Question: What is all this current buzz about Glou Glou wine?
Answer: A relatively new term used for wines that invite glugging – fast gulping with a sound similar to liquid quickly coming out of the neck of a bottle! Glou Glou suits well the lighter young fresh lower alcohol drinkable wines like Muscadet or Beaujolais. Also more widely used in connection with the easy drinking natural wine movement of both white and red.
Last week a horizontal of 2008 Bordeaux followed this week by a vertical of a leading second growth estate Cos d’Estournel in St.Estephe. Your scribe goes way back to the early seventies with his visits to this property then under the management of the amazing Bruno Prats. Fortunate to share wine tasting glasses with him for two days on February 1 & 2 of 1986 in Miami Florida at the historic 1961 Bordeaux event at 25 years organized by IWFS icon Lou Skinner. The Cos 1961 was one of many top highlights among Palmer, Petrus, Mouton & Latour. Also a friend of his son Jean-Guillaume Prats who grew up at Cos and later returned there from 2000 to 2012 as President & CEO of Cos under the present ownership of Michel Reybier. The location of Cos is near to Pauillac and provides a more gravelly soil with limestone but less dominant clay of the other St. Estephe properties situated further north. The resulting terroir is quite unique with more Merlot in the blend, a powerful backward structure plus refined balance for wines that often age very long – but not as ancient as Montrose or Calon Segur. On April 18, 2023 at a tasting-dinner held at Blue Water Cafe in Vancouver we studied at our Group of Eight event 8 older vintages from 2005 back to 1970 (but missing two outstanding younger ones – long aging 2016 & opulent rounder 2009). A few brief impressions:
Wonderful 1996 HENRIOT Cuvee des Enchanteleurs to start with equal Chardonnay (special Chouilly parcel) & Pinot Noir is toasty rich and round still showing the balanced lift of 1996 acidity on the finish.
2005 COS: 78CS/19M/3CF Paler rim than expected. Developing tertiary notes of excellent aromatics showing sage, earth, tobacco, licorice and stylish yet subtle 100% new oak. Palate vibrant and rounding into balance already with a long finish of softer tannins. Not the perfect bottle? Delightfully elegant rather than powerful. Expected more.
2003 COS: 70CS/27M/2PV/1CF Deeper riper dried plums on the nose with bigger richer softer flavours. A bit atypical. Better lively freshness than anticipated for dense 2003. Still young and developing but enjoyable already. A most successful 2003.
2000 COS: 60CS/40M Dark with sweet spicy fig deli-bacon bouquet. Balanced and full but drinking more supple softer forward than expected. Enjoy now.
1996 COS: 65CS/35M More classic (almost Pauillac-like) showing concentrated structure with lots of intense backward tannic cassis fruit. Like the typical COS aromas of smoky cocoa beans. Your scribe is very impressed with the great potential for 1996 aging but not as popular a choice among the group. Perhaps not the best bottle as it is slightly perlant. Another example here of how muscular 1996 Bordeaux (St. Julien, Pauillac, & St. Estephe) tend to be still quite austere even now at 25+ years. Patience is needed.
1995 COS: 60CS/40M Reluctant nose at first but evolved nicely in the glass. Much less intensity here but riper tapenade Merlot is showing brilliantly tonight being so elegant, seductive, and already delightfully approachable. Most popular choice paired perfectly with the roasted chicken and truffles course. Surprise of the tasting!
1988 LAFITE ROTHSCHILD: 72CS/28M This was served as a blind mystery wine. We were all expecting Montrose and it was so deep & darkly coloured that we wondered about 1990. However the open refined bouquet (best of the evening) was exquisite with complex lead pencil cedar notes very Pauillac. The 1988 vintage never crossed my mind. Cos soil is somewhat similar to Lafite. First Growth statement.
1986 COS: 68CS/30M/2CF Dark with paling edge. Less open showing less aromatics. Tough to follow Lafite. Coming around with that savoury graphite extracted power but not quite totally there yet. Certainly has attractive black currant minerals and tannins waiting to mesh just a bit more. Shows better with the lamb dish. Not at the perfect quality level of 1986 Mouton.
1982 COS: 60CS/40M Very dark. What an impressive true rich complex Cos bouquet! Lots of opulent deep fruit and harmonious styling with that marker of smoky incense character that defines the terroir perfectly. Admire the excellent elegance more today than decades ago when it seemed thicker, stronger, with a higher abv statement. Providing lots of pleasure tonight but no rush. COS of the night!
1970 COS: 60CS/40M Red but lighter tones and especially the rim. Drier tart cherry tiring fruit fading but holding on at 50+. Drink up. Shows best with food. Not nearly as alive as the full-bodied profound 1970 Montrose.
Finished up with a fantastic small crop 1989 Chateau D’YQUEM (80 Sémillon & 20 Sauvignon Blanc) that was perfection. Think of 1988 with the acidity balance and 1990 with the richness but this bottle of 1989 combined the best features of both. Orange marmalade is not too sweet. Not too soft or bitter. What a complex treasure finishing so long. A wow wine indeed!
Question: Update please on 2023 vintage wines in Argentina.
Answer: Still a bit early for an assessment of 2023. There was a really bad frost in Argentina on October 31 & November 1 of 2022. In addition record setting Summer temperatures plus less snowpack on the Andes mountains resulted in less available water for irrigation of the vines.The National Institute of Viticulture has reported that as a result the total amount of harvested grapes is substantially down. Some are saying it may be the smallest Argentine grape crop in the last 60 years. Nonetheless the quality of the wines is forecast to be good but expect future price increases due to inflation, increased production and distribution costs, and far less wine being produced from the 2023 harvest.
From Dr. Laura Catena, Head Winemaker of Catena Zapata:
The 2023 wines will be among the most age worthy. After the October and November 2022 spring frosts which provoked a generalized reduction in yields, the climate was very dry with temperatures slightly on the warmer side. Low yields resulted in a harvest 2 to 4 weeks earlier than usual. The wines are quite elegant, with high natural acidity and low alcohols. Powerful minerality and texture are this year’s trademarks. It will be a vintage to be savored slowly, enjoying every sip and every glass…in moderation.
Always fun to evaluate wines with a bit of bottle age in a horizontal tasting to compare the results from different properties. Another opportunity arose on April 15, 2023 at a tasting-dinner in Vancouver by the Commanderie de Bordeaux at Blue Water Cafe. The spotlight was on eight top Left Bank Bordeaux wines in two flights all from the 2008 vintage. On release there were initial concerns about the cooler wetter August & early September affecting the resulting quality of the wines. However, the weather improved after that in the Fall with a longer extended growing season in warm sunny favourable conditions. The jury was out. The overwhelming endorsement of the following superb 2009 & 2010 vintages left the good value 2008 even more neglected. How are they showing today? Some brief updated impressions:
2008 CHATEAU D’ISSAN: Only Margaux was lighter colour at the rim with open fragrant aromas of ripe sweet flowery fruit. Lovely palate statement of rounded subtle spices with ample charm of the appellation. Stylish drinking beautifully at present.
2008 CHÂTEAU BRANAIRE DUCRU: Dense but drier. Very Bordeaux but quite a bit of herbal eucalyptus notes. Not up to their top quality over the last decade or their delightful 1982.
2008 CHATEAU LEOVILLE BARTON: Second St. Julien impresses with deep darkest look plus aromas of clean intense pure fruit. Much more graphite & richness here with a very classic structure. Evolving slowly so be patient. A beauty for cellaring. Excellent potential.
2008 CHÂTEAU GRAND PUY LACOSTE: Lightest by far of first flight. A Pauillac value fav property (admire 86 & 82) of your scribe awkwardly disappoints in 2008 with red fruits showing lean dry atypical style.
2008 CHATEAU PICHON LALANDE: Young deep red with maturing edge. Not dynamic or singing. Tad of bell pepper. Easy diffuse elegant forward presentation. This year came just between owner May de Lencquesaing dedicated skills for producing remarkable wines and all the subsequent Louis Roederer top vintages. Nicolas Glumineau GM since 2012 has produced a string of really successful wines using more Cab Franc in the blend.
2008 CHATEAU PONTET CANET: So deep and very dark right to the rim. Wonderful impressive concentrated Pauillac fruit still sleeping, Another brilliant success (that includes 2009 & 2010 in that trio) from the amazing Alfred Tesseron team. Needs more time for that powerful fruit to really jell with the tannins for signature cedar bouquet and stunning texture. A treasure in waiting.
2008 CHATEAU CALON SEGUR: Also very dark and packed with big fruit of high Cabernet Sauvignon 82% with Merlot 18% & Petit Verdot 2% that all saw lots of new oak. So stylish with St.Estephe clay terroir peeking through already. Big modern balanced success in 2008. Beauty.
2008 CHATEAU MONTROSE: Darker still for a wow impression that led me first thinking it must be an outstanding vintage or First Growth. Didn’t have recognizable characteristics of any First so must be a 2009 (but not as ripe) or 2010 (not as much fruit truly perfectly balanced). Perhaps then another laudatory 2008 which had to be Montrose by process of elimination. Certainly showed that closed subdued power and aging potential. A big salute to the genius of Jean Delmas for this superb effort.
All in all the 2008 Left Bank Bordeaux vintage wines are showing solid cooler fruit in a classical way. Though most don’t have really massive fruit they are refined stylish examples with admirable balance. Rather good though variable and still under the radar for the very top examples which come highly recommended. Good idea to check some out.
Question: What are your summary observations on the 2022 Bordeaux crop?
Answer: This decade has started out with the first 3 harvests in Bordeaux producing less quantity than the 10 year averages. In 2022 every month the temperatures were higher and the rainfalll lower than usual – except in June for more rain that included bad hailstorms. July was very sunny and extremely dry (lowest since 1959) resulting in permission being granted for the unusual irrigation of the vines in Pessac-Leognan, Pomerol, and St. Emilion (plus their “satellite” appellations). It was one of the earliest harvests ever (whites starting August 16) though all grapes were picked in rather ideal conditions. Sauternes look very promising indeed. Quality is another issue but so far the reports have been quite encouraging. Also be aware of unlikely but possible smoke taint in the wines caused by those forest fires during the Summer near the wine regions. The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) holds the En Primeur tasting week April 20-27, 2023 so there will soon be lots of feedback and wine reviews on the 2022 vintage wines generated. Stay tuned.