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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
LIBRARY TASTING:  2001 SAUTERNES,  A GREAT YEAR,  12 TOP WINES INCLUDING D’YQUEM ...



Geoff Kelly  MSc (Hons)


Regional Wines & Spirits offered a Library Tasting of 12 of the best-known 2001 Sauternes on 31 July,  2014.  It sold out virtually overnight,  not only by virtue of the reputation of the wines,  but also because the pricing at $135 for 12 wines was low,  when compared with more commercial tastings offered elsewhere in New Zealand.  In the event,  for those who attended,  the evening was memorable.  The pleasure evident amongst the participants was at a rare level,  wonderful to see.  At the winding-up stage,  several comments were voiced that this or that wine was simply the best example of it that person had ever tasted.  As presenter,  this was greatly enjoyable,  a pleasure heightened by the fact we can present this exact (or similar) tasting again.

Introduction:
The great Sauternes years are few.  Broadbent says of the 2001 Sauternes:  … buy, keep and savour – unquestionably a great vintage, in a similar league to 1971. The leading chateaux of Barsac and Sauternes will be at their best between fifteen and twenty-five years of age and many will continue to develop a golden hue, exquisite bouquet, and exquisite honeyed flavour.  Few years are as good since the war,  therefore,  but  considering the improvements in technical control,  Jancis Robinson simply says 2001 is:  Perhaps the greatest Sauternes vintage in modern times.

From the 1855 classification,  we will have Ch d’Yquem,  9 of the 11 premiers crus,  and 2 others Robert Parker rates their equals.  Twelve wines,  of them only d'Yquem available at retail in NZ ($2,265 at one outlet !)  On the Robert Parker scale,  2 @ 100 points,  1 each @ 99, 98, 97, 96, 94, 3 @ 93,  none below 90.  

These are rare wines.  We believe this tasting is unprecedented as a public offer in New Zealand.  It should be memorable.  The value of the wines can be checked on www.wine-searcher.com,  noting that you then need to ship them from London or somewhere realistic where they can actually be bought,  with all the extra costs,  taxes and duties entailed in doing so.

Here is an extended 2011 quote from Jancis Robinson,  to set the scene:
Bordeaux 2001 - the forgotten vintage?
My overall impression of the reds may have been much more favourable than when I first tasted them in early 2002 but the sweet whites continue to outshine them. Thanks to some late-September rain that promoted the development of 'noble rot' at just the right time, the array of Sauternes was of uniformly high quality even if they varied stylistically from the unctuous richness of star performer Ch Climens (£3,000) through the relatively savoury style of Ch de Fargues (£780) to the raciness of the Ch Doisy Daëne (£325), which has to be one of the bargains of this vintage. These sweet white treasures, so much more difficult to make than the red wines of Bordeaux, continue to be underpriced - with the most obvious exception of Ch d'Yquem (£4,600), which has been so firmly moved into the luxury goods category by owners LVMH. Château Climens is not cheap, but many other great 2001 Sauternes are well under £400 a case and, as usual, are likely to outlast their red-wine counterparts by quite a margin.


A little background:  
The area under vines in the entire Sauternes appellation is somewhere over 2000 ha.  There are five main villages,  with Preignac having the largest area of vines,  then Sauternes,  Barsac,  Bommes,  and the smallest Fargues.  Most chateaux are small,  when compared with the Medoc.  Fewer than 20 chateaux exceed 20 ha.  There are several hundred producers.

Winemaking varies widely,  but due to the particular care needed in selecting nobly botrytis-affected 'rotten' grapes rather than ignoble,  hand-picking is general.  Semillon is the main grape,  with the more aromatic sauvignon blanc adding flavour.  Some chateaux use a few percent muscadelle,  for its 'grapey' flavours.  Fermentation in the top chateaux is commonly in barrels with a varying percentage new,  some in stainless steel,  some use oak cuves,  others concrete.  Most wines see some new oak,  depending on the price and aspirations of the maker.  A few (e.g. Ch Gillette) stay in concrete for their entire pre-bottle life.  Ch d'Yquem famously is raised in 100% new oak.  Though sauternes have the reputation for being fabulously sweet,  many new world botrytised wines,  and some German trockenbeerenauslesen,  are sweeter.  Most wines are around 100 to 120 g/L residual,  but in special years sometimes there may be 150 or so g/L.

References used:
Broadbent,  M,  2003:  Michael Broadbent's Wine Vintages.  Mitchell Beazley,  223 p.  
Parker,  Robert  2003:  Bordeaux.  Simon & Schuster,  Fourth Edition,  1244 p.
www.bbr.com    Berry Brothers & Rudd,  noted London wine merchants,  with great info on their site.
www.jancisrobinson.com
www.erobertparker.com






THE WINES REVIEWED –  Sauternes:

In the following reviews,  the introductory 'admin' section is long,  reflecting the importance of the vintage in Sauternes,  and how much has been written about the leading wines.  Some background info for the winery is in italics,  then for most wines two views are included,  one from each side of the Atlantic.  The quoted material is not in italic;  my interpolated comments are.  My review follows,  after the website address.


2001  Ch Climens
2001  Ch Clos Haut-Peyraguey
2001  Ch Coutet
2001  Ch Doisy Daene
2001  Ch Guiraud
2001  Ch Lafaurie-Peyraguey
  2001   Ch La Tour Blanche
2001  de Malle
2001  Ch Rabaud-Promis
2001  Ch Rieussec
2001  Ch Suduiraut
2001  Ch d'Yquem


2001  Ch d'Yquem   20  ()
Sauternes Premier Cru Superieur,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ 54mm cork;  Se 80%,  SB 20;  average age of vines 30 years,  planted at 6,500 vines / ha,  average yield just over 1 t/ha = 0.5 t/ac;  fermentation and up to 36 months elevation in 100% new barrels;  average production around 9,000 cases per annum;  now owned LMVH;  BBR:  Often described as the greatest sweet wine in the world … intensely opulent when young, Yquem develops an extraordinary complexity and exotic richness when fully mature;  Robinson,  2009:  Light gold, very fresh and gorgeous and complete. Just washed over the palate - so clean and vital and reverberating, not to mention revitalising even to a palate that had been treated to all the wines above already. What a feat! What a wine! Wonderful satiny texture and great balance and charm,  19;  Parker, 2005:  There are 10,000 cases of this perfect sweet white Bordeaux. The 2001 Yquem reveals a hint of green in its light gold color. While somewhat reticent aromatically, with airing, it offers up honeyed tropical fruit, orange marmalade, pineapple, sweet creme brulee, and buttered nut-like scents. In the mouth, it is full-bodied with gorgeously refreshing acidity as well as massive concentration and unctuosity. Everything is uplifted and given laser-like focus by refreshing acidity. This large-scaled, youthful Yquem appears set to take its place among the most legendary vintages of the past, and will age effortlessly for 75+ years. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2100+, 100;  www.yquem.fr ]
Pale gold with a lemon flush,  clearly the palest wine of the 12.  Initially opened,  the bouquet was tending adolescent / awkward,  the components more apparent than the totality.  But even at that stage one could see there were greater mealy,  barrel ferment,  and lees-autolysis components than any other of the wines.  This is the clue to recognising Yquem in a strictly blind tasting,  finding the wine with these distinctive signs of unusually intensive elevage in new oak.  The other key component from the outset was the viscosity,  the texture,  the richness on tongue.  It is simply much more concentrated and glycerol-rich than the others.  With air and time a wonderful honeyed,  stonefruits and botrytis golden-fruited slightly madeira cake and purest palest caramel aroma gradually expanded in the glass,  and the extraordinary thing is,  there was no hint of VA at all – the purity is phenomenal.  In other Yquems over the years I have felt the new oak intrusive,  though given the weight of received wisdom about the wine,  any vintage of the wine,  you are not allowed to say so.  But here the fine grained elegance of the oak,  and it's lovely mealy / hessian / vanillin aromas and gentle flavours are simply exemplary.  This will surely marry up into one of the purest and most elegant Yquems ever.  Whereas with most wines one can imagine how it could be better,  with this one such thoughts seem irrelevant.  Thus for the first time for me,  this wine  earns full points.  Others much more familiar with Ch d'Yquem than I say it will cellar for 100 years.  To judge from the lighter 1962 and 1966 wines I have been watching since release,  now representing half that estimate,  achieving that time will be easy,  given such perfect balance and concentration in the 2001.  One of the top three wines for the group,  on the night.  Two days later,  unequivocally the top wine,  simply perfection.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Rieussec   19 +  ()
Sauternes / Fargues Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ 49mm cork;  Se 89%,  SB 8;  Mu 3;  average age of vines 25 years, planted at 7,500 vines / ha,  average yield just under 2.5 t/ha = 1 t/ac;  fermentation in both s/s and barrel,  then 18 – 24 months depending on the weight of the vintage in 70% new small oak;  average production around 6,000 cases per annum;  owned by the Rothschilds of Ch Lafite;  BBR:  Ch Rieussec is one of the richest and most exotic of all Sauternes ... a classic full-bodied Sauternes that is deep golden-yellow in colour and packed with lusciously sweet, honeyed fruits ... its best vintages rival those from d`Yquem;  Robinson,  2012:  Manages to be both tangy and luscious. Broad. Electric vitality. Lovely and slightly brulée. Not quite as sweet as the Suduiraut. Long and reverberant,  18.5;  Parker,  2004:  A monumental effort, the 2001 Rieussec boasts a light to medium gold color in addition to a fabulous perfume of honeysuckle, smoky oak, caramelized tropical fruits, creme brulee, and Grand Marnier. The wine is massive and full-bodied yet neither over the top nor heavy because of good acidity. With intense botrytis as well as a 70-75-second finish, this amazing Sauternes will be at its apogee between 2010-2035, 99;  www.lafite.com/fr/les-chateaux/chateau-rieussec ]
Gold,  the fourth deepest in hue.  Right from opening,  and long after,  this wine shows a slight VA lift to intense golden queen peachy fruit.  It therefore becomes a question of assessing whether there is the fruit to carry the VA.  Needless to say,  no northern hemisphere wine website mentions VA for any of the 2001 sauternes in this tasting,  whereas the simple fact is that 25% of the wines have a perceptible trace.  Such is the difficulty of finding accurate / objective wine information anywhere,  whether on-line or by magazine or book.  The winestyle here is quite different from d'Yquem,  being noticeably darker in its peachy fruit,  with a clear golden syrup pudding integration of the barrel work with honeyed stonefruit.  In mouth the wine immediately gains points,  for it is rich and luscious,  the VA not high enough to coarsen the palate.  Fruit concentration is delightful.  At the tasting it was more open and communicative than the Yquem,  which took longer to unfurl.  This won't cellar quite as long as the Yquem,  being further forward in its evolution – but should still be good for 10 – 35 years.  One of the top three wines for the group,  on the night,  luscious and lingering.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Climens   19  ()
Barsac Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  14%;  $ –    [ 44mm cork (because our 'bottle' 2 x 375 ml bottles);  Se 100%;  6,300 vines / ha,  average vine age 35 years,  typical yield c.1.8 t/ha = 0.75 t/ac,  BUT less than 1 t/ha = 0.4 t/ha in 2001;  the wine is barrel-fermented,  typically one third of the oak new,  and aged in small oak for 18 – 22 months,  depending on vintage;  typically 2,500 cases but less in 2001;  RS 118 g/l;  The proprietor,  Berenice Lurton,  states her goal is to produce wines of ethereal elegance and finesse rather than sweet wines of power and weight;  in a vertical tasting of Climens held at London merchants Berry Brothers & Rudd,  Alun Griffiths MW commented of our wine:  a monumental wine which will comfortably outlive all of those who attended the tasting;  BBR:  Ch Climens is the leading property in Barsac, and produces one of the greatest sweet wines in Bordeaux.  If d`Yquem is the epitome of power and concentration, then Climens is the epitome of delicacy, finesse and complexity;  in a 2011 comparative review of the 2001 Bordeaux vintage,  Robinson rated Climens her top wine,  19,  ahead of d'Yquem.  Harding in Robinson,  2009:  Intense almond botrytis on the nose. Finely mineral and fresh and very very long. Deep, firm and sculpted and not too voluptuous, relatively closed. Stunning in its concentration and elegance and intense spice and purity on the finish,  19.5;  Parker,  2004:  A prodigious offering, the 2001 Climens’ light medium bold color with a greenish hue is followed by ethereal aromas of tropical fruits (primarily pineapple), honeysuckle, and flowers. It is a medium-bodied wine of monumental richness, extraordinary precision/delineation, great purity, and moderate sweetness. The finish seemingly lasts forever. This monumental effort is the stuff of legends. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2040+, 100;  www.chateau-climens.fr ]
Gold,  the third deepest wine.  I found this wine uncannily close in style to the Rieussec,  even though Climens is 100% semillon and Barsac,  against the Rieussec from Sauternes and with a little sauvignon.  It is a lighter wine,  but makes up for it with a floral note reminding of yellow honeysuckle and even black passionfruit,  plus great purity.  There is no hint of VA here.  Flavours marry golden queen peach with botrytis,  pale sultana cake,  and palest caramel.  There is less new oak apparent too.  A really golden sauternes,  beautiful acid balance,  wonderful long flavours,  but not among the richest.  Cellar 10 – 30 years.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Lafaurie-Peyraguey   19  ()
Sauternes / Bommes Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ 49mm cork;  Se 90%,  SB 8;  Mu 2;  average age of vines 40 years,  planted at 6,600 vines / ha,  average yield just over 2.5 t/ha = 1 t/ac;  barrel-fermented and 18 – 20 months small oak,  one third new;  average production around 6,500 cases per annum;  no longer owned by Cordier,  and hence its former reputation is now being restored;  BBR:  Lafaurie-Peyraguey is now unquestionably one of the top half-dozen estates in Sauternes;  Robinson,  2014:  From a great vintage for sweet white bordeaux, this was extremely sweet and rich. Seemed to have such density that a long life lies ahead, 18;  Parker,  2004:  This superb, light to medium gold/green-hued Sauternes is a full-bodied, opulent, enormously endowed, moderately sweet offering with plenty of pineapple, peach, caramel, and smoky new oak characteristics. With great viscosity as well as richness, and good underlying acidity providing vibrancy and definition, it should be at its peak between 2008-2030, 96;  www.chateau-lafaurie-peyraguey.com ]
Medium gold,  in the middle for depth.  Bouquet on this wine is much lighter than the Rieussec,   almost a lime marmalade freshness and lift,  very citrus,  yet with botrytis-y pale grading to light golden stonefruits too.  It is one of the purest ones,  like the d'Yquem.  In mouth the fruit / oak harmony is luscious,  with a clear glycerol slipperyness,  and less new oak apparent.   On the later palate,  the citrus comes back,  now almost like mixed peel.  This is both rich,  and has great elegance – a beautiful wine.  Cellar 10 – 30 years.  GK 07/14

2001   Ch La Tour Blanche   18 ½ +  ()
Sauternes / Bommes Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ 50mm cork;  Se 70%,  SB 20,  Mu 10;  average age of vines 26 years,  planted at 6,200 vines / ha;  average yield c.2.25 t/ha = just under 1 t/ac;  most of the Se barrel-fermented,  the SB fermented in s/s;  the assembled wine aged in new oak 18 – 24 months;  production average around 3,300 cases per annum;  in 1855 rated second to d'Yquem,  then  declined;  now home to the Ecole de Viticulture et Oenologie,  owned by the Ministry of Agriculture;  reputation now rising again;  BBR:  La Tour Blanche's wines are now amongst the richest, most powerful and most exotic being produced in Sauternes today. They have marvellous ageing potential;  Robinson,  2002:  Slightly green flavours; one can taste the Sauvignon Blanc component at this stage. Nutty. Interesting, but not the richest, 18 … and another Robinson note less, 17;  Parker,  2004:  La Tour Blanche’s spectacular 2001 boasts a light to medium gold color as well as a big, exotic nose of tropical fruits, honeysuckle, orange marmalade, and creme brulee. In the mouth, notions of peaches, lychees, and caramelized citrus give way to a weighty, full-bodied, concentrated yet incredibly precise and well-delineated sweet white. It is a tour de force in Sauternes! Anticipated maturity: 2009-2035. 97;  since these views bear little relation to each other,  here's a third:  Tanzer,  2004:  Pale yellow-gold. Reticent nose hints at caramel and vanilla. Fat and high-toned, with superripe, unctuous flavors of candied yellow fruits and honey. At once chewy and lively, and hiding more than it's showing today. Very strong finish features subtle spicy persistence. Offers terrific potential, but is it as well balanced as the young 2002, 92 +;  www.tour-blanche.com ]
Medium gold,  right in the middle for depth of colour.  From first sniff you could see the sauvignon blanc aromatic complexity in this wine,  with real yellow honeysuckle floral notes and great freshness.  Many thought it a Barsac,  therefore.  In mouth the flavours and balance are a delight,  just the right amount of new oak without noticing it,  almost a black passionfruit flavour creeping in,  honeyed,  botrytis-y,  fresh and beautiful.  This is less rich than some,  but beautiful and delicious.  Cellar 10 – 25 years.  Not a common wine in New Zealand,  only one of the 23 present had tasted it before.  Exciting.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Suduiraut   18 ½ +  ()
Sauternes / Preignac Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  14%;  $ –    [ 49mm cork;  Se 90%,  SB 10;  average age of vines 25 years,  planted at 7,000 vines / ha,  average yield 2.5 t/ha = 1 t/ac;  fermentation in s/s,  then 24 months in small oak 33% new ;  average production uncertain;  BBR:  … complex and beautifully harmonious … the wines show at their best with at least 10 years of bottle age.  Robinson,  2011: Certainly the 2001 Sauternes are stupendous and are just starting to be broachable. Suduiraut is wonderfully dependable. Very rich yet tangy with flavours of almonds and citrus zest. There's a lot going on here - real depth of flavour, 18;  Parker,  2004:  A prodigious effort, possibly the finest Suduiraut since 1959, the medium gold-colored 2001 offers notes of creme brulee, caramelized citrus, Grand Marnier, honeysuckle, and other exotic fruits as well as a pleasant touch of oak. With terrific acidity, a voluptuous/unctuous palate, and sweet, powerful flavors buttressed by crisp acidity, it is a phenomenal Sauternes. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2040, 98;  www.suduiraut.com ]
Lighter gold,  clearly below midway in depth of colour.  From the outset,  this wine too shows a little VA,  and a clean new oak component,  the latter (only) linking it with the d'Yquem.  As it opened up,  golden queen peaches and desiccated coconut thoughts arose,  and you forgot all about the VA.  But as soon as you put in your mouth,  the lovely fruit and cake thoughts on bouquet were roughened by the VA,  just a little bit,  perhaps because it is not quite as rich as the Rieussec,  perhaps because the percentage new oak seems slightly higher.  Even so,  the nett impression is rich and vibrant,  as the score indicates.  It was in the top three,  for the group on the night,  and should cellar well,  10 – 25 years.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Guiraud   18 ½  ()
Sauternes Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ 54mm cork;  Se 65%,  SB 35;  average age of vines 25 years,  planted at 6,600 vines / ha,  average yield just over 1.8 t/ha = 0.75 t/ac;  barrel-fermented and up to 30 months small oak,  sometimes all new;  average production 11,000 cases per annum:  New owners since 2006;  BBR:  Guiraud is a very ambitious property with aspirations to produce a wine that will one day rival d`Yquem. The wines are astonishingly rich, especially in light of the high proportion of Sauvignon Blanc in the blend, and are undoubtedly amongst the finest wines being produced in Sauternes today;  Robinson,  2011 (in her third tier,  with Coutet,  Doisy-Védrines,  Rayne Vigneau):  Darker than most. Very heady with lots of glucose richness. Heavy and satisfying with great weight. Some creme brulée element. Edgy. Well done but with a dangerous edge. Still quite chewy. One of the fatter 2001s. QGV,  17.5;  Parker,  2004:  A medium gold color is accompanied by notes of caramelized oranges, citrus, honeysuckle, creme brulee, and smoke. Full-bodied and opulent, with tremendous intensity, good acidity, and a persistent finish that lasts nearly a minute, this large-scaled, thick, heady Guiraud is one of the finest examples from this estate that I have ever tasted;  www.chateauguiraud.fr ]
Medium gold,  faintly above midway.  This was one of the very-together wines right from opening.  It smells of stonefruits,  orange marmalade and anzac biscuits,  pure and enticing.  In mouth there is not the body to go with the volume of bouquet,  yet the marmalade and now recognisable botrytis flavours continue,  and expand.  The aromatics make one think of sauvignon blanc,  which turns out to be correct.  There is a lovely hint of pale toffee too,  and a long flavour even though it isn't one of the richest wines.  It is quite a contrasting winestyle to the heavier de Malle,  but one ends up making them similarly.  Cellar 10 – 25 years.  GK 07/14

2001  de Malle   18 ½  ()
Sauternes / Preignac Deuxieme Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  14.5%;  $ –    [ 49mm cork;  Se 70%,  SB 27;  Mu 3;  average age of vines 35 years,  planted at 6,200 vines / ha,  average yield just over 3.1 t/ha = 1.25 t/ac;  barrel-fermented and 18-plus months small oak,  one third new;  average production around 4,000 cases;  BBR:  Since the mid 80s Ch de Malle has been producing wonderful wines which display considerable intensity as well as marvellous purity of fruit;  Robinson,  2002:  Rich, broad and very, very full. Relatively low in acidity and faintly raisiny, but no shortage of botrytis. Big build. Very rich and creamy,  17.5;  Parker,  2003:  A superb Sauternes, de Malle's moderately sweet 2001 displays a light gold color with some green tints. Honeyed citrus along with tropical fruit, peach, creme caramel, and smoked hazelnut aromas jump from the glass of this layered, full-bodied, gorgeously pure and well-delineated wine. Moderately sweet, with impressive acidity as well as depth, it will be drinkable between 2007-2020, 90 – 94;   www.chateau-de-malle.fr ]
Colour is tending to old gold,  clearly the deepest wine of the 12.  Freshly opened,  this one needed a breath of air.  It opened to a darker wine altogether,  pure,  mild,  the golden queen  peaches here in fact rather more dried peaches,  and the sweetness complexity notes grading to best malt toffee,  rather than lighter caramel.  Flavours continue this theme,  less new oak,  a more integrated and harmonious wine already,  thoughts of fruitcake with as many raisins as paler sultanas,  nearly glacé figs,  wonderfully smooth,  and one of the richer ones.  This is already well together,  but should cellar 10 – 20 years,  since it is so rich.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Rabaud-Promis   18 +  ()
Sauternes / Bommes Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ 49mm cork;  Se 80%,  SB 18;  Mu 2;  average age of vines 40 years,  planted at 6,600 vines / ha,  average yield just under 2.5 t/ha = 1 t/ac;  fermentation not specified,  15 months small oak,  33% new;  average production around 3,000 cases;  BBR:  [ imply ] a lapsed estate slowly improving;  Robinson:  no notes;  Tanzer:  no notes;  Parker,  2003:  This is a big, sweet, honeyed Sauternes with loads of fruit, but not a great deal of complexity. Light gold-colored and full-bodied, with plenty of pineapple, honeysuckle, and marmalade notes as well as a hint of caramel, there is a lot going on in this young but promising 2001. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2020. 90 – 92;  www.rabaud-promis.com ]
Colour is tending to old gold,  with the de Malle one of the two clearly darker wines.  This one smells a little darker even than the de Malle,  dried peaches more than golden queen,  a clear high-quality caramel note,  all quite rich and integrated but clearly more developed.  The palate is strange in a way,  though darker in one sense there is almost a lightness to the wine too.  Flavours include canned golden peaches,  anzac biscuits,  hazelnut suggestions,  golden-syrup and glycerol,  all really raisiny and finishing slightly tanniny.  This wine too is showing quite a measure of development.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Clos Haut-Peyraguey   18  ()
Sauternes / Bommes Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ 49mm cork;  Se 90%,  SB 10;  average age of vines 35 years,  planted at 6,600 vines / ha,  average yield just over 2.5 t/ha = 1 t/ac;  barrel-fermented in 50% new oak,  then up to 24 months small oak,  35% new;  average production 2,000 cases per annum;  Robinson:  not tasted;  Tanzer,  2003:  Pale gold. Exotic, high-toned nose dominated by peach and crushed rose. Supersweet and viscous but fresh, with very strong flavors of peach nectar and honey. Wonderfully rich, concentrated Sauternes with a seamless texture and terrific length.  Shows great sucrosity on the aftertaste,  90-93;  Parker,  2004:  A big time sleeper of the vintage, Clos Haut Peyraguey’s 2001 exhibits abundant amounts of Grand Marnier-like orange flavors intermixed with creme brulee, melted caramels, and hints of pineapples and apricots. Full-bodied, sweet, long, and well-defined, it should drink well for 15+ years, 92;  www.bernard-magrez.com/en/content/clos-haut-peyraguey ]
Medium gold,  well under midway.  This was another wine with light VA from the outset,  as well as oak apparent in golden fruits,  and suggestions of mealyness.  Flavours show the wonderful ripeness of the year,  but in a smaller wine and so seeming less in balance with the oak.  That  may simply be because the VA accentuates the oak.  There are lingering suggestion of fine pale caramel and pineapple,  finishing on oak as much as nearly luscious fruit and botrytis complexity.  This may not  cellar quite so harmoniously,  for 5 – 15 years or so.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Coutet   17 ½  ()
Barsac Premier Cru,  Bordeaux,,  France:  17.5%;  $ –    [ 50mm cork;  Se 75%,  SB 23,  Mu 2;  average age of vines 35 years,  planted at 5,600 vines / ha;  average yield c.1.8 t/ha = 0.75 t/ac;  the wine is barrel-fermented,  percentage new oak not clear,  and aged in small oak for 16 – 18 months,  production average round 3,500 cases per annum:  In 2011 Robinson rated the 2001 17.5,  but it doesn't sound the greatest bottle,  so her thoughts on the infantile wine are:  Robinson,  2002:  Great richness on the nose and mid-weight on the palate. Lively ripe pears and apples flavours and good botrytis character,  18.5;  Parker,  2004:  A brilliant combination of power and finesse characterizes this light green/gold-colored Barsac. It possesses moderate sweetness, terrific aromatics, and a full-bodied, rich, beautifully delineated, ethereal palate revealing delicacy as well as acidity. Although young, it is already strutting its stuff. Consume it over the next 15-25 years,  93;  www.chateaucoutet.com ]
Medium gold,  below midway.  Bouquet is distinctive on this wine,  a lot of lemon marmalade,  and a hint of an essential oil which one taster likened to fennel or caraway,  all seeming fresh and  appealing.  In mouth it is equally delightful,  but it seemed an entire size smaller against most of the wines in the field.  Being a Barsac,  and having plenty of sauvignon,  Coutet is often on the lighter and prettier side,  but on this occasion it seemed a little disadvantaged by petiteness.  What is there is attractive,  however.  For the group,  one of the two lesser wines.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 07/14

2001  Ch Doisy Daene   17 +  ()
Barsac Deuxieme Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  13%;  $ –    [ 48mm cork;  Se 80,  SB 20;  average age of vines 35 years,  planted at 7,100 vines / ha,  average yield just over 2.5 t/ha = 1 t/ac;  barrel-fermented and 18 – 24 months in small wood,  one third new;  average production 3,150 cases: Doisy Daene has come up through the ranks since the 1855 classification,  and is now regarded as top-flight;  BBR:  now owned by oenologist Denis Dubourdieu;  Doisy-Daene produces quintessential Barsacs with the emphasis on finesse, poise and elegance, rather than power and force;  In the 2011 tasting of 10 sauternes, Robinson rated Doisy Daene in the second group,  the same as d'Yquem and de Fargues;  Robinson,  2011:  Pale orangey gold. Seductive broad orangey freshness. Long and tangy and positive, great value! Long. Very engaging and spicy, even if it’s not as massive and sweet as some. So complete. VGV,  18;  Parker,  2004:  A light medium gold color and closed aromatics are found in the extravagantly rich, unctuous 2001. With terrific acidity, abundant botrytis, and a long, full-throttle finish, this spectacular effort will drink well between 2007-2020. It is unquestionably one of the finest Doisy Daenes I have ever tasted,  94;  www.denisdubourdieu.fr ]
Medium gold,  below midway.  At initial opening,  this wine smelt quite differently to the others,  a trace of congestion which some tasters attributed to sulphur.  With air the wine opened up to honeyed golden peach fruit of medium weight,  and quite a lot of oak but the oak not as fresh as some.  There is still the power of the year,  but the wine (or this bottle) is not singing.  The company it is being assessed in is relevant.  On its own one would be pretty happy with it,  with  its peach and anzac biscuit finish,  ending a little dry.  One of the two least wines in the tasting.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 07/14