Never been very excited by the prospects for 2004 Bordeaux wines and didn’t buy them on release. They always seemed to have the difficult fate to be sandwiched between two celebrated years of the hot ripe more forwardly 2003 and the classic outstanding agers of 2005. However a dinner-tasting this month featuring only the 2004 vintage made this scribe take a second look. 2004 developed in good early conditions with the flowering resulting in a potentially very large crop that required thinning to reach the best quality of grapes. But Summer was disappointing with cool rain though better September to early October saved the harvest. Still uneven ripening in the copious bunches necessitated careful management of the vineyard which can be expensive. Nonetheless all the wines tasted were delightful drinking. The Right Bank with higher Merlot content if picked too early in 2004 showed more herbal notes but Le Bon Pasteur & Canon La Gaffeliere were both lovely with L’Eglise Clinet much more powerful fruit. Haut Bailly Pessac-Leognan is pure delicacy and elegance compared with the denser more closed Leoville-Poyferre of St. Julien. The surprise was Lafon-Rochet in St. Estephe with an amazingly fragrant nose and smooth textures – an undervalued success in 2004. The red wine star of the evening was the Palmer from the Margaux AC a region which has quite a few properties that excelled in this year. Most delicious was the 2004 Climens in Barsac that suffered through a damp August but added fat at the end of the year to achieve this excellence.
In summary 2004 Bordeaux is a most pleasant surprise exceeding 2002 and drinking lovely presently. Go so well with food. Check some out.
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