Some Brief Thoughts on the 2006 Vintage in Bordeaux

We (the Grand Jury Europeen; GJE) just concluded a broad tasting of wines from the 2006 vintage in Bordeaux. As many of you know, the GJE tastes wines blind, so that all we know is that we have around 34 wines in front of us with only numbers, and whether the wine is left bank or right bank. Only after we have evaluated the wines, written a note, a score, and turned in our sheets, do we find out what the wines were for that series. Each series–averaging around 34 wines–goes for 1/2 day–usually the tasting is 2 hours or so, then a debriefing for another hour, then lunch, etc. It’s quite challenging!

As a broad overview (and I think most participants would agree with my perception), the beauty in the wines is in the wines from the left bank. The right bank wines were often less appealing, more hard, tannic, somewhat over-oaked, and some appeared to have some greenness to them. The wines from the left bank had more finesse, were more inviting, and offering more pleasure at least now in their drinking. Let’s put it this way: After a day of tasting right bank wines, many tasters ended the day with a hint of a scowl; after the left bank tasting, we ended the day with a smile. There are some quite lovely wines in the 2006 vintage. I will post some notes on specific wines once I get the list of wines paired with numbers emailed to me–I did not write down the key during the session. But overall, some winemakers got it really right in 06, and those who did, made lovely wines that I would characterize as somewhat feminine, inviting, and had a soft lushness that was quite nice. The majority, perhaps, though tried to tame the flaws of the vintage (raw materials) with a heavy hand on the oak and manipulation. Those wines tasted of oak, oak and more oak covering who knows what fruit underneath. For some reviews, I wrote “too much manipulation” and even “almost seems chemically altered.” The wines which were over-manipulated outnumbered those that were done “right” but–after tasting something like 150 wines–there is a good number to choose from that were done right. Also, once Francois Mauss has the data from all tasters (around 15 to 20 tasters) analyzed, I’ll post a link to his cumulative report. Probably in a day or so I’ll have my list to comment on more specifically.

Some wines showed remarkably well, though. Perhaps the surprise of the tasting was everyone’s reaction to Chateau Pape-Clement (disclosure–room assignments were made for the members and I got assigned to stay at Pape-Clement but as the wines were tasted blind, that wouldn’t have had any influence on my rating). At the debriefing, this wine created a lot of buzz. Many thought it a wine of stature with breeding. We all loved it–as one GJE member stated: “I found myself thinking its not to my typical style, but I couldn’t help but liking it. In fact, I loved it.” My own note on the 2006 Pape Clement was: "Nice cedar and spice on the nose. Well structured but quite tannic. Impressive finish that lasts. A very, very nice wine with good aging potential. 94 points…

We also tasted 2005 and 2006 Sauternes, which I’ll probably post separately about in the next few days. But as I said in one other recent post, most members preferred the 06 vintage for current drinking. Personally, I rated d’Yquem and Climens highest.

We had the pleasure of a number of great lunches and dinners, including a lovely lunch at Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte, in which the Cathiards served us two wines blind. Turned out one was the 2000 Mouton and the other the 2000 Smith Haute Lafitte; it was interesting to hear preferences when the two wines were compared blind! A dinner at Domaine de Chevalier (about which I already posted some details) was stupendous which included the 1949 and 1969 Domaine de Chevalier en magnum, and the 1931 Niepoort port, in double magnum. A dinner at Chateau Malartic Lagraviere was incredible, for our being served a flight of 2002 Bordeaux–Malartic, Mouton, Ducru Beaucaillou, and Haut Brion. The 1990 Ch. Calon-Segur was drinking beautifully, as was the 1989 Ch. Malartic-Lagraviere served from double magnum.

I’ll try to write up some of these fun times in some separate notes giving a bit more info on the wines, but I thought it might be fun and interesting just to chat about the 06 vintage for a bit. Specific notes to follow once Francois sends me the full list of wines paired with the numbers so I can “unlock” my notes.

By the way–on the plane on the way home, I read John Gilman’s assessment and review of the 06 vintage. I really enjoyed reading his thoughts and agreed with much of his reactions to the vintage. His assessment, in many areas, was similar to my own and to comments I heard from other members at the tasting.

I am very much looking forward to the follow up.

Well done!

Why isn’t this in Wine Talk, and where is my TWA?

Anyway, thanks Jeff. [rofl.gif] [berserker.gif]


Thanks so much. I very much look forward to an even more extensive report. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in. I have heard so many controversial things about this 06 vintage.

I, too, think this really needs to be move to Wine Talk.


Thanks Wilfred very valuable notes. This further raises my point that RMP’s palate is losing it. If I recall correctly, he was much higher originally on the right bank and except for Mouton did not love the left.
He has lowered many scores of wines in bottle from the barrel scores that seem to mirror your tasting notes. I can’t wait for the outcry if he lowers his 08’s in bottle after saving the vintage for the FG and the few others that he and now Minnie Me “Palate” have endorsed.

Nicely done Wilfred. And mmm Pape Clement, I love that wine in most vintages.

Minnie Me? I have think I can guess…

For years I was a huge fan of Pape-Clement and Smith-Haut-Lafitte even when I was finding other modern Bordeaux undrinkable. And I bought a bunch of 'em. But I have gotten very skeptical of their ageability. I’ve tasted the ‘98s of each within the last year, both of which were viscerally awesome on release and both of which now taste like a big glass of nothin’ special. At only a decade past the vintage date it may be too soon to judge, but when something is deliberately made to wow young I don’t know how much benefit of the doubt I can give it. I still adore the Pape-Clements of the '60s and '70s. If it ain’t broke . . . . .

Keith, not sure when that began (would have to look it up but around 98 for sure) but the property changed hands and fell into the Magrez portfolio. Those of you who follow the Bdx threads with assiduity have already heard that story, but I’ll repeat it again: I went to a tasting in Frankfurt some years ago, we had a verticale of Pape-Clement (+ some La Tour Carnet and some Bernard Magrez wines). I remember the sales rep showing me a nice graph with the increase of Parker points and the correlated increase in price - all thanks to changes introduced by Magrez to that effect - both in the vineyard and in the winemaking. Needless to say I’ve remained very skeptical of these efforts, but there’s no doubt they reached their goal on the price side, and if indeed more and more people like Pape-Clement then I guess all is for the best.

You can read the full report and especially my conclusions, in particular stuff like “I thought it tasted more like St Emilion than Graves. It is very impressive young but lacks the stuffing and acidity to age nicely” :slight_smile: but also the comment re: the increased use of Merlot, etc.

I know exactly where you guys are coming from re Pape-Clement. But I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts who’ve tried the 06 to see if you think the same regarding that specific wine of the 06 vintage. We were all surprised–as you might imagine, a group largely of European traditionalists.

Keith–let’s try this wine when I see you in a week.


Thanks for the notes. I wasn’t so keen on 06 PC Rouge. I thought the blanc was ethereal. Both tasted at ugc.

Regarding the Magrez ownership, concentration seems to be the name of the game in terms of their post takeover methodology. Same could be said about SHL and other Bdx of that ilk (Rolland).

That’s the wine version of 1+1=2.

For starters , I agree with Wilfred’s thoughtful analysis of the vintage . I also preferred left bank over right bank , finding the Medoc more elegant , balanced and with better lenght . The only problem with 2006 is that the wines were very ( too ) expensive .

We had a lovely time in Bordeaux . Wilfred was treated like the Pope of Chicago , sleeping in Bernard Magrez’s very luxurious suite.\ at the chateau… no wonder he liked Pape Clement so much , he had a bottle with breakfast , lunch and dinner …
The few right bankers I liked were Feytit Clinet , Rouget ( Pomerol ) , Reignac , Haut Carles , Fontenils, d’Aiguile and Ausone : all 90 to 92/100 wines… These Reignac and Haut Carles wines are super QPR’s I think … and probably less expensive per case than 1 bottle of Ausone.And I did not care for Cheval Blanc , not blind and not when its identity was revealed.

I only did one tasting of the Medoc ( left earlier ) … but much better wines were present ; a delicious Haut Brion ( gamy delicate elegance ), a very young Las Cases and a super Pape Clement …probably the wine of the vintage . I only got the identity of my highest scoring wines so for QPR , I will have to wait for the list with wines served.

The more plebeian members of the GJE stayed at more humble places , I ended up by my self at Haut Bergey in Leognan… but was served the 2008 Haut Bergey which is available in primeur here in Belgium at 20 Euro’s a bottle . Now this is a wine to go after . It combines elegance of Graves with excellent yummy fruit and lenght .

Herwig, my friend, great to see you here! What a thougtful post for your first one here. A very auspicious beginning!

Herwig now thinks of me as the ‘pope’ of the GJE as I got that room (ok, it was pretty nice).

See you next week in NY, Herwig! Post more here…you’ll like these folks.

Well , I just got the list with the wines from the Medoc tasting .

My top scores went to ( blind tasting )

  • 95/100 : Pape Clement ( I really loved this wine : My guess was Mouton…)
  • 94/100 : Las Cases
  • 93 /100 : Haut Brion ( all finesse , lovely ) , Pichon Comtesse , petit Mouton ( yes…) and Leoville Poyferre
  • 92/100 : Lafite , Mouton , Pichon Baron and Prieure Lichine

the low scoring wines ( 85 or 86/100 ) : Beaumont , Brane Cantenac ,Clos des Jaugueyron , Palmer… , GP Ducasse and Haut Condissas .

Great writeup Wilfred and thanks for chiming in Herwig. Anyone taste the Pape Clement blanc?

Thanks for chiming in Herwig. I agree that it is great to see you here in the land of free thought with no pit bulls. [drinkers.gif]

Wilfred, Herwig,
thanks for the update. May be somebody got it wrong with the supremacy of the right bank.

P.S.: Have you tasted the usual suspects as VCC,Conseillante, Eglise Clinet, Larcis Ducasse or Pavie Maquin ?

Anyone have impressions of 06 Pontet Canet?