Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

2013 CLARETS, A VARIABLE VINTAGE – PART II

February 2018.

 

                    PART II : SAINT ESTÈPHE, SAINT JULIEN, PAUILLAC

a

SAINT ESTÈPHE

a

2013 CHÂTEAU CALON SÉGUR

This darkling wine, with true St Estèphe rectitude, smells of black cherry, molasses, chocolate, and liquorice – joined on the palate by elderberry, charcoal, and date notes. I’m struck by the wine’s bracing freshness, a fusion of ripe-grape acidity and dense Cabernet fruit.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU COS D’ESTOURNEL

Dark but not opaque, Cos has a magnificent scent, very smooth, that jumps out of the glass. A range of berries/black fruits includes sloe. The aroma expands to include graphite, peony, and blackcurrant. As with Calon above, the wine possesses a striking freshness without greenness. The aftertaste is seamless with just the right level of concentration. Superb.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU MONTROSE

The flowery nose (with lurking black fruits) also incorporates raspberry and is smooth and inviting. It’s grainy the way suede is grainy. Second sniff: a hint of beetroot. The flavour is balanced and sustained. If the tannins are a touch gritty they‘re sure to soften and meld into the body of the wine. It’s the most forceful of these St Estèphes and clearly needs 12-15 years for its various elements to fuse together.

a

A

SAINT JULIEN

a

2013 CHÂTEAU BEYCHEVELLE

The glossy aroma leads into a flavour that’s velvety, rich, and nuanced. Plenty of vigour on the palate, with classic Médoc traits – smooth texture, good concentration, a balanced aftertaste. As always with Beychevelle, I find a stylistic affinity with Pessac-Léognan.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU BRANAIRE DUCRU

A bit lighter than Beychevelle, this exhales distinct Merlot scents – carnation, red cherry, and plum. The medium-full flavour is balanced and reasonably solid. Decent wine.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU GRUAUD LAROSE

Fairly dark, this habitually seductive Second Growth has a vinous nose of cherry, kirsch, and Victoria plum, promising both sinew and flesh. Though closed on the palate, it shows clear signs of harmony and roundness. Should develop well over a couple of decades.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU LANGOA BARTON

The elegant, poised aroma exhibits centre and solidity. It’s vinous in the mouth, with enough extract to give weight without heaviness. The finish is firm, with espresso notes, and harmonious enough to develop evenly over 15-20 years.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU LÉOVILLE BARTON

Good though Langoa is, this associated property is invariably darker, richer, and still better-balanced. The ascendant Cabernet-Sauvignon is redolent of lead pencil, black cherry, almond, and blackcurrrant. The tight-knit flavour, with no hint of ascerbity, leads into a classic, nuanced aftertaste of notable freshness, showing noble St Julien terroir character. Like most other top 2013s, it’s not of maximum concentration but very harmonious.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU LÉOVILLE LAS CASES

Intensely coloured, this gives off a superb aroma, both flowery and fruity, of multiple black fruits and truffle. Even at this early stage it’s almost a fully-fledged bouquet! In this difficult year it’s positively juicy, with a succession of aerial, poised sub-scents. The flavour is characterised by density without heaviness, the finish very long. An impressive achievement in this tricky vintage and one of the year’s top wines.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU LÉOVILLE POYFERRÉ

The blackest Saint Julien so far and full of extract – but not to excess. It stands apart from its peers, being more like a Pauillac in build. Dense, slightly oaky (but not woody) it has a multi-facetted aroma of blackberry, plum jam, truffle, drifting into something briary and wild berry. I initially cited Pauillac, but within 10 minutes it’s more like a Saint Estèphe, with that commune’s energy and assertiveness. Well-crafted and with a long and impressive finish, it’s one of the biggest 3-4 wines of the vintage.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU TALBOT

While not as complex as the Léovilles, Talbot has a vital, very true Médoc nose suggestive of plum and plum-stone. It shows typical vitality and thrust, with a spicy finish reminiscent of clove and chocolate. As always, a wine of character with a slightly gamey aspect.

a

a

PAUILLAC

 

2013 CHÂTEAU D’ARMAILHAC

The fruity aroma, deceptively simple to begin with, soon shows more depth, blossoming into a typical mid-weight Pauillac nose of black cherry, damson, and peony. It’s fresh in the mouth, with good tannins (no ascerbity). The finish is smooth and longish, promising a good 20 years’ of steady development. This reliable and consistent property delivers copybook Pauillac style in most vintages.

A

2013 CHÂTEAU BATAILLEY

Initially light, Batailley rapidly takes on body and gives off a medley of scents including Victoria plum, fig, and nectarine. Contact with the air does wonders: the wine gains in body, growing rounder and juicier, showing itself to have real solidity. The aftertaste, with ample substance, clearly has a lot more to give in the longer term.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU CLERC MILON

The elder brother of Armailhac (from the Mouton stable), gives off an authoritative aroma, at once weighty and juicy, suggestive of cherry, blackcurrant, and violet. Plenty of ripe fruit on the palate, which is both buoyant and structured. The aftertaste, shifting to sweetly ripe black cherry, is very sustained. A very good wine with true Pauillac character.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU DUHART MILON

Vivid in appearance, Duhart Milon both promises and delivers freshness and vivacity on a glossy nose hinting at crème de cassis and framboise, and damson. The deliciously fruity flavour ripples over the palate, with support provided by a firm (but not harsh) tannic structure. It’s hard to believe that so balanced a wine could have emerged from so unpromising a vintage.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU GRAND PUY LACOSTE

With its intense black-purple “robe” and round, vital aroma of black fruits and autumn berries, GPL shows true Pauillac focus and decisiveness. It’s lusciously fruity in the mouth, all of its manifold elements very much in harmony. A superbly crafted wine that will go on improving for 25-30 years at least.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU LYNCH BAGES

Even in this tricky vintage LB contrives to show its ever-seductive character: dark glowing colour, sumptuous aroma, and mouth-filling juicy flavour. It goes on evolving in the mouth, delivering a succession of flavours that include black cherry, truffle, sweet fig, and coffee. The aftertaste does not peter out, being satisfyingly protracted. It’s so delicious on this particular occasion you feel you could gulp it down right away (which you doubtless could do). But it’s made to last and should develop well past 2040.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU PICHON BARON

Impressively dark, this has a seamless aroma that evokes black cherry, cigarbox, roasted coffee beans, and carnation. (the latter perhaps from the 28% Merlot). The masterful flavour is in tune with this, showing an unforced concentration of mostly Cabernet-Sauvignon fruit. This wine is full of energy but shows classic restraint. The finish is long and gently assertive. A classic Pauillac with great presence, able to improve for 30 years at least.

a

2013 CHÂTEAU PONTET CANET

Another darkling 2013 with a lushly fruity, strikingly pure scent of black fruits and ripe autumn berries. Like other top ‘13s, it ought to be a bit rough but is in fact lusciously fruity and with good (if not maximum) concentration. These traits carry through onto the palate, in which there is not the slightest hint of over-extraction: as if newly pressed juice had run off on its own volition. Fresh and vibrant, it’s superbly balanced despite the constraints of the vintage.It simply couldn’t have been better-crafted given the vintage conditions.

 

© Frank Ward 2017

a


<< 2013 Clarets Part I : PESSAC-LÉOGNAN & MARGAUX, FIRST GROWTHS

 

Advertisements