Bordeaux in Five Days (First Impressions)

by Chuck Hayward

April 2, 2008

This is my story and Im sticking to it (names have been changed to protect the innocent- You know the deal)

Not half an hour had elapsed after landing at Bordeaux International Airport on Friday (1:00PM local time after an all night flight) and I was already standing at Chateau Le Gay in Pomerol tasting my first 07s. I will admit, the adrenaline (which has since diminished considerably) was flowing freely when my feet hit the clay laden soil of Le Gay. I mean, I was now standing in the area wherein some of the finest wines in the world are born. With that said, I was not sure if I enjoyed the 2007 Le Gay because it was the first wine I tried since arriving in Bordeaux with no reference point for the vintage, or if it was because I was nearly delirious from the 18 hour series of flights. In any event, this was indeed a spectacularly well made wine (Yes it is Merlot based for all you Sideways people). After re-tasting the Le Gay three times and comparing it to hundreds of wines since then, my original impressions have been confirmed.

However, not all the wines from 2007 fared quite so well, and I think it is fair to say that the vintage as a whole was a rather difficult one for the Bordelais.

Two communes have really stood out over the past few days showing some very good wines; Pomerol, on the Right Bank, and St. Julien on the Left Bank… The Cabernet Sauvignon based wines (especially from Margaux and Paulliac) seem to lack texture in the mid-palate and overall complexity, whereas the Merlot based wines (most notably from Pomerol and a few from St Emilion) showed some mixed results with a few wines outperforming their counterparts by leaps and bounds. A lot of Cabernet based wines were thin and a bit weedy from an abundance of under-ripe fruit. Merlot (The basis for most Right Bank wines) luckily ripens a bit earlier the Cabernet Sauvignon (Predominant in Left Bank Bordeaux)

The results in St. Estephe and St. Emilion were mixed as well, with some voluptuous reds being tasted side-by-side with lean and uninspiring clarets. From St. Estephe, Lafon Rochet stood out as a very nice wine, whereas I found the Phelan Segur to be thin and weedy at best. Lynsolence, Faugeres, and Fleur Cardinale stood out in St. Emilion tastings. Stay posted - More to come!