2005 Bordeaux Tasting

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Today I was lucky enough to attend a 2005 Bordeaux tasting. Vintage hype is perhaps one of the more annoying things in wine, but it does have substance behind the superlatives. Sometimes the substance is not equivalent to the hyperbole, however, and so this chance to check out Bordeaux’s ‘Vintage of the Century’ was incredibly useful and fun. I tasted the following 12 wines:

Chateau Cornélie, Haut-Médoc

Long, structured blackberry flavour. Rough around the edges and very tannic, but good value.

Very Good

Chateau d’Escurac, Médoc

Gamey and woody, with a long finish for this price point. Felt somewhat boring to me, though – and it needed more fruit.

Very Good

Chateau Olivier, Pessac-Léognan

Nicely refined, with incredible structure. Cherry and backberry fruit was still very tight, but this has great potential and is a steal at this price.

Very Good+

Chateau Grand Mayne, Saint-Emilion

This had large black current fruit that was well balanced with an earthy briariness. Tasted like dried shrubs and earth. A very nice flavour profile was unfortunately let down somewhat by a short finish.

Very Good

Clos du Marquis, Saint-Julien

The second wine of Leoville Las-Casses, the 05 Clos du Marquis had incredible structure and an endless finish. It’s relatively high acidity and muscled but very refined tannins ensure this is one to cellar for a long time. The fruit (classic blackberry and cassis) was very well integrated. Incidentally, this is also the one wine I picked up.


Chateau Duhart-Milon, Pauillac

Very nice aromatics on this gamey and woody wine. Tart and tannic, but perhaps a little simple for the price. Still, if the palate opens up with time to offer what the nose promises, this could be fantastic.

Very Good

Chateau Balthus, Bordfeaux Supérieur

A garagiste operation with extremely small yields. This 100% merlot wine had exceptional structure, with sweet fruit and wood, with a touch of damp earth. Merlot rarely tasted this good. Made in a more forward style for earlier drinking than the classic Bordeauxs.

Very Good+ to Excellent

Chateau Pichon-Longueville “Comtesse de Lalande”, Pauillac

Ah, the super seconds. Gamey cassis again. But the higher growths are all about structure and elegance. This was very long and full in the mouth, with all the flavours well matched and brought into a refined finish. Very nice stuff, but didn’t blow me away.

Very Good+

Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe

Very big, chocolatey, herbal, but with sweeter riper fruit than the Pichon Lalande. This had what I would call a full structure, with no holes in development and tons of aging potential. I also loved the integration and boldness of the palate.


Chateau Palmer, Margaux

A third growth, but with the reputation to match the super seconds. This was miles beyond all the other wines we tasted. I have rarely tasted a wine with such incredible refinement and balance. The fruit had a beautiful flavour to it and layers and layers of complexity. I could imagine drinking this in 30-40 years and it still being exceptional. If I could afford it I would have picked it up.


Chateau Lafaurie-Peygraguey, Sauternes

Great value. Tons of grapefruit and great acidity make this a beautiful little dessert wine. Perhaps a little one dimensional right now, the complexity will open up with a little time.

Very Good+

Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes

Hands down THE BEST dessert wine I have ever tasted. Stupidly I did not pick any up, but if some survives the rush I may have to go back and get a bottle. This was like white berry and apricot confit made with the perfect balance of sugar and acid. The structure could send this into the next decade. Brilliant!


In the final analysis: yes the wines live up to the hype. Yes you should buy some. Yes they are worth the money.


  1. howlr5
    September 21, 2008

    I agree with you on the Chateau Palmer. This wine was like having a stealth bomber jettison a cargo of cassis and leather on my palate. An extremely long finish with perfect balance of fruit, acid and tannins.

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