2006 Bordeaux Lunch and Tasting

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Marquis wine cellars here in Vancouver occassionally hosts wine lunches with winemakers or regional themes, with this summer’s big tatsing being the 2006 Bordeaux release here in BC. Now, for any American readers out there this may seem out of date, but unfortunately our BC distribution system means that we tend to see wines anywhere up to 1 year after the US market. My only hope is that they aren’t languishing in some warehouse somewhere in the mean time.

In any case, the lunch at the Wedgewood Hotel featured three courses paired with seven wines and with another five wines from other vintages to taste after the meal – i.e. a lot of wine. As a brief note, the food was mediocre, but the 2006’s were a pleasure to taste, if not decidedly almost all too young to drink now. Interestingly, most of the 2006’s had a very similar flavour profile. What distinguished them was structure, integration, acidity and fruit density. All the wines are available at Marquis Wine Cellars.

2006 Bordeauxs

2006 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut Médoc

A nose of blackberry, graphite, lead and raspberry and a palate drinking well right now with wood/cedar, bright raspberry and cassis, chocolate and mint.

Very Good+
$60

2006 Chateau Gloria, St. Julien

This nose was more closed than the Cantermerle, but offered suggestions of black fruits. The palate again was more backwards and tight than the previous wine and had a fair degree of acidity. I got cedar, chocolate and casis with potential for solid aging on the mid-palate.

Very Good+
$70

2006 Chateau Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux

This is where the wines started to show their youth and tightness a bit too much. The nose here had blackberry, mint and stone and the palate was quite modern and smooth with cassis, caramel, and mocha. This is a sweeter and richer style of Bordeaux and will please those looking for a more modern styled wine. Perhaps a bit too rich/sweet for my tastes.

Very Good
$149

2006 Chateau Grand-Pur-Lacost, Pauillac

The coffee-like nose led into a nice up front blackberry taste and fairly bright acidity on the palate. Along with the coffee, this also tasted a bit like wood along with the dark fruits. Drinking fairly well right now, but I would not pay this for a wine to drink it so young. In need of age.

Very Good+ to Excellent
$120

2006 Chateau Cos d’Estournel, St. Estephe

The big-boy of the tasting, and the biggest wine too. There was incredible density and structure in this wine and, while way too tight right now, in my mind this will be the best of them all with age. The nose was a bit funky and again had black fruits predominating. A classic palate of cedar and cassis, there was tons of mid-palate fruit which is a good sign of the wine’s aging potential.

Excellent
$275

2006 Chateau Coutet, Barsac

Barsac is part of the Sauternes region and thus this was a dessert wine. The nose here had lots of candied grapefruit and some pear and apple. The palate continued those flavours along with tons of candied orange and lemon. In the end, this is tarter and lighter than your standard Sauternes. While very tasty, I didn’t find this as complex as other Sauternes I’ve had and the 2006 vintage doesn’t seem to taste nearly as good in Sauternes as 05.

Very Good+
$50 / 375ml

2006 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes

One of my favourites from the 2005 vintage, the 2006 was sweeter and balanced a little less well. Nonetheless, it was still very tasty with pear, nectarine and peach flavours predominating. I also love this wine’s thick but silky texture, which is not too sticky or cloying while also being quite huge and expressive. This will definitely get better with some age.

Excellent
$65 / 375ml

Other Vintages

2004 Chateau Belle-Vue, Haut Médoc

Dropping down a level with this wine, I was not all that impressed. A nose of graphite and blackberry, and again on the palate with some cedar. The acid on this wine tasted out of balance tome and the tannins were somewhat too forceful.

Good+
$40

2005 Chateau Les Gravieres, St. Emillon

Getting better was this wine with its blackberry and caramel nose. More interesting was the palate of forest floor, blackberry and wood. I enjoyed the firm mid-palate acidity and solid ageable structure. Not the best ’05 though.

Very Good to Very Good+
$70

2005 Clos du Marquis, St. Julien

Clos du Marquis is always one of my ‘good buy’ wines of Bordeaux. The second wine of famed Leoville Las Cases, the Clos is made in a very different style – more modern and fruit driven and immediately expressive. Nonetheless, this also has incredible aging potential and will probably be drinking great in another 10 to 15 years. The nose on this had cured meat and lots of density to the fruit. The slight graphite edge got overwhelmed on the palte with its heavy dose of blackberry and raspberry fruit along with a little pepper. This wine has wonderful balance and structure and amazing integration.

Very Good+ to Excellent
$110

2001 Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere, St. Emillon

This may have been the wine of the night for me and it shows how much Bordeaux needs to age. I’m sure many of the wines tasted earlier would defeat this in a blind if they had as much age, this was just showing beautifully at the tasting. The nose was smooth and expressive and the palate impressed with its game, blackberry, cedar, eucalyptus, coffee and overall superb expression.

Excellent
$121

2005 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes

One of the big-boy Sauternes of the 2005 vintage, this was huge: pear, nectarine and lemon curd on the nose. The palate was all creme brulée, with hints of lemon curd, meringue, and jasmine tea. As with all the 05 sauternes I’ve had this had fantastic acidic lift to prevent palate fatigue. Acid in my mind is what makes dessert wine work, and this got the balance right.

Excellent to Excellent+
$85 / 375ml

My conclusions after this brief excursion into 2006 Bordeaux is that the wines are very good, are not as approachable as the 2005’s right now, but will also be ready to consume at their full potential earlier. This is a good bargain vintage and if you choose the right wines I have no doubt you will be rewarded in 10 years time.

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