René Lusseau, maitre de chai at Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou, as quoted by Stephen Brook:
… malolactic fermentation in barrels is done more for the benefit of journalists than the wine.
Conclusions from the tasting:
Given that local interest in New Zealand red wines has increased markedly in the last 20 years, as our wines have become better and better (riper, and more appropriate concentration), it is a pleasure to record that this tasting of French wines sold out in less than three hours. Such interest arises partly from the fact that it has been a while since 2000 Bordeaux were offered for tasting in Wellington, partly because the year 2000 is increasingly being seen as a quality year in Bordeaux, and thirdly because of the wines offered. In New Zealand, very few people have (for example) ever tasted Chx Ducru-Beaucaillou, Leoville Las Cases, and Palmer alongside each other. Let alone all from the same vintage, with identical provenance.
Accordingly the tasting was eagerly awaited, everybody was there well on time, and the air of expectation in the room was simply a delight to experience. At the decanting stage, none of the wines was TCA-affected. Enjoyment of the tasting was heightened for participants by Ben Jones, co-winemaker for Te Mata Estate, coming down from Hawkes Bay to share in the wines. The quality of discussion following a tasting is always honed by having a winemaker present. Te Mata Coleraine was the New Zealand ‘foil’ wine in the tasting.
The best of the French wines illustrated the beauty and appeal of the traditional Bordeaux winestyle very well indeed. At least seven of the wines merited gold medal level, 18.5, by New World judging standards. Tasters commented that the wines seemed to sit on the cusp between new and old, a majority of them being beautiful examples of the subtlety and refreshing nature of ‘classical’ claret, even at perfect ripeness, whereas a couple were in a bigger, riper, more modern and fleshy style. The nett impression was one of less powerful wines than the better of the 2010s seen by the group in September, reported on here.
Seven of the wines illustrated the qualities of Bordeaux the district admirably, all at a gold medal level of quality. To have both the Pomerol and the Saint-Emilion in the top seven added greatly to the interest of the tasting, the top wines showing clearly the contrast between the more aromatic cabernet-led styles from the Medoc, versus the softer merlot-dominated wines from the East Bank. From the left, 2000 Pichon Baron, intriguingly aromatic, delightful palate, not a powerful wine, 18.5; the much softer 2000 La Conseillante, beautifully fragrant, supple fruit, also not a big wine, 18.5; 2000 Montrose, very cabernet, reserved at this stage, much promise, 18.5 +; then the richest of the top wines, 2000 Angelus from Saint-Emilion, its modern plush style contrasting with the fragrant Medoc wines in their more classical style flanking it, 19; 2000 Ducru-Beaucaillou a little more savoury and complex / traditional, very ‘winey’, 19; then the extraordinarily pure, floral and berry-led 2000 Palmer, the oak almost invisible, 19 +; and the top wine for me, 2000 Leoville Las Cases, illustrating the depth and complexity which really great bordeaux can display, while remaining fragrant and subtle, a wine of First Growth quality, 19.5.While it is always questionable to have just one or a couple of another country's wines in a comparative tasting, six of each country being much more illuminating and informative, nonetheless the New Zealand wine in the tasting (2000 Te Mata Estate [ Cabernets / Merlot ] Coleraine) provided a very ‘authentic’ bordeaux-styled foil. Only four of 21 tasters thought glass eight was from New Zealand, at the blind data-seeking stage. In its berry characters and complexity level, it compared very closely with one of the bordeaux wines. The Australian foil fared less well, conspicuously lacking appropriate ripeness, florality and bordeaux-styled berry complexity. Both the New World wines sell at a price point comparable with top cru bourgeois / lesser classed growths.
The 2000 Vintage in Bordeaux:
Wine Spectator's rating for the 2000 vintage is:
West Bank: 95 Drink or hold. Racy tannins and very delineated reds now hitting their stride.
East Bank: 93 Drink or hold. Rich, powerful and structured, yet harmonious. Wines starting to open up now.
In the Wine Spectator scheme of things (for they monitor the evolution of the wines more closely than other vintage-ratings sites), 95 for the Medocs in 2000 is the same rating as 1982, 1986, 2003, and less than 1989 (98), 1990 (97), 2005 (98), 2009 (97), 2010 (99), and 2016 (97). The East Bank pattern is similar, only the success of the 1998 East Bank (98) standing out.
Around the turn of the century, Robert Parker was at the height of his powers. He had consolidated 20 years of very successful wine reviewing, building on his initial success with foretelling the quality of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage. In this time he revolutionised the world of wine reviews, for the first time putting the customer first, and telling them what they needed to know to buy wisely and well. Up till that time in the Northern Hemisphere, and still even today in places like New Zealand and Australia, too many wine reviewers seek first and foremost to ingratiate themselves with producers and suppliers of wines, with the customer / reader coming a rather distant second best. Therefore we can take note when Parker in reviewing the 2000 vintage in 2002 said:
Retasting the 2000 vintage three to four months before bottling provided overwhelming evidence that this is the greatest vintage Bordeaux has ever produced. Remarkably consistent from top to bottom, there has never before been a year where so many exceptional wines were produced. ...
To reiterate, this vintage exhibits superlative quality from the lesser known wines and satellite appellations, such as the Côtes de Castillon, Lalande de Pomerol, and Côtes de Bourg, to the blue chip pedigree appellations of the Médoc, Graves, and right bank areas of Pomerol and St.-Emilion. These are enormously rich, incredibly pure, concentrated wines. Furthermore, they represent a confluence of Mother Nature providing ideal growing conditions, and a new generation of extraordinarily committed Bordelais that understand their legacy, realizing that they are the world's reference point for wines of richness, longevity, and complexity. While the aristocracy in the Médoc has vociferously condemned the garage movement in St.-Emilion, and to a lesser extent Pomerol, the fact is that those wines have proven what dedicated people can do with unknown terroirs. This has only added to the competition and overall quality level that exists in Bordeaux, which today is higher than ever before in the history of this noble wine region.
Yet the vintage did not get off to an easy start. Précising Parker, it was a late-ish season, with much indifferent weather in May and June, and some disease pressure. Rainfall however was concentrated in two events in June, and the fruit set was surprisingly good. July continued to be overcast and modest. It was only at the very end of July that fine dry weather settled in. By the end of August, soils were sufficiently dry that grape skins were thickening, and optimism for the vintage markedly increased. Fine and warm weather in September was interrupted only briefly by a thunderstorm on 19 September. By the end of September, much of the merlot and cabernet franc had been harvested, fortunately, since merlot is thinner-skinned and there was some rain the last days of the month. The thicker-skinned cabernet sauvignon was little affected, and fine weather returned, such that harvest was substantially completed by October 10.
Parker goes on to say:
At the top level, yields of 35-55 hectoliters per hectare [ 4.55 - 7.15 t/ha = 1.84 - 2.9 t/ac ] were modest by modern day standards. Most producers experienced textbook vinifications (because of higher acidities), with very few difficulties despite grapes with high sugars. Many Merlots hit 14% and Cabernets pushed 13%. However, for reasons that are not totally clear, many wines had relatively high acidity levels in addition to robust but ripe tannin as well as surprising fatness. While technical measurements of tannin and dry extract can be misleading, especially when compared to the taste performances, there is no doubt that many wines possess record levels of tannin as well as extract.
My tastings confirm that the 2000 vintage has produced some of the most immense, black-colored, concentrated, powerful, and tannic wines of the last thirty years. For that reason, the vintage is difficult to compare with any of its predecessors that qualify as superstar years. The wines are generally less accessible than the 1982s, 1989s, and 1990s, but are possibly more concentrated, blacker-colored, heavier, and thicker than the 1986s, 1995s, or 1996s were at a similar age. Moreover, the finest 2000s possess the most impressive length, structure, concentration, and delineation that I have experienced in 23 years of tasting new Bordeaux vintages.
Moving on ten years, it is usually informative to get a more conservative view of any batch of wines from the United Kingdom's Jancis Robinson. Yet by and large in 2010 she shares Parker's enthusiasm:
The real excitement of bordeaux for me comes from vintages that are so consistently successful that you can find delicious wines at virtually all prices and quality levels. I liked 2000 bordeaux from the start and found many of the well-priced Haut-Médoc minor châteaux really rather inspiring ...
At a more elevated level, 2000 has tended to show well in vertical tastings ... ever since, but it was only last week that I had a chance to participate in a really wide-ranging horizontal tasting ... of top-quality 2000 bordeaux now that it is 10 years old and has benefited from at least eight years' bottle age.
What I love about this vintage is that in almost all cases the grape obviously ripened properly (unlike so many Bordeaux vintages ... ) and yet it has delightful freshness (unlike 2003), gentle tannins (unlike 2005) and seriously impressive harmony.
Likewise, the great London wine firm Farr Vintners describes the 2000s as: not showy or fleshy ... but more of a classic serious vintage, in the great tradition of Bordeaux. All in all, therefore, there is much to be excited about, in anticipating this tasting. More information follows in the introductory notes to each wine.
Six varieties are considered eligible for classic bordeaux blends: cabernet sauvignon – dark red fruits, cassis and firm tannin, the informing grape of the West Bank, the Medoc etc; merlot, darkening red fruits, plummy, softer tannins, the dominant grape of the East Bank, St Emilion and Pomerol etc; cabernet franc, clearly red fruits, even raspberry (+ve), fine grain, subtle, finicky, throughout; petit verdot, a kind of super-cabernet, dark fruits, tannin, harder to ripen properly, mostly on the West Bank; malbec, softer dark but 'wild' fruits more in the merlot spectrum, occasional throughout but more on the East Bank (and the dominant grape of Cahors); and carmenere, the 'lost' grape of Bordeaux, now emergent in Chile (from pre-phylloxera plantings), dark red fruits, furry texture, also finicky to grow, still very rare.
[ For the purposes of discussion in this review, Italy is considered New World ... for the cabernet / merlot class of wines.] Bordeaux has classically been oaked, with varying percentages of new oak even approaching 100% for great chateaux in great vintages. Where cropping rates are low, and dry extract is high, the wines from old vines can sometimes handle this. In general however, and traditionally, the finished and mature wines of Bordeaux have not been dominated by oak. It is only within the last generation or perhaps two that the American taste for bigger wines has lead to greater use of new oak, and accentuating techniques such as barrel fermentation and malolactic fermentation in barrel.
In the New World oak has been seized upon as some kind of sine qua non to achieving quality in the bordeaux blend, and its use in California, Australia and then New Zealand has sometimes verged on the grotesque. In New Zealand particularly, this overuse of oak has been exacerbated by the lack of both vine age, and a tradition of heavy / inappropriate (for Vitis vinifera) cropping rates. The resulting lack of dry extract in many of the wines makes them sensitive to over-enthusiastic oaking. The balance between fruit and oak will be of interest in this tasting, though it can be said that the New Zealand wine has long had a relatively subtle approach to oak use.
It is hard for New World countries to make a mark in the bordeaux blends class. There are at least 6,000 individual chateaux in the greater Bordeaux region, many producing very acceptable wines at prices which seem modest relative to some New World wines. For this tasting, Italy is in nett terms the best-placed to match the Bordeaux winestyle. Australia has traditionally had a problem with excess warmth, and thus a perceived need for acid adjustment which harshens the palate … but our wine comes from both a cooler zone, and a winery preoccupied with tradition. Traditionally in New Zealand, we have had a problem with ripeness, as well as concentration, in the cabernet / merlot class. Both these factors have been exacerbated by excess use of oak. Latterly the balance is changing, as seasons become warmer, and winemakers become more familiar with international benchmarks for the winestyle.
Good Bordeaux blends will cellar for decades, given appropriate dry extract and ripeness. This applies equally to New Zealand or Australian wines, as well as classic bordeaux. Here again, excess oak is an inimical factor to long cellaring, since fruit does recede over the years, and excess oak can then come to seem clumsy / varnishy. In the New World context, appropriate elevation is mindful of the full lifespan of the wine. This outlook is difficult to achieve in a country such as New Zealand where most wine is drunk within hours or days of it being bought, and 5-year old wine is (ludicrously) regarded as ‘old’. This myopia is no reason however to be dissuaded from seeking classical and harmonious balance in the young wine. There are sophisticated consumers, and it is worth winemakers’ time to cater for them. This is particularly the case where a winery aspires to export bordeaux blends.
The goal of this tasting is a sampling of the 2000 vintage in Bordeaux, including some of the very best wines (as listed below) but no First Growths, at the 20-year point. Several of the wines are now virtually never experienced in ‘public’ tastings in New Zealand. The wines should be at an early peak of perfect maturity. Corks permitting, there is one wine from each of the eight main sub-districts in Bordeaux, plus highly-regarded wines from Tuscany / Italy, Yarra Valley / Australia, and Hawkes Bay / New Zealand ... as external markers. The only district doubled up is Saint-Julien, often regarded as the source of quintessential claret. How long is it since we were in a position to taste Ch Leoville Las Cases alongside Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou ?
As to the quality of the wines being offered, using only Wine Advocate (Parker et al) or Wine Spectator in one case, scores for our 12 wines range from 90 - 99, and average 94. So that gets us off to a good start … considering that the highly regarded Te Mata Coleraine has only four times ever achieved 94, and once 95, in Wine Advocate.
To whet the appetite, here is Robert Parker on the Ch Angelus (cork willing): Approaching perfection … the wine has great concentration, a magnificent, full-bodied mouthfeel, stunning purity, and well-integrated acidity, tannin, alcohol ... 99. All told, five of our wines qualify as ‘Super-Seconds’ – and that’s not counting Angelus ! The tasting also offers the opportunity to taste the rare and acclaimed super-Tuscan Masseto, which is 100% merlot.
Price: I acknowledge the price is higher than any before. Production is finite, demand increases, and the trend-line is upwards, particularly for wines of the ranking nearly all of ours display. The price reflects applying the Reserve Bank Inflation Calculator to the actual outlayed cost. Please bear in mind that by the time of the 2000 en primeur campaign in mid-2001, five of the above wines had already reached (or passed) $300 per bottle. Current wine-searcher value on these wines works out to a tasting cost of well over $275 per person.
Brook, Stephen 2007: The Complete Bordeaux. Mitchell Beazley, 720 p.
Cooper, M. 2003: Michael Cooper’s Buyers Guide to New Zealand Wines. Hodder-Moa-Beckett, 391 p.
Cooper, Michael 2005: Classic Wines of New Zealand. Second Ed. Hodder-Moa, 471 p.
Parker, Robert M 2003: Bordeaux, Fourth Edition. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1244 p.
www.farrvintners.com = noteworthy London wine merchant, great info annually for their en primeur campaign
www.jancisrobinson.com = Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW, subscription needed for reviews
www.robertparker.com = Robert Parker now retired, both reviews and vintage chart, subscription needed for reviews
www.winespectator.com = James Molesworth for bordeaux; reviews and vintage chart, subscription needed for reviews
https://vins-saint-emilion.com/en/our-wines-2/the-2012-classification = latest Saint-Emilion classification.
THE WINES REVIEWED – CABERNET MERLOT
The first price given is the current wine-searcher value. The purchase price is in the text following. The French and New Zealand wines were bought en primeur / at initial release, the Italian and Australian from auction, if temperature-controlled cellars were guaranteed.
At 20 years age, most of the wines had lost the carmine of youth, only the Leoville Las Cases in position 10 being conspicuously youthful. Colour rendering here is more youthful than in the flesh, and a number of the wines still being quite dense, their transparency is not always apparent. The Mount Mary at position two is clearly the lightest wine by quite a margin, followed by (surprisingly) the Ornellaia Masseto at position four, and Malartic-Lagraviere in glass one. The depth of colour in the two deepest wines, the de Bouard wines, Angelus in glass 12, and La Fleur de Bouard in glass five, is apparent. But the Ch Palmer in glass 11, and the Leoville Las Cases in glass 10 were not too far behind. The floral and cassis-led aroma arising from the set of wines was an absolute delight.
Youthful ruby, nearly carmine and velvet, the third deepest and clearly the youngest wine on the table. Bouquet is simply sensational, the richness of fragrant deeply floral dark roses and heliotrope on berryfruit complexed with subtle cedar – the epitome of concept claret (West Bank). This seems a wine of First Growth quality, the bouquet very exciting. Palate is scarcely any less, a velvety depth of cassis, blueberry and bottled black doris plums all lengthened on fragrant cedary oak but in no way dominated by it, the wine showing textbook precision, richness and length, yet not at all heavy. Bordeaux blends don't need to be much better than this: a beautiful wine at the very start of its plateau of maturity. Four people had Las Cases as their top wine, six as their second favourite. A great experience. Cellar 20 – 30 years. GK 11/20
Ruby, some velvet, just above midway in depth. Some people have difficulty with the concept of red wine being floral, but this 2000 Ch Palmer is a textbook experience in fragrant claret. Thoughts of violets as well as darkest roses arise from this totally pure and berry-led bouquet, the depth of nearly cassisy and darkly plummy berry being a delight. This purity and focus on the berry component is unusual in top Bordeaux, cedary complexity being way in the background. Flavours in mouth continue the berry-led approach, simply wonderful cassis softened by bottled dark plums, the oak so subtle, the wine long in flavour though not quite as rich as Las Cases. A very beautiful and classic Palmer indeed, fractionally less intense than Las Cases. Four people rated Ch Palmer their top wine, and seven their second-favourite. Cellar 15 – 25 years. GK 11/20
Dark ruby and velvet, clearly the deepest and richest wine in colour. Bouquet is all-enveloping, a great wave of fragrant nearly floral (heliotrope) blueberry and bottled black doris plums, all lifted and made delightfully aromatic by a higher percentage of new oak than Las Cases. Texture in mouth is velvety, no other word for it, with big rich plummy berry and vanilla-y new oak, yet the oak soft and ‘sweet’ … and adding hints of cocoa. This is a wine to prove the lie to the quote heading up this article, this soft ample textural and faintly chocolate fruit sweetness being exactly what I understand to be the goal of finishing fermentation, and particularly the MLF fermentation, in barrel. The wine also tastes as if the cropping rate is lower than the other top wines, adding to its rich and velvety texture. Remarkable wine very much in the modern style, and catering to the American taste, offering a vital comparison with the classically styled Montrose and Palmer. Three people rated Angelus their top wine, and one second place. Cellar 20 – 30 years. GK 11/20
Ruby, some velvet, below midway in depth. Bouquet on the Ducru is arguably the most complex on the table, showing much of the berry depth and cedar of the Las Cases but not quite so rich, all made ‘winey’ and more complex by a savoury note which three skilled tasters (one a winemaker) commented was a brett note. At this level it is surely complexity, in one sense adding to the classic style of the wine. Aromatic and maturing cassisy berry qualities are entwined with supple plummy fruit and cedary notes on palate, to produce a wine a little further along its plateau of maturity than the top three. The lightness of touch and long tapering finish are a delight, the whole wine showing perfect ripeness in the classical style. The complexity of bouquet in this wine appealed to tasters, seven first places, three second. Cellar 10 – 20 years. GK 11/20
Ruby, some velvet, midway in depth. Bouquet on this wine is closest to Ch Palmer in style, a wonderful purity of berry with clear floral darkest roses and lilac notes, on an aromatic and clearly more cassisy berry-dominant quality, as befits the higher percentage of cabernet sauvignon (65%) in Montrose, vs Palmer (53%). Like Palmer, oak is nearly invisible on bouquet, but becomes apparent in mouth, the fragrant cedary qualities lengthening the berry flavours considerably. It is hard to tell if the wine is actually less concentrated than the Palmer, or whether just being that bit more aromatic on the cabernet, which is noted for its lighter palate, that impression of less concentration prevails. This seemed the least developed wine in the set, and though it does not seem to me as big a wine as Parker implies, nonetheless it shows remarkable promise for the future. No votes for first or second place, at this stage, therefore. Cellar 15 – 25 years. GK 11/20
Ruby and some velvet, midway in depth. This wine fulfilled its goal superbly, namely to show a high-merlot wine ripened to perfection, the berry qualities still fresh and fragrant and clearly floral, nearly violets, certainly dark roses and lilac, on beautiful darkly plummy berry without the aromatics of the cabernet-led wines. In its subtlety of oak and high merlot La Conseillante invited comparison with the Ch Palmer, but as soon as you do that, the aromatics of Palmer's cabernet component intrude, though scarcely noticeable before. Interesting. One of the questions for the group, in the data tabulation phase before the wines are revealed, was: is this wine merlot-led ? Six thought so for La Conseillante. Palate is entirely compatible with the bouquet, beautiful fresh blueberry and bottled black doris berryfruit, lovely softness, subtlest oak, the wine not quite as rich as I hoped. Nonetheless it very much shows the beautiful side of Pomerol, not over-ripened. No votes for first or second place, perhaps the wine a little understated in the company. Cellar 10 – 20 years. GK 11/20
Ruby and some velvet, above midway in depth. An intriguing bouquet, much in the style of Las Cases but more lifted, with almost a piquant faintest flowering-mint suggestion, quite distinctive, on attractive medium-weight berry complexed by cedary oak. On palate these zingy aromatics carry right on, making the wine dance on the tongue, a beautiful example of a high-cabernet blend, saturated with perfectly ripe cassisy berry, but not the slightest bit heavy. This wine shows all the beauty and appeal-with-food of a classic bordeaux blend. It is not a powerful Baron, however. The lifted / fragrant aromatics appealed to one taster, one first place. Cellar 10 – 20 years. GK 11/20
Ruby, some carmine and velvet, the second-deepest wine in the batch, and with Las Cases, clearly the youngest wine. La Bouard was positioned alongside the Masseto, to illustrate properly-ripened merlot still retaining some darkest rose florals in a dusky way, even though the Bouard is riper than the very floral La Conseillante. The depth of blackberry and bottled black doris plummy fruit on bouquet is a delight, and being a less prestigious wine than Angelus from the same owner, it is less oaked. This makes it a delightfully useful wine to demonstrate appropriate merlot character. Palate is fresh, rich and ample, a perfect illustration of what merlot should be and so often is not. But here again, like Angelus, the softness and richness is enhanced by completing fermentation in barrel. Oak does become a little apparent on the finish, lovely cedary flavours lengthening the palate. This wine clearly does not have the detail and complexity of La Conseillante and the Medocs rated more highly, and could be considered a little burly, but the quality of the merlot is textbook in its straightforward slightly oaky way. You want to mark it gold medal. Two people rated the Bouard as their top wine, and seven thought it merlot dominant. Cellar 15 – 25 years. GK 11/20
Ruby and some velvet, below midway in depth. In the tasting, this was one of the wines which did not smell quite so berry-rich. Nonetheless it is aromatic and clearly high cabernet, with good cassis and then cedary oak. There is a suggestion of a floral component, but then you wonder if that component is leafy, rather than sweetly floral. Palate is interesting therefore, the whole style of the wine fitting in near-perfectly with the West Bank wines in the tasting, cassis and light bottled black doris plums flavours, but slightly more oak than the weight of berryfruit can support. You just wish for more ‘stuffing’, more berries, more tactile richness and a touch more ripeness. Yet Coleraine is clearly riper and more ‘in style’ than the Mount Mary. It is closest to the Malartic-Lagraviere, as the scores suggest. Curiously however, the wine rated two top places and four second places with the tasting group, yet four-only votes as a New Zealand wine. The most economical explanation for the high placings is familiarity with the style. For these reasons, the results as to winestyle coupled with the relative subtlety of oaking show clearly that with more concentration, that is greater dry extract, Te Mata Coleraine would cause chaos if entered in rigorously blind tastings of Bordeaux West Bank wines, in the United Kingdom. Cellar 10 – 20 years. GK 11/20
Ruby and velvet, a little more developed in hue than all the others, the second-lightest wine. Bouquet is soft, ‘sweet’ in a vanillin sense and fragrant, but the fruit is too ripe for merlot-specific florals. New oak takes the place of the florals. There is rich blueberry fruit and bottled plum, but not such a dark plum as in the cooler-climate Bordeaux blends. And there is just a trace of raisin and fresh moist prune. Palate reveals quite a big wine, the softness of merlot but again the thought of moist best prunes suggesting over-ripeness, with quite a lot of new oak. The whole wine style is more Napa Valley than Bordeaux. Oak is verging on excessive, so this is very much a wine made to appeal to New World tasters. In its lack of merlot-varietal-specificity, the wine is relatively disappointing in the company, particularly given its price. As merlot, it is very much shown up by both La Fleur de Bouard (at a fraction the price), and La Conseillante. But in its oaky, rich, over-ripe New World style, there is still much to like. Oak always has its appeal, so this wine captured one first place ranking and one second. Surprisingly, only two tasters thought the wine merlot-dominant, rather confirming its lack of varietal charm. Cellar 5 – 20 years. GK 11/20
Ruby and some velvet, below midway in depth, scarcely distinguishable from Te Mata Coleraine. Bouquet is sweet and fragrant, showing clear florals in the red roses and lilac camp, and a lovely freshness, berry very much dominant over oak. Palate is a little less, just a trace leafy, the nett impression cassisy and bottled plums, the oak vanishingly subtle, but the whole wine lacking ripeness and concentration, just a bit lean, the dry extract no better than Coleraine. It is totally in style, but ‘petite’ in the company. No votes for any place. Cellar 5 – 15 years. GK 11/20
Ruby, the lightest wine. Bouquet is more aromatic than the other 11 wines, setting it a little apart. Three tasters (only) thought it clearly minty or even subtly euc'y. Below the aromatics there is clean lean curranty berry more red than black: it lacks the ripeness and depth to be classed as cassis. Likewise the plum notes are more bottled red plums than black. Palate follows clearly in the style set by the bouquet, with palate weight suggesting an appropriate cropping rate, but the ripeness profile lacking. As you taste it, the impression of stalk and acid increases, so there is a lack of dark berry flavours and ripeness. Oaking is beautifully subtle and simpatico. Like the Coleraine, you feel the wine approaches the Bordeaux model in style, but in the case of Quintet for this season, falls well short. Not surprising therefore that Yarra Valley chardonnay and pinot noir can show so well. Cellar 5 – 15 years, in its style. GK 11/20