Comparison tasting of 2004 'horizontal' - wines from the same vintage - Bordeaux and Silver Oak Alexander Valley reveals a study in terroir, styles and aging profiles. Wines tasted are below, shown in tasting order based on anticipated weight and complexity which proved to be appropriate:
- Chateau Giscours Grand Cru Classe Marqaux 2004
- Chateau Leoville Barton St Julien 2004
- Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac 2004
- d'Armailhac Grand cru Classe Pauillac 2004
- Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
The Giscours, Leoville Barton, and Silver Oak were poured from magnums and decanted three to fours hours earlier.
The highlights of the evening for me were the Leoville Barton and the Silver Oak which were both bright, complex, smooth, polished and flavorful indicating peak readiness to drink in their seventh year despite very different styles and tasting profiles. Not surprising, contrasting the Leoville Barton was the Clerc Milon which while balanced and full was still a bit closed and tight revealing a longer aging profile needing more time to open and fully reveal itself. The Giscours was next in my rankings followed by the d'Armailhac.
Chateau Leoville Barton Cru Classe St Julien Bordeaux 2004
Consistent producer of high quality good value ageworthy Bordeaux.
RM 91 points.
Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Surprisingly complex but refined and polished with layers of black berry fruits accented by cola, almond, nutmeg, sweet soft oak with layers of spice and vanilla on a long aromatic silky tannnin finish.
RM 90 points.
Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac 2004
Second label of revered first growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Complex, firm with rather subdued black fruit flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black currant with hint of cassis, touch of leather and earth. Still a bit closed suggesting need for more time to open and reveal itself.
RM 89 points.
Chateau Giscours Grand Cru Classe Marqaux 2004
Medium-full bodied, complex, dark berry and black cherry fruits with tone of slightly tart cherry and hint of raspberry, cassis, spice, tones of leather and pencil lead on the medium finish.
RM 88 points.
d'Armailhac Grand Cru Classe Pauillac 2004
Third label of esteemed Chateau Mouton Rothschild, behind second label Clerc Milon. Medium-full bodied, less complex and lacking the polish and integration of the others, a bit flabby but forward black berry and black cherry fruit flavors with a layer of mocha, cedar, and hint of camphor on a slightly firm spicy and acidic finish.
RM 87 points.
Tasted with medley of artisan cheeses and over dinner of mixed green salad, beef tenderloin, twice baked potatoes and green beans. Dinner hosted at Bill and Beth C's with Dan & Linda, Bob & Gloria, and L. Chocolate cake and berries to finish commemorating my birthday!
Terroir - from Wikipedia - Terroir comes from the word terre "land". It was originally a French term used to denote the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestowed upon particular varieties. Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as "a sense of place," which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product. Terroir is often italicized in English writing to show that it is a French loanword. The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe. At its core is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that region.