Here I am, at last in St Emilion, 7 years after I started to work into wine. It can sound crazy that I have never been in the biggest French wine area, but that’s true. Some reasons to that ? Bordeaux is not my favorite kind of wine, south west of France is not the easiest place to reach when you live between London and Lille. But that Friday at 9:45 am my plane landed in Bordeaux airport and Alexandra and Nicolas Robin (domaine Rol Valentin) are welcoming me in their domain for the Grand cercle des vins de Bordeaux 2015 vintage grand tasting.

That’s so cool! I love your job! You are a fucking lucky person, enjoy…well that’s (part) of what my friends have said to me when they receive the good news.

I am here part of the Bernard Burtschy wine dream team to taste and judge the 2015 Grand cercle des vins de Bordeaux wine selection. 150 wines to be tasted. Sounds amazing, but lets be clear, this is work, and not as easy as it seems to do. I am not that relax…

Do you like it or not ? That is not the question.

Is there a market for this wine ? Is there any default ?

Are the right questions, thus you have to be very carreful about staying objective in your analyse, you cannot just let your own palate decides on its own. You have to stay concentrated to make sure that you get right every wine tasting steps. Find the sensation, analyse it properly and finally describe it writing down correctly regarding your wine knowledge.

First you need to be able to recognize straight the terroir, the grapes, the quality of your selection.

I explain.
Wine are served by series. There are around 30 wines by serie. They are blinded served, we have no idea (except that they are from the Grand cercle des vins de Bordeaux selection) of what we have been served.
I usually start with just tasting, analyzing the first four or five wines before giving any notation, as I want to judge first the area, the appellations and the grapes we have been served. The left bank (Medoc Ht Médoc, Pessac Léognan) will give completely different style of wines than right bank (St Emilion, Pomerol…). And St Emilion Grand cru will give a different quality of wine than Lussac St Emilion, so it wouldn’t be fair to give a note directly to the first wine, we will take the risk to give better notes to “high standing” appellations versus “lower” appellations, when indeed prices and market are different.
The idea is to stay concentrated and as objective as you can from the first wine of the series to the last one. Believe me when there is a lot of tannin, like we got for the St Emilion grand cru and grand cru classé that was physically as painful as enjoyable.

THE WINE DREAM TEAM JURY

Bernard Burtschy Le Figaro et L’Avis du vin – France Presse
Abi Duhr Vino – Luxemburg Presse
Pedro Ballesteros Master of Wine, Decanter – Espagne Presse
Toshio Matsuura  Wands – Japan Presse
Nicolas Nguyen Sommelier au Petit Paris – Paris, France Sommelier
Pascal Marquet Grains Nobles – Paris, France Caviste
Olivier Borneuf Bettane-Desseauve – Paris, France Presse
Denis Garret Sommelier – Afrique du Sud et France Sommelier
Marilyn Johnson Blog « Wine What Else ? » journaliste et photographe – France Presse
Xavier Leclerc Acheteur Auchan – France Acheteur
Stéphanie Hennion Déjeunons sur l’herbe – Londres, Grande-Bretagne Formatrice
Cécile Debroas Castaigns In Vino Veritas – Toulouse, France Presse
Thomas Noël La Maison des Millésimes – Paris, France Caviste
Loïc Siri Les dégustations de Loïc Siri en 4L – France Presse
Guillaume Cantau Boutique-cave-bar La Réserve – Mont de Marsan, France Caviste
Olivier Techer Château Gombaude Guillot – Pomerol, France Vinificateur

What to say about the 2015 vintage in Bordeaux area?

The right bank

Gives beautiful wines, further more for the satellite appellations. I remember the Lussac St Emilion de Chateau Lussac was outstanding. If Bordeaux can offer wines at democratic prices, 2015 is definitely the vintage!
Now regarding the great appellation Pomerol is fantastic now and will aged older than your puppies. St Emilion grand cru classé needs time to be appreciated, so if you have a birth, a wedding to celebrate in 20 years from now please help yourself with those appellation.

The Left bank

Regarding the left bank, I am afraid to say that the rains just before the harvest had a bad impact into the organoleptic components. For most of them the wines were diluted. In 2015 (Left bank) only the domains followed by renowned oenologs as Michel Rolland, Stéphane Derenoncourt, Alain Raynaud (Grand cercle de Bordeaux president) with specific recommendation are doing very well.

Still the whites from Pessac Léognan and graves are beautiful.

The sweet wines

I had no favorite, generally I thought that they all have a lack of Botrytis which gives a rather syrupy results unbalanced due to the lack of “acidity”. Only Barsac AOP, in my point of view, was saved due to the natural tendencies to have mint and herbal flavours.

The Jury selection (in black my selection, a indicates my favourites)

Red wines (alphabetic order, AOP, chateau)

Saint-Emilion classé Bellefont Belcier 5 *
Pomerol, Bourgneuf 5*
Pomerol, Feytit Clinet 5 *
Pessac Léognan, Haut-Bacalan 5 *
Fronsac, Haut-Carles 5 *
Saint Emilion classé, La Marzelle 5 *
Lussac, La Rose Perrière 5 *
Saint Emilion, classé Laroze 5 *
Fronsac, Moulin Haut-Laroque 5 *
Saint Emilion classé, Pressac 5 *
Saint Emilion classé, Sansonnet 5 *
Côtes de Castillon Veyry 5 *

Graves, Brondelle 4,5*
Fronsac, Dalem 4,5*
Côtes de Castillon de Laussac 4,5* ❤ ❤ ❤
Lussac, de Lussac 4,5* ❤ ❤
Saint Emilion classé, Destieux 4,5*
Saint Emilion classé, Fleur Cardinale 4,5*
Saint Emilion classé, Fombrauge 4,5*
Fronsac, Fontenil 4,5* ❤ ❤
Saint Emilion classé, Grand Corbin-Despagne 4,5*
Fronsac, La Rivière 4,5*
Graves, de Vayres Lesparre 4,5*
Haut Médoc, Lestage Simon 4,5*
Saint Emilion, L’Hermitage Lescours 4,5*
Saint Emilion, Lynsolence 4,5*
Haut Médoc, Malescasse 4,5*
Montagne, Messile Aubert 4,5*
Côtes de Bordeaux, Reynon 4,5*
Saint Emilion, Rol Valentin 4,5*
Graves, Roquetaillade La Grange 4,5* ❤ ❤
Pessac Léognan, Seguin 4,5*
Fronsac, Vieille Cure 4,5*
Montagne, Vieux Château Palon 4,5*
Pomerol, Vray Croix de Gay 4,5*

Haut Médoc, Arcins 4*
Pomerol, Bellegrave 4*
Lalande Pomerol Chambrun 4*
Cadillac, Côtes de Bordeaux, Clos Chaumont 4*
Graves, Clos Floridène 4*
Pomerol, Clos Vieux Taillefer 4* ❤
Lussac, de Barbe Blanche 4*
Pessac Léognan, de Rochemorin 4*
Pauillac, Fonbadet 4*
Saint Julien, Glana 4*
Saint Emilion, Godeau 4*
Graves, Grand Enclos du Cht de Cérons 4*
Côtes de Blaye, Haut Bertinerie 4*
Pomerol, La Clémence 4*
Saint Emilion, La Croix Cardinale 4*
Saint Emilion, La Fleur d’Arthus 4* ❤ ❤
Saint Emilion classé, Le Prieuré 4*
Saint Emilion, Monolithe 4*
Saint Emilion, Montlabert 4*
Bordeaux Supérieur, Pénin Les Cailloux 4*❤ ❤ ❤
Saint Emilion, Pindefleurs 4*
Côtes de Bordeaux Réaut 4*
Bordeaux Supérieur, Reignac 4*
Bordeaux Supérieur, Sainte Barbe 4*
Saint Emilion, Soutard Cadet 4*
Montagne, Tour Bayard 4*
Haut Médoc, Winemakers Collection 4*
Pessac Léognan, Anonyme 4*
Saint Emilion Classé, Yon-Figeac 4*

Saint Emilion, Boutisse 3,5*
Côtes de Castillon, Cap de Faugères 3,5*
Saint Emilion, Carteau Daugay 3,5*
Saint Emilion, Clos Dubreuil 3,5*
Graves, Crabitey 3,5*
Graves, de Cérons 3,5*
Pessac Léognan, de Cruzeau 3,5*
Côtes de Castillon de Laussac Sacha 3,5* ❤ ❤ ❤
Haut Médoc, du Cartillon 3,5*
Saint Emilion, du Parc 3,5*
Saint Emilion classé, Fonroque 3,5* ❤ ❤ ❤
Pessac Léognan, Haut Lagrange 3,5*
Pomerol, La Commanderie 3,5*
Saint Emilion, La Croizille 3,5*
Saint Emilion, Laplagnotte Bellevue 3,5*
Lalande Pomerol, La Sergue 3,5*
Pomerol, Lécuyer 3,5*
Fronsac, Les Trois Croix 3,5*
Pomerol, Mazeyres 3,5*
Saint Emilion, Pas de l’Ane 3,5*
Lalande Pomerol, Perron La Fleur 3,5*
Lalande Pomerol, Siaurac 3,5*
Saint Emilion, Tour Baladoz 3,5*
Saint Estèphe, Tour des Termes 3,5*
Lalande Pomerol, Tournefeuille 3,5* ❤ ❤ ❤
Saint Emilion, Trianon 3,5*
Pomerol, Vieux Maillet 3,5*

Côtes de Castillon, Ampelia 3*
Bordeaux Supérieur, Balthus 3*
Pauillac, Bellegrave 3*
Listrac, Cap Léon Veyrin 3*
Pomerol, Clos de la Vieille Eglise 3*
Côtes de Castillon, Clos Puy Arnaud 3*
Côtes de Castillon, Côte Montpezat 3*
Côtes de Francs de Francs, Les Cerisiers 3*
Margaux, Haut Breton Larigaudière 3*
Lalande Pomerol, Jean de Gué 3*
Fronsac, La Dauphine 3*
Margaux, La Tour de Bessan 3*
Pomerol, Le Moulin 3*
Saint Emilion, Patris Querre 3*
Bordeaux Supérieur, Peyfaures 3*
Bordeaux Supérieur, Sainte Marie Alios 3*
Bordeaux Supérieur, Sainte Marie Vieilles vignes 3*
Fronsac, Villars 3*
Saint Emilion, Anonyme 3*

Margaux, Arsac 2,5*
Saint Estèphe, Clauzet 2,5*
Haut Médoc, Larrivaux 2,5*
Fronsac, Moulin Pey Labrie 2,5*
Haut Médoc, Peyredon Lagravette 2,5*
Saint Emilion, Roylland 2,5*
Lalande Pomerol, Saint Jean de Lavaud 2,5*
Haut Médoc, Villegeorge 2,5*

Médoc, Grivière 2*
Médoc, La Cardonne 2*
Lalande Pomerol, L’Ambroisie 2*
Médoc, Les Grands Chênes 2*
Médoc, Ramafort 2*
Montagne, Reclos de la Couronne 2*

White, rosés, clairet and sweet wines (alphabetic order, chateau, AOP)

Grand enclos de Cérons, Cérons, Liquoreux 5*
Haut Bergeron,Sauternes, Liquoreux 5*
Myrat, Barsac, Liquoreux 5*
Raymond Lafon, Sauternes, Liquoreux 5*

Cruzeau Pessac-Léognan Blanc sec 4,5*
Rochemorin Pessac-Léognan Blanc sec 4,5*

Anonyme Pessac-Léognan Blanc sec 4*
Cérons Graves Blanc sec 4*
Grand enclos de Cérons Graves Blanc sec 4*
Haut Bertinerie Blaye Blanc sec 4*
Lesparre Bordeaux Blanc sec 4*
Penin Bordeaux Blanc sec 4*
Sainte Marie Cuvée Madlys Bordeaux Blanc sec 4*

Crabitey Graves Blanc sec 3,5*
Haut Lagrange Pessac-Léognan Blanc sec 3,5*
Magrez-Fombrauge Bordeaux Blanc sec 3,5*
Penin Clairet Bordeaux Clairet 3,5*
Reignac Bordeaux Blanc sec 3,5* ❤
Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes Bordeaux Blanc sec 3,5*

Arsac, Bordeaux Blanc sec 3*
Brondelle, Graves Blanc sec 3*
Cote Montpezat, Bordeaux Blanc sec 3*
Lussac, Bordeaux Blanc sec 3*
Penin, Rosé Bordeaux Rosé 3*
Sainte Marie, Bordeaux Blanc sec 3*
Sainte Marie,Clairet Bordeaux Clairet 3*
The Winemarcker’s Collection Bordeaux Blanc sec 3*

La Rivière Bordeaux Blanc sec 2,5*
Roquetaillade La Grange Graves Blanc sec 2,5* ❤

Floridène Rosé Graves Rosé 2*

In conclusion, taste is the only judge.

I have led to be part of this experience, I have learned a lot about me and Bernard and Alain have been great teachers. The blind tasting is a humility experience. The group expresses different tendencies but we were all very kind with each other sensations and tasting notes. At the end of the day the statistic shows a results which is very coherent and representative of the market tendencies. And as you can see my heart went for 5 stars rated wines to 2 stars rated wines, which comforts that taste always gives its last word !

Off pictures from the 2017 Grand cercle des vins de Bordeaux

Good wine, friendship, fun, taste, perfect wines, food and wine pairing, laugh, black teeth, beauty, red white rose, South Africa, pain, fire, Champagne, Savennières, Damien Laureau…. you could find more pictures here (photo credit Marilyn Johnson)

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