Posted by: jmbwineblog | April 16, 2010

A La Conseillante Vertical in London; 13th April 2010

Once upon a time, a group of friends were having dinner with a load of nice wines. The mix was fun and there was plenty to go around, but one wine in particular blew us all away, and levitated us to a new level all together. Simply a WOW wine if ever there was one…

1985 Chateau La Conseillante, Libourne, Pomerol

Cedar, tobacco, black fruit, soy sauce, scorched earth, tar and very voluptuous. Slight green tinge, menthol, red plum (all of which eventually blew off), leaving a vibrant, ethereal, elegant, delicate wine of red plum, red cherry, wild raspberry, zippy and light on its feet. Incredibly youthful… in fact young!! With a long way to go. A touch short on the finish but that is youth. WOW! A transcendental wine! *******(+?).

A quite seamless wine which set in motion the notion of actually organising a vertical of Chateau La Conseillante. The plans were put on the back burner until I attended the Bordeaux Index La Conseillante vertical at the Ledbury with the wine-maker and estate manager Jean-Michel Laporte in attendance, and what a great night that was…

Vintages included a classic 06, a complete 05, a brooding but elegant 04 and 01, a fresh airy 2000, a concentrated 98, a 95 that was certainly coming together. The Big pair of 89 and 90 (and my what a pair!), and a fresh (surprisingly) light, delightful 82, and a dusty, smoky, classic 81 that went beyond all expectations. The only wine missing was that wonderful 85. (More on this tasting itself, when I go back to the Archives).

With a few emails to previous co-conspirators, and a nudge and a push here and there, the dinner was back in the pipeline….

6 Months down the line, and on May 13th a group of 12 of us, including the ever generous Jean-Michel Laporte, carrying a 95 and a cask sample of 09 to boot!

Jean-Michel LApore discussing his wines.

We started off the dinner, of which tickets for those who did not donate wines went to the Pebbles Project Charity (http://www.pebblesproject.co.za), with a Magnum of 1985 Charles Heidsieck Rosé Champagne. This was developed, vegetal, and soapy, but wonderfully loveable. A very nice Champagne (*****). Next up was the very generously donated 2009 Cask Sample of La Conseillante, and my first 09 Bordeaux of the season. This wine was balanced and very classic La Conseillante, delicate and rich, with a Burgundian feel to it. Balanced and generally holding its alcohol very well. Damsons, plums, ink, cassis, minerals are the main characters, and this wine if the oak is not overpowering when finished, has the ability to age into something quite beautiful when fully mature. (****[*+])

The 09 Sample

Next up was the very classically styled 2004 La Conseillante, herby, verging on green but still delicate and very La Conseillante in terms of style with a core of black fruits and a rim of red, basil, rosemary and thyme, this is a very minerally effervescent wine which needs time but is fairly drinkable now. (****[*+])

The 2003 La Conseillante was very ripe, rubbery and hot. Toasty and smoky, slightly scorched  but not as big and ripe as other 03s, deep and with a slight freshness. Probably the least La Conseillante feeling of the lot, and a shy finish. Still an enjoyable wine in its own right. (****[+?])

The 2001 La Conseillante was deep, with hints of kirsch, cassis, dark plum, minerals, and herbs. Minty and Eucalyptus. There was a depth of flavour that points to the class and refinement of this polished wine. It needs a lot more time, but it will be pretty special! (******[*+])

The 1997 La Conseillante was a light, delicate beast with notes of red and black plum, cassis, tobacco, smoke, kirsch, soil, wet earth, but a small dark concentrated core. This was an also ran with a long mineral, tobacco finish, but it is a lot of fun to enjoy now! (****[*?])

The next course had some of the golden oldies in the flight. Starting with the dark and brooding, but aged, country-life 1986, which was rustic and wooden, but with some classic La Conseillante notes. A little bit hot on the finish, but pleasurable none the less with its strawberry, cranberry, herby, tobacco and smoke notes. (*****)

The 1985 was a wine that we had all been looking forward to, based on previous experiences, and unfortunately although it was a very nice bottle of the wine, it didn’t hit those transcendental heights of previous bottles! Leather, tobacco, strawberry, herby, cigars. A nice truffle finish it still had that classic La Conseillante elegance, and Burgundian style. (******) A velvety, silk dressing gown of a wine.

Next up was the better than expected herby, delicate 1978, which felt like the progression of that original bottle of 1985 that got this whole escapade started. Leather, truffle, tobacco, forest floor, with the vibrant red fruits slowly decaying in the background, being held up by its freshness and mineral backbone. A lovely old bird with a smoky finish. (*****-)

Next we had a magnum of 1975 which was unfortunately corked, so we simply discussed the fact that underneath all of the mess, there was a great wine being hidden. So we moved onto the next flight which started with the 1982, which was ripe and slightly porty, but not overblown. About to head into the decaying state of sous bois and forest floor. A touch hot, and not as good as the bottle at the Bordeaux Index dinner. (*****[*-])

Accompanying the 82 was the great La Conseillante debate. The 1989 and the 1990! Which is better. They were both excellent with the 1989 being a WOW wine, deep, elegant, cedar and minerals with an air of poise, refinement and elegance whilst still being fresh. Truffle, tobacco, effervescent. Lifted and light on its feet (*******[+]) it ran away with it in this race. The 1990 in comparison was ferrel, herby, slightly scorched, with less acid, it was still elegant, minerally and very La Conseillante. Second on the night, but still a lovely wine, with the roles being reversed on previous nights. (******[*])

The full set of wines.

The final flight contained some of the potentially great young wines of the future. We started with the Big, Minty, rich, cassic, eucalyptus, herbs, damsons, delicate, but somewhat perfect 2005 (*****[**+?]). I have always preffered the more La Conseillante feeling 06 (tasted at the Bordeaux Index dinner), but it is very hard to fault this seamless 05! We moved onto another previous favourite of mine, the 2000, but this fell down a touch, light, fresh, herby, a wine with lots of time, but it seemed to lack stuffing, although it maintains its elegance and minerality. The bottle from Bordeaux Index was much better. (*****[+?])

The final two wines were both very nice, with the 1998 being an absolute stunner. Strawberry, raspberry, still developing with earth and minerals, soil, mint, herbs, tobacco. Superb but lacking the depth of the 01 and 05! Very elegant and very lovely wine. (******[+]) The 1995 having been dark, brooding and cumbersome previously has started to unfearl into a strawberried, raspberry, truffly, wine with elegance and freshness. Grumpy cassic core still in the room, and the finish is a touch tannic, but its starting to turn into a lovely La Conseillante. (*****[+])

The Empties!

We finished off the night with two excellent Sauternes, the rich, nutty developed 1989 Rieussec (******) and the fresher, leaner and cleaner 1990 Rieussec (******).

All in all a great dinner with some superb food from the Square in Mayfair in London. Jean-Michel preferred our dinner to the Bordeaux Index dinner because everything except for one wine came from bottles so it was more of a fair reflection than the Magnums and Double Magnums of previous events.

In reflection, La Conseillante is very Burgundian in style, with freshness, elegance and balance. Never overripe, they age beautifully and there has been a marked increase in consistency over the last few years. Really superb stuff and certainly one of my favourite Chateau’s from Bordeaux.

My wines of the night: (group scores from votes taken before the sweet wines).

1. 1989 (group= 1989)

2. 1998 (group= 2005)

3. 1985 (group= 1998)

Finally a big thank you to Jean-Michel, Ian, Joe, David and the members of staff at the Square for making this such a great event, and for helping put this together with me (in a way; I simply donated some wines!!!!!)

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Responses

  1. Just a few words about my wine scoring system! Scores range from 1* to 7*s with exceptional wines sometimes meriting more. So a * is rubbish, and ******* is amazing.

    I also use brackets so a ***(***) means that now it’s a three starbwine with potential for six! If there is a question mark, like this ***(***?) it means that it is three now and should be six! With a sign, like this it ***(*** ) it means three now with at least 6 in the future. If there is a – sign, it means that the wine is declining or will decline shortly after.

    Take Care and I hope this makes sense!
    Jonathan


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