IMW Annual Claret Tasting

IMW Claret

(by susie)

This tasting took place on the 4th November 2009. That evening I was officially to become a Master of Wine and, given my mood, I allowed myself to be less rigorous than usual in my tasting. For once I gave myself the freedom to taste exactly what I fancied, which turned out to be 60 of the 124 wines on show. On arrival I headed straight for the First Growth room and then continued on, picking and choosing (mostly well-known names) as I went.

I’m sure you already know that 2005 has been hailed as one of the vintages of the century and it continues to command some of the highest prices of recent years.

Here is a selection of my favourite wines from the tasting, most of which are developing beautifully and will no doubt continue to do so for many years to come. I’m also going to write about one particularly disappointing wine which I feel ought to be included.

First Growths

Château Haut-Brion, AC Pessac-Léognan, Premier Grand Cru Classé

The overall impression is very concentrated and modern in style. Cream, damsons, perfumed and rich. Palate shows a lot of weight and fine tannin, youthful oak, dense and modern but well-balanced. A rich and concentrated wine. 8.5/10

Château Margaux, AC Margaux, Premier Grand Cru Classé

Light, elegant and refined with notes of cedarwood and leather. Drinking beautifully now but may not have the concentration to last over the long-term. 8/10

Château Lafite-Rothschild, AC Pauillac, Premier Cru Classé

Restrained but complex nose. Immediate blackcurrant, cedarwood, cream and tobacco. Evident fine tannin. This will be a delicious wine in time. Less modern and more refined than the Haut-Brion. Long and a little exotic –fabulous. 9.5/10

Château Mouton-Rothschild, AC Pauillac, Premier Cru Classé

Meaty, gamey and earthy. Good fine-grained tannins but not as refined and complex on thepalate as, for example, the L-R. It needs time and is currently a little four-square. 8/10

Château Cheval Blanc, AC Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

A disappointment. The nose was closed and the palate very fresh and a little leafy / plummy but overall it lacked the inherent concentration to last. Note: some other tasters I spoke to felt it just wasn’t as showy as the rest, but I disagree. 6.5/10

Château Pétrus, Pomerol

Restrained but interestingly brooding and dark. Tight-knit tannins, great depth of flavour; tobacco, damson, raisin. And wonderful length. 9/10

Pessac-Léognan / Graves

Château La Mission-Haut –Brion, Cru Classé de Graves

Woody and spicy with creamy overtones, fine-grained tannin, a savoury edge and good length. 7.5/10

Château Pape-Clément, Cru Classé de Graves

Earthy, stable floor aromas. Really rustic / funky style with a touch of brett. A chunky style that won’t appeal to everyone. 7.5/10


Château Brane-Cantenac, 2ème Cru Classé

Elegant and refined with pure black fruit aromas. Smooth and gently creamy. Very feminine, soft and fine. A little short. 7/10

Château du Tertre, 5ème Cru Classé

Classic Bx. Leathery and fine with lovely plum fruit. Not hugely concentrated but really silky and fine. 7.5/10

Château d’Issan, 3ème Cru Classé

Very leafy and leathery with a lovely fresh, graphitey Bx feel. Smooth tannin underpins. 7-7.5/10

Château Lascombes, 2ème Cru Classé

Dark, woody, spicy and dense. Good concentration of fruit, fine tannin and impressive length. 7.5/10

Château Prieuré-Lichine, 4ème Cru Classé

Lovely dense, inviting aromas. A little savoury on the palate. Smooth and elegant without being especially complex. Understated but stylish. 7/10

Château Rauzan-Ségla, 2ème Cru Classé

Elegant, soft, woody and stylish. Not complex in the way that many Bx wines can be but very drinkable stuff. 7/10


Château Beychevelle, 4ème Cru Classé

Open and expressive, earthy and really good! Delicious all-round flavour and lovely, smooth texture. 7.5-8/10

Château Gruaud-Larose, 2ème Cru Classé

The unmistakable leather and plum of Bx. Fine, ripe and elegant. 7.5/10

Château Lagrange, 3ème Cru Classé

Cedarwood and tobacco are the top notes, with fine tannin and good enough fruit concentration to develop well. 7/10

Château Léoville-Barton, 2ème Cru Classé

Dense, dark and brooding – it will keep and mature well, a lovely wine. 7.5-8/10

Château Léoville-Poyferré, 2ème Cru Classé

Perfumed and quite modern in style but with lovely texture and length. Impressive. 7.5/10

Château Talbot, 4ème Cru Classé

So inviting. Scented, leafy red fruit with earthy notes and fine tannins. Delicious and classic Bx with the concentration to last. 8/10


Château Batailley, 5ème Cru Classé

Leathery aromas, elegantly textured palate, fine tannin and a savoury note. 7.5/10

Château Lynch-Bages, 5ème Cru Classé

Elegant plum and leafy aromas. Smooth and currently quite fruity with reasonable complexity and length. 7/10

Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, 2ème Cru Classé

Gamey, woody, inviting aromas. Smooth and creamy. Although a little lacking in structure and concentration, still a very fine wine. 7.5/10

Château Pontet-Canet, 5ème Cru Classé

Rich damson aromas and lovely herbal exoticism. Beautiful balance and fine, tight-knit tannin. Delicious. 8/10


Château Calon-Ségur, 3ème Cru Classé

Leafy, bell pepper and graphite aromas. Interesting edgy style. Good length. 7/10

Château Cos d’Estournel, 2ème Cru Classé

Earthy, woody and dense. Quite thick and powerful, really needs time. 7.5/10

Château Phélan-Ségur

At the moment very earthy and woody but this is a good wine and needs time. Fine tannin and warm plum fruit. 7.5/10


Château Angélus, Premier Grand Cru Classé

Very leafy aromas and an interesting array of flavours give good complexity. Very creamy but good. 7/10

Château Figeac, Premier Grand Cru Classé 2000

Amazing, so leafy and fine. A really exciting and delicious wine that is compellingly savoury and earthy. It just shows what an extra five years (and an equally stunning vintage) can give. 8.5/10

Château La Tour-Figeac, Grand Cru Classé

Lovely complex flavours of coffee, spice and dried fruits – unusual. 7/10


Château Clinet

Very smooth texture with plum fruit and woody notes. A lovely, comforting wine to sink in to on a winter’s eve… 7.5-8/10

Château Le Bon Pasteur

Perfumed, exotic aromas and creamy, smooth texture. 7/10

Château Petit-Village

Very smooth, drinkable style in a woody / spicy way. 7/10