Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Archive for September, 2010

Bordeaux 2010

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Bordeaux 2010 looks pretty promising. When I was in the region last week harvest was about to start. Some of the sugar levels for Merlot are very high,  one plot at Haut Brion is reported to have already shown a potential alcohol of 16 by the end of August. The Cabernet is generally less ripe, though it looks very healthy. The main problems are millerandage in some places (small and large berries on the same bunch), but also whole bunches at different stages of ripeness. More particularly, after a  summer of very low rainfall (no more than 15mm in August in many places)  berries are small, with rather thick skins. Care will be needed to avoid over-extraction. Tannin levels may be high and  acids look like being fairly low (especially malic acid). Another worry is that the dry weather has caused premature leaf drop, especially in Pomerol. Some growers there may be forced to pick a little earlier than they may have ideally wished. Other crops received just enough light rain at the start of September to ensure that the leaves stayed green and healthy.

If the if the weather holds, generally speaking, we might be able to look forward to a smallish crop of concentrated, powerful red wines. Sémillon also looks good, but as yet shows little sign of botyrtis. Give it time.

It looks like a trickier vintage to manage than 2009, but some growers are not afraid to talk about it in the same breath – including Mélanie Tesseron of Ponet Canet.

Chablis from William Fevre

Friday, September 17th, 2010

I wrote about William Fevre Chablis in today’s Journal. It’s one of the four big producers of Chablis and has made some terrific wines over the years, though the style has changed. Once famous for rather rich wine aged in oak, the house now uses oak sparingly and as often one of the first to harvest, produces wines with juicy acidity – lean, clean, classic Chablis.

2007 and 2008 are vintages that express this character well. In some ways they look back a generation with a certain austerity, keen acidity and marked minerality. 2009 with its rich fruit and low acidity is very different.

Here are a few tasting notes I made on a visit to the domaine earlier this summer on some of Fevre’s top wines in 2008 and a couple of the 2007 Grands Crus.

Chablis 2008

Clean and fresh, with mouth-watering crisp, green apple fruit and a subtle minerality.

Chablis Premier Cru, Montmains 2008

Distinctly green tinged , with a floral perfume and a hint of white peach. Clean and quite light with some minerality, but not especially long.

Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons 2008

Also quite green, but with much more pronounced minerality and a ripe apple flavour and crisp, piercing acidity. More finesse and length.

Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume, Vignoble de Vollorent 2008

Exotic and even spicy (nutmeg and cinnamon), with a lovely, steely minerality and a very long spicy finish.

Chablis Grand Cru, Les Preuses 2008

Very spicy again, but with richer fruit. Big and powerful, but also elegant, complex and mineral.

Chablis Grand Cru, Bougros 2008

Concentrated and very mineral, almost stony – gunflint and water on warm stones – fresh, powerful and long. A wine to delight geologists.

Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos 2008

Big and ripe, with lime and an inherent softness not present in the other wines that leads into a lingering minerality. Very fine.

Chablis Grand Cru, Bougros 2007

Big stony wine, with spice, green herbs and a certain austerity. Strong, savoury, mineral and structured, with a creamy texture at the end.

Chablis Grand Cru, Les Preuses 2007

Great concentration of green apple fruit, but with a hint of white peach. Crunchily fresh, fine and long.