Tasting Report: Bordeaux and Sauternes, 2014 Vintage

2014 Bordeaux is arriving now, and as is customary, winemakers from all of Bordeaux’s many sub-regions brought their new releases to the U.S. for press and trade to taste and consider.

All told, 2014 is shaping up as a relatively fresher, more fruit-forward year, though naturally some bombed-out, tannic exceptions exist. If any single region is shining with this vintage, it’s the small left-bank region of Saint-Julien, which had three of my top picks, from Château Beychevelle, Château Léoville Poyferré, and Château Gruaud Larose, all balanced, fruit-filled, and ready for intense exploration. Château Chasse-Spleen in Moulis-en-Médoc and Château Lynch-Bages in Pauillac are also outstanding selections for this vintage.

Complete (yet brief) notes on all wines tasted follow, including some lackluster white Bordeaux and a selection of engaging, sweet Sauternes, follow.

2014 Bordeaux Tasting Report

White Wines

2014 Château de Chantegrive Graves Blanc / B+ / melon notes, some honey, grassy and quite pleasing
2014 Château Bouscaut Pessac-léognan Blanc / B- / mushroom notes, some barnyard; a bit pungent
2014 Château Carbonnieux Pessac-léognan Blanc / B+ / fresh, bold body, with grassy and lemon notes
2014 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-léognan Blanc / B / slightly buttery, fresh melon and grapefruit notes
2014 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Pessac-léognan Blanc / A- / a touch sweet, with honeyed peaches, tropical notes, and some maple
2014 Château Latour-Martillac Pessac-léognan Blanc / B+ / lemony, grassy, and floral notes, with a finish of honey and spices
2014 Château Pape Clément Pessac-léognan Blanc / B / rustic, heavy honey notes, lemon preserves
2014 Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Pessac-léognan Blanc / B / big New World character, buttery, vanilla-scented

Red Wines

2014 Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Pessac-léognan Rouge / A- / light body, notes of vanilla and cinnamon, gingerbread
2014 Château Canon Saint-Emilion Grand Cru / B / a bit thin, cocoa powder notes, some mint
2014 Château Canon-La-Gaffelière Saint-Emilion Grand Cru / B+ / bold currant notes, some licorice, pencil lead; tarry finish
2014 Clos Fourtet Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / C+ / thin and flabby
2014 Château La Gaffelière Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / B- / fruit is dull, dialed down
2014 Château Grand Mayne Saint-Émilion Grand Cru / B+ / tight, but fruit lies beneath; try again in 3-5 years
2014 Château Beauregard Pomerol / A- / expressive, lots of brambly blackberry, some licorice kick
2014 Château Le Bon Pasteur Pomerol / B- / smoky bacon and sausages; some barnyard
2014 Château La Cabanne Pomerol / B+ / quite fruit forward, lush but youthful
2014 Château Gazin Pomerol / B- / bizarrely structured, kicks off with fruit then showcases leather and cloves
2014 Château La Pointe Pomerol / B+ / more acidity here; some florals; interesting but quiet
2014 Château Fourcas Hosten Listrac-Médoc / B+ / fresh and lively, a bit thin though
2014 Château Chasse-Spleen Moulis-en-Médoc / A / a top selection; beautiful violets, chewy but balanced, tannin and spices integrate well with dried fruit notes
2014 Château Maucaillou Moulis-en-Médoc / A- / silky, layers of earth complement spicy blackberry notes
2014 Château Poujeaux Moulis-en-Médoc / B+ / very lively, fruity but lighter in style
2014 Château Cantemerle Haut-Médoc / A- / fruit forward on the nose, with earth on the palate; a touch of astringency on the back end
2014 Château La Tour Carnet Haut-Médoc / B- / undistinguished aside from some light tobacco notes
2014 Château Angludet Margaux / B- / lots of mushroomy terroir, dried plums
2014 Château Brane-Cantenac Margaux / B- / underdeveloped and highly acidic, almost green
2014 Château Cantenac Brown Margaux / B- / light and acidic, some vegetal/tobacco notes
2014 Château Dauzac Margaux / B / ample earth, with tons of tannic licorice notes
2014 Château Giscours Margaux / A- / showing some cinnamon notes; youthful but refined
2014 Château Kirwan Margaux / A- / mint and cloves; an explosion of spices
2014 Château Lascombes Margaux / A- / plums at the fore; a little chocolate and some brown sugar character
2014 Château Marquis de Terme Margaux / B / slightly thin, dull around the edges
2014 Château Siran Margaux / B+ / simple, but heavy on fruit
2014 Château Beychevelle Saint-Julien / A / a top selection; violets and glorious fruit notes; well balanced
2014 Château Branaire-Ducru Saint-Julien / B+ / heavy, with earthy elements and some acidity on the back end
2014 Château Gruaud Larose Saint-Julien / A / another great pick; dense and powerful, with a blackberry core and some leathery notes; very long finish – one to age
2014 Château Lagrange Saint-Julien / A- / bold and heavy fruit, both fresh and dried; slightly leathery
2014 Château Langoa Barton Saint-Julien / B+ / mint and some floral notes; fresh fruit notes give it balance
2014 Château Léoville Barton Saint-Julien / B+ / big leather, some tobacco; dried fruit on the finish
2014 Château Léoville Poyferré Saint-Julien / A / yet another solid St.-Julien; evergreen character mixes with bold red berries; beautifully rounded
2014 Château Talbot Saint-Julien / A- / big blackberry and dried fig notes; huge body
2014 Château d’Armailhac Pauillac / B+ / fruit heavy on the nose; terroir heavy on the finish
2014 Château Clerc Milon Pauillac / B / youthful, with ample fruit, but flabby at times
2014 Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse Pauillac / B+ / lush, with fruit and florals, some spice, a bit dull on the finish
2014 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste Pauillac / B- / bound up and not showing any fruit at all… or much of anything else today
2014 Château Haut-Bages Libéral Pauillac / B / restrained, with tobacco and dried fruit notes
2014 Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac / A / blackberry and brambles, cloves, drinking beautifully today
2014 Château Pichon-Longueville Pauillac / A- / intensely spice with licorice and herbs, baking spice, gingerbnread, and a touch of vanilla on the finish
2014 Château Laphon-Rochet Saint-Estèphe / B / intensely tannic, licorice and spice, tar and leather
2014 Château Phélan Ségur Saint-Estèphe / B / needs time; ample dried fruit on the finish though

Sweet Wines

2014 Château Coutet Sauternes-Barsac / B+ / very rich honey notes, almost nutty; finish a bit tart
2014 Château Doisy Daëne Barsac / A- / an undercurrent of earthiness and flowers; lively honey notes
2014 Château Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes / B+ / light earth leads to less overbearing sweetness; finish is just so-so
2014 Château de Fargues Sauternes / B+ / heavy savory herbal character here, atop golden syrup
2014 Château Guiraud Sauternes / A- / intense florals and herbs give this an expresion of candied flowers
2014 Château Haut-Peyraguey Sauternes / A- / nuttier, with citrus notes dusting the honey-heavy core
2014 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes / B+ / a bit overblown on sweetness, light lemon notes
2014 Château Suduiraut Sauternes / B+ / some mushroom , lemon peel; big, candied walnut notes on the finish
2014 Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes / B+ / heavier lemon peel notes; finish is somewhat herbal

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