The exceptionnel that proves the rule: Richard enjoys a highly ranked cru bourgeois bordeaux.
From €14.90, 16.80 Swiss francs, £17, AU$32.99, $26.95, 199.95 Danish kroner, CA$42, SG$88
Treasury Wine Estates must be delighted that their first investment in Bordeaux (more to come perhaps?) became one of only 14 crus bourgeois exceptionnels last year. The Australian company, probably best known for owning Penfolds and in expansive mode, bought the Haut-Médoc estate in 2019, and within a year the château had achieved top status in the latest ranking, which will apply to five vintages starting with the 2018.
Such ranking systems are never undisputed, of course. When tasting the 2018 releases en masse for us, James Lawther MW observed that the 'Haut-Médoc exceptionnels varied considerably and are bound to provoke some discussion', and his review of Cambon La Pelouse noted obscure aromas and grainy tannins.
Perhaps six more months in bottle has improved matters, because when I tasted it last month, I found a delightfully well-balanced wine with all the typical characteristics of classic red bordeaux.
It is certainly still in a youthful phase, and the tannins are firm but with enough give to drink now, especially with sufficient aeration and when served alongside hearty food. The primary aromas are forthright and intense, reflecting the heat of the vintage, combining blackcurrant fruit with attractive leafy herbaceousness, while the finish is starting to display the graphite and dark-chocolate complexity that is a distinction of good left-bank red bordeaux.
The 2018 is blended from 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot, then aged in barriques (35% new) for 12 to 15 months. Winemaking is overseen by Hubert de Boüard, who oversaw Ch Angélus before handing over to his daughter Stéphanie and now consults widely in Bordeaux, including at such prestigious châteaux as Chx Grand-Puy Ducasse and Meyney. His broad experience of Bordeaux is perhaps the reason why this wine is so satisfyingly archetypal – and justifies its exceptionnel status.
I scored it 16.5+ with a drinking window until 2033, both of which are admirable qualities in a wine retailing for under £20 – unless you happen to live in Singapore, where it costs more than double that.
Read 136 tasting notes on the 2018 crus bourgeois, rated by Master of Wine James Lawther.