BORDEAUX 2000 Vintage report by Izak Litwar / DREAM VINTAGE
Weather conditions / Vintage 2000 has from the very start been proclaimed as one of the best vintages of modern times. In spring 2003, I've had many opportunities to find out, if we really have a true dream vintage in our hands.
During harvest 2000, while doing "personal inspection" in the vineyards, I noticed that something extraordinary big was on its way. Grapes looked extremely healthy.
While sorting table was rolling, I observed, that there were few leaves, stalks and weeds among the grapes. That's why sorting out grapes went so easy and quick. It must be one of hallmarks of 2000 vintage, because normally even the great vintages require a lot of work at sorting table.
2000 vintage is classic, extravagant and extremely long-lived Bordeaux with dark, extremely dense wines, which have enormous concentration of fruit, length and superbly concentrated tannin. The tannin is not allowed to dominate, because it's well wrapped up by fruit. A scent of sub-maturity is only present in few wines. One of this vintage's trademarks is an intense and deep aroma of dark berries, like blueberries, blackberries and black cherries.
All red grape varieties reached perfect maturity, including Bordeaux' most capricious and unruly grape variety, Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot gives the much meeded contribution of backbone and power to the wines.
Also the grapes for whites, like Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle, did ripe perfectly and produced tremendously fine dry white wines. Sweet white wines turned unfortunately to be a few light, elegant and charming wines, which were based 100% on September pickings. Beginning on the 11th October, it rained heavily in Bordeaux and it continued until the end of the year.
This year's biggest tasting of Bordeaux wines in fantastic vintage 2000 was arranged by Philipson Wine in Copenhagen in the end of April 2003. And it turned to be an excellent one. Here are the tasted wines, one by one:
Château Lynch Moussas is on way up in terms of quality. It was a delightful and pleasant wine with well-integrated fruit and tannin. Started a bit rustic and edgy, but this disappeared very quickly. This wine will surely get better after some time. 90p.
Château Grand Puy Ducasse and Château Talbot lacked maybe some more power in their guns, but they compensated for this just fine, with sweet ripe fruit everywhere, and elegance and finesse. 89-90p.
Château d'Issan was almost as strikingly beautiful as Lascombes, but here we had a wine of the traditional school. Soft and incredibly attractive. 91p.
Château Lascombes seems well on the way back to fame. Sophisticated with elegant and gracious "steps", aromatic and deliciously ripe fruit in perfect marriage with silky tannin. Very long aftertaste. Pretty and riveting wine in modern style. 91+p.
Château Beychevelle is well-known for its elegant and finesse-full wine. In vintage 2000, it's a beauty but light one. For me, I would have wished a more intense and concentrated wine, but it's not because I will replace Julia Roberts with Arnold Schwarzenegger. 90p.
Château Cos d'Estournel defended nicely the "colours" of Saint-Éstephe. Not quite as refined and multidimensional as Montrose, but the intensity, depth and complexity of this wine was really outstanding. Extremely well-deserved 94+p.
Château Figeac was slightly marked by vegetable aromas. Cabernet Franc tastes like that when young. Anyway, splendid, intense and creamy berry fruit, full-bodied and refined wine with nice structure. It will require quite some time to improve. 92p.
Château Gruaud Larose did impress enormously. It was very strong and robust with lots of sweet, creamy and concentrated cherries, blackberries and blackcurrants. The balance, complexity and depth of this wine were simply extraordinary. A bull's eye, that assures 20-30 years pleasant enjoyment. 95p.
Château Lynch Bages is a favourite of many wine-lovers and deservedly so. It's not so often you get such a generous wine with luscious fruit and high class. In vintage 2000, it was incredibly tasty, well-balanced and with silky tannin. It will keep with ease for 20 years from now. My vote is 93p.
Château Montrose has always been one of Bordeaux' most constant and classic wines. In vintage 2000, it was so sublime, so sophisticated, so aromatic and so luscious, that it took some time to digest all the nuances and finesses in this wine. It fulfilled its promises from cask sample completely and more so. This wine is a masterpiece to enjoy for 25-35 years. Saint-Éstephe's Lafite. 96+p.
Château Ducru Beaucaillou was a big, fat wine, sappy and powerful. Not quite as luscious and creamy fruit here as Gruaud Larose's. If balance keeps up, we will expect more goodies from this wine. 93p.
Château Clinet has always had a potential to be one of the top wines in Pomerol, but unfortunately this wine rarely impress. In vintage 2000, it tasted of sweet and candy fruit, was quite complex and well-defined, but lacked obviously extravagance and intensity found in many other wines in this vintage. Only 90-91p here.
Château Leoville Barton was as always classic Bordeaux with pure lines, lots of luscious berries, very nuanced and exemplary balanced. It was a great pleasure to meet this wine, which easily last for at least 25 years. 95+p.
Château Pichon Comtesse showed a really high class. Strong and powerful, but also with many elegant, refined and finesse-full elements. Very nuanced and dense in structure. 95p.
Once again, Château Palmer proved, that it is in Bordeaux' absolute elite. 2000 wine is so sophisticated and refined, and has so many facets to show, that you jump with joy. Sweet berries and tannin in silky-soft package added incredible elegance and complexity. Pure extravaganza at 96+p.
When I tasted Château Leoville Las Cases 2000, I asked myself, if this wine could match 1.Crus. It almost did! With such richness of nuances, concentration, depth and length, this wine can conquer whole world. A masterpiece for 30-40 years lay in the cellar. Jean-Hubert Delon continues in most exemplary way his father's eminent wine-work. 98p.
Pomerol's undisputedly most gracious and elegant wine, Château La Conseillante, didn't disappoint. Light but very refined. Incredibly nice harmony between fruit and tannin, and round and joyful finish. 94p.
The very powerful and strong Château L'Evangile offered truffles and sweet blackberries in huge quantities, plus extremely long aftertaste. This wine wasn't the easiest to make friends with, but it will come later. Wait for another 10-12 years. Comes from same "source" as Lafite. 94+p.
So Château Lafite. A legend, world's best wine and perfectionism at phantom level. Here, one's senses were working at highest gear in order to captivate all these fireworks of nuances this wine possess. This wine is the true essence of Bordeaux – it's unique and not imitable. 100p!
Château Mouton Rothschild had an over delicious fragrance of perfectly ripe blackcurrants and blackberries, almost aristocratic. Palate wasn't however of same standard, but still in upper stratosphere. This wine has a good portion of extravaganza and sublime quality. 97+p
Château Latour was quite different from the other tasted 1.Crus. Why? - Because of its modern style which means a lot of extract, enormous concentration and power. A wolf in sheep's clothes. Are 30 years horizontally enough? 99p.
In addition to wines above, several 2000 wines were tasted in Bordeaux during spring 2003:
Château Cantelauze continues without any hesitation in the sophisticated and elegant style. Perfectly ripe creamy fruit with strong scents of dark cherries, blackberries, chocolate and truffles, much finesse, exemplary balance and sensational structure. It's the best vintage yet for this property and the wine is a big, big winner. Classic Pomerol at sky-high level. 94p.
Domaine de Chevalier 2000 was a true heartbreaker. Very complex and finesse-full. There was a beautiful aroma of blueberries, blackberries and blackcurrants. Incredibly sophisticated and refined. It's maybe the best vintage Olivier Bernard ever has made while managing this estate (since 1983). 93+p.
White Domaine de Chevalier 2000 was also something very special! Sublimely shaped, sublime aroma of acacia, pears and citrus, sublime on the palate and sublime everywhere. It was a stunning piece of wine-work! 94p.
After being leased since 1985 to Sylvie & Jacques Guinaudeau, Château Lafleur is now 100% their own. Jacques' aunt and the owner of Lafleur, Marie Robin, died last year, and it was necessary to sell her another property, Le Gay, in order to pay the astonishingly high inheritance taxes because of her death. It's a god-blessed wine made here, without technical tricks of the modern school and based on tradition. I've tasted Lafleur 2000 three times – May 2001 (from barrel), April 2002 and April 2003. For every year, it gained more and more nuances and taste components, despite being already really complete and sensational in 2001. Here, the soil speaks, and this wine links in fantastic way power and finesse. This is a hand-made delicacy from Jacques Guinaudeau worth 100p!
Jean-Philippe Janouiex is now the owner of four estates. In addition to Château de Chambrun (1994) and Château Mouton (1997, two more have arrived. Château La Confession in Saint-Émilion (2001) and Château Le Conseiller (2002). The last mentioned property is bordering Mouton. Since 1999 vintage, he has been responsible for Janouiex family's Château La Croix St.Georges (neighbouring Le Pin) and estate's 2000 hits bull's eye. Strong and powerful, lots of sweet berries everywhere and incredibly complex. This wine has quite modern style but hasn't lost the character of the soil. 95p. His own de Chambrun tasted outrageously delicious and intelligent for 92p, while the energetic and friendly Mouton got 88p.
Dany and Michel Rolland arranged a very interesting tasting of their wines for me in vintages 2000, 2001 and 2002. Here are tasting notes concerning 2000 vintage:
Château Rolland Maillet was very entertaining with creamy and tasty fruit. 88p.
Château Bertineau-St.Vincent tasted nicely offering sweet cherries and blueberries. This is a happy, harmonious and well-structured wine, which should be enjoyed from 2006 and 10 years ahead. 88p.
Château Fontenil had creamy fruit in large quantities, great maturity and amazing length on the palate. A Fronsac wine of superior quality and a delicacy. 91p.
Le Défi de Fontenil, lot 00 (stands for 2000), is Vin de Table. It origins from that part of the vineyard (100% Merlot from old vines), that was covered by black plastic sheets in order to avoid rain. This was not acceptable for INAO – they called the action illegal and declassified the wine. But this Vin de Table was superb. More concentrated and more complex than Fontenil itself! 92p.
Château Le Bon Pasteur fulfilled all expectations. Very aromatic and intense, many layers of creamy fruit and amazing length on the palate. A dense and well-equipped Pomerol wine, and a true delicacy. 94+p.
SAINT-ÉMILION 2000 - P.G.C.Cs and G.C.Cs
In Saint-Émilion, everybody discuss, if vintage 2000 is better than 1998. The latter has been rated as the best vintage in this area since 1982. I made an appointment with many bottles from vintage 2000 in April 2003 to find the truth.
Precisely as in other parts of Bordeaux, the weather conditions in Saint-Émilion were extremely advantageous in August and September, and it resulted in wonderfully ripe Merlot and as so equally ripe Cabernet Franc. But unlike 1998, when August was tropically hot and had high desert-like humidity, August in 2000 was very dry and with comfortably low humidity. September 1998 began with some rain but ended with warm and sunny weather, while September 2000 enjoyed pleasant and hot weather and almost with no rain in first three weeks.
1998 was easier to harvest because of grapes' homogenous ripening process, while 2000 needed very precise harvesting time because of longer and not so homogenous ripening. It was clearly to observe that several places at right bank with clay in the underground, where grapes seemed to be perfectly ripe, but not from the physiological point of view. Tannins were not really ripe and it was necessary to wait, until fruit and tannin became harmonious.
The difference between these two vintages lies mainly in fruit – 1998 tastes of raspberries, blackcurrants and red berries, while 2000 tastes of blackberries, blueberries and dark cherries. The intensity of fruit, depth and concentration is almost the same for both vintages. Vintage 2000 seems to have slightly more nuances and also more intensity and more aromas. But 1998 is ahead a little bit 2000, when we talk about breed.
There were many happy proprietors with shining eyes in Saint-Émilion in the second part of September 2000. Hubert de Bouard from Château Angelus, Premier Grand Cru Classé, had just finished harvesting Merlot with 14-14.5% potential alcohol and was extremely joyful. He said - "I've never seen something like that".
Monsieur Duffau-Lagarrosse, whom I met during tasting of 12 Premier Grand Cru Classés at Château Figeac, was also very satisfied with the first results of 2000. If it will be better than Beauséjour Duffau's legendary 1990 was far too early to say, because in 1990 everything went perfectly at the same time (weather, maturity and concentration) in the rarely seen manner.
During my visit at Château Corbin, Grand Cru Classé, I met the owner since 1999, Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, who was one big smile: "The whole thing looks incredibly nice and 2000 is only my second vintage here. Merlot is formidable but Cabernet Franc looks like a million", she said. Her 90 years old aunt couldn't resist the temptation, so she parked her car near the vineyard and walked glad and satisfied between rows of vines, full of healthy and good-looking grapes. 2000 vintage brought obviously the best from human nature, because the aunt isn't normally so mobile!
But I'll probably never forget a fascinating trip with Francois Mitjavile (Tertre Roteboeuf) on the 29th September 2000. We drove in his car in all directions in Saint-Émilion and neighbourhood, and made stops in several places. He went towards vines in several vineyards and explained me, why grapes should have been picked or were picked too early or should have stayed on vines for few days more. His own vineyards, Tertre Roteboeuf and Roc de Cambes, were of course harvested at the very right time and this resulted in exceptional quality of both wines.
Blind tasting again - bottles are in classification rank/alphabetic order, but wine-glasses aren't!
2000 Premier Grand Cru Classes
During blind tasting of 2000 P.G.C.C at Château Figeac in April 2003, it was obvious to see how wonderful and remarkable this vintage is. Here are the tasted wines in order of preference:
Château Cheval Blanc – shows lots of blueberries, blackberries and dark cherries. Silky and soft tannin and gorgeous sweetness of fruit. Magnificent depth, incredibly many nuances and refinement combined with fantastic length on the palate. This is masterly made wine, which will delight wine-lowers in 3-4 decades, because of its exceptional balance. 98-99p.
Château Canon – a really big surprise and a proof, that manager of this property, John Kolasa, has at last got everything under control. Dense, creamy and luscious fruit with thick and intense aroma of blueberries and blackberries, and extremely nuanced and with sheer finesse. Fabulous and sophisticated wine, which makes you yell of joy. 96+p.
Château Pavie – ink-red, dark cherries, a lot of extract and modern style. It's very concentrated, full-bodied and long on the palate. Possess incredibly tasty fruit with gorgeous sweetness. Seems not over extracted at all, which I feared while tasting it in May 2001. A strikingly beautiful wine which will break many wine-hearts in coming years (20-25 years) and empty many well-lined money pockets at express speed. Together with 1998, it's an incredible nice pair. 96p.
Château Angelus – is sophisticated on the nose, extremely full-bodied, with finesse and refinement. Dark berries in big quantities and long aftertaste that lasts for 30 seconds. Keeps its style splendidly and together with Pavie represents the modern generation of Saint-Émilion wines. 95p.
Château Beau-Séjour Becot – well-made wine with many blueberries, blackberries and dark cherries. It's stunningly aromatic and tasty, full-bodied and complex, and with long aftertaste. It's a sublime wine, which for this property is another step up in quality, after the magnificent 1998. 95p.
Château Beauséjour Duffau – aromatic dark berries, splendidly composed, fine length and remarkable balance. It's very stylish wine of the traditional school and one more example of this property's very stable appearance through many years. It's delicacy to enjoy for at least 20 years. 94p.
Château Clos Fourtet – dark colour, very ripe berries, medium full, nice intensity of fruit. Possess splendid harmony between fruit and tannin. This very well-made wine is more female ballet dancer than weightlifter, or said in another words; all in finesse. 93p.
Château Magdelaine – presents deep and intense nose of ripe berries (blackberries and cherries), subtle and with lot of finesse, exquisite structure and exemplary balance. This wine shows a lot of pure splendid style and class. Very classical for the district and will keep with ease for at least 20 years more. 93p.
Château Figeac – slightly marked by vegetable aromas - Cabernet Franc tastes like that when young – but splendid, intense and creamy berry fruit, full-bodied and refined with nice structure. It will require quite some time to improve. 92p.
Château La Gaffeliere – reminds a lot of Beauséjour Duffau concerning fruit, but isn't so well put together and classic. Anyway, it's a flawless and impressive wine. 92p.
Château Trottevieille – sourish but meant positively. It tastes a little disjointed, but possesses good length and nice concentration of dark berries. Is this wine in transition phase to something better? We shall see. For now, I clearly prefer this property's fabulous 1998. 89-90p.
Château Belair – has medium body, intense and delicious berry fruit of spicy and luscious kind, fine structure and length. Maybe a little too old-fashioned in style, but it's for sure the best wine I've tasted from this property since 1982. 89+p.
45 Grand Cru Classé wines are ready for tasting blind!
45 Grand Cru Classé wines were tasted blind at Saint-Émilion's Syndicat Viticole in April 2003. There were some really great surprises. Here are the best wines:
One of my absolute favourites was Château Troplong Mondot, with whom I haven't had good relationship, because wines from this property have disappointed me several times before. But 2000 Troplong Mondot has taken an extremely deserved revenge. Dark berries (blueberries and blackberries) on the nose, incredibly aromatic, deep and complex. Great power and length. Rich and fabulous wine, which fully deserves lots of applause. 94-95p.
It was Château Tertre Daugay also! This estate has same owner as La Gaffeliere, but in 2000 it looks like "little brother" has beaten big brother by quite some distance. There are lots of sweet, aromatic and intense fruit, well-integrated with soft tannin, stunning balance and big richness of nuances. Wildly delicious. 94-95p.
Château Bellevue belonged also to the winners of the day and made my knees weak. 2000 is the first vintage under management of Nicolas Thienpont and the new shooting star on Bordeaux wine firmament within consulting, Stephane Derenencourt. Both work also together at Pavie Macquin. Their debut here is simply knock-out. Very sappy and tasty wine with splendid complexity, sophisticated and with many facets. Creamy berry fruit everywhere and long aftertaste. Modern and lively style. Well-deserved 94+p.
Château Fonroque produced a super-duper wine, full of incredibly aromatic fruit with remarkable lusciousness, exemplary balance and goodies on the palate. Maybe the best Fonroque ever! 93p.
Château Cadet Piola keeps firm by the traditional style and it payed off comfortably in 2000. Delicate and refined, extremely elegant and complex, and splendidly shaped. A delicacy wine with vengeance! 92p.
Then followed the brilliant and masculine Château Grand Mayne with its incredibly deep aroma of ripe dark berries. Very concentrated and with iron structure. Splendid wine in modern style. 91+p.
Château Corbin, which is said to have almost same soil as Cheval Blanc, is on strong climb up in quality. Raspberry drops, very luscious, creamy, very tasty and well-defined fruit. Delicate, finesse and with sheer elegance. A true delicacy in classic style. 91p.
Château Laroze (90p) smelled extraordinary delicious of blueberries and dark cherries, the refined and intense Château Pavie Macquin (90p) was a little backward, while Château
Corbin Michotte (90p) presented purely stylish, robust and sensual wine.
Château Cadet Bon, Château Bergat, Château Chauvin, Château La Clotte, Château Dassault, Château Fonplegade and Château Haut Sarpe were simply delightful, and received really well-deserved 89p.
Château L'Arrosee, Château Balestard La Tonnelle, Château Berliquet, Château Clos de Jacobins, Château La Couspade, Château Faurie de Souchard, Château Grand Pontet, Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Laroque and Château Matras tasted all just delightfully and it was rewarded with 88-89p.
Château Cap de Mourlin, Château Clos St. Martin, Château Haut Corbin, Château Petit Faurie de Soutard and Château Yon Figeac can really be satisfied with 88p.
Other wines tasted (not blind) while visiting Saint-Émilion in April 2003.
Tertre Roteboeuf, Grand Cru, is one of top wines in the district and loved by many wine-freaks for its flamboyant and sophisticated style. This property's 2000 offered lots of presents. Pick up what you want . Incredibly sensual and incredibly sophisticated wine. 98+p.
Château Ausone Premier Grand Cru Classé is a showcase for it self. Since 1995 vintage, this property has been managed personally by Alain Vauthier, with Michel Rolland as consultant. The quality is getting better and better. Ausone's 2000 was true fireworks of nuances, incredibly sophisticated, with fantastic complexity and enormous length. No body-builder wine here, neither a wine in light-weight class! A strong contender to get maximum rating in the future, but gets "only" 98+p for now. Ausone's second wine, Chapelle d'Ausone impressed with its aromatic and tasty attitude. Delightful sip at 89+p. Alain Vauthier's two Grand Cru properties in Saint-Émilion; Château Moulin St. Georges and Château Fonbel, were also very successful. The complex and well-trimmed Moulin St.Georges got 88-89p, while the luscious and tempting Fonbel gained well-deserved 87p.
WINES TASTED ON THE 1ST NOVEMBER 2011 - COMMANDERIE DE BORDEAUX COPENHAGEN CHAPTER
Flight 1 – de Chambrun, Clos Rene, Corbin (only Corbin was served from magnum bottle)
Flight 2 – Clos de Marquis, Rauzan Gassies, Roc de Cambes, Talbot
Flight 3 – Beychevelle, Giscours, Monbousquet
Flight 4 – Pape Clement, Pichon Comtesse, Troplong Mondot
1. Dark red, slightly watery edge, elegant blueberry nose, ripe tannin but a little bit edgy, finishes rather short on aftertaste. In all quite good wine but it was too light for me for the vintage. My guess was Clos Rene, but it turned out to be Corbin from Saint-Emilion.. Corbin's owner, Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, bought it in 1999, finished vinification of 1998 vintage, so 2000 was her second 100% own vintage. She told me, that Corbin didn't show its true potential in 2000 vintage, due to not that good shape of the vineyard. 88p
2. Dark red, more intense blueberries on the nose, well-balanced, fine structure and long aftertaste. Tastes very well already. Fine effort indeed for the vintage. 90p. Guessed Corbin here but it was Clos Rene from Pomerol.
3. Almost black red. Easy to guess with its modern style. Plenty of fruit supported by plenty of oak, clearly well-extracted, splendid balance and length, pretty lively. I guessed de Chambrun and it was de Chambrun. Will probably keep for 5-10 years more. 91p. Made by Jean-Philippe Janouiex (Croix Mouton and La Confession).
1. Dusty flavors, spicy and very special on the nose. Cranberries? Not showing that much, too young to taste. Well-balanced and well-structured. 89p. I guessed Roc de Cambes and it was Roc de Cambes from Cotes de Bourg. I expected it to be better than its present showing.
2. Really fine nose of blackberries/blueberries, very captivating, splendid balance, sappy, deep and long aftertaste. I was pretty sure it was Talbot but I guessed wrong. But no, it was Rauzan Gassies, this perennial underachiever from Margaux commune and neighbor to R.Segla. What a pleasant surprise!! 93p.
3. Similar to wine nr. 2 in this flight, but slightly less intense on the nose and on the palate. Guessed Rauzan Gassies but it was Talbot from Saint-Julien. 93p.
4. Powerful stuff, tight, deep and long. Great structure and style. Stupendous wine with great possibilities. My guess was Clos de Marquis from Saint-Julien and a correct one. Well done! 94p.
1. Almost black red. Very captivating nose of perfectly ripe blueberry/blackberry fruit, deep, strong structure, rich, sophisticated touch, finesse. Beautifully balanced. Long and firm aftertaste. This wine oozed of class and classical Bordeaux style. Giscours, not really, it was Beychevelle from Saint-Julien. This bottle was better than one I tasted five years ago. Long life. 95p.
2. Almost similar to wine nr.1 in this flight with slightly less fruit sweetness. Still it was fabulous stuff. Guessed Beychevelle, but it was Giscours from Margaux commune. 95p.
3. Raspberries, spicy, clearly overtaken by these two beauty wines in this flight. Nice depth and concentration. Easy to guess – Monbousquet from Saint-Emilion and it was. 88p.
1. Dusty flavors, very intense and deep on the nose and palate. Iron strong structure, multifaceted, stunning balance and length. Very young wine but already showing its formidable qualities. Guessed Troplong Mondot, but was incorrect. It turned out to be Pape Clement from Pessac-Leognan. 15-25 years more. 96p.
2. Stunningly elegant wine full of finesse and sophisticated movements. Very stylish with enchanting black berry fruit. Great, great balance, great length and caressing aftertaste. It had to be Pichon Comtesse from Pauillac and I was right. May it live forever! Magnificent bottle. 96+p
3. Very, very oaky, iron strong structure, deep, immensely concentrated (black-/blueberry fruit) and long. Many, many years ahead. Guessed Pape Clement and I was wrong. It was Troplong Mondot from Saint-Emilion. Great bottle. 96p.