Monday, February 17, 2020

Châteaux Clerc Milon and d'Armailhac Pauillacs

Duo of Château Clerc Milon and Château d'Armailhac Pauillacs for grilled tenderloin dinner

Hosting colleague Jeff from Seattle, Linda prepared grilled beef tenderloin with baked potatoes, fried mushrooms and onions. Touring our wine cellar, Jeff requested Bordeaux to accompany our dinner so I pulled two Pauillacs, Clerc Milon and d'Armailhac adjacent and affiliated properties from two disparate vintages for the occasion.

We toured the region during our Bordeaux Medoc Wine Experience 2019 last summer and drove around the Paulliac appellation to see the Baron Philippe de Rothschild properties, Mouton Rothschild, Clerc Milon and d'Armailhac.

Château Clerc Milon Cinquieme Grand Cru Classe (5me cru classé ~ Fifth Growth) Pauillac Bordeaux 1989

At three decades, this was showing its age in the color and opacity as it was starting to take on a slight grayish hue. The foil and label were pristine and the fill level was ideal. The cork however turned out to be partially saturated and loose providing a challenge to extract. I was able to successfully do so using an Ahso two pronged cork puller. Had one applied a traditional cork screw, it would have most assuredly pushed the cork into the bottle. Even inserting the Ahso did so and it took considerable effort and multiple attempts to insert the prongs. Extracting the cork also took considerable effort as it crumbled apart as it was coming out.

Time to drink as this is past its prime and starting to wane. 

The 1989 vintage was a great year with a warm spring and early flowering followed by heat throughout the summer, leading to Clerc-Milon's earliest harvest of the twentieth century to that point.

The resulting Clerc-Milon was on par with the premier first growth flagship Mouton-Rothschild and even preferred by Robert Parker for the first time in his many years as a critic resulting a great value in comparison

The 1989 Clerc-Milon is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.

This vintage Clerc Milon was rated 93 points by Wine Spectator, 91-93 points by Neal Martin's Wine Journal and 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Garnet colored with a slight gray hue, medium-full bodied, earthy nose, dense, concentrated ripe black plum and currant fruits with forest floor, leather, hints of smoke with smooth supple full round tannins on the long full finish.

RM 90 points.

Château d'Armailhac Cinquieme Grand Cru Classe (5me cru classé ~ Fifth Growth) Pauillac Bordeaux 2016

From the same ownership, Château d'Armailhac is another label in the family of brands of Baron Philippe de Rothschild 2016 sourced from near contiguous properties just outside the village of Pauillac in the northern Medoc.

The 2016 is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. 

This release got 95 points from James Suckling, 94 points from Jeb Dunnuck, 93 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Vinous and Decanter and 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. 

Vinous says "This fulfills all my expectations and is quite simply one of the best d’Armailhac wines ever made."

Dark, deep bright garnet purple colored, medium full-bodied, firm, structured and concentrated bright floral, vibrant fruits of blackberry and plums  with tones of violets, graphite, cassis, tea, earthy cedar and earthy notes of herbal nuances with firm, gripping tannins on a long earthy finish. Needs some time to integrate and settle.

RM 91 points.