What I Drank Last Night
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Château Sociando-Mallet 2001

Splendid.

Last night a blind tasting of Bordeaux 2001 vs. Stellenbosch 2001 at Wine Cellar, providers of a fine wine brokerage service and cellaring facilities.

Wine of the night for me was Sociando-Mallet. Situated in the commune of St-Seurin north of St-Estèphe, it is not ranked in the official classification of 1855 (not existing at the time), nor is listed among Médoc’s Cru Bourgeois due to a decision on the part of its independently minded owner not to put it forward  for inclusion but is widely considered to be of classed-growth quality.

Two big names at the bottom of the rankings last night: Paul Sauer and Pichon-Longueville. I’ve now had the Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2001 twice and the property’s CWG auction bottling of that year once in blind tastings over the last couple of months and on each occasion the wine has come towards the bottom of the pile. My conclusion? Simply not the best vintage of this usually outstanding wine. As for the Pichon-Longueville, the tasting note says all there has to be said.

1. Château Sociando-Mallet (Haut-Médoc) 18/20
Pure and youthful. Pencil shavings and some “oystershell” on the nose. Dark fruit, bright acidity, firm tannins.

2.= Grangehurst Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 17/20
Refined and understated. Cassis, violets and attractive herbal note on nose. Great concentration and freshness.

2.= Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion  (Pessac-Léognan) 17/20
Appealing funkiness. Ripe dark fruit, broad in structure, smooth in texture. Long, savoury finish.

4. Warwick Trilogy 16.5/20
Typically Stellenbosch. Cassis, some leafiness, toasty oak. Medium bodied with fresh acidity with firm but fine tannins.

5.= Thelema Merlot Reserve 16/20
Trademark mint on nose and palate. Ripe dark fruit, bright acidity, fine tannins. Remarkably youthful and fresh although green note pronounced.

5.= Château Troplong-Mondot (St-Emilion) 16/20
Huge intensity, concentration. Full bodied with ripe dark fruit and densely packed tannins. Long, dry finish.

7.= Château Fombrauge (St-Emilion) 15.5/20
Modern style. Sweet, rich and ripe. Concentrated and lacking freshness.

7.= Morgenster 15.5/20
Marked development on nose and palate. Medium bodied with red fruit, savoury finish.

9.= De Toren Fusion V 15/20
Confected. Red fruit, chocolate and spice. Sweet and broad in structure, soft tannins. Starting to fade.

9. = Château La Tour Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan) 15/20
Oak dominated. Some dark fruit but plenty of nutty, earthy notes. Aggressively tannic on finish.

11. Kanonkop Paul Sauer 14/20
Extremely reductive on nose and palate. Dark fruit, very smooth textured.

12. Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (Pauillac) 12/20
Unacceptable brettanomyces.

Comments

  1. I’m really sad to hear that about the Pichon Comtesse, Christian – especially in view of your feelings about Brett. I’ve had very close encounters with two bottles recently. The first was corked which nearly caused Cathy van Zyl to slit her wrists with one of Christophe de Hosse’s butter kinves! The second was sublime. I hosted a dinner at Dombeya’s Long Table with a meal planned around the wines (which included a wonderfully aged Huet haut lieu Vouvray) and the vintage was 1996. Chef Corli Uys paired it with lamb and it was one of those seamlessly elegant matches. The wine was glorious – everything a classed growth Bordeaux should be. If anything, 15 years on from vintage was possibly a little early to broach it. I set it up against the property’s second wine, Reserve de la Comtesse – a 1995 and it was fascinating to see the same thumbprint obvious.

  2. Kwispedoor says:

    Hi, Roland. I’ve only tasted one Comtesse, a 1988 some years ago and it was a thing of rare beauty. However, I applaud any writer who mentions brett where it’s applicable as I’m so tired of dirty wines I can scream. Most writers just try and keep everyone happy, which makes them boring to read. But I’m hungry to learn more about these things, so are you saying that a wine with ample/unacceptable brett will somehow manage to reverse this problem in the bottle? In my practical experience, brett only gets worse with time in the bottle (and this makes sense to me, considering the bacterial activity inside a bottle of wine). Or are you saying that molecular polarization or something else will somehow lessen the brett?
    I realise the Comtesse is a famous Second Growth with a great track record, but I can’t get my mind around how any brett inside any bottle of wine will go away or even lessen. Care to elucidate?

  3. No question the Comtesse showed ample brett. But, with hundreds of years of pedigree and the 2001 currently far away from its drinking plateau, I think you have unfairly dismissed it! Let’s try a bottle in 10 years and I guarantee this wine will be beautiful!

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