Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.

[ This Introduction was prepared for a more complete 2-part set of 2005 tastings.  The second and more compelling part (details still on the Library Tastings page) had to be cancelled for the time being.  The text below has not been changed to reflect that. ]

In Bordeaux,  the 2000s have had more great vintages than ever before.  2005 is one of them.  Wine Spectator,  the most thoughtful vintage rating source,  says of 2005 Bordeaux simply:  Fabulous aromas and great length; wines with depth, structure and finesse,  and rates the vintage 98.

Introduction to the 2005 vintage in Bordeaux,  via Jancis Robinson:
In April 2006 Jancis Robinson wrote a series of marvellous articles on her website JancisRobinson.com summarising the 2005 Bordeaux vintage in Bordeaux.  These were based on the en primeur tastings in Bordeaux that April,  and convey great excitement about the quality of the wines.  The main article is free access here.  These articles give an easy and informed insight into some of the key issues involved in carrying through fruit-quality in the vineyard into top-quality bottles of claret.  With Robinson's written permission,  I have edited them a little,  to provide this and subsequent reviews with a perfect 'on-the-spot' introduction to the 2005 vintage,  from an observer who has a depth of Bordeaux experience we must respect,  at the distance of New Zealand:

Jancis Robinson,  2006:
Wow! The hype is just about true, even if there are notable exceptions. What an amazing vintage ...
Just back from the great Bordeaux 2005 tasting experience and feeling thoroughly uplifted and very enthusiastic about a high proportion of the wines – a higher proportion than ever before, I'd say. There are some absolutely stunning successes ...  The best wines are chock full of everything but not overweighted in any single direction. They also have a lovely brilliance and freshness about them that to my palate makes them definitely springlike rather than autumnal. But then they have so much (generally delightfully ripe) tannin that for the first time ever I find myself recommending drinking dates long after my likely demise.

There are also alas some real disappointments so, contrary to my expectations, this is not a vintage to buy almost without a care. In fact I think 2000 was possibly more consistent right down the ranks and across the appellations, even if less extraordinary in terms of the forces that shaped it and the constitution of the best wines.

Most years I find tasting hundreds of young primeur samples of bordeaux each spring intellectually fascinating but physically exhausting. This year, even after tasting well over 500 samples of often still-fermenting red and white bordeaux barely six months old, I felt great. Why? Because most years the palate is assaulted by a succession of wines which have an excess of something: alcohol in 2003, tannin in 2004, acidity in 2001. But although the 2005s have a lot of everything (and certainly no shortage of alcohol or tannin), all the elements are in the right proportion. ... there are more very good to great wines than I can remember in any other vintage.

While the 2003 harvest was marked by extreme heat, the key characteristic of the 2005 vintage was how exceptionally dry the growing season was – the driest since 1949 for the period between budding and harvest.  ... on the left bank Ch Palmer in Margaux had 57 per cent less rain than usual. ... the vines seemed to have accustomed themselves to this particularly dry season, and by the beginning of August every ounce of energy and ray of sunlight (7.5 per cent more sunshine than usual from May to Sep) went into ripening the grapes rather than being squandered on growing leaves and shoots.

France's continued drought had two more benign effects for lovers of bordeaux. The grapes remained unusually free of the fungal diseases which vines habitually suffer in humid weather. The lack of rain also, crucially, meant that the grapes were very small and unusually low in juice. It was the thickness of the skins, in which all flavour-, colour- and tannin-producing compounds reside, which were responsible for the 2005s quite exceptional charge of these vital elements. The most striking feature of the 2005 analyses in comparison with other years is the average weight of 100 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, far lower than in any other year this century, whereas sugar levels were pretty similar to those of 2000 and 2003.
While the flavours of the 2003 heatwave vintage were exotic and sometimes overblown and roasted, those of 2005s are delightfully refreshing and precise. This is partly because temperatures in 2005, unlike 2003, were not exceptionally high.  Another vital difference was in night-time temperatures. In the summer of 2005 nights were relatively cool, which helped to keep the grapes ripening gently and steadily rather than stopping photosynthesis altogether as in 2003, and helped to develop the gradual accumulation of all the important phenolic compounds in the grape skins that were lacking in the less successful 2003s.

If vintage 2005 had any drawback at all, it was the ripening of the Merlots. ... the date of picking for Merlot was particularly critical. When asked whether 2005 was a vintage made by terroir or winemaking, Frederic Engerer, responsible for arguably Pauillac's most highly-rated first growth this year Ch Latour, insisted that picking dates also made a huge difference. It is notable that at Ch Latour they picked their Merlots almost a week earlier than most of their peers in the Médoc, between 16 and 21 Sep, and then waited to pick fully ripe Cabernet Sauvignon from 26 Sep and 6 Oct. It was much more common in the Médoc to keep the Merlot on the vine until 22 Sep or thereabouts and the result is that some Merlots got just too ripe and had to be consigned to the second wine rather than the grand vin. At both Ch Margaux and Ch Léoville Las Cases, for example, there is more alcohol and markedly less freshness in the second wine than usual.

A question of extraction:  If there had been practically no problems in the vineyard during the 2005 growing season, many winemakers encountered difficulties in the winery. With such high sugar levels, it was perhaps inevitable that some vats would threaten not to ferment fully with accompanying risks of residual sugar and volatile acidity. And with acidity levels notably low, especially in many of the riper Merlots, the brettanomyces spoilage yeast was another threat. On quite a number of wines I smelt a telltale trace of sweaty animal hide but many tasters rather like 'brett' at low levels.

During this year's primeurs tastings there was much talk of IPTs [ Indice Polyphenols Totaux ], the index of total phenolics (mainly tannins) which at many properties reached record levels. Ch Cos d'Estournel reported 80, its St-Estephe neighbour Montrose 85. In St Emilion IPTs over 100 were rumoured. "Far too high even for press wine" snorted Christian Moueix of Ch Pétrus, proud of the restrained levels of 65 to 75 in his stable of notably early-picked wines. Frederic Engerer of Ch Latour (IPT 65 to 67) was equally unwilling to enter into this competition to see who could make the toughest, darkest wine, although Paul Pontallier of Ch Margaux, another hugely successful left bank first growth, was obviously rather tickled that the IPT in his 2005 reached 78 (as opposed to 72.5 in 2003, 70 in 2000 and a mere 62 in 1982).

Wrong turns on the right bank:  Much depended of course on how much was extracted from these notably tiny, thick-skinned grapes. Most of those who managed to make appetising, super-pure wines opted for minimal intervention in the extraction process, confident that the naturally high alcohols would automatically encourage the phenolics out of the skins and into the wine. But some producers, notably in St-Emilion, seem to have deliberately decided to make a very different style of wine, by prolonged maceration on the skins long after the end of fermentation, resulting in exceptionally deep-coloured wines with painfully exaggerated dry tannins on the finish.

In some cases, particularly in St-Emilion, producers were advised to add acidity before fermentation because of the extremely low natural acid levels in the Merlots. This was often an unnecessary precaution because, as in 2003, overall acid levels rose during fermentation, but there are 2005s with very uncomfortably high levels of acidity – perhaps because of this or perhaps because extended macerations leached some greenness from the pips as well as all the riper phenolics from the skins.

[ Some Robinson conclusions: ]  But the great thing about the successful 2005s is their purity. They have power but they also have refreshment value. They have keeping potential, as witness the high levels of tannins in virtually all the wines, but in the best those tannins are fully ripe, beautifully managed and so well hidden by ripe fruit that the wines are already delicious. One would like to call the wines classic claret, but Bordeaux has surely never known a vintage quite like this.

Invitation and background to the two Library Tastings:
We are offering two tastings,  on consecutive nights,  to really get a feel for the vintage.  Both tastings will have as their central theme,  the offering of wines ranging from high cabernet sauvignon right through to merlot / cabernet franc wines with no cabernet sauvignon.  This mimics exactly what thoughtful winemakers are doing in Hawkes Bay,  and should be of the utmost interest. A subsidiary theme will be the inclusion of two New Zealand wines in each tasting,  to see where we stand.  The tastings will needless to say be blind.

The more expensive tasting includes wines rarely offered for public tasting in New Zealand.  Since few in New Zealand can now afford to buy or taste First Growths,
the tasting will include several second wines from the First Growths – wines which are rarely seen.  With modern standards of selection,  these have become sought-after in their own right.  2005 Les Forts de Latour is currently valued at $340NZ for example,  and 2005 Carruades de Lafite at $526,  per bottle.

Because it is such a great vintage,  the wines were expensive to start with.  The cost therefore has to be high.  We ask you to check wine-searcher,  and then reflect that is the cost in London or somewhere similar,  and the further costs involved in getting the wines to New Zealand.  The less expensive tasting should also be great fun.  Again there will be high cabernet sauvignon through to no cabernet sauvignon wines,  and two New Zealand.  Please note the lists here differ in detail from the Regional Wines lists,  and will take precedence,  due to finding Carruades de Lafite.  Values are similar.  Pt II includes examples from all the great Bordeaux locations,  whereas Pt I has several upcoming wines from outlier districts.

I have to mention the peril of TCA-affected bottles,  though 'corked' wines were less common in 2005 than 10 years earlier.  Attending is exactly the same as if you had cellared the wine yourself:  the risk simply has to be accepted.  For Pt II there will be a back-up bottle of my standard 'reference' wine Ch Montrose,  only,  but there are other wines,  so you will get 12 samples.  The New Zealand wines will have back-ups.

#  For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made. Note however the pours are small (30 ml) to both enable more to share sometimes rare bottles,  and to lower the entry price.  Please come prepared to sniff and sip and savour rather more than initially drinking.  Such a small volume can very easily be consumed,  without thinking.  The wines will be presented blind,  so our assessment is not clouded by views offered in the tasting notes in the hand-out.

Interim Conclusion
If these 10 wines accurately foretell the other 2005 Bordeaux tastings to be presented in my Library Tasting series,  we are in for a treat.  Jancis Robinson's enthusiasm and high praise for the vintage appears amply justified.  The wines were wonderfully exciting,  considering their modest pedigree.

Parker,  Robert M.,  2003:  Bordeaux.  Simon & Schuster,  1244 p.
www.jancisrobinson.com  =  Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW
www.erobertparker.com  =  Robert Parker alone for this tasting
www.thewinecellarinsider.com  =  Jeff Leve
www.wineanorak.com/bordeaux/francois_mitjavile.htm  =  Jamie Goode re Ch Roc de Cambe


Prices shown below are the current wine-searcher values for the 2005 vintage.  Historical cost where available follows in the 'admin' section for each wine:

2005  Ch d'Aiguilhe
2005  Ch Cantemerle
2005  Ch Chasse Spleen
2005  Clos des Jacobins
2005  La Dame de Montrose
2005  Ch Haut-Batailley
2005  Ch Malartic Lagraviere
  2005  Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon *
2005  Ch Potensac
2005  Ch Roc de Cambes
2005  Stonyridge Larose
2005  Ch Talbot
2005  Te Mata Estate [ Cabernets / Merlot ] Coleraine

2005  Ch Haut-Batailley   18 +  ()
Pauillac Fifth Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:  13%;  $89   [ cork 50mm;  CS 65 – 70%,  Me 25,  CF 5 – 10;  original cost en primeur c.$66;  both Ch Batailley and Ch Haut Batailley belong to the wider Borie family.  The branch owning Haut-Batailley also owns Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste.  Vineyard is planted at 10,000 vines per hectare.  Fermentation in s/s,  cuvaison 16 – 20 days,  malolactic in tank;  elevation similarly 16 - 20 months in oak 30 - 60% new,  varying with vintage.  Second wine La Tour L’Aspic.  2005 is regarded as a strong year for the chateau;  J. Robinson,  2009:  Light nose but all in balance. Very opulent start – tea leaves – all texture rather than flavour at the moment but a very flattering texture. Needs quite a time to knit but the tannins are very well hidden,  17;  Jeff Leve,  2011:  With aromas of cassis, tobacco, blackberry and earth, this medium/full bodied wine is already starting to show well. Made in a lighter, bright, finessed style, the wine ends with juicy black and red plums in the finish,  89;  R. Parker,  2007 & '8:  One of the finest Haut-Batailleys I have tasted in many years, Xavier Borie has ratcheted up the quality at this estate. Always one of the most St.-Julien-like of the Pauillacs, the 2005 exhibits a sweet bouquet of mulberries, black currants, licorice, tar, and flowers, medium to full body, and an elegant, pure personality with a luscious texture as well as a silky finish (atypical for this vintage). To 2024,  90 – 92,  later 89;  website via;  www.grand-puy-lacoste.fr ]
Attractive ruby and velvet,  just below midway in depth.  Bouquet is in one sense the most complete in the set,  or the most 'ideal',  in the sense there is harmony and elegance speaking of cassis and other berry,  brown tobacco,  delicate cedary thoughts from oak,  and a general restrained bordeaux-style 'fruitiness' and appeal.  Palate follows with beautiful poise and again harmony,  a medium-weight cassis-led wine epitomising the flavours of lovely bordeaux,  such as Ducru-Beaucaillou and the like,  but smaller-scale.  This is already drinking beautifully,  and will hold this form for 10 – 15 years.  Top wine for one,  in the group.  GK 06/15

2005  Clos des Jacobins   18  ()
Saint-Emilion,  Bordeaux,  France:  14%;  $98   [ cork 50mm;  Me 75%,  CF 23,  CS 2;  original cost en primeur c.$71;  for 40 years part of the Cordier stable,  sold since 2004;  vine density of 8,500 vines per hectare,  average age 30 - 35 years,  but also some old vines 80 + years;  emphasis on sorting at harvest;  vinification mostly in oak vats,  cuvaison 3 – 4 weeks,  elevation averages 18 months,  in barrels now 80% new,  MLF in barrel;  Hubert de Bouard of Chateau Angelus consults;  second wine Prieur des Jacobins;  J Harding @ J. Robinson,  2008:  Sweet rich dark fruit. Lots of spiced plums and just this side of raisiny. Then very good minerally fine texture - deep pile but fine tannins. Very classy with lovely savoury dark fruit in the middle. Long and still keeps its freshness,  17;  Jeff Leve,  2012:  Licorice, coffee bean, black cherry and earthy aromas, soft, smooth, silky textures and a plush, rich, plum, fennel and black cherry are found in this wine. This is already starting to drink well and should continue to improve for at least the next decade,  92;  R. Parker,  2008:  This may be the finest wine I have ever tasted from Clos des Jacobins ... a magical blend ... an opulent, flamboyant nose of incense, forest floor, creme de cassis, pain grille, cappuccino, and licorice is followed by a fleshy, opulent, heady, atypically showy St.-Emilion. Although there is plenty of sweet tannin, the wine’s precociousness and flamboyant, even ostentatious style suggests it should be drunk over the next 12-15+ years,  91;  www.closdesjacobins.com ]
Slightly older ruby and velvet,  just above midway in depth.  This is the most fragrant of all the wines,  with a wonderful bouquet contrasting with the other top wines in being lighter fruits,  even thoughts of red fruits,  red currants,  browning raspberries and the like,  plus brown tobacco again and light supremely fragrant oak.  Even on bouquet you wonder if this particular quality of smell could reflect high cabernet franc,  at the blind stage,  and it does.  The gentleness of the wine in mouth is a delight with food,  yet the acid balance is good and the whole thing is vividly alive.  1962 Clos des Jacobins was one of the first Bordeaux to really speak to me,  then later the chateau seemed to go through a dull phase.  This wine is total St Emilion elegance and charm,  not big or rich but delightfully eloquent.  Top wine for three,  in the group.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/15

2005  Ch Talbot   17 ½ +  ()
Saint-Julien Fourth Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:  13%;  $117   [ cork 50mm;  CS 67%,  Me 27,  PV 4.5,  CF 1.5;  original cost en primeur c.$87;  Ch Talbot was formerly a lesser part of the Cordier family Bordeaux enterprise.  Holdings are now reduced,  and Talbot is now regarded as a prime part of their estates.  Much attention has been given to retrieving the reputation of the wine.  Stephane Derenoncourt consults,  since 2007.  The vineyard is approx. CS 66%,  Me 26,  PV 5,  CF 3,  planted to 7,700 vines per hectare,  average age around 30 years.  Cropping rate traditionally approx 6.75 t/ha (2.75 t/ac),  which probably explains the relative lightness of the wine in the preceding decades.  Cuvaison c.21 days in oak and s/s,  15 months elevation with 40% new barrels.  The second wine is Connetable Talbot,  plus a third wine Seigneur de Talbot.  2005 was regarded as a good vintage for the chateau,  before active upgrading took place;  J. Robinson,  2007:  Looks quite evolved. Fragrant, relatively loose on the nose. Already quite developed. Doesn’t seem terribly ambitious given the year. Perfectly pleasant but surely this could be more concentrated and exciting?  16;  Jeff Leve,  2011:  Tannic, tight and still a touch oaky, this is soft and approachable at a young age for Talbot. Licorice, earth, cassis, blackberry, smoke and coffee aromas lead to a fresh, round, dark berry filled finish. Another 5 years will add a lot of complexity to this wine,  91;  R. Parker,  2008:  A strong effort for Talbot, the 2005 is more showy and forward than most wines of this vintage. While there is plenty of tannin, it is sweet and well-concealed behind an intriguing bouquet of sweet herbs, licorice, smoked game, black currants, and cherries. This fleshy, medium to full-bodied St.-Julien exhibits a silky sweetness to its texture and tannins. To 2020+,  90;  www.chateau-talbot.com ]
Colour is lighter and older than many,  below midway in depth.  Winestyle is close to the Haut-Batailley,  clear cassis,  some berry complexity and fragrance,  but the oak is fractionally more heavy-handed.  The wine therefore seems still a little tannic at this stage,  needing a few more years to soften.  Again the cassis shows,  making the wine aromatic.  This seems a riper and more substantial Talbot than many in recent years.  Top wine for two,  in the group.  Cellar  10 – 20 years.  GK 06/15

2005  Ch Cantemerle   17 ½  ()
Macau (near Margaux) Fifth Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:  13%;  $72   [ cork 49mm;  CS 55%,  Me 35,  CF 6,  PV 4;  original cost en primeur c.$54;  planting density c. 9,600 vines per hectare;  malolactic in vat;  elevation 12 – 16 months in 40 – 50% new oak;  second wine Les Allees de Cantemerle.  Parker notes this property was in decline till its sale in 1980;  before then the wines were erratic.  At best though,  he considers it fragrant claret,  now worthy of re-rating upwards;  J. Robinson,  2006:  Quite transparent and aromatic. Soft and gentle – not overdone. Rather supple and silky. A good medium term drink,  16;  Jeff Leve,  2011:  A delicate aroma of flowers, black raspberries, spice and earth, this medium bodied wine is pure elegance. Soft, refined and not for tasters that seek out ripe, powerful wines. My favorite vintage of Cantemerle since 1989. Not a wine that needs a lot of cellaring time. Give it another 2-3 years and drink it up before it hits 20, to enjoy its delicate charms,  90;  R. Parker, 2008 & '06:  [ CS 61%,  Me 31,  CF 8,  cropped at c.5.7 t/ha (2.6 t/ac)] Cantemerle’s new proprietors believe in producing delicate, beautifully wrought, finesse-styled wines that require some introspection. The 2005 displays aromas of licorice, roasted herbs, sweet cherries, and flowers. The wine seems almost light in comparison to its peers, but it possesses an ethereal seriousness, purity, and overall harmony that are striking for its delicacy and finesse. To 2025,  90;  www.cantemerle.com  ]
Not a big wine in appearance,  but one of the more youthful,  well below midway in depth.  Bouquet is a delight,  having a fragrance and quality close to the Clos des Jacobins,  but the style much more blackcurrant / cassis-led  and cabernet sauvignon,  not red fruits and cabernet franc / merlot.  The purity is dramatic.  Flavours are just starting to mellow,  still very crisp and cassisy,  a model smaller-scale Medoc,  with exemplary subtlety of oak handling.  It tastes even more cabernet sauvignon than the cepage suggests,  and though not a big wine,  it will cellar for many years,  10 – 20.  A gorgeous wine with food.  Top wine for one,  in the group.  GK 06/15

2005  La Dame de Montrose   17 ½  ()
Saint-Estephe,  Bordeaux,  France:  13%;  $79   [ cork 49mm;  CS 54%,  Me 46 (for this wine);  original cost en primeur c.$53;  owned by the Charmolue family for 110 years,  this famous chateau is now being greatly revised and updated by its new owners,  along with co-owned Ch Tronquoy Lalande (also Saint-Estephe). Winemaking  is now under the supervision of J B Delmas,  formerly of Ch Haut-Brion;  vines average 40 years age,  planted at 10,000 per hectare;  little is easily accessible about the winemaking of the second wine,  our La Dame de Montrose;  sometimes there is a third wine,  Le Saint Estephe de Montrose.  Roughly half the crop goes to the first wine.  More detail for the first wine,  in the Pt II tasting Introduction;  tasting notes  for La Dame strictly:  Farr Vintners,  2006:  Many of the old vine Merlots that are normally used in the Grand Vin are in the Dame this year. A warm, ripe nose of summer pudding. Soft, plush and fleshy on the palate. A big mouthful for a second wine,  15.5  [ Farrs mark hard ... ];  J. Robinson,  2006:  Exceptionally dark colour. Low-key nose but very deep and dark and concentrated. Full, sweet, round and ample. Very charming. Dry but not too tough. 13.2 per cent average alcohol with Merlot more than 14 per cent. A little bit dry and short on the finish. But hugely enjoyable even now!  17;  R. Parker,  2007:  2005 La Dame de Montrose is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon and 46% Merlot. Possibly the finest second wine Montrose has yet produced, it is a full-bodied effort with supple tannins as well as surprising power, richness, and expansiveness. It will provide gorgeous drinking during its first 15 years of life. 89 – 91,  later review 88;  www.chateau-montrose.com ]
Rich ruby and velvet,  the third to richest wine.  Bouquet is big and burly,  lacking light and floral notes,  much riper and darker.  Farr Vintners comment for this wine that much of the old-vine merlot is in La Dame this  year,  and as soon as you taste this big velvety tanniny mouthful of very ripe plummy fruit,  it all makes good sense.  This is by far the highest quality and most substantial La Dame I have tasted,  but the winestyle is tiptoeing towards the massive merlot-led Aiguilhe in the tasting.  La Dame is relieved by showing more cassisy aromatics and less new oak than the Aiguilhe.  Remarkable:  how second wines are improving as selection processes have become more rigorous in Bordeaux.  Top wine for one,  in the group.  Cellar 10 – 30 years.  GK 06/15

2005  Ch Roc de Cambes   17 ½  ()
Cotes de Bourg,  Bordeaux,  France:  14%;  $100   [ cork 49mm;  Me 75%,  CS 20,  Ma 5,  cepage confirmed with owner M. Francois Mitjavile (see below);  original cost en primeur c.$75;  Roc de Cambes is owned by the same people who own the rare and famous Saint Emilion Ch Le Tertre-Roteboeuf.  There appears to be an astonishing amount of misinformation about Roc de Cambes,  and for once (considering his unparalleled reputation for research,  in his books) Robert Parker appears responsible.  The facts are more as follows,  courtesy of well-regarded merchants Berry Bros & Rudd,  the equally well-regarded Jamie Goode,  author of the The Wine Anorak,  and then direct approach to the proprietor.  Goode records an intriguing and provocative interview with the proprietor of these two chateaux (ref. above),  where many interesting and irregular ideas are canvassed.  Roc de Cambes is now regarded as the finest producer in the Bourg appellation.  It was bought in 1988 by the owner of Château Le Tertre-Rotebouef in Saint-Emilion.  He was attracted by the ideal locations of the 10 hectares of sloping vineyards,  which are situated close to the Gironde on a south-facing slope in a natural amphitheatre.  It is immediately opposite Margaux,  across the river.  The 12ha-vineyard is planted with Me 75%,  CS 20 and Ma 5%,  at 5,550 – 7,000 vines / ha,  the vines are on average 45 years old.  Grapes are harvested as late as possible,  and vinified in temperature-controlled concrete vats,  cuvaison 21 – 28 days.  Maturation in oak barrels (50 – 100% new in strong years) for 15 – 18 – 20 months,  depending on season.  Roc de Cambes produces rich,  stylish,  full-bodied wines that considering their size are remarkably harmonious and well balanced.  Parker has rated it as equivalent to a Fifth Growth. There is a also a Domaine de Cambes which is not a second wine of Roc de Cambes. The grape source is completely different.  The wine is sold as a Bordeaux AOC wine.  J. Robinson,  2006:  Extraordinary deep colour. Very sweet and burgundian and almost unspittable but with a finesse and sap that stops it being sickly. Great richness. Very fine tannins, Lovely freshness. Fine and lively. Quite different from the usual bordeaux 2005. Great reverberation. Vivacious: a real courtesan without being forced,  17.5;  Jamie Goode,  2013:  Taut and dense but sweetly fruited, with ripe, smooth black fruits. Seductive and ripe, yet showing nice precision. A stylish effort,  93;  Wine Spectator, 2006:  This is  wonderfully balanced, with red fruits and hints of toasted oak. Full and long, with fine tannins and a bright finish. Gorgeous,  89-91;  no information on website as yet;  www.roc-de-cambes.com ]
Older ruby and velvet,  above midway in depth.  The bouquet is quite strong on this wine,  and it takes a little while to come into focus.  Finally it seems to be darkly plummy,  but with a level of new oak more like a new-world wine,  making the whole thing very aromatic.  The first sip impresses,  then the second you wonder if it is a bit large-scale and monolithic alongside the Dame de Montrose,  the oak having a dulling effect on the palate.  But there is a lot to it,  and great berry richness plus some chocolate,  greater than La Dame,  so there is considerable potential to fine down in cellar,  10 – 20 years.  Top wine for four,  in the group.  GK 06/15

2005  Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon *   17 +  ()
Margaret River,  West Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $132   [ screwcap;  cepage typically CS 93%,  PV 4,  CF 3,  hand-picked;  17 - 21 days cuvaison;  MLF and c. 20 months in French oak,  50% new,  balance 1-year;  sterile-filtered to bottle;  * = not part of the blind tasting,  bottle opened afterwards courtesy Andrew Swann;  www.mosswood.com.au ]
Good ruby,  the third to lightest.  In the set (afterwards),  this is immediately the most oaky wine of the group,  by a considerable margin,  so vanillin aromas predominate over mellowing ripe cassisy qualities,  plus the faintest mint.  In sensory terms West Australia is cool enough to retain genuine cassis aromatics,  one of the district's charms.  Palate is richly cassisy but again very oaky,  much too much new-world in styling to sit easily in a Bordeaux tasting.  Fruit weight is about on a par with the Ch Talbot,  not particularly rich or heavy,  which again makes the oak treatment stand out.  But in comparison with many Australian offerings of the grape,  and particularly their more heroic styles,  there is a delicacy and varietal complexity in this cabernet which is pleasing.  Also there is no obvious euc'y taint –  just the faintest mint.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 06/15

2005  Te Mata Estate [ Cabernets / Merlot ] Coleraine   17 +  ()
Havelock North,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $56   [ cork 53mm;  Me 45%,  CS 37,  CF 18;  original cost c. $75;  not counting the Mission Estate,  because their cabernet-led wines in the 60s were always so rare,  Te Mata Estate was the second winery to offer international-calibre cabernet / merlot blends,  in post-Prohibition New Zealand.  Their 1982 Coleraine followed on directly from Tom McDonald's 1965 – 1969 McWilliams Cabernet Sauvignon.  The emphasis at Te Mata has always been on elegance and finesse,  not on size or weight.  Grapes are hand-harvested from vines of average age c.25 years;  20 months in French oak c. 75% new;  M. Cooper,  2008:  The 2005 vintage is boldly coloured, with very fragrant cassis and spice aromas. It's a classy, youthful wine, with blackcurrant-like flavours, hints of dark chocolate and olives, and lovely ripeness and suppleness. … It should be long-lived,  *****;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Ruby,  still quite fresh,  but the second to lightest in depth.  Bouquet is intriguing.  Though we like to think of Te Mata as showing great restraint in their oak handling in the New Zealand context,  in this blind line-up it was immediately one of the three oaky wines.  Then after the tasting the Moss Wood was opened,  and tasted alongside the Coleraine,  immediately the latter was back among the French.  As always,  perceived quality is so influenced by the associated wines tasted on the day.  In the total bouquet there is a light aromatic red-fruits freshness showing close affinities with the Clos des Jacobins,  and it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that the cabernet franc is contributing to this quality.  In mouth this Coleraine is relatively light,  as seen in the blind tasting of the 12 wines,  with a dry extract more like the Potensac than the Cantemerle,  for example,  but clearly beautifully in style amongst the Bordeaux wines.  Only two tasters thought it might be a New Zealand wine,  at the blind fact-finding stage,  compared with seven for the Larose,  for example.  Top wine for two,  in the group.   Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/15

2005  Stonyridge Larose   17  ()
Waiheke Island,  Auckland,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $278   [ cork 49mm;  CS 44%,  Ma 21,  Me 15,  PV 15,  CF 5,  cropped at c. 1 t/ac in 2005;  original cost $140 [ the wine-searcher current value given is unrealistic,  presumably reflecting much too small a sample:  the wine sells for around $110 +17% fees at current Auckland auctions ];  DFB;  up to 25-day cuvaison;  MLF in barrel;  oak 90% French,  10 US,  70% either new,  or shaved and re-toasted;  not filtered;  500 cases;  organic;  one of the two 'famous' pioneers for bordeaux blends on Waiheke Island,  and now the pre-eminent one,  Stephen White's Larose has a track record back to the first tentative vintage in 1985 (after tutelage at Ch d'Angludet),  then suddenly rivetting the country with the 1987,  which gave notice that Waiheke Island would be a force to be reckoned with,  for New Zealand bordeaux-blends;  M. Cooper,  2007:  Densely coloured, it is strikingly generous and rich, with powerful blackcurrant, herb and spice flavours, showing great ripeness, and supple tannins. It's an authoritative wine with notable intensity, complexity and potential,  *****;  www.stonyridge.co.nz ]
Youthful ruby,  still almost carmine,  and velvet,  much the youngest colour and the second deepest.  Bouquet is immediately minty to a fault,  excessively so,  many tasters commenting on it.  Below that factor oak is the second impression,  totally unknit alongside all but one of the Bordeaux.  But there is also enormous aromatic berry,  cassisy from the cabernet but also a bit aggressive.  In mouth the latter component comes to the fore,  so in comparison with the silky cassisy palate of the Haut-Batailley,  there is this clunky purple aromatic of cassis coarsened by malbec.  As Bordeaux has shown,  Stonyridge Larose will be a much finer wine,  using the word 'fine' in its most multidimensional sense,  when malbec is removed from the blend.  Totally.  In all other respects the wine is amazingly fresh,  still totally youthful,  oaky,  needing another 10 years to be where the Bordeaux wines are now.  Dry extract is greater than Coleraine,  so there is plenty to develop on.  Top wine for seven,  in the group,  as always in this kind of exercise,  the result reflecting the popular appeal of obvious new oak.  Cellar 10 – 30 years.  GK 06/15

2005  Ch d'Aiguilhe   17  ()
Cotes de Castillon,  Bordeaux,  France:  14.5%;  $62   [ cork 50mm;  Me 80%,  CF 20;  original cost en primeur c.$52;  as land-prices climb and climb in the Medoc and other well-known districts,  attention is turning to peripheral districts where site and geology mimic those of well-known vineyards in the long-established districts.  One such is Ch d'Aiguilhe,  in the same ownership as the Saint-Emilions Canon La Gaffeliere,  La Mondotte and Clos de l’Oratoire.  Planting density c. 5,500 – 9,000 vines per hectare.  Viticulture moving to organic and biodynamic.  Hand-harvesting,  much emphasis on sorting.  Cuvaison c. 28 days, malolactic tending to be in barrel;  extended elevation sur lie in 50% new oak,  no fining or filtering;  second wine Seigneurs d’Aiguilhe;  Stephane Derenoncourt consults;  J. Robinson,  2008:  Toasty, ripe, flattering and full of life. What's not to like at this price? Great vintage … VGV.  16.5;  Jeff Leve,  2014:  This delicious, affordable, Cotes de Castillon wine is filled with licorice, black cherry, cocoa, cassis and earthy scents. Richly textured and drinking perfectly today, the wine ends with a fresh, ripe, fennel and spicy plum finish. This is one of the great value wines from the 2005 Bordeaux wine vintage,  91;  R. Parker,  2008:  The dense 2005 ... creme de cassis, charcoal, camphor, and espresso roast. A sleeper of the vintage, it is a full-bodied, layered, super-concentrated, smooth as silk blend …  bargain-priced claret … 8-10 years,  92;  www.neipperg.com ]
Youthful highly velvety darkest ruby going on black to the centre,  incredibly dense.  This was the third oaky wine in the blind line-up,  but the massive deep dark dry dusty black plum and pure very ripe fruit masks it.  But as soon as you taste it,  the new oak aromatics are new world in level,  Australia more than New Zealand,  making this wine a veritable thumper,  seemingly almost out of class.  Tasters agreed,  this apart from the Larose being the only wine to attract a significant 'not-bordeaux' vote.  The volume of berry is colossal,  the dry extract must be well over  30 g/L,  so the development potential is great.  But right now,  when you taste the Aiguilhe against the Clos des Jacobins,  with its near-identical cepage,  it is like comparing cats with elephants.  The Jacobins is so fragrant and refreshing,  the Aiguilhe massive,  dry and dusty.   But it will cellar for decades on the combination of perfectly pure black fruits plus the oak-tannin structure.  Top wine for five,  in the group.  Cellar 10 – 30-plus years.  GK 06/15

2005  Ch Chasse Spleen   17  ()
Moulis,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $66   [ cork 49mm;  CS 73%,  Me 20%,  PV 7;  original cost en primeur c.$50;  formerly part of the same estate as Ch Gressier-Grand-Poujeaux,  now one of the two top wines of Moulis,  Haut-Medoc;  10,000 vines per hectare,  average age 30;  vinification in s/s and oak,  extending to 4 weeks,  malolactic in vat.  Elevation 12 – 15 months in 40% new oak ;  Parker considers now often of classed growth quality;  two second wines,  L'Ermitage de Chasse-Spleen and L'Oratoire de Chasse-Spleen;  J Harding @ J Robinson,  2007:  Highly spiced, quite exotic on the nose, then firm and dark on the palate. Overall dark but with finesse. Quite notable acidity as well as all that ripeness – 16.5?  17;  Jeff Leve,  2011:  Dark in color, but light in flavor. This medium bodied, red fruit dominated, bright, earthy, tannic wine is still tight at the moment. Give it at least another 5-7 years,  87;  R. Parker,  2008:  … the medium-bodied 2005 Chasse Spleen offers up aromas of smoke, damp earth, charcoal, black cherries, and currants. Tannins dominate at present, so cellar it for 5-6 years, drink to 2028,  88;  www.chasse-spleen.com ]
Good ruby,  relatively youthful,  some velvet,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is distinctive,  great purity,  also showing a dry dusty kind of cassis and berry,  intriguing and very taut.  Palate is quite different,  much  softer,  lovely berryfruit,  subtle and elegant oak with a touch of vanillin,  a smaller-scale wine.  Like the Cantemerle,  there is an aromatic purity and beauty to the almost crystalline cassis-led berry we find very hard to achieve in New Zealand,  despite the climatic similarity.  I attribute this to excessive new oak,  virtually across-the-board,  still the norm in New Zealand.  Chasse Spleen used to be a rich and stolid wine,  and a great keeper,  but this one is subtle and delicate,  in a firm nearly austere high-cabernet way.  It needs more time to soften,  but given more age,  it will be an attractive smaller claret.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  This is a very different kind of 17 to the same score for the Aiguilhe,  but such are the perils of trying to represent multi-dimensional sensory things by simple numbers.  No top ratings.  GK 06/15

2005  Ch Malartic Lagraviere   16 ½ +  ()
Pessac-Leognan,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $96   [ cork 50mm;  CS 45 – 50%,  Me 40 – 45,  CF 8,  PV 2;  original cost en primeur c.$77;   average vine age 25 – 35 years,  but some over 60 years,  planted at 10,000 vines per hectare;  fermentation in both s/s and oak,  cuvaison 21 – 35 days;  MLF detail unknown;  elevation in 25 – 35% new barrels for 12 – 18 months,  sur lie.  Michel Rolland consults.  The second wine is now called La Reserve de Malartic;  J. Robinson,  2006:  Lots of colour. Very ripe fruit flavours – perhaps very very slightly over-ripe if one were to pick nits but it’s a truly tiny one. Slightly dry tannins. Sweet raspberry fruit,  16.5;  J. Robinson,  2015:  Opulently ripe nose. Very strongly cassis and focus and intensity even if without much subtlety at the moment. Marked acidity on the finish,  16.5+;  R. Parker,  2008:  Perhaps the strongest wine I have ever tasted from Malartic Lagraviere, the 2005 has a wonderfully sweet nose of creme de cassis, graphite, and soil undertones. Medium-bodied, smoky, with classic scorched earth, Graves-like aromatics and flavors, this wine displays impeccable winemaking, with pure fruit, medium body, and gorgeously long, rich flavors and moderate levels of tannin. The wine should be relatively drinkable in 3-5 years and last for at least two decades or more. To 2025,  92;  www.malartic-lagraviere.com ]
Good ruby and velvet,  above midway in depth.  Bouquet is rich,  darkly berried,  but not quite singing.  There  is a touch of ox-liver (raw).  I gave the wine my standard treatment for reduction,  but it stayed a bit withdrawn.  Flavours in mouth reflect the 50-50 split of cassisy cabernet and softer plummy merlot,  good fruit,  appropriate even understated oak,  quantitatively good but lacking charm.  Top wine for five,  in the group.  Should gradually improve in cellar,  over 5 – 20 years,  but decant it vigorously.  GK 06/15

2005  Ch Potensac   16 ½ +  ()
St Yzans,  Northern Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $56   [ cork 50mm;  Me 45%,  CS 35,  CF 15,  some Ca & PV;  original cost not en primeur c.$49;  Potensac has the same owners as Château Leoville-Las Cases,  and shares technical expertise with them.  Barrels are passed down from the second wine of Las Cases.  The vineyard is changing from its former high cabernet sauvignon percentage,  which is difficult to ripen so far north in the Medoc,  to a cepage more as above.  Vine age is therefore lowering,  but the vineyard includes old vines more than 80 years of age.  Planting averages 8,000 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in both s/s and concrete vats,  with malolactics in vat.  Cuvaison is 15 – 18 days,  then 12 – 16 months in barrel,  a small percentage new;  second wine La Chapelle de Potensac.  Jeff Leve:  The wines of Potensac are structured, firm and often display an austere quality, especially in their youth. Chateau Potensac is the perfect wine for fans of old school, classic Bordeaux wine making;  J. Robinson, 2006:  Quite light on the nose but good balance of fresh fruit on the palate though pretty severe oaking regime for fruit without that much intensity. Very correct but no more charm than usual! No display of extra ripeness from the year,  15.5,  later review 16.5;  R. Parker, 2008:  A superb value, the 2005 Potensac has a classic bouquet of sweet red and black fruits, as well as gorgeous texture and purity. Medium-bodied and concentrated, this wine behaves like a Medoc cru classe. Moreover, it will age very well for 10-15 years. Very impressive!  90;  www.domaines-delon.com ]
Slightly older ruby,  the lightest wine.  This was one of the light but fragrant wines in the set,  like the Chasse Spleen and the Cantemerle,  showing good impact on bouquet,  but then requiring close attention to palate weight and structure to rank the wine.  Merlot is dominant in this wine,  from the cepage,  but it is the cabernets which dominate the smell and flavour,  the wine clearly cassisy.  Oak handling is subtle,  beautifully balanced to the lighter fruit and dry extract.  This seems the lightest wine in the set.  It illustrates the concept of cru bourgeois well,  and is great with food,  really refreshing.  And as Coleraine has shown for many years,  lighter wines when well balanced can still cellar well,  here perhaps 5 – 15 years.  No top ratings.  GK 06/15