BARLOW IN BORDEAUX: ‘THE BEST OF THE REST’ VINTAGE 2017

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I tasted over 400 wines while in Bordeaux. I reviewed my TOP picks of the 2017 vintage in the last blog.  Now, I shall review ‘The Best of the Rest’ for you to file away when the wines are offered in futures.  I tasted a good many other vintages as well such as the 2015’s & 2016’s that may already be on the market.  Enjoy!

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2017– 96% Cabernet Sauvignon/3.5% Merlot/.5% Petit Verdot aged in 100% new oak and located in Pauillac.  First Growth. Silky, soft with a light mid palate, that is just a touch lacking. Dark cherry and raspberry are prevalent throughout the mouth feel with full grainy tannins.  The finish offers dark chocolate, cinnamon toast, and mocha.  James Score: 96-98

‘R’ de Rieussec Blanc Sec 2017: 54% Semillon/46% Sauvignon Blanc and located in Sauternes.  This wine has a nose to get lost in.  It’s paradise.  Flavors of pineapple, mango and lemon drop are surrounded by divinely placed acidity.  Notes of grapefruit and tree fruit are exquisite on the mid palate.  The finish offers a plethora of flavors like white peach, apricot and creamy banana.  Absolutely Stunning for the price!  James Score: 95-96 Points

Chateau Latour 2017– 92.1% Cabernet Sauvignon/7.8% Merlot/.1% Petit Verdot aged in 100% new oak and located in Pauillac.  First Growth.  This is a big, thick shouldered wine with good structure.  Plush black currant and black cherry are integrated through firm tannins and acids. The finish is velvet with red fruits laying on notes of cedar, vanilla, tobacco and tinges of graphite.  Bright and Beautiful. Wow!  James Score: 98+

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2017– 90% Cabernet Sauvignon/9% Merlot/1% Petit Verdot aged in 100% new oak and located in Pauillac.  First Growth.  Silky and balanced red and black fruits.  There is a 2nd layer of depth and complexity that weaves through medium plus tannins and acids.  The finish offers plenty of nuts, butter, and vanilla graham cracker.  Tinges of gravel, smoke and tar give the wine an edgy undercurrent. James Score: 97-98 Points

Les Forts de Latour 2017– 65.2% Cabernet Sauvignon/33% Merlot/.8% Cabernet Franc/1% Petit Verdot.  Second wine of Chateau Latour.  Flavors of black cherry and black currant flow into notes of chalky limestone.  The tannins are full and gripping in the mid palate.  The finish offers black raspberry, tea, cocoa dust and gravel.  James Score: 97-98 Points

La Mission Haut Brion 2017– 56% Cabernet Sauvignon/39.6% Merlot/4.4% Cabernet Franc aged in 60% new oak and located in Pessac-Leognan.  This seamless magic carpet ride is one that I would love to repeat.  Velvet red fruits of cherry and pomegranate dive into a creamy core.  The mid palate offers blueberries and cassis with medium plus tannins and acids.  The finish shows vanilla, cedar, and butterscotch.  Long and lingering, this wine get more hedonistic as it sits on the palate.  James Score: 97-98 Points

Chateau Pichon-Lalande  2017: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon/23%Merlot/6% Cabernet Franc/1% Petit Verdot aged in 50% new oak and located in Pauillac.  Black fruits of currant and cassis are sleek and silky with medium plus tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers red raspberry with hints of dark mocha.  The finish offers a medley of gravel, tobacco, tar, smoke, graphite and coffee bean.  Beautiful and balanced.  James Score: 97-98 Points

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 2017: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon/10% Merlot aged in 100% new oak and located in Saint Julien.  Thick, rich, mildly extracted, voluptuous with red and black fruits encompassed by medium plus tannins and acids.  The mid palate is seamless with currant and blackberry freely flowing.  The finish offers toasted oak, potpourri, cinnamon graham crackers with hints of milk chocolate and cream.  James Score: 96-98 Points

Chateau Leoville-Poyferre 2017– 68% Cabernet Sauvignon/27% Merlot/3% Cabernet Franc/2% Petit Verdot aged in 80% new oak and located in Saint-Julien.  Second Growth.  Wow.  Full and amazing.  Seamless and creamy with bright, vibrant red fruits.  The mid palate has integrated tannins and acids.  The finish offers a medley of cinnamon, graham cracker, leather, and tobacco.  James Score: 96-98 Points

Chateau Quintus 2017– 54.4% Merlot/46.6% Cabernet Franc aged in 36% new oak and located in St. Emilion.  From the Dillon family of Haut Brion.  Richly textured with a true gracefulness.  Red fruits are prevalent on the palate with medium tannins and acids.  The finish offers cedar, tobacco, cream and cinnamon.  There is an undercurrent of wild spice throughout the wine.  James Score: 97-98 Points

La Sirene de Giscours 2017– 55% Cabernet Sauvignon/25% Merlot/20% Cabernet Franc aged in 25% new oak and located in Margaux.  Second wine of 3rd Growth Chateau Giscours.  Creamy and silky dark fruit that is very pleasing on the palate. Black cherry and raspberry mingle with red fruits that are balanced in medium plus tannins and acids.  The wine is quite aromatic with violets wafting throughout.  The finish is chalked full of stones and gravel with exotic spices and tobacco.  James Score: 94-95 Points

Chateau Branaire-Ducru 2017– 65% Cabernet Sauvignon/24% Merlot/4.5% Cabernet Franc/6.5% Petit Verdot aged in 60% new oak and located in Saint-Julien.  Fourth Growth.  This Chateau is quickly becoming one of my favorites due to their elegance and purity from vintage to vintage.  Red and black fruits of cherry and raspberry flow freely through seamless acids and tannins.  Beautifully fresh and elegant, the palate offers vanilla, toasted cedar with hints of herbs, tobacco leaf and tea.  The finish shows dark chocolate with smidgeons of graphite and gravel.  Pure!  James Score: 96-97 Points

Chateau Figeac 2017– 47% Cabernet Sauvignon/43% Merlot/10% Cabernet Franc aged in 100% new oak and located in Saint Emilion.  Silky red cherry, raspberry with a touch of cranberry.  Edgy tannins are rounded into a soft mouth feel.  Creamy and succulent, the finish offers smidgeons of black tea, raspberry tart, vanilla and toasted cedar.  James Score: 96-97 Points

Vieux Chateau Certan 2017– 81% Merlot/14% Cabernet Franc/5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 50% new oak and located in Pomerol.  This is the first time in ten years that VCC has used Cabernet Sauvignon.  Due to lower yield on Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Silky dark cherry and blackberry.  Medium plus tannins and acids are integrated through raspberry and cranberry flavors with a hint of chalky minerality.  The finish is wrapped up in vanilla, herbs and graphite.  James Score: 96-97 Points

Chateau Rauzan-Segla 2017: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon/36% Merlot/2% Petit Verdot aged in 60% new oak and located in Margaux.  Farmed sustainably and mostly organic.  Round beautiful red fruits of cherry and pomegranate.  Plush tannins and vibrant acids give the wine a ‘WoW’ factor.  Cedar, vanilla bean notes are polished into a creamy core.  James Score: 96-97 Points

Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal 2017: 72% Cabernet Sauvignon/28% Merlot aged in 40% new oak and located in Pauillac.  Right by Latour.  Red and black fruit with Pauillac style tannins and acids.  The mid palate is thick and juicy with plenty of fruit.  The finish is packed full oaky vanilla, spice, gravel, tobacco and tea.  James Score: 95-96

Chateau Margaux Pavillon Rouge 2017:  76% Cabernet Sauvignon/17% Merlot/4% Cabernet Franc/3% Petit Verdot aged in 60% new oak and located in Margaux.  2nd wine of Chateau Margaux.  Round, pure and elegant red cherry and violets lick through the palate.  The mid palate offers currants and cream with medium plus tannins and acids.  The finish is wonderfully long with a creamy vanilla core.  James Score: 95-96 Points

Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere 2017: 60% Merlot/30% Cabernet Franc/10% Cabernet Sauvignon and located in Saint Emilion.  Silky, beautiful and graceful red  fruits balance wonderfully with the sticky tannins.  The finish offers a plethora of creamy vanilla, oak and exotic spices.  James Score: 95-97 Points

Chateau La Mondotte 2017: 70% Merlot/30% Cabernet Franc aged in 60% new oak and located in Saint Emilion.  Round and fully textured with striking tannins that are surrounded by black and red fruit.  Seamless but with body.  The finish offers black leather, tea, exotic spice.  James Score: 95-97 Points

Chateau Boyd-Cantenac 2017Tasted at Cazabone tasting so no assemblage. Very expressive nose.  Flavors of oak, caramel, tea and smoked meat.  Powerful and hedonistic but with structured tannins. Finish offers oak and brazed maple glaze.  Flavor bomb!  James Score: 94-96 Points

Chateau Lagrange 2017: Tasted at Cazabone tasting so no assemblage.  Round, rich and creamy with well balanced structure.  Red fruits.  James Score: 95-97 Points

Chateau La Confession 2017 : 75% Merlot/25% Cabernet Franc and located in Saint Emilion.  Delicious red cherries and raspberry with round, solid tannins.  The finish is long with cedar and subtle spices.  James Score: 93 Points

Chateau La Croix St. Georges 2017: 95% Merlot/5% Cabernet Franc and located in St. Emilion.  This vineyard’s next door neighbor is the famed Le Pin.  Gravelly, red fruits flow into gripping tannins.  The mid palate offers black cherry and cassis.  The finish is balanced with chocolate, mocha and cedar.  Long finish.  James Score: 94 Points

Chateau Daugay 2017: 75% Merlot/25% Cabernet Franc and located in St. Emilion Grand Cru.  Very pretty wine at a reasonable price.  Light red cherry and cranberry that leads into a rich, voluptuous mid palate.  The finish is lengthy and balanced with exotic spice and vanilla cream.  James Score: 91-92 Points

Chateau Suduiraut 2017: 92% Semillon/8% Sauvignon Blanc and located in Sauternes.  Expressive mouth feel!  Honeyed beeswax, pineapple and lanolin flow into medium plus acidity that balanced out the refreshing sweetness.  The wine is delightfully fresh and clean with apricot, white peach and graham crackers.  The finish offers salted caramel and cannoli.  James Score: 95-96 Points

Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2017: 55% Sauvignon Blanc/45% Semillon aged in 25% new oak and located in Pessac Leognan.  Best Carbonnieux Blanc I’ve tasted! Silky citrus, cactus and cream scream on the palate.  The backbone is quite linear with pointed acidity.  The Semillon shows nicely and give the finish a beautiful roundness.  Yummy!  James Score: 95-96

Chateau Smith Haut Lafite Blanc 2017: 90% Sauvignon Blanc/10% Semillon aged in 50% new oak and located in Pessac Leognan.  Round, supple and creamy with floral white flowers and white peach on the palate.  Medium plus acids are tamed by notes of orange, nectarines and citrus.  The finish is quite giving with loads of hazelnuts, fresh meadow flowers and vanilla custard. James Score: 96-97 Points

Chateau Puygueraud Blanc 2017: 60% Sauvignon Blanc/40% Sauvignon Gris and located in Franc.  Very floral.  White peach, flowers and mango sinew through the palate with medium acids.  Notes of citrus, cactus and orange blossom play on the finish with just a touch of lees aging.  James Score: 90-91 Points

THE BEST 2016’s TASTED

Chateau Branaire-Ducru 2016: 64% Cabernet Sauvignon/27% Merlot/3% Cabernet Franc/6% Petit Verdot aged in 60% new oak and located in Saint Julien.  Full bodied, yet silky with charming tannins.  Flavors of red cherry and raspberry with darker fruits flowing in the mid palate.  The finish is velvety with notes of graham cracker, clove, and caramel.  WoW!  James Score: 96 Points

Chateau Beychevelle 2016: 47% Cabernet Sauvignon/47% Merlot/1% Cabernet Franc/5% Petit Verdot aged in 50% new oak and located in Saint Julien.  Beautifully aromatic nose.  Sweet red fruits and pastries are integrated into medium plus tannins and acids.  The finish offers notes of pecans, tea, and toasted oak.  Expressive.  James Score: 98+ Points

Vieux Chateau Certan 2016: 85% Merlot/14% Cabernet Franc/1% Cabernet Sauvignon from Pomerol.  Very floral, fresh and vibrant.  Red fruits and fresh herbs sinew into powerful, yet finessed tannins and acids.  Red and black fruit hit the mid palate with wild flowers, tea and tobacco.  The finish is delightfully long with cream, vanilla, cedar, walnuts and cocoa dust.  James Score: 98 Points

Vieux Chateau Certan ‘Gravette’ 2016: 70% Merlot/20% Cabernet Franc/10% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in no new oak and located in Pomerol.  2nd wine of Vieux Chateau Certan. Round, plush candied red cherries and cran-apple show off integrated tannins and acids.  Powerful, yet ready and willing wine.  All fruit and structure with vanilla, herbal tea, gravel, smoke and game on the finish. Special!  James Score: 96 Points

Chateau Quintus 2016: 70% Merlot/30% Cabernet Franc aged in 35% new oak and located in Saint Emilion.  Full and textured.  Beautiful.  Red fruit and cream.  More structure than the 2017.  The finish offers cedar and cinnamon.  James Score: 98+ Points

Chateau Quintus ‘Le Dragon’ 2016: 90% Merlot/10% Cabernet Franc aged in 29% new oak and located in Saint Emilion.  Well balanced with loads of red fruit and sticky, fine tannins.  Brawny and age worthy.  James Score: 94 Points

Chateau Puygueraud blanc 2016: 80% Sauvignon Blanc/20% Sauvignon Gris from Franc.  Fleshy and tropical with white peach, apricot, mango, orange, nectarine with a touch of lees aging.  No oak.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau Tour Leognan Blanc 2016: 70% Sauvignon Blanc/30% Semillon.  Crisp grapefruit, citrus, and cactus lead into medium plus acids. More tree fruit on the mid palate. The finish is complex with cream and nuts.  James Score: 92 Points

THE BEST OF THE OTHER VINTAGES TASTED

Chateau Branaire-Ducru 2015: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon/26% Merlot/4% Cabernet Franc/5% Petit Verdot aged in 65% new oak and located in Saint Julien.  This wine is the reason I have fallen in love with this Chateau.  Creamy, velvety red cherry, framboise and currant ease into medium plus tannins and acids. Unbelievably seamless notes of clove, cinnamon and toasted oak weave through tobacco and exotic spices.  Show Stopper!  James Score: 99 Points

Chateau Latour 2006:  91.5% Cabernet Sauvignon/75% Merlot/.5% Cabernet Franc/.5% Petit Verdot aged in 100% new oak. 1st Growth from Pauillac. Showing slight age and elegance.  Red and black fruit with gripping tannins.  The finish offers graphite and gravel with hints of toasted oak.  Silky smooth, yet with a massive palate.  James Score: 95+

Chateau Latour ‘Les Forts’ 2012: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon/22% Merlot/2% Petit Verdot aged in 30% new oak.  1st Growth, 2nd wine from Pauillac.  Black currant, blackberry and cranberry on the palate with medium plus tannins and acids.  The mid palate is chalked full of dark and milk chocolate.  The finish offers dollops of oak, gravel, cocoa dust, and vanilla bean.  James Score: 94+ Points

Chateau Latour ‘Pauillac’ 2013:  45% Cabernet Sauvignon/54% Merlot/1% Cabernet Franc aged in 20% new oak.  1st growth, 3rd wine from Pauillac.  Elegant nose with red roses, violets and red cherry.  Taught and showing age ability.  The finish offers black tea and gravel.  James Score: 91+ Points

Chateau Branaire-Ducru ‘Duluc’ 2014: 4th Growth, 2nd wine from Saint Julien. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Merlot/3% Petit Verdot/2% Cabernet Franc aged in 20% new oak.  Full and elegant with intense red fruits.  The backbone has a minerality and terroir with tea herbs and medium plus acids and tannins.  The finish offers licks of exotic spice and oak.  Shows ability to age.  James Score: 93 Points

Chateau Grand Corbin Despagne 2014: 75% Merlot/24% Cabernet Franc/1% Cabernet Sauvignon and is St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe.  Round and well balanced red fruit bursting with frenetic energy.  The wine is organic.  Silky smooth finish.  James Score: 93 Points

Chateau Leoville Poyferre ‘Le Crock’ 2015:  50% Cabernet Sauvignon/12% Cabernet Franc/7% Petit Verdot aged in 30% new oak and located in Saint Estephe.  Full and gripping tannins with red and black fruit on the palate.  Notes of mocha, cocoa dust, cream and leather encompass the finish.  James Score: 92 Points

Chateau Leoville Poyferre ‘Pavillon de Poyferre’ 2015: 63% Cabernet Sauvignon/42% Merlot/10% Petit Verdot/3% Cabernet Franc aged in 30% new oak and located in Saint Julien.  2nd Growth, 2nd wine.  Excellent red fruits of raspberry and cherry with medium tannins and acids.  The wine is seamless with a core of cream.  The finish offers tobacco, cedar and vanilla.  James Score: 94 Points

Chateau Leoville Poyferre ‘Moulin Riche’ 2015: 54% Cabernet Sauvignon/33% Merlot/11% Petit Verdot/2% Cabernet Franc aged in no new oak and located in Saint Julien.  Very pretty, velvet texture. Red fruits abound on the palate with medium plus tannins and acids.  Silky butter and nuts combine on the finish. Yum!  James Score: 95 Points

Chateau Chenes Macquin 2015: 90% Merlot/9% Cabernet Franc/1% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in used oak.  Pretty and pure with rounded red fruits. Medium tannins and acids.  James Score: 92 Points

‘Les Griffons’ de Pichon Baron 2015: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Merlot aged in 60% new oak and located in Pauillac.  From the younger vineyards at Baron.  Good structure and texture. Slightly angular red fruit with medium plus tannins.  The finish shows good potential for aging with black tea, tobacco, coffee grinds and graphite.  James Score: 92 Points

Carmes de Rieussec 2013:  Tasted at Cazabone tasting so don’t have assemblage.  Wow!  Tropical pineapple and melon with hints of lime and lychee.  The mid palate shows grapefruit with medium plus acids.  The finish shows soft caramel and buttered popcorn.  Great vintage for white wines!  James Score: 98+ Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

 

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