My first look at 2008 Bordeaux

September 19th 2011

I had my first opportunity to try the newly-arrived 2008 Bordeaux vintage last week, and I was pleasantly surprised. I admit, I’m no Bordeaux expert – the world has enough of those – but they were attractive wines.

Retailer Glengarry charged $79 to try seven wines with a retail value of $1800 and, astonishingly there were only around a dozen of us attending. If we had been in Hong Kong rather than Auckland, I’m sure the room would have been packed to the rafters. Still, it meant we were able to have seconds of our favourites!

Inevitably, the wines were all very tight even seven hours after decanting. Most were oak dominant with bags of vanilla or hazelnut on the nose and palate. However, there is a lovely freshess of fruit and a lightness on the palate despite great concentration coming from low yields. The wines all had lovely balance that comes when the fruit is not overripe with moderate alcohols and medium to fresh acidity.

Wines of the night were Chateau Pontet-Canet, a fifth-growth (and a so-called Super Second) from the village of Pauillac, practising biodynamics. It’s a seamless wine, dense and powerful yet only medium bodied.  It’s a masculine wine style with firm yet fine, drawn out tannins.  Black cherry and pencil lead aromas with lots of vanilla oak. Fresh with focus and drive. (19/20)

When you write that many descriptors plus a lot more I won’t bore you with, you know you’ve got a complex and fabulous wine on your hands. That’ll be why it’s NZ $280. If only I were a doctor or lawyer I’d have taken a case.

I really enjoyed the Leoville Barton, a second-growth from St Julien. A completely different wine to the Pontet Canet, it is much more feminine, silky and delicate. It doesn’t have the power nor the tannic structure of St Estephe or Pauillac. It is nicely focused on the mid palate and displays great balance. My note ends ‘A powerful wine wrapped up in soft silk’ (18/20). And at $90 cheaper than the Pontet Canet and $30 cheaper than Lascombes, which was a little bit strange for a Margaux, it represents good value.

Cos D’Estournel and Haut Brion’s second wine, Le Clarence, were both structured, powerful wines worth recommending too (I didn’t spit so they must have been smart!)

Disappointment of the night was the St Emilion estate Pavie Macquin. It was what I call ‘worked’. The winery had extracted the grapes to within an inch of their life and the fruit flavours and tannins were overextracted and a little bitter. If you paid $190 for it, you would feel robbed. Ah, but isn’t that Bordeaux for you?!

Posted in - Blog Posts & Bordeaux & New Zealand on September 19th 2011 0 Comments

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