|View from Deans' Yard|
Church House in Dean's Yard in Westminster has become something of a regular venue for tastings various and I make my way there from Westminster tube on autopilot: a state that did not make me oblivious to the irony of a judas tree flowering within the yard itself.
This was an annual demonstration of a bunch of Bordeaux crus classes, to which crew had been added Château Montrose this year: a very welcome newbie, I must say.
This is a chance for the properties to show a slew of recent vintages, this year the turn of 2016, 2015 and 2014. And it served as a useful exercise for two reasons: the comparison of the two most recent harvests, both of which have met with great critical acclaim, plus a revisiting of the 2014s, a vintage I have liked since I first sampled them in early 2015 in their region of origin.
The following châteaux were showing their wines:
Château Pontet Canet
Château Léoville Poyferré (plus its 2nd wine - Moulin Riche - and the St Estèphe château Le Crock, which is under the same ownership)
Château Branaire Ducru
Château Rauzan Ségla
The von Niepperg stable, including châteaux d'Aiguilhe, Clos de l'Oratoire, Canon La Gaffelière and La Mondotte
Château Smith Haut Lafitte
If anyone would like to see specific tasting notes, feel free to request as such.
And what did I take away from the tasting? Well, for one thing, there really wasn't a dud wine in the room: nothing that will not give enormous pleasure in the years to come.
It seemed to me that the wines of 2016 will not be quite as graceful as some commentators are suggesting. They have masses of everything, are fresh and impressive. But shrinking violets they aint.
In the majority of cases (and bearing in mind that these are still very much on the young side for such generalisations to be made) the elegance and greater delineation of the '15s impressed more than the youthful vigour and intensity of the '16s.
Oh, and 2014 is, quite simply, lovely. If you want elegant, fresh and beautiful claret in your glass and to spend rather less than you will buying '15s and '16s, look to their immediate predecessor. 2014 Canon was a stand-out - perhaps better than the '15 - but you can pick a 2015 claret more-or-less at random and be greatly rewarded.