The Stars of the Vintage - Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Ted Williams
by Chuck Hayward
In particular Vieux Chateau Certan, La Conseillante, and Chateau Le Gay really stood out to this taster. These wines were balanced, and boasted far better texture and complexity in the mid-palate than many of the other 2007s I tasted from surrounding areas. These producers showed that a 'less is more' approach would go father than those wines, which have been manipulated by over-extracting the under-ripe fruit and then subjecting the finished wine to loads of new oak.
While at Vieux Taillefer in St Emilion we were able to witness this "hands off" approach first hand. In fact at this newly renovated estate, human intervention is shunned upon at every stage of production. The finished product was beautifully refined and expressive of the terroir like many examples in neighboring Pomerol.
After talking to Alexandre Thienpont (Vieux Chateau Certan, Pomerol) and Christian Moueix (Chateau Petrus, Pomerol) it was clear that the producers who tried to make something that did not reflect the nature of the vintage wound up doing themselves injustice by over-extracting and over-oaking wines that were certainly not fit for either. Thienpont produced perhaps my favorite 2007; The Vieux Chateau Certan, which boasted luscious dark fruit, velvety tannins, and an elegant finish. The 2007 La Conseillante (Vieux Chateau Certan's neighbor) was also excellent and showing very well from decanter. (We also had a chance to taste 2005 and 2006 La Conseillante, both of which are absolutely beautiful wines that should last for well over 25 years).
Although many wines in St Emilion were just as good as those in Pomerol, many others were hollow in the mid-pallate, overly tannic, and bitter on the finish. Some exceptions such as Pavie Decesse, Chateau Pavie, Ausone, and Valandraud showed what excellent winemaking can do in a vintage where the fruit was anything but exceptional. It just so happens that most of these wines are produced by super-stars in the wine world. In fact if there were trading cards for winemakers; Thunevin (Valandraud), Perse (Pavie), and Vautheir (Ausone) would be the Mantle, Williams, Mays.