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Pomerol 1995 & 1998: Clinet, L’Evangile, Trotanoy, La Conseillante & VCC 1986, 1990

June 8, 2011

I found this mega tasting-cum-dinner at Lien Villa on 12 April 2011 – consisting of wines entirely from Pomerol – difficult to write. Perhaps it’s because of their nature, being so varied and unpredictable without any firm distinguishing feature, that made it difficult to pin them down. For sure dinner was a great success – how can it not be at this most outstanding of private dining venues (see Sept 2010), with dinner prepared on-site by the kitchen staff of Saint Pierre, helmed by its general manager and sommelier Gabriel Danis. A theme of 1995 and 1998 Pomerol, restricted to the top estates, had been declared in advance but as usual, there were a couple of variations here and there. We left Gabriel to blind the wines and serve them in flights of three in accordance to his own preference. We unveiled the wines after each flight. Needless to say, I got them all wrong and so, instead of leading readers blindly, I’ll just list all the wines in the order drunk.

A magnum of Champagne Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle NV (courtesy of Chris) preceded the first flight – light clear golden with attractive aromas of toasty walnut set against the lively citrus at the rear. Not much depth but it is really smooth with excellent balance and concentration. We opened the actual tasting with a 1995 Château Trotanoy (courtesy of Chris). Dull purple; rather dense and sharp on the nose. More open on the palate with predominant red fruits producing some accentuation in the mid-body, soft at the edges, minty, long with lovely balance and layering, though it doesn’t plumb the depths. The 1990 Vieux Château Certan (courtesy of David) was distinctly more evolved in color and character, almost burgundian with notes of orange peel, cinnamon and red fruits, wonderfully ripe with great purity and some sweetness trailing at the edges. Mellow and very harmonious, finishing with moderate length. Very classic. Superb. In contrast, the 1995 Château L’Evangile (courtesy of Ed) was absolutely deceiving – very dark at the core with plenty of vanilla, glycerin and concentration of ripe fruit in the mid-body that gave no hint of its 16 years, finishing long. Yet to unfurl its glories, but the potential is great.

The second flight of wines were appreciably more forward in character. The 1998 Château La Conseillante (courtesy of Hiok) was big, bold and slightly medicinal, still dense and primal even after all these years, well structured and framed by velvety supple tannins but decidedly short, rather atypical for this much-admired estate. The 1995 Château Clinet (courtesy of Kieron) that followed, showing a beautiful clear red, was similarly tight and sappy in spite of the abundance of red and black berries, clearly possessing huge potential yet to be unleashed but already highly elegant at this stage. The 1995 Château La Conseillante (courtesy of KP) still retained a dark red core, giving off earthy barnyard aromas. Steely on the palate with good concentration, somewhat vegetal, developing more forward fruit characters with time but I wished it had more development.

We began the final flight with a 1998 Château L’Evangile (courtesy of Vic) that promised to be a big wine from its deep dark appearance, and it certainly was. Dense, almost jammy, loaded with glycerin and vanilla even after all these years, behaving as if it was a current release. Lush, rich, voluptuous but short and still unevolved. The 1998 Château Clinet was similarly big, dense and jammy with prune-like characters and graphite minerals. An intense effort, but the wine seemed to fall off the cliff at the finish. Worthy of anchoring the entire evening’s line-up, however, was the 1986 Vieux Château Certan (courtesy of PS). Still dark red in color, but it is obviously fully mature on the palate, soft with a lovely balance of red fruits and sweet raspberries, still remarkably fresh and lively. A superb end to a delectable evening of excesses. My sincere thanks to everyone for their generosity, not least the Lien estate.

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