Lagrange 2000 and Domaine de Chevalier 2005

Château Lagrange - St.Julien - 2000

Still a very good colour - dark ruby, with not much brown to the edges. Aromas of damson, red cherry, a little smoke, some rosehips, and then some wild strawberry. The attack is fresh and cool, with red cherry to the fore, before quite a broad but soft middle section of rosehip and damson, then a cooling finish of blackcurrant and dark raspberry.

Absolutely wonderful, the best Lagrange 2000 I have tried to date and probably the best Lagrange I’ve ever had. More weight than the 96 and more fruit than the 90 at the same age. I’ve found that some 00s are becoming a bit syrupy, whereas Lagrange is moving in the opposite direction. This was in pristine condition, with a very tight cork, probably explaining the perfect fill. No hurry at all, this could even get better and will drink well for ten, maybe twenty years. I did not decant. 97 pts

Domaine de Chevalier - Pessac-Léognan - 2005

I was inspired to open this by Jane Anson’s very interesting report on the 2005s last week, in which she chose DdeC as the wine to open now. I followed her advice and decanted it for several hours.

Decanting was absolutely necessary - on opening, the wine was a bit disjointed with the sort of rasping, tannic finish that I’ve come to expect from 05s.

On the nose, red cherry, cigar box and redcurrants, plus some sweet spices towards the end. At first, a rush of red cherry, quite high-pitched, before some silky redcurrant and an intense third wave of blackberry and blackcurrant - so far so good - then…wham…the finish hits the back of the throat: very acidic, quite hot, a lingering sensation of cough mixture and kirsch. Not as tannic as it had been on opening, but it belied the mere 13° and ruined the whole experience.

I’m not sure what to think about this - there is a silky elegance to the fruit and until the finish, it is quite impressive, but it’s one of those glossy, high-pitched wines that lack a bass line, and as for the finish…I just hope time will sort it out. The style of the wine is anything but classic, like for me so far, the vintage itself. I can imagine the Chevalier turning into something special, but I wouldn’t put any money on it. It just reminded me yet again of how much I miss the old style.

Critics seem to be unanimous about how good it is, but on CT, opinions vary between ecstatic and disappointed

Anyway, it was interesting trying the two wines together - the Lagrange’s low acidity became much clearer, just as the Chevalier’s high acidity became even more obvious. There was of course no contest.


I read Jane’s piece as well. Normally we have some alignment, but not here. My last note was when I compared it to the far better 2000.

“ An interesting comparison. I pulled out a 2000 for a Zoom BYO a few weeks ago, and was impressed. Perhaps a little glossier than the old fashioned DDCs I love, but it was still marked by terroir, and the wine was very pleasant. 93

A friend at the Zoom told told me he had a less than pleasant experience with a 2005, so we traded a bottle and had a private Zoom last night. I think he enjoyed the bottle of 2000, which is more than I can say for the 2005. Hollow, thin, overtly fruity, with little finish and no complexity, apart from a nasty medicinal note towards its mercifully short end; it could have come from anywhere. I am watching carbs, so left the wine in the glass for an hour, in the vain hope it would get better. It didn’t. Not scored.

Tonight, I will put those unused carbs to good use. I have a bottle of 1981 standing by. It is from an excellent period at the Domaine, and although unlikely to be life changing, I am really looking forward to it.”

Had the 2019 Lagrange recently and it was quite fine. One of the top wines in a 2019 horizontal including DCC (which was good but not mind blowing), Lynch Bages (so young), Echo de Lynch Bages (great value-drinking we’ll out of the gate), and a few others. Leoville Barton was WOTN with high consensus among 11 tasters.

I actually prefer the 01 over the 00, but that’s because I’m a weird Brit who just sat through six hours of two funerals of moving pomp and pageant. I’m resigned to the fact that anything post 02 from Domaine de Chevalier just isn’t to my taste. I do find it weird that no critics seem to agree with us - perhaps they just had different bottles?

Thanks for the info about the 2019 - I haven’t bought any yet because I seem to remember a high ABV which put me off, but I shall look into that more carefully.

I will be purchasing another bottle or two of the Lagrange. And I buy very little Bordeaux compared to other regions.

I’m one of those on CT disappointed by the DdC 2005 from a bottle I opened in June, and I feel like Anson’s described endorsement makes me even less likely than I was before to subscribe to her site. It’s crazy to me that Galloni also gave it a 95 about a year and a half ago and said “several recent bottles have been terrific.” I got very similar notes to yours and totally agree with the “cough mixture” note on the finish. All expectations aside, I’d be happy with this served at a dinner party, but I don’t think I’d ask the host where I could buy some more. It was in my extremely amateur opinion “well made,” but boring, and leaning towards a style I don’t tend to prefer.

My takeaway from CT was that it was “[solid], but disappointing for the price; this gave only a slightly better impression than the '16 L’Esprit de Chevalier I had recently; I’m not sure if this will blossom or stay a well-made, relatively boring wine until there is no fruit left.”

I am hearing from somebody whose palate I trust that the 2019 is a vast improvement.

I’m definitely glad that has been conveyed from your source and others, as I’ve got some '19s and '20s on the way, and thanks for reassuring me again!

Wonderful notes as always, Julian. I had that 2000 a handful of years ago and do not recall it making that dramatic of an impression on me, clearly I was drinking it to youthfully. I recently purchased some 2010 and 2016. It remains an underpriced classified growth.

So it seems per WK’s note, but will it ever recapture its old magic? I remain dubious.

All the critics seem to like DDC 05, although I don’t think that WK has tasted it yet. None of them make any mention of the awful finish. My conclusion is that either there is a lot of bottle variation, in which case we should be warned of it by critics, or the samples which they taste are different. It’s certainly odd anyway.

I’m a subscriber to JA’s site and have really enjoyed it - the site is well-presented and the content is very interesting. Anyway, I wrote to her this morning about the DDC 05 and will let you know what she replies.

Thanks Robert - it has evolved a lot in the last few years. Three years ago, it tasted like many other 00s - jammy, lacking in backbone, borderline stodgy and syrupy. I opened a bottle last year which was already much better, less jammy and more fresh, but this one was a revelation. I’m always conservative with scores, which I don’t particularly like anyway. I rarely give anything higher than 93 because I’m always sure there’s something better I haven’t tasted. I was a bit concerned that I’d gone over the top with this one, but after finishing the bottle last night, I’m quite happy with the 97! Some would probably knock off a couple of points, for too much freshness and not enough intensity - it clearly doesn’t have the body of a Barton - but the freshness is just what I like! You should try another sometime.

A 2000 Lagrange a year ago was somewhat disappointing, I’d say heading downhill.
Based on this thread I popped another yesterday and it was astonishing revelation. Just everything you could possibly ask for in a reasonably priced Bdx and there was plenty of life left for more aging.

Noticed there’s some 05 DDC Rouge for sale on WineBid right now, in case someone wants to try a bottle for themselves and weigh in on the style at DDC. And shipping season is nearly here, which always makes wine buying more tempting (for me me at least).

I have a few in the cellar still, I might have to open one myself for a more up to date evaluation.