Last Sunday, Richard and I were invited to taste a fourth growth claret from St Julien in the Medoc. The host, a good friend of mine, wanted to serve it at a wedding and was anxious to know its condition as well as the decanting period. A demanding job for a Sunday afternoon – but someone’s got to do it!
2003 was a ‘year of extremes’ according to Stephen Brooke in The Complete Bordeaux. He specifically mentions hail and excessive heat which challenged the growers and the resultant wines seem forward need drinking earlier than would normally be the case. That’s what the expert says. Would this be the case for the wedding wine?
Yes, was the answer. A brown rimmed, medium intensity red, the wine took some time to open up and even then stayed rather reticent. There was no doubting the quality and sophistication of the wine in its smoothness but this wine reflected its vintage – certainly not one of fruit. It reminded me of very mature cherry or even unripe fig whilst my two fellow tasters proclaimed blackberry. The fruit was difficult to identify because of its shyness. It was long and dry on the finish. It was lovely to have the opportunity to taste a well known Bordeaux wine. Thanks.
For the record, the blend was CS 66%, Merlot 26%, Petit Verdot 5% with C Franc at 3%. Its ABV was 13%
[Richard: I have a memory – nothing more – of buying some Ch. Talbot en primeur in the late 1970. Then, as now, a reliable middle of the road claret with some class. Consequently I enjoyed tasting this wine, especially once it had opened out and typical claret aromas became evident. Definitely needs decanting and then, being rich and savoury it will be a perfect match for roast beef, which I think was the wedding meal.]