Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

A FURTHER TASTING OF 2015 CLARETS – PART II

April 2020. Frank Ward now focuses on a small selection of 2015 Clarets from Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Saint Julien (one wine only – but perhaps the best), and Pauillac.

 

 

 

SAINT EMILION

 

2015 CHÂTEAU CANON

A solid black-cherry colour, Canon has an enticing scent of black cherry jam and mint. It’s at once aerial and structured and, despite an alcohol level of 15 ABV, shows classic restraint. There’s masses of substance in the mouth, with lots of energy, and while it’s still closed up you can discern considerable length on the aftertaste. The finish delivers suggestions of ripe fig, damson, and espresso. It’s almost as big as port in its constitution.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC

The blackest wine so far, Figeac gives off a lovely rich aroma crammed with emphatic notes of sloe jam, ripe fig, and damson, with a graphite-like undertow. The flavour is rich and juicy, with hints of liquorice and black cherry, and is very long. It cries out to be left untouched for a dozen years and is sure to improve for a further 30. Superb.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU TROTTEVIEILLE

This darkling wine possesses a round, expressive aroma that exhales wafts of damson, roasted coffee beans, and soot. The flavour is both intense and focused, with an intermeshing of compatible flavours that announce a wine of serious depth and longevity. Overall, an impression of great workmanship – un vin charpente.

 

 

POMEROL

 

Right bank clarets have traditionally been dominated by the Merlot grape. But while Saint Emilion properties have increasingly high levels of the Cabernet Franc, often as much as 25-45% (the latter at Cheval Blanc) Pomerol remains overwhelmingly Merlot country, where that grape typically accounts for 75-94% of the encepagement.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU BEAUREGARD

The blackish colour has great lustre while the nose, suggestive of sweetly ripe black cherries, is velvety and strikingly fresh. It has an unforced quality, with a coolish feel, as if they’ve protected the grapes from burning sun (significantly, the alcohol level is a relatively modest 13.5 abv.). The flavour is harmonious and subtle, with everything in place. It leaves a lingering farewell suggestive of cherry, liquorice, and elderberry. Very good. This property used to lag. Today it’s clearly in the ascendant.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU HOSANNA

Just as dark as the above but with a more ethereal aroma – despite 15 abv! It smells like a meld of black cherry, roasted coffee beans, and truffle. These traits are repeated on the palate and that special Pomerol fusion of sweetness and sumptuousness brings the aftertaste to a long and satisfying finish.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU L’ÉVANGILE

Dark and lustrous, l’Évangile has a big, distinctly smoky aroma suggestive of black cherry, elderberry (a slightly wild element) and soot. The latter does not mask the wine’s essential ripe-grape sweetness. Sweet ripe fig and dark chocolate insert themselves into the long rolling aftertaste, which exhibits excellent balance.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU LA FLEUR PETRUS

The nose is rich yet with classic restraint, with aromatic suggestions of truffle, black cherry, and liquorice. It’s very dense on the palate and, like l’Évangile, has a slightly wild (“sauvage”) nuance, prompted by an echo of that wine’s elderberry nuance. A hint of blackberry liqueur enters into the voluminous finish. A dense wine with underlying harmony.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU TROTANOY

Top wines have a lustrous look, a more nuanced “robe”. That’s the case with Trotanoy, one of Pomerol’s finest growths. The aroma is round, smooth as velvet, and all of a piece. Lovely depth and complexity is there; and though it’s still in crysallis, you can feel the wine’s considerable length and multi-facetted build; but the details are still to be filled in over time. The ripe tannins give structure and weight to the finish; but overall the wine is buoyant, with a finesse that will burgeon year by year over coming decades.

 

 

SAINT JULIEN

 

2015 LÉOVILLE LAS CASES

On cue, Las Cases shows both lustre and nuance in a lovely deep black-purple colour. The nose is full of distinction and complexity, being flowery, fruity, and profound. It conjures up a magical fusion of damson, cherry, peony, and carnation scents. On the palate a perfect concentration of its manifold elements: fine terroir, minerality, a muted clayey aspect, and a long, infinitely detailed aftertaste borne up by optimal concentration and flawless balance. The tannins are of the ripest kind. A great Las Cases.

 

 

PAUILLAC

 

2015 CHÂTEAU DUHART MILON

The nose is so elegant you could almost take this for a Saint Julien– today at least. This fusion of fragrances is focused and beautifully balanced, with the promise of burgeoning depth. Everything is in harmony, from the first sniff to the last lingering aftertaste. A very subtle wine which will, inevitably, show more body and weight as it matures. It also possesses just the kind of alcohol level that best suits top claret: 12.5 ABV.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU LYNCH BAGES

The vivid black-purple colour promises all manner of good things and proceeds to deliver them on both nose and palate. Aromatically, it’s silky and rich, with that voluptuousness so typical of this great property – black cherries, truffle, chocolate. A juicy wine, balanced, long on the palate, and a hedonistic delight. But also showing the classic seriousness and structure only found in the best wines.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU PICHON LALANDE

This has a lovely creamy aroma suggestive of crèmes de cassis and framboise, rose, and peony. The texture on the palate is delectable – smooth, nuanced, and complex. Classic restraint is the keynote, but a keynote that reverberates, with a long and masterful aftertaste. The tannins are perfect – firm but not abrasive.

 

2015 CHÂTEAU PONTET CANET

Everything about this wine – aroma, texture, flavour, and finish – expresses its quintessential nature: Pauillac power and depth, Cabernet-Sauvignon rectitude, and Médocain authority. The nose is impressive, conjuring up black cherry, blackcurrant, and ripe black fig. A wine of effortless majesty, sure to improve for decades. Great..

 

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© Frank Ward 2020