This spring, Wilfred Wong, e-commerce cellarmaster for Beverages and more!, and a team of wine buyers from the California retail superstore chain, swept through Bordeaux, tasting 360 barrel samples from the 2000 harvest. The Bordelais were very excited about the quality of their grapes, and Pat Morgan, Peter Chai, Bill Hayes, Mike Hillstrom and Wilfred were equally impressed by the latest vintage, collectively terming 2000 an “incredible year,” featuring tremendous ripeness, natural acidity and supple tannins. The following overview includes point ratings on the individual appellations that are an approximate average of the top chateaux in those regions.
As the Beverages and more! team traveled up and down the Medoc and to the Right Bank and back, it was clear to us that 2000 was indeed a superb year. Even more obvious was the incredible richness of cabernet sauvignon on the Left Bank and super ripeness of cabernet franc on the Right Bank. The grapes were so incredible that many chateau owners were proud to let us taste the cabernet franc by itself — a practice rarely allowed by the generally conservative Bordelais.
In the hectic week of traveling up and down the Bordeaux highway, we could find little fault with the overall vintage; from glass to glass it was just so good. We secretly reminded ourselves that we could be witnessing history in the making by being here for the 2000 vintage. Imagine if you could have tasted the 1961s in the year 1962? Just count the great vintages of the last 100 years; there are not that many!
From the BevMo team, we have to proclaim that many of the wines we tasted easily rank with the best wines the respective chateaux have ever made. The following is my Bordeaux appellation by appellation report of the red wines of the vintage. I did not report on the white wines of Pessac-Leognan, which are quite excellent, or the Sauternes, which are merely above average.
I recommend active buying of these wines which match the best wines from 1982, 1989, 1990, 1995 and 1996. Whether they can hold a candle to the incredibly classical 1959s or 1961s remains a guess, but I bet they will come pretty close in matching the quality of those wines.
22 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 94
I should have known when I purposely stained my tasting book with the drops from my taste of Lafite-Rothschild that Pauillac was going to become one the magical appellations of the trip. From my notebook, the 2000 Lafite-Rothschild may surpass the great 1996 which was such a powerful, backwards, yet aristocratic wine in its youth. Up and down the appellation, so many chateaux showed power and elegance. Built with very ripe cabernet sauvignon and tempered with pleasing ripe merlot and cabernet franc, the wines of Pauillac are an unqualified success for the vintage.
34 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 94
What’s going on in Margaux? After years of shamefully bad performances, this sleeping giant has reawaked with a vengeance! During this frenetic week of staining notebooks, I could not help from noting how pleasantly surprised I was with the wines from Margaux. Across the board, there are few classified growth Margaux that are not wonderful and some of the wines easily rank as the best from their respective chateaux in years.
77 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 94
Influenced by the ‘Garagistes’ who are the epitome of artisan producers, Saint-Emilion is undergoing a revolution in fine winemaking. These guys almost literally care for each barrel by hand. Even the larger concerns are so much smaller than their Medoc counterparts that they don’t even speak the same language. Suffice it say, there is a lot of small scale fine winemaking going on here so that unless Saint-Emilion gets rained on throughout September, there will always be fine wines made here.
In 2000, the vignerons took advantage of the incredible super-ripe cabernet franc that came along with the vintage. Many winemakers told us that they had never seen such tremendous cabernet franc in the entire lives. Chateaux such as Cheval Blanc, Ausone and Angelus with a lot of cabernet franc in their blends benefited from the vintage.
21 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 93
A marvelous set of wines from the classified growths set up Saint-Julien as the proud owner of some of the very best wines of the vintage. Set apart from most years, when only a few wines make it into my excellent-outstanding category, I have scored over a dozen wines in the 90+ points range. Even Beychevelle has made one of their best wines in two decades. These wines should garner lots of attention, since many of the best bets will be eminently affordable (relatively speaking).
47 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 92
Not as rich as 1998, yet quite good, the land of merlot did very well. Pomerol, considered by many as the ‘Burgundy’ of Bordeaux, produced some very rich and supple wines in 2000. There are a number of tremendous wines to be found here, but they will be expensive as well as very limited.
25 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 91
Perhaps the best in the appellation’s history, Pessac-Leognan made its best wines ever. Unlike some of the best Bordeaux vintages, the wines are often bothered by a hint of earthy greeness, but in 2000 the grapes got ripe, retained acidity and exhibited supple tannins.
COTES DE CASTILLON
4 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 90
This is the appellation of value. Blessed with excellent terroir and fine chateaux, this could be the area that can push fine Bordeaux onto the table of more Americans. The three wines we tried from this appellation were standouts as they exhibited lots of ripe fruit, a supple and layered palate of great persistence.
16 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 87
Perhaps the weakest performing of the major Medoc appellations, many of the Saint-Estephes showed moderately ripe characters and often with a disturbing weedy, leafy note. Only Cos d’Estournel display enough power and depth to be considered close to top performing.
31 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 86
From the Haut-Medoc appellation, one searches for deals. Overall, the wines were pretty good, but did not stand out. My notes found most of the tried-and-true performers to have made excessively weedy, leafy wines or overly extracted tannic wines. I am not sure why this appellation did not fare as well as its surrounding neighbors. The wines are good, if the prices are reasonable; otherwise, it would be best to look elsewhere.
5 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 86
There are always two stars to consider in the Moulis appellation — Chasse-Spleen and Poujeaux. Sometimes they both show and sometimes only one does it. The other chateaux are rather inconsistent and boring in their performances. In 2000, Chasse-Spleen has produced an excellent wine that goes far beyond the average quality of the appellation; it should also be a good value.
5 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 86
One of the best appellations for prudent shoppers, Listrac-Medoc performed quite well in 2000. Among the successes are Fonreaud and Fourcas-Hosten. If their prices are reasonable, then they could be excellent en premier offerings.
11 WINES TASTED * APPELLATION RATING 85
An appellation for bargain hunters, this is not much an area for en premier offerings. There are some good names here and if the price is incredibly good, then there could be a few gems. My notes show Vieux Robin and Potensac to be possible offerings.
RIGHT BANK SATELLITE APPELLATIONS
25 WINES TASTED * NO APPELLATION RATING.
The Right Bank Satellite appellations present a story of happy hunting grounds. We keep on looking hoping to uncover some gem. They are out there, but not on this trip.
OTHERS — BORDEAUX SUPERIEUR
6 WINES TASTED
Only one chateau to talk about: Reignac, a very well conceived and high quality property in the Entre-deux-Mers region of Bordeaux.