Saturday, April 21, 2007

Garage wines

On the sites of Decanter or Mark Squires, I came across comments where garages wines are described as too concentrated, too dark, and especially comments from an English person (who I think never visited my vineyards) who wrote that Valandraud 1995 is quite tired.

While I believe that everyone has the right to have a different opinion, lies, incompetence is always something that I find unpleasant.

Compared to the quality of comments made by other amateurs and critics who are well known, therefore reliable, I can even ad that today from Parker to Jancis, Bettane, Burtschy, Tanzer, Tanaka, Dupont, Quarin, Gabriel and 90 % of all critics with each such different tastes, no one, including professionals from
Bordeaux, no one talks such nonsense about my wine.

One needs to exists, especially, in front of Parker or Jancis.

What could be most upsetting would be to take his wishes for realities. Garage wines exist and will exist in one form or another, and certainly merchants who only sell well known high-end brands with no need to make an effort. In that case you need to look somewhere else. Garage wines are not always easy to sell, but this is for another discussion which has nothing to do with quality, and all the blabla of “jealous individuals“ as François Mauss would call them.
I would like to point out that the subject of garage wines is becoming Panos Kakaviatos specialty, when I thought it was Jeffrey Davis…

Other than that, I tasted, with the sales staff of a big Bordeaux wholesaler, all the vintages of Commanderie de Mazeyres followed with a tasting, at our house, of a little historical tour our garage wines, including Croix de Labrie 2001, Valandraud 2001, Rol Valentin 1998 and a fabulous bottle of Pingus 1998 who didn’t leave any of these professionals indifferent.

At noon, I had a great lunch with a lot of Bordeaux negociants and brokers at Bernard Magrez Fombrauge. When I say that life is difficult!

Notes are still coming out… please find below a compilation of the ones published on my wines and properties I am responsible for.

JLT 2006 Bordeaux Blanc 17 Drink 2008-11
Made by Murielle Thunevin with a Greek oenologist apparently.
Quite exotic with strong grapefruit flavours. Fine and mineral – very good! Finer and more subtle than the Monbousquet Blanc tasted immediately before it that seemed a bit New World. More mineral nose than most wines in 2006. Long and fresh on the mid palate but not angular.

Clos Badon 2006 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 17 Drink 2012-18
Bright crimson with a pale rim. Bloody and rich and sumptuous but with very good freshness. Real lift and briskness. Slightly dry end with some ink though more energy than most. Lots of sweetness – with sandy tannins.

Ch La Dominique 2006 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 15.5 Drink 2012-17
Very dark brownish purple. Lifted nose – very appetising. Sweet, very slightly inky palate. Inky finish. Rather dried fruit in the middle – a lack of fruity flesh. Hole in the middle.

Ch Valandraud 2006 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 17 Drink 20
Bright crimson. Thick and fresh and a bit angular and not really married – hollow and awkward. Needs a bit of weight and fruit expression in the middle. No kosher cuvée was made this year ‘because I still have four years’ stock to sell’, said Jean-Luc Thunevin. Kosher-keepers, haste ye.

Virginie de Valandraud 2006 Saint-Émilion 16.5 Drink 2012-18
Dark crimson, round and sumptuous – difficult to believe this is a second wine. Very rich and round but with a tarry, rather Pavie note on the finish. Drying tannins. Very very good up to the finish. If you have guests who have no attention span – give them this – they won’t notice its delayed imperfections.

Ch La Commanderie de Mazeyres 2006 Pomerol 17 Drink 2012-20
Black hearted with purple crimson rim. Very dark black fruit, intense but not yet fragrant. Dense, full and well balanced. Fine firm tannins. Tightly reined in at the moment. Wonderfully fresh right through to the end with plenty of ripe fruit on the mid palate. (JH)

Ch Closerie Mazeyres 2006 Pomerol 15 Drink 2012-18
Strange soapy nose. Thick and sweet and not very refreshing. Dry tannins on the finish. Hard work!


LA DOMINIQUE St-Emilion Grand Cru 15,5 - 15,75
This wine seems to me better balanced than in the past. Jean-Luc Thunevin is personally involved to improve its quality and style..
In 2006, its overall softness, smoothness, ripness brings it closer to a Pomerol than a Saint Emilion. Very, very pleasant to swallow, it ends on distinguished tannins and flavors.

VALANDRAUD St-Emilion Grand Cru 16,75
75% merlot, 15 % cabernet franc plus 10 % malbec and cabernet sauvignon. 10000 bottles instead of 15000
A beautiful deep red color, with dark reflection, a bit sharp on the edge. Fine nose, intense, fruity. With notes of cream and cocoa. The initial contact in the mouth is beautiful, refined, fleshy and grows deliciously, very fruity and with a caressing and melting feeling in the mouth. Velvety and dynamic, it fills the middle mouth. With refined and soft tannins. Beautiful work filled with nuances. A success.

VIRGINIE de Valandraud St-Emilion Grand Cru Second vin 15,5
Beautiful red, sharp. Nice intensity. Fuity nose, ripe. Fine touches of truffles. Delicate palate, full with sap, aromatic, growing into a fine touch. With a normal corpulence and strong seduction.

FRANC MAILLET Cuvée Jean-Baptiste Pomerol 15
Gorgeous dark red, purple, beautiful. Aromatic nose, fruity. A touch orange zest over prune liquor. The palate is a little soft as I was waiting a for more aromatic sparkle. The tannic structure is irreproachable and the body finely smooth. Normal length and very light wood as it is customary at this age.

Very nice red, purple, good intensity. Fruity nose, ripe, fresh. A touch of cherry. Caressing palate, which develops lengthy on a normal corpulence and velvety and aromatic tannins. Normal length. Good wine.

Finally, I should say. For many years this wine has bothered me for its excessive oakiness and lack of precision. Today, it is reborn under the helm of Jean-Luc Thunevin called in for help by the owner, Clément Fayat.
Very nice red, dark, intense. Fruity nose, pure. Nice palate, tasty, fleshy, developing into a normal consistency and fat and velvety tannins. Finish with perfectly balanced tannins. Pure pleasure.


Château Valandraud 2006
A different style to Valandraud this year. Minerally, upright, long and linear. Less density and concentration but still a good volume of pure, ripe fruit. Tannins firm and long. One for the cellar. 2016-25.

Château Fleur Cardinale 2006
Warm, ripe, modern style. Dark hue. Spicy, jammy fruit. Plenty of flesh. Powerful tannic frame. 2013-20.

Château La Dominique 2006
Here's a change of style. Riper, fuller with smooth, velvety texture and tannins. Just misses that extra vigour and length on the finish. 2013-2025

Domaine Fayat-Thunevin 2006
Formerly Vieux Château Bourgneuf now a joint venture between Clément Fayat and Jean-Luc Thunevin. Very ripe raspberry compote aroma and flavour. Warm, rich and perhaps a little heavy. Tight tannic frame. 2011-18.

Château La Commanderie de Mazeyres 2006
A distinct change of style here. Dark hue. Ripe to overripe with rich, jammy, mouth filling fruit and smooth texture. Broad and fleshy. 2011-2018

Domaine des Sabines 2006
First vintage of this new Thunevin venture. Ripe, rich and modern in style. Exotic notes. Layered fruit with a light tannic frame. 2010-14.

Haut Carles 2006
Lovely, intense fruit concentration. Tannins smooth and elegant. Ripe flavours but long clean finish. Modern but measured in style. 2010-18.

Château Haut-Mazeris 2006
Fine, clean, linear in style. Less intensity than 2005 but attractive fruit. Digest. 2010-16.

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