Tasting Report: 2008 Red Bordeaux and Sauternes

It’s not every day that several dozen Bordeaux purveyors show up in San Francisco, but that’s exactly what happened recently, when the tour of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux made a pit stop in SF to show off the new 2008 vintage.

I was excited to taste through the vintage – though I skipped the whites, focusing only on reds and sweet Sauternes – to see where the highlights were. What I found were a surprisingly wide variety of styles in what is shaping up to be overall a genrally good year. Of course, these notes are based on current drinkability: Remember that Bordeaux will usually evolve, and it will evolve well.

Favorites could be found all across the Bordeaux region, including a string of excellent Saint-Emilions, favorites being Château Canon-La-Gaffelière and the tiny Château La Couspaude. Pomerol’s Château Beauregard. Cabernet-heavy wines from Château Gruaud Larose in Saint-Julien and Château Haut-Bages Libéral in Pauillac offered richer, more cocoa-inflected flavors.

Tasting notes for all wines tasted follow.

2008 Red Bordeaux Tasting Report

2008 Château de Chantegrive / Graves / A- / tart, good balance

2008 Château Bouscaut / Pessac-léognan / B / less balanced, overpowering

2008 Château Carbonnieux / Pessac-léognan / B+ / lighter, not a lot to it

2008 Domaine de Chevalier / Pessac-léognan / B / a bit unripe

2008 Château de Fieuzal / Pessac-léognan / B+

2008 Château Haut-Bailly / Pessac-léognan / C+ / thin, green

2008 Château Haut-Bergey / Pessac-léognan / B+ / good fruit, dusty finish

2008 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion / Pessac-léognan / A- / layered, big green herbs, huge earth finish

2008 Château Latour-Martillac / Pessac-léognan / B+ / light and easygoing, tart finish

2008 Château Malartic-Lagravière / Pessac-léognan / A- / new world style, young and tart

2008 Château Pape Clément / Pessac-léognan / B / overwhelming tannin

2008 Château Smith Haut-Lafitte / Pessac-léognan / A- / tannic, showing promise with a deep finish

2008 Château Canon / Saint-Emilion Grand Cru / B+ / good structure, odd candy flavors

2008 Château Canon-La-Gaffelière / Saint-Emilion Grand Cru / A / exceptional balance, earth and fruit in a complex melange

2008 Château Figeac / Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / A- / drinking well, balance is on target

2008 Clos Fourtet / Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / A / cocoa notes, good tannin, a real winner

2008 Château La Couspaude / Saint-Emilion Grand Cru / A / fruity, lush, velvety

2008 Château La Gaffelière / Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / B+ / more earthy

2008 Château Larcis Ducasse / Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / A / full berry fruit, ready to go now

2008 Château Larmande / Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / A- / solid, rich

2008 Château Pavie-Macquin / Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / B- / incredibly tart and jammy

2008 Château Troplong Mondot / Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / A-

2008 Château Beauregard / Pomerol / A / plum and chocolate, nice balance

2008 Château Clinet / Pomerol / A- / lighter, some greenery in it

2008 Château La Conseillante / Pomerol / C+ / thin, unflattering

2008 Château Chasse-Spleen / Moulis-en-Médoc / B / finish is wrong

2008 Château Belgrave / Haut-Médoc / C- / very unripe

2008 Château Cantemerle / Haut-Médoc / C+ / thin, unbalanced

2008 Château Greysac / Médoc / B

2008 Château Brane-Cantenac / Margaux / B+ / not much structure, some unusual nuance

2008 Château Cantenac-Brown / Margaux / B / chalky, earthy

2008 Château Ferrière / Margaux / A- / good berry fruit, balance is good

2008 Château Rauzan-Ségla / Margaux / C+ / rocky finish

2008 Château Branaire-Ducru / Saint-Julien / A- / beautiful, silky, rich

2008 Château Gruaud Larose / Saint-Julien / A / classy and silky

2008 Château Lagrange / Saint-Julien / B+ / on the tart side

2008 Château Léoville Barton / Saint-Julien / A- / great body, slightly weak finish

2008 Château Léoville Poyferré / Saint-Julien / B / green

2008 Château Batailley / Pauillac / C / thin, green

2008 Château Clerc Milon / Pauillac / B- / unbalanced

2008 Château d’Armailhac / Pauillac / B+ / too young, promising with time

2008 Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse / Pauillac / B+ / jammier style, curious

2008 Château Haut-Bages Libéral / Pauillac / A / rich and well structured

2008 Château Lynch-Bages / Pauillac / B / way too young

2008 Château Pichon-Longueville / Pauillac / A / complex, intriguing finish

2008 Château de Pez / Saint-Estèphe / B / thinnish

2008 Château Phélan Ségur / Saint-Estèphe / B+

2008 Sauternes

2008 Château Climens / Barsac / B+ / tropical character

2008 Château Coutet / Barsac-Sauternes / B+ / tropical notes, big mango, very sweet

2008 Château de Rayne Vigneau / Sauternes / B+ / herbal notes, interesting

2008 Château Doisy-Daëne / Sauternes / B+

2008 Château Guiraud / Sauternes / B- / overwhelming sugar, burnt

2008 Château La Tour Blanche / Sauternes / B+ / somewhat less nuanced

2008 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey / Sauternes / B / too sweet, candylike

2008 Château Sigalas-Rabaud / Sauternes / A- / interesting lychee notes

2008 Château Suduiraut / Sauternes / A- / light, honeyed, not cloying

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