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1997 Cheval Blanc, 1999 Leoville Poyferre & Bordeaux 2003…

May 29, 2013

These notes hail from a Bacchus dinner at Jade Palace, 2 April 2013,where, in a bid to assume some degree of austerity, we had opted for a theme of modest Parker points (ie. 86-88) for 2003 Bordeaux. It was difficult to get excited over this but, nonetheless, we gamely showed up. Kieron started us off with a Ulysse Collin Extra Brut Blanc des Blancs that was most alluring with lifted aromas of delicate citrus, tropical fruits, lime, peach and toast, displaying excellent depth right from the outset with just the right degree of dryness. Highly complex, it’s NV status notwithstanding. gaining even greater depth and fullness over time. Quite superb.

The 2003s were generally an undistinguished lot that evening, clearly displaying signs of heat stress from the ultra-hot growing season, and may be dispatched rather briefly. The 2003 Ch Le Bon Pasteur (courtesy Victor) announced itself in a big way on the bouquet, saturated with notes of glycerin and raisins, quite jammy and alcoholic, unable to conceal a trace of burnt at the edges, only smoothening out at the last drop when it’s dryish Bordeaux character finally came through. Crab!The 2003 Ch Feytit-Clinet (courtesy Pipin) was dark and restrained, although there was no shortage of ripe dark fruits imbued with an earthy minerality. However, it was rather disjointed on the palate, with traces of alcohol creating a divide, distinctly austere with a mild medicinal tone. Given its pedigree, the 2003 Ch Rauzan-Segla, aired in bottle for two hours, was appreciably more sophisticated, smooth with a mild even aquiline tone, very pleasant but even its sweet tannins could not conceal the lack of true depth and layering, short at the finish. The 2003 Ch Pouget (courtesy Hiok) was similar in character to the Rauzan-Segla, perhaps just a touch more racy, coating the palate with biting tannins.

The evening, however, was saved by the final pair of reds that brought up the rear, both blinded with the benefit of significant aeration. The first wine appeared reasonably aged at the rim with lovely notes of rose petals and soft plums amidst the classic Bordeaux character of dry leaves, mushrooms and snuff, displaying excellent integration, but definitely not the last word in depth nor complexity although it is certainly charming enough, and drinking very well. Some of us guessed its vintage correctly, but none would have thought of 1997 Ch Cheval Blanc (courtesy Li Fern)! In retrospect, the feminine rosy character, no doubt contributed by its cabernet franc, should have served as a clue. The final red showed up very well too with a predominance of red fruits and wild berries, beautifully integrated and open, framed by chewy tannins. Nobody guessed a  1999 Leoville Poyferre (courtesy Kieron), which simply goes to show that there are gems to be found in every vintage.

The White Knight leads the way

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