Château Pontet-Canet 2007

Château Pontet-Canet 2007, 13%, France

(c. £600 per case of 12 in bond, BI – but widely available, see also Wine Searcher)

The 2007 vintage in Bordeaux wasn’t particularly memorable.

As we noted when we last tasted the vintage in November 2011 (Bordeaux 2007 in stereo), the challenging weather produced notably mixed quality wines, with many showing dilution and/or hard, green characters.

But neither is it a write-off. As ever in the so-called ‘off’ vintages, there are those producers who managed to make wonderful wines, which tend to be somewhat under-rated as a result.

So it was fascinating to be able to taste a line-up of 73 of the top wines from the vintage, courtesy of BI (formerly Bordeaux Index) in their now annual and tremendously useful ten-year-on review.

The variable quality is still very much in evidence. Low alcohols are typical (few push over the 14% barrier, almost all on the Right Bank – the usual suspects of Pavie and Troplong-Mondot being among their number).

There is a certain cleansing quality and energy in the best wines – a fresh lift, if you like. The tannins tend to be on the firm side, sometimes veering into angular. This only works if allied to a solid and dense fruit core, something many wines missed out on due to fruit dilution. Too many wines thus suffer from having been over-worked (too much extraction or oak for their slight frames). This was not a vintage to play the ice maiden: too many wines are correct but cold, almost glacial in feel. The best have a lushness that’s not overdone – working a modestly flirtatious role to great effect.

Of the grander names, our favourites were Châteaux Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild and Le Pin (with Latour being a notable dud). The former two are relative bargains given the price of other vintages around this one, at around £3,650 and £3,830 respectively (in bond per 12, BI prices). These were also our two favourites when we tasted them in 2011, incidentally.

There aren’t many bargains to be had in 2007 at the cheaper end of the spectrum. But this Pontet-Canet was definitely a stand-out in the tasting, brimming with wild herb, warm earth and plummy energy. It combined juicy, vivid fruit with fine, firm texture in an engaging, cleansing, vital style. Still young, with much more to give. And, at roughly £600 per case (in bond, BI prices), it represents decent value versus the 2005 (£1,050) and 2006 (£740) and even 2008 (£780). (All prices as per BI LiveTrade quotes).

Out of interest, these were the notes we wrote of the Pontet-Canet when we both tasted it (me sighted, Susie blind) in November 2011: Peter: Creamy, inscrutable. Roasted leaf and fresh cassis. Dense, juicy, muscular palate. Young. Has a lift and vigour to it that bode very well. Not showing super well now – subdued power. But layered and refreshing despite weight (7.5-8/10). Susie: Very big dark silky style. Needs time but a very good wine! (8/10). So it’s gone up in our estimation!

(8-8.5/10, Susie and Peter, Feb 2017)