BORDEAUX TASTING PRODUCTS
Glengarry have imported Bordeaux since the early 1980s. Our first offering was, in fact, the super 1982 vintage, an auspicious starting point. Within the French market, particularly at the upper level, we are very successful with our Bordeaux En Primeur offering. We lead the market in terms of cases shipped and dollar turnover, achieved mainly through our loyal customers and our long-standing relationships with the best Negociants. This enables us to offer the best wines in reasonable volumes, even in high-demand years such as 2005, 2009 and 2010. The Glengarry En Primeur service has been running since our first offer in 1982, and we are able to offer the security of experience and expertise in this exciting and growing wine service. With our long-standing relationships and our experience honed over 30-odd years, we are old hands at this. Not at a distance either. Once again, I travelled to Bordeaux this year to taste the 2017 vintage and also tasted the 2015s on release. Many of these you are going to taste today.
Our Glengarry Epic Bordeaux Tastings offer a unique opportunity to taste the recently arrived 2015 vintage as well as a collection of wines from 2012 and 2014. These two vintages, whilst not considered at the lofty quality level of the 2015 vintage, were somewhat overlooked on release. I have recently tasted extensively through both vintages to put together the collection of wines you have/will taste(d). While the 2015 wines are for the most part going to demand time in the cellar, the 2012 vintage is superb drinking right now, as is the 2014 vintage. The 2014s also have short term cellaring potential.
All the wines have been shipped to New Zealand in temperature-controlled containers. They have come direct to us from Bordeaux. We do not purchase any wine on the secondary market. This guarantees you the authenticity of these bottles, something that has, sadly, become increasingly important in the Fine Wine market.
PETIT CHATEAU AND BORDEAUX SUPERIEUR
Petit Chateau are the smaller properties, the ones that you'll more regularly find on tables in bistros throughout France. At Glengarry, we regularly taste wines at this level for importing, the range changing constantly. In excellent vintages like 2015 (and also 2016), the wines at this level are well worth a look.
The Bordeaux Superieur classification process has changed. After many attempts to agree, going back and forward to court, a decision has been made. Each year, wines the chateau would like to be recognised as this level are submitted for tasting. Following that, a selection of Bordeaux Superieur for that vintage are made.
This small region, lying to the north-west of Saint-Emilion, has never been classified as most other appellations have been. It is a tiny place and it takes just minutes to drive around and pass every famous Pomerol name. Merlot rules Pomerol and thrives on its clay soils, with Cabernet Franc lending a hand in blending. Cabernet Sauvignon vines are indeed very rare there. Despite the latter rarely being used, the best wines can age as long as the finest first growths on the left bank.
On the right bank of the river Dordogne lies the large Saint-Emilion commune. Unfortunately Saint-Emilion was omitted from the 1855 Classification, so Saint-Emilion made its own classification in 1954 and is now revisited every ten years or so (1984, 1995 and 2006). Chateaux have been promoted and demoted during these reclassifications. Merlot and Cabernet Franc lead the grape varieties in terms of importance, with Cabernet Sauvignon playing a support role. Soil profiles in this large appellation are diverse with a mix of gravel, sand and alluvial soils in some areas, to gravel and limestone in the best areas.
Margaux has the largest surface area of the big five appellations of the left bank of Bordeaux, with 1413 hectares. Margaux boasts no fewer than 21 classed growths: one first (Chateau Margaux), five seconds, ten thirds, three fourths and two fifth growths. In such a large appellation, the soil varies a lot but produces wines that are softer, have less backbone and develop sooner than the appellations to the north.
Saint-Estephe is the largest and most northern of the great Medoc communes and lies about 50km north of Bordeaux. It produces a lot of wine mainly because of its clutch of highly reputed Cru Bourgeois such as Chateau Phelan-Segur. There are only five classed growths: two seconds, a third, a fourth and a fifth. The wines are classed as solid rather than austere due to a lot of clay in the soil.
Pauillac is the most important commune of the Medoc, containing three of the five first growths and no fewer than fifteen other classified chateaux. The wines of Pauillac are the archetype of Bordeaux, and the taste of Cabernet Sauvignon which is completely at home here. The wines are dense, full bodied and tannic: austere when young, rich and distinguished when mature and the longest lived of all Bordeaux wines. The soil here dictates the longevity with heavy gravel, thicker to the north than the south, that lies on a sub-soil of larger stones, and ironbased sands.
This appellation lies on the southern border of Pauillac. The commune is compact and dominated by its eleven classed growths, all of which produce high quality wine and many of which produce excellent wine. There are five second growths, two thirds and four fourths. The Saint-Julien soil is mainly gravel, particularly near the river. The wines are more like Pauillac and contain high levels of Cabernet Sauvignon, however, the wines mature faster than they do from Pauillac. The top estates here can produce superb wines.
2015 - LEFT BANK - PAUILLAC, SAINT-ESTEPHE, SAINT-JULIEN
The Haut-Medoc appellation stretches over some 50km from north to south. Interestingly, there are only five properties that are part of the 1855 Classification that lie outside the classic communes of Saint-Estephe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux and Pessac-Leognan. These chateaux are La Tour-Carnet, Belgrave, Camensac, Cantemerle and La Lagune. The soils are mixed and diverse leading to a number of different styles and quality levels. Some say the quality of some of the lesser known wines are rising faster than their more famous namesakes.
The appellation was only created in 1987 having been changed from what was known as Graves. Its most famous wine, Chateau Haut-Brion, is a first growth and one of the most noble Bordeaux wines. The wines are generally not as full bodied as the other Medocs, though made with more or less the same blends, however, they are similar in weight to those of Margaux. Much of the production here is of white wine - very uncommon in Bordeaux.
Sauternes lies to the south of Bordeaux city and is made up of a number of different communes such as Barsac (which is its own appellation), Preignac, Bommes, Fargues and Sauternes itself. All wine produced here is white and virtually all is sweet, influenced to varying degrees by botrytis cinerea, or noble rot. Here the grapes used are Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and a little Muscadelle. Yields are tiny compared to further north, with one glass of wine per vine not uncommon, whereas one bottle per vine further north is more than common.