In spite of its failings – which are many – I love en-primeur. The excitement of a new wine. The birth, if you like, of wines that will develop into something so much more than juice. 1996 Latour was at this stage once, as was 1982 Pichon-Lalande. Just as my son could once fit into my hand.
I love the sheer fun of selling it (OK – that was a while back). Is it any good? Is it worth buying? Those without an interest in EP are quick, comprehensive and pin-sharp in their detailed and well-researched criticism of a system that has made many chateaux very rich and has burned many further down the line. But I still hold a candle for the romance of buying a wine so young. Of judging barrel samples that I know may well have been, if not doctored, certainly brushed up and polished. And what I love most is making the call, making the judgement. The top three of 2014? OK.
One of these is not for sale. Another will be very difficult to buy. The pricing of the third is any man’s guess. But these are the three of twenty fourteen and, for what it’s worth, if these samples were brushed up I couldn’t tell.
2014 Ch. Latour, Pauillac
Tightly-packed nose. Some weight here. And huge in the mouth. There is a great deal going on here. Volume. Weight. And nothing sticking out: all is in its place. This needs the elevage – it’s a little scratchy – but the depth, and the completeness, is remarkable. Makes an impression like a stamp. This is Pauillac and this is Latour. Excellent.
2014 Ch. Lafleur, Pomerol
A touch darker (than Pensees). Still lovely. Lots of lift and there is something underneath. There is some beauty hiding beneath the sheets. Freshly crushed fruit. In the mouth this is just lovely and this is grand, grand vin. Musigny plus plus. Disarmingly good. Complete, and there is so much more to come from this. Poised. Crossbow taut. Laser precision. I can taste this four days after it was on my tongue. A Morey-like sweetness with that chocolate-clay Pomerol note underneath. Exceptional.
2014 Ch. Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
This not quite so open (as Reserve de la Comtesse). But there is some depth here, there is something underneath. Something defined, and something Pauillac. Defined, precise, svelte and taut. Very, very Pauillac in the mouth. Hugely classy. Aristocratic. And this is a wine that knows who, or what, it is. Fresh, balanced. Very, very good. No taste of sunshine: just of Pauillac. Elegant power. Regal. A Queen, and exactly as it should be.
Given that you can see one from the other it should come as no surprise that Latour and Pichon-Lalande share a style. I thought that in 2014 they were two brothers from different mothers. The last ten years have been the decade of Lynch-Bages and Pontet-Canet. My nap: just watch Pichon-Lalande and Nicolas Glumineau. When the next humdinger of a vintage comes along we will have a humdinger of a Comtesse.
Latour? Well. It’s Latour. I am a fan of people that know what they are doing. Years ago, in a former life, we used to describe such people as “sorted geezers”. Men who left no margin for error. Men who had all bases covered and more. Mr Engerer is a sorted geezer. Latour is sorted hooch.
And Lafleur. The Guinaudeaus are not only sorted geezers, they are infectious in their love for what they make. They breathe Pomerol clay. It is easy to be seduced here. The wine is possibly the most sensual, the most complete, the most beautiful in Bordeaux, and especially so in their company. What price is love? And when love whispers in your ear, do you question it?
More of my thoughts on the vintage can be found here.