Saturday, January 22, 2011

2008 Bordeaux Vintage - Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux Tasting - Santa Monica, CA

Many of the most respected Bordeaux chateaux proudly offered their soon to be released 2008 vintage to a large and eager crowd in the Barker Hanger of the Santa Monica Airport Saturday January 22, 2011.  The 2008 vintage was afflicted by early weather issues that reduced yields to levels not seen since 1991, but nevertheless it finished strong with a warm September and a dry harvest season.  An early bud break was subsequently confounded by periods of cold and rain that caused coulure, millerandage, and risk of mildew.  The vintage was rescued by a warm September and October along with judicious green harvesting of clusters that had been ruined by the uncooperative spring weather.

The wines generally could be described as good, but not a blockbuster vintage.  Many will evolve into wonderful wines and are offered at reasonable prices compared to 2005 and the even more ridiculously priced 2009 vintage.  While there were no first growths present and a few of the upper echelon seconds notably missing, a few wines were clear standouts. 

2008 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron (Pauillac)
A wonderfully expressive nose immediately captures your attention with hints of blackberry and layers of graphite and fruit.  The palate is complex and well structured with firm tannins that should give this wine incredible longevity.  A long finish lingers, allowing your mind to wander as it assimilates the incredible range of senses that the Pichon-Longueville Baron conveys.  Without a doubt, this blend of 71% cabernet sauvignon and 29% merlot was my favorite wine of the event.  It has spent 20 months in 80% new French oak and was fined with egg whites.  A wonderful wine.  9+ / 10

2008 Château Angelus (Saint Emilion)
Hints of cherry and smoke evoke an immediate reaction as the nose captures your attention, but the wine was a bit closed and restrained on the palate.  It has true potential, however, and should be a good one.  8+ / 10

2008 Château Pape Clément (Pessac-Léognan)
Rouge: Characteristic earthy and gravelly nose gives way to a reasonably structured palate.  Modest fruit is present in this notable, yet perhaps aggressively priced, standout.  7-7+ / 10

Blanc: Unique fragrances of pineapple and citrus give way to a velvety smooth sensual palate and a soft finish.  Distinctive and rather unusual, this wine is undeniably remarkable.  Priced substantially higher than its red sibling, this wine is undoubtedly fully valued but would be a gem for a special occasion.  8+ / 10

2008 Château Langoa Barton (Saint Julien)
A nose of pencil shavings and modest fruit gives way to a nicely structured wine.  Perhaps one of the most attractively priced wines, Langoa Barton certainly contends well with its big brother Léoville Barton.  The Langoa Barton is a nice wine that will provide significant drinking pleasure.  7 / 10

2008 Château Batailley (Pauillac)
Another of the better value wines, this Pauillac cinquième cru performs nicely and outshines many of its peers.  Worth the price.  7 / 10

Full Disclosure: I paid the $60 retail admission to attend this event and received no special perks or benefits in exchange for my reviews.  I have ordered the 2008 Pichon Baron, Langoa Barton, and Batailley for my personal cellar.