Chateau Belgrave (Haut-Medoc) vertical 95-00

Belgrave is a Cinquième Cru of middling reputation (OK, “unworthy” according to Peppercorn) which was purchased by Dourthe in 1979 who has been investing in upgrading since that time. More recently there have been massive renovations and Michel Rolland is consulting. A local wine shop bought up some languishing three packs of these vintages 95-00 and Slow Food Columbus put together a tasting.

I had no real familiarity with the estate (remembering having, don’t remember the wines), but decided to have some fun by predicting what the wines would be like based on my knowledge of the vintages and neighbors. My predictions are in parentheses/ital after the TN.

1995 Slight furnace/oxidative notes, even some VA on the nose. Meaty/organic notes on the palate. Structure was a shell. Still some fruit on the sides but furnace notes grew.
(Will be tough, angular and hard to read )

1996 Nice structure with cherry notes and leafy tea. Really nice angularity and structure. Very linear and poised. Pretty finish. Pencil lead and rose wood came out as well. A really, really nice wine. Very enjoyable.
(Will be tight, clear and correct. Good profile and weight. Not pleasurable, but potential.)

1997 Dull and uninteresting. Some nice fruit flavors, but no body. Drinkable and some enjoyment to the fruit, but really boring and soft. Alcohol noticeable. Didn’t really drink much of it and it did develop some very nice fruit aromatics which never showed on the palate.
(Will be bleech. Lean and austere structure)

1998 Sweaty smell. Smoke and oak-tailings. Tart and sweet upfront. Lots of frisky tannins and fruit. A nice push and a deceptively svelte structure. Slight good green elements. Some imbalance, but just at the entry point of a drinking window. Enjoyable.
(Will be on point and tasty. Just in drinking window with fruit and classic structure)

1999 Ink aromas and old wood. Nice balance and acids. But a thin structure and muddled finish. Awkward. Delivers some nice elements and a good wine.
(Will be disjointed, probably past peak and lean, but not too old. Expect oak and drawn and pinched.)

2000 Oak core and modern-y fruit on the nose. Structure was hollowed and drying out. Oak tannins and imprecise acids. Spoofy and alcohol flavors. Didn’t like at all and didn’t drink.
(Will be tight and structured, entry point of drinking window. Good power but I will find over ripe fruit and lack of potential. Oak will be gross.)

The tasting was a lot of fun and enjoyable. My predictions were not wildly off - consistently I expected the wines to show younger than they did.


Thanks for the notes. It would be interesting to know when Rolland got into the act to see if there’s a correlation to the progression of style. I’ve heard good things about the 05 on boards, so maybe they’re coming around?

That is a really good question. I can’t find any definitive dates for when Rolland started working his wizardry. Some sources put it in the early 90s and some much later. I suspect his participation was incremental. Peynaud was involved in after Dourthe purchased the estate and with the replanting in the early 80s.

Based the flavor profiles, I would put the 2000 as definitely have Rolland’s influence all over it. This was confirmed by a distributor, FWIW.