I was lucky enough to be invited to the Wine Spectator Grand Tour by Château Brane-Cantenac (more on that later). At the end of the evening there were a few bottles left. Corinne graciously allowed me to take them, with the understanding that I would share them with the wine club.
While the 2009 vintage is phenomenal, the truth is Brane-Cantenac has a long history of producing great vintages and I thought sampling those vintages would make for a more fun evening.
In addition to the 2009 vintage we also poured the 2008, 2005, 1995 and 1982 vintages.
The 2009 vintage continues to impress. For Americans who are used to big Napa Cabernets this wine actually drinks well right now, but it has a complexity that Napa Cabernets usually lack which will serve those who age it well.
The 2008 vintage is elegant and, to me, quintessential Margaux. It combines dark floral aromas with black fruit and well-structured but subtle tannins to make a wine that you can drink now, but that will really shine in 4-5 years.
The 2005 vintage was the one that worried me the most. Undoubtedly, 2005 is a great year but there have been reports of 2005 being in a dormant state recently. That was not the case at all. Luscious blackberry, plum and dark cherry fruits combined with Indian spices flowed from the bottle and overwhelmed the palate, filling the mouth with flavor and blending with the powerful tannins. The 2005 vintage is just starting to hit its stride, I cannot wait to see where it goes.
The 1995 vintage was the only disappointment of the evening. Clearly, the wine had not been properly aged and while it was not vinegar, it had a musty taste that turned everyone off.
The 1982 vintage is not as reliably great as it was a few years ago. Now that the wine is pushing 30, there are still some great bottles out there, but not as many. I was concerned when I removed the foil and there was some evidence of seepage, but my concerns were unfounded. The 1982 vintage was almost all fruit, with very soft tannins that still provided structure. Notes of blackberry, cassis, and violet on the nose and beautiful red cherry, pepper, dark fruit in the mouth. Still beautiful and elegant, but without the same power of a few years ago. It was also an excellent match for the dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses with which we ended the tasting.
It turned out to be a great evening and a lot of fun, many thanks to Corinne for the wine and the inspiration!