Last Friday, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux held their big, annual trade tasting in San Francisco. (It alternates annually between San Francisco and Los Angeles.) Nearly 90 producers poured wines from their 2014 Bordeaux offerings.
My focus at the tasting this time was the 2014 Bordeaux reds. I only tasted a couple of white and none of the sweet wines from Sauternes or Barsac. Nor, unfortunately, did I have time to taste wines from the general areas of Haut-Medoc, Medoc, Listrac or Moulis. With just three hours available, it was a good job to get through Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Pomerol, Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac, Saint-Estephe and part of Pessac-Leognan.
The quality of wines was very good across the board. I didn’t taste a single wine that I would rate below 88. The vast majority fell into the 90-92 range with a few reaching higher.
For the most part, the character of each region did show in the wines. Regardless of commune though, I found several things to be true with most every 2014 Bordeaux red:
- Body was medium (note that most of my favorites below have more presence)
- Tannins varied in intensity but were generally soft
- Length tended to be good, not exceptional. That may change as tannins resolve further.
- The wines will improve with some age, but are drinkable now
- Flavors showed appropriate ripeness, no unpleasant green aspects
- Intensity of aromas and flavors was moderate, attractive but neither showy nor concentrated
I didn’t find one commune that showed significantly better from the others. Again, quality was solid throughout and most communes had at least one wine that placed among my favorites. Note also that none of the 1st growths were in attendance and about half the producers from the other classifications.
Here are the wines that I enjoyed the most. (Remember that these walk-around tastings aren’t ideal review environments, so my scores are directional not absolute and my descriptions are abbreviated.)
2014 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere Rouge Pessac-Leognan 92+
Vanilla, spice and caramel lead into ripe black and red fruit
2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Leognan 94
Round with medium+ body and soft, fine-grained tannins. Red fruit, woody spice and chocolate.
2014 Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeliere Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 95
Medium+ body and well-structured with fine, soft, chalky tannins. Dark red cherries, earth, exotic spice and plenty more.
2014 Chateau La Gaffeliere Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 93
Medium+ body and tannins of fine, soft chalk. Juicy cherries and lovely spice.
2014 Chateau Le Bon Pasteur Pomerol 93
Pretty, very generous and immediately approachable. Medium+ body and fine, soft, chalky tannins. Aromas of red cherries, earthy spice and leather. More of that on the palate, and loads of chocolate. Very long finish.
2014 Chateau Rauzan-Segla Margaux 93
Dark spice and berry fruit. Excellent balance in every respect. Medium+ body.
2014 Chateau Gloria Saint-Julien 92+
Beautiful balance of body, structure and freshness. Excellent intensity with dark fruit, coffee and spice leading the way.
2014 Chateau Leoville-Poyferre Saint-Julien 92+
Medium+ body with juicy dark fruit held in check by structure. A well-muscled wine that will only get better over the next 10 years.
2014 Chateau Lynch-Moussas Pauillac 92
The most immediately accessible of the Pauillac offerings, it’s generous with earthy cocoa, coffee, dark berries and graphite. Medium+ body and structure. Enjoy while you wait for the others to open up.
2014 Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron Pauillac 92+
Sophisticated and a bit tight, but showing focused cherry fruit. Best 2020-2030.
If you’d like a palate refresher after all those reds, the 2014 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc (92+) is a smashing wine. It’s juicy and long with great intensity on nose and palate. Dry grass, honey, pineapple and dried stone fruit.
Copyright Fred Swan 2017. Photo courtesy of Smith Haut Lafitte. All rights reserved.