TN: Comparative Bordeaux Tasting (2000/2005)

ANNUAL COMPARATIVE BORDEAUX TASTING (2000/2005) - Chicago, IL (10/29/2015)

HDH hosted a comparative tasting of the 2000 and 2005 Bordeaux vintages at the Ivy Room in Chicago. The wines were opened about 3-4 hours in advance of the event. Being one who doesn’t ordinarily reach for a bottle of Bordeaux when pulling something from my cellar, this was an excellent opportunity to do some science, so to speak.

All in all, I much preferred 2000 to 2005. I found the 2000s in general to be much more elegant, red-fruited, and higher in acid. The 2005s were, for the most part, deep in their slumber, and the wines showed very little inclination to reveal anything at this point in time. As I noted in a few of the notes, the tradeoff is to give up some of the 2000 elegance for 2005 structure and ripeness. For an acidophile like myself, that’s almost never a trade I’m willing to make. I was also surprised at how accessible the 2000s are already. While most have many, many years of life ahead of them, for those who prefer their Bordeaux with mostly primary characteristics, now would be a great time to start sampling the wines.

  • 2000 Château Montrose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    One of the most earth-driven wines today. Lots of dust and a slight barnyard funk. Also one of the darker 2000s, though this had really good acidity to it. Quite masculine, this has a definite beefiness about it. (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Montrose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    This was very similar to the 2000 in that it was earth-driven and slightly barnyardy. On the other hand, it seems that a bit of the acidic lift has been traded in for sweeter and riper fruit. Easy to see this is darker and more heavily focussed on the black fruit end of the spectrum. (90 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Cos d’Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Really polished. Lots of sweet cassis and vanilla on the nose, but it’s not over-the-top. Slightly red-fruited, and good acidity here, but the oak does play a bit too loud of a part here. (88 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Cos d’Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Quite dense on the nose, with a good bit of earth, which also shows on the palate. Very dense on the palate, but it seems like density for density’s sake. Sightly sweet, which comes at the expense of acidic freshness. (88 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Wow. This is so light and airy, but not in a ditzy sort of way. Very much red-fruited and elegant, with a little bit of graphite as well. Very approachable now and very delicious. Great stuff. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    This has a bit more sweetness on the nose and palate. The fruit is really showing through here. Less red-fruited than black-fruited. Heavier in concentration than its older sibling, but fortunately, none of the elegance is lost in the tradeoff. Still, I do prefer the 2000 for its fleet-footedness. (90 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Mouton Rothschild - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    The nose on this is just amazing. I love the spice and tobacco notes, which follow through on the palate. I really like those herbal elements, but the palate comes off as a little too concentrated without enough freshness to keep things going. Obviously, a very dense and powerful wine, and very much more expressive than the 2005 right now. Mostly, it needs more time to unwind. (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Mouton Rothschild - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Lots of meaty and earthy aromas on the nose. This monster was just completely closed at the moment, and not very expressive at all. There was a surprising slight bit of tapenade on the palate, which was an interesting kick, but besides that, this is not showing much more. Next to the 2000, I would prefer the older Mouton at this stage. (90 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    This is a perennial favourite of mine, and tonight was no exception. A very pronounced note of green pepper on the nose. This was fantastically light and elegant, with beautiful perfumed aromatics. Lots of bright acids keeps this a real fresh bottle of Bordeaux. Drinking really well now. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    This is a Lynch that really throws its weight around. Super powerful and tough as nails. I’ve noticed that there seems to be a compromise between fruit and acidity between 05 and 00 Bordeaux (more acid on the 2000s, more fruit on 2005s), but in the case of Lynch, no such compromise has been made. This is definitely more closed down than the 2000, but the acidity here is just as vibrant. I’m very optimistic. (93 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Lafite Rothschild - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Very dense and deep nose, with graphite for days. This is very much a black-fruited wine, with lots of sweet blackberry and cassis flavours, as well as that lovely pencil-shaving graphite note. The palate is perhaps a bit softer than the nose would make you expect, probably owing a bit to the slightly sweet and riper fruit. Again, a winner against the 2005 at this stage, thanks to the acidity. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Lafite Rothschild - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    This is kind of like the 2000, but tuned up a dial. Everything is just larger-scaled and bigger here. But at the same time, it’s less prone to giving its charms up, and thanks to the scale, this is much more brutish than the lither and more elegant 2000. You know, the thing about this wine is that it’s just… big. (90 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Latour Grand Vin - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Here’s one of the few wines tonight that was showing mineral elegance. There’s a nice touch of pepper on the nose as well. The palate carries through that mineral elegance and pepper. Very concentrated again. I found it surprising that this was the darker of the 2000/2005 pair, as it was definitely the c-c-c-c-c-c-combo breaker for the pairs at this tasting. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Latour Grand Vin - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    From magnum. Which makes it all the more surprising that this was the more accessible of the 2000/2005 Latours. This veers much more towards red fruit, and much less of the bell pepper notes, while picking up elegance along the way. Very feminine… for a Latour. The stony minerality is quite prevalent here as well, and it’s the synthesis of all these elements while retaining balance that make this such a fantastic wine. (95 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Tobacco and cassis on the nose, but the palate is soft, with lighter red fruit and a floral lift that is just so damn elegant. Tart cranberries? The heightened acidity and easy-going nature of this make it a fantastic bottle to approach already. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Um… what happened here? I loved the nice green herbal elements on the nose, but the palate is surprisingly sweet, and you can feel the heat on the back end a bit. This is on the cusp of blueberry smoothie territory. The oak treatment is not too bad, but we’re treading a dangerously thin line at this point. (85 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    This is a massive tobacco bomb on the nose, but this is followed with tart cherries and other red fruits on the palate, in a very light and feminine style, with really enjoyable acidity. This drinks incredibly well now, and is a nice change up from the miserable failure that is the 2005. (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    This is a miserable failure for such an esteemed estate. A bit of cherry cough syrup on the nose. That’s about it. The palate is watery and thin, and while the other 2005s tonight weren’t showing too much, it was clear they had stuffing. This one is a paper tiger. There’s nothing here for the long haul. It’s already dried out, and you’re left with a husk of acid and tannin. A waste of a good vintage. (80 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    There’s some dusty earth on the nose, followed by a nice dose of tart red fruits. There’s almost something floral about this wine, it’s so elegant and light. Fresh, zippy acids that keep things going. Another one of those wines that I’d pick for immediate enjoyment today. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    I much preferred the 2000 alongside. This was denser, with ripe berries on the nose. More powerful and more stuffing, but at the cost of acidity, not to mention the oak treatment here seemed a little heavy-handed, giving a bit too much vanilla and bitterness on the backend. (88 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Léoville Las Cases - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    This seems really restrained, in that it was showing absolutely nothing on the nose and palate. Not open for business at all, though there’s a nice smidgen of acidity. But could the oak please go away? (85 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Léoville Las Cases - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Another 2005 disaster. Sharpie marker on the nose. Overripe, overdone, and overoaked. I’m surprised as there really should be enough stuffing to handle the oak, but the palate is hollowed out by uncomfortable oak tannins, leaving you with a sensation of blueberry jam and vanilla. (80 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Margaux - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    The perfume on this is just haunting. Floral, lithe, and ethereal. Lambrays-esque in its elegance, lightness, and red-fruitedness. Soft and approachable now. Maybe a bit less dense and concentrated than the other first growths, but, mirror, mirror on the wall, this is by far the prettiest of them all. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Margaux - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Denser and riper than the 2000 that preceded this, with a slightly less acidity. The same elegant nose and palate as its older sibling. I found this to be one of the few examples where 2005 was the greater wine, probably because the drop in acidity wasn’t too precipitous, and the increase in density and concentration here really kicked things up a few notches. (95 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Palmer - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    In comparison to Margaux (the Chateau, not the appellation), the Palmer was noticeably bigger, broader, and buffer. There were more pepper notes on the nose, although the same red fruit can be found on this wine. The tannic structure is more exposed and prominent here, and the red fruit of the Margaux dials back a bit here to expose a bit more of an austere character. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Palmer - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    This was by far the biggest and brawniest of the four appellation Margaux wines I tasted tonight. However, this didn’t go at all into black fruit territory, and despite the scale of this wine, it never lost its ethereal lightness. This is definitely one for the long haul though, as it was also showing the least. But there’s no doubt that with some extended cellar time, you’ll end up with a phenomenal wine. (93 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Mmm. Gravel. I love eating gravel. Actually, if only that were the case. I found the famed gravelly minerality of Haut-Brion a bit lacking here. Chalk it up to being too young? Haut-Brion (or maybe Latour) is probably the longest-lived of the four [sic] first growths. Maybe it comes out with time? There is a bit of minerality if you look for it on the palate, but it is quite subdued. This wine is very rich at the moment, with lots of sweet fruit, though it’s not out of balance thanks to a good touch of acid. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Too young? Maybe. But there was just too much cream and cassis on the nose for me to enjoy this too much. The palate’s got more of the same cream and cassis. It isn’t completely off-balance yet, but it comes pretty damn close. Hopefully the oak will integrate (in all fairness, given Haut-Brion’s track record, it likely will), but at the current moment, this isn’t the most enjoyable bottle of Bordeaux for me. (88 pts.)
  • 2000 Château La Mission Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Easily more mineral and elegant than the Haut-Brion. Less sweet, more austere, and a bit more leather on the palate. This was made in a much more restrained style, and shows a lot more precision and clarity than the big hulking behemoth from next door. While I admired the 2000 HB for its density, I’d give a slight edge to the 2000 LMHB for its elegance. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Château La Mission Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Keeping with the common theme that I found between 2000 vs. 2005, this traded in some acidity and freshness for sweeter and riper fruit. Fortunately, none of this was at the expense of the minerality. Quite dense, and more brooding than elegant, this is a huge wine which just needs more time for everything to resolve and knit together. (93 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Smith Haut Lafitte - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Very, very soft. Not shapeless, but definitely on that path. A little bit of leather, and fruit that seems a little overripe. This didn’t have the same freshness as many of the 2000s, and although there’s ample acidity, there’s not quite enough to overcome that slightly sickly overripe fruit character. I’m a bit surprised at how advanced this seems. (88 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Smith Haut Lafitte - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    What’s with people putting more oak in the 2005? Reasonably elegant, but this is going down that “shapeless mass” path that I noticed in the 2000. Sweeter, riper fruit than the 2000, though the slightly rotten, overripe quality isn’t as prevalent here. Unfortunately though, the oak does make a much bigger (and unwelcome) entrance here, and a slight but further drop in acidity from the 2000 makes this the less desirable of the two. (85 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Pavie - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Lots of fruit of all kinds on the nose. And all of it overripe. Sure, it’s a bigger wine, and you’d expect to experience the same on the palate. Well, it’s sweetness, followed by an empty hollowness, then oak tannin, and heat. What a spoofulated joke of a wine. And just when I thought things couldn’t get worse… (70 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Pavie - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    …along comes this disgusting concoction. This is an amorphous, shapeless blob, raised in >100% new oak, probably hitting something like 15% abv (I didn’t care to check), tasting like it has 20 g/L of residual sugar, and made from sun-baked grapes. This wine is a parody of itself. (60 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Cheval Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Faith redeemed. Next to the utter hilarity that is Pavie, here’s some real Classe A St. Emilion. The marriage between the cabernet franc and merlot in this wine is one made in heaven. Where the cabernet franc gives this the intense herbal aromatics, tannic structure, and a fair bit of acidic lift, the merlot comes in with its moderating sweet fruit to round off all the hard edges. This drinks much too well for a 2000 (perhaps thanks to the high proportion of merlot?) now, and was by leaps and bounds the wine of the tasting (and I don’t say that because this was coming off of Pavie). (98 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Cheval Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    The cabernet franc is much more prevalent here than in the 2000, but all-in-all, this is a sweeter, darker, and more tannic version of that wine. Darker fruit and showing much less at the moment, despite the larger-scaled structure. This also doesn’t quite have the same freshness that the 2000 had, and needs lots of time for everything to emerge and integrate. (90 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Do you also write under the pseudonym Jancis? :wink:

What an incredible tasting!

Surprises to me:

  • poor scores in both vintages for LLC
  • middling score for 85 HB
  • poor score for 2000 SHL

Bad showing for Pavie: no surprise.

Alex R.

Wow, impressive line-up. Thanks for the great notes. Candidly, would have expected a better showing from many of those wines.

Great notes.

Very refreshing scores from someone who might be considered more of a fence sitter (like me) on younger Bdx.

Much appreciate the interesting viewpoints. Thanks.

Admittedly, the scores are a bit conservative, but I chose to reflect more of my current enjoyment of the wines rather than some measure of potential, given my lack of experience tasting Bordeaux.

05 is mostly too shut down to be enjoyable right now, which is reflected in my lower scoring. I did notice I’m a huge outlier with regards to the CT scoring though… Not sure what to make of that…

Sanjay, I can only wish I wrote as well as Jancis!

Alex, I was also pretty surprised at the poor LLC and 05 HB showing. None of the bottles were off, as I’m sure HDH would have replaced them without a second thought.

That’s how I score. My notes and scores reflect current enjoyment. While I might posit on how it may evolve, I cannot score that future potential with anything more than perhaps a (+). Subject to way too many variables, including me simply being dead wrong.

Envious! That would have been an amazing tasting, but would also be much more enjoyable in 10 years. I would not have expected a lot of pleasure from these wines, especially the 2005s, which are babies from a muscular vintage. Had wines like LLC and Montrose, from either vintage, been open and pretty, I would have been shocked

Great notes, Adrian. Concise and useful.

Thanks for the notes. I actually bought a fair amount of 2000 Bordeaux (not sure what possessed me) and it is worthwhile to see a fellow acidophile review them. Of those you mention i only have the calon, ducru, pichon baron and SHL (well 3 out of 4 ain’t bad) but they sound promising for future enjoyment.

If i can ever bring myself to open a cab-based wine again that is.

Maureen, I think if you do bring yourself to pop any of your 2000s, you’ll be pleased. It’s very much a Burgundy drinker’s vintage with its red fruit and bright acids.

Alfert, I agree, it’s very difficult to determine how wines will age, but I haven’t been doing this long enough for any of my calls to be (in)validated. : ) That said, Pavie is still an absolute mess.

Aw shucks, Maureen, Burgundy is good, and sometimes superb, but Bordeaux surely trumps it!

Alex R.

Them’s fightin’ words, Alex!

Maureen deserves a good (but polite, of course!) fight, and needs to get out there and taste more.
Heck, I spend a lot more time in Burgundy than she does, and quite like the wines.
But as for classic wines with structure and depth, the best France can produce, go to BORDEAUX!

Alex R.

Its a mammoth tasting. I do have many of those wines from both vintages in my cellar including most of the First growths.

I did taste many of the 2005s at release and was impressed with them apart from the 2005 Pavie which I thought was over the top for my palate (tasted blind). I have faith that they will turn out to be excellent given more time in bottle.

I have had only a few 2000s in the recent past and none of the big ticket items. 2000 Ducru did impress last year. I was going to try few of the less expensive 2000s in the coming years. And then may be try the tup rated ones after 2020.

LLC is a very obdurate wine. It is not a supple wine and at times I feel it is stuffed too much and that less would have been better. There are times I love it such as the '82 tasted on number of occasions over the past decade. But at other times, I feel that inasmuch I would have loved to like it there was no emotion.

Well I think you live a little closer.

But compared to Burgundy, Bordeaux is simple and boring. And lately I just don’t like the taste. Before I liked it - hell, I used to cellar and drink plenty and still have 82s, 86s, and 89s in addition to the 00s - but still found it rather simple. Now I don’t like the flavor. I trust it will come back to me. Indeed, I have started liking the flavor of chardonnay again recently after years of disliking it (following a few years of loving it). So maybe, Alex, one day i may like Bordeaux again. But it will never be nearly as great as Burgundy.

Who’s signature is it that says “all roads lead to Burgundy”? Is it Scott’s?

Big +1 from my corner.

Whatever one thinks of Bordeaux, it is much less divisive than red Burgundy, which seems to inspire (semi-irrational) passion on one end and indifference or even dislike on the other.

I am not going to get into the Bordeaux Burgundy debate. I like both, drink both, and my life would be infinitely poorer if I lost either.

Fascinating notes, Adrian, and thanks. The most surprising for me was the Baron 2005, which I considered one of the top wines of the vintage when I tasted en Primeur, and later, in bottle at the UGC tasting. So much so, I bought several bottles, I will try one in the next couple few days and report.