer (in which they have a 38% stake) and the wholly-owned Château d'Angludet, one of my favourite Crus Bourgeois. But Sichel are also a very large négociant, buying in grapes and finished wines for making/blending and distribution. The range on show covered both arms of their business and culminated with the first ever release of Palmer's new second wine Alter Ego de Palmer, and the 1990 vintage of the Grand Vin.

Château Pique Segue (Montravel) Rosé 1998
Quite a deep pink. A real ribena, cassis nose, very sweet and jammy fruit. Palate has good fruit too, quite juicy and rich at first then a clean, crisp fruity acidity (cherry and raspberry) leaves the finish clean, fresh and quite long. Good.

Château La Tuilerie (Entre Deux Mers) Blanc 1998
Light, pale green/gold. Very crisp, clean gooseberry nose. Quite full on the palate with plenty of crunchy pear and apple fruit. Dry and balanced, this is a bit short but has some character.

Château Pique Segue (Montravel) Blanc Sec 1998
Medium golden colour. Powerful gooseberry and floral nose with warmer undertones of peach. On the palate a little raw with plenty of tart green apple fruit and lots of grapefruit acidity. Decent finish. Quite good.

Château Cluzan (Bordeaux) 1998
Bright medium ruby/crimson. Very fresh summer-pudding fruits on the nose. Blackberry, raspberry and cherry and a soft but noticeable tannic bite in the finish. Not terribly long, but pure and fruity if a touch soulless. Good.

Château Moulin Noir (Montagne Saint Emilion) 1996
Dark, dense ruby. This has a creamy, sweet blackcurrant nose, Very ripe, very intense fruit on the palate too. That ripeness carries through with more cassis flavours and a little plummy depth, even chocolate as dusty tannins emerge in the moderately long finish. Very good.

La Ferme d'Angludet (Margaux) 1996
Second wine of d'Angludet. Very dark and dense ruby, just lightening at rim. Pleasant, perfumed aromatics with coffee, tobacco and warm fruit aromas. Palate is a little lean, the tannins are firm and the fruit a little under-powered. Moderately high acidity. Needs food.

Château d'Angludet (Margaux) Cru Bourgeois 1997
Deep, vibrant ruby/crimson. Much more fruit in evidence here. A fine quality of blackcurrant and brighter raspberry with warming notes of cedar and coffee. On the palate a lovely rich seam of spice-dusted black fruits, sweet nuances of confectionery. Finish is tightened by firm tannins and moderate acidity, but balanced, long and exteremly fine. A superb wine for the vintage. Most impressive.

Alter Ego de Palmer (Margaux) 1998
A brand new wine. Palmer used to make a second wine called "Réserve du Général", but that has been dropped in favour of this, made from 44% Merlot and 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for 17 months in barrel. It has a dark, dense and vibrant crimson colour. The nose is suffused with creamy cappucino and tobacco oak at the moment, but there is a very nice, ripe quality of fruit beneath that is juicy and dark. Ripeness is evident on the palate too, with silky tannins and very good length. This is a very nice claret with the balance to drink or cellar.

Château Palmer (Margaux) 3rd Growth 1990
Now a dark ruby with ochre at rim. Nose has a gorgeous animal quality of beef and blood, vegetal truffle notes and a layer of sweet, rich black fruit that is almost minty. On the palate it is soft and very nicely integrated with cedary oak and sweet, violet and rose-hip fruit flavours, fine, soft tannins and low to moderate acidity. This is drinking beautifully and should do so for a number of years. Very good.

With lunch afterwards: seared salmon, roast lamb and a caramel soufflé

Château Dauzan Lavergne (Montravel) Blanc Sec 1997
Medium green/gold. Very oaky at first: new-sawn wood and Jack Daniels. Sweet, custardy, peach aromas beneath. The palate is rounded, buttery and rich (I might have guessed Chardonnay though it is equal proportions of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, with 10% Muscadelle). There are toasty flavours again but fine citrus acidity sharpens the finish and there is plenty of fruit. Good.

Château Badon la Garelle (Saint Emilion) Grand Cru 1996
Very rich dark ruby/crimson. This is plummy, weighty and cedary on the nose. On the palate it is supple and has plenty of dark juicy fruit as well as a nice savoury edge from oak and fine tannins. Good weight, and the whole picture is very appealing with the food. The wine is balanced and quite long. Very good.

Château Dauzan Lavergne (Haut Montravel) Liquoreux 1996
This is 100% Semillon, fully botrytis affected. Lovely nose, creamy and vanilla-laden, but gorgeous botrytis fruit of honeyed peaches, melon and hints of dark sugar and spice. Medium-bodied it is nicely fresh on the palate with fine citrus acidity balancing a luscious weight of fruit and giving an overall effect of elegance and balance. Long, sweet and very pure, I thought this was exceptionally good. An impressive wine from a lesser known appellation.