Chateau Chasse-Spleen, Moulis, 2005
The 2005's on the lower rungs in Bordeaux seem to be edging up to the plateau of readiness, sort of peeking around over the edge. This is quite balanced, correct, but not very expressive, yet. Just black fruit and a little smoke and iron.
Chateau Margaux, Pavillon
A second wine that, even from a cold vintage, wiped the floor with the competition 'round the table (and would be as dominant in over 90% of the tables around the world). A complex, seductive nose with the spices that make Margaux such a compelling thrill for the senses, a touch of iron, tasty red fruit. The palate starts out closed and tannic, the opposite of the nose, before fanning out to release its hedonistic secrets and unhinge my heart. Bordeaux may put you off for being all about business, but a wine like this reminds you that their line of business is beauty.
Belair, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru, 1998
Others liked more than me. The nose is very direct and the structure is on the simple side, with tannins coming out too late in the game. If I had to coin a phrase to describe this wine, it would be: fruitcake forward.
Chateau Rauzan-Segla, Margaux 2me Cru,1998
The runner-up, providing the same vivid, albeit controlled, sense of hedonism as the Pavillon. Obviously less complex and less gripping, it is nonetheless another wine that reaffirms that there's no place like Bordeaux.
Chateau Branaire-Ducru, Saint-Julien 4me Cru, 2005 and 2008
Two peas in a pod, both declining to greet the outside world. Obviously cut from similar cloth - foursquare black fruit with a hint of earth - the 2005 at least deigns to uncover its aromatics. Having drunk both over the last three years, I can vouch that they both needed another couple hours more of air. Or three-ten more years in the fridge. Anyone looking for a lesson in Bordeaux got it, hopefully those looking for pleasures got them from the two Margaux.