A Glimpse at the Bordeaux 2005s

A Glimpse at the Bordeaux 2005s

Four hundred and fifty people jammed a Four Seasons Hotel ballroom Wednesday night (January 22) for a rare home-turf tasting of the famed Bordeaux 2005 vintage. Over 100 wines were poured by 75 châteaux from the Union des Grands Cru de Bordeaux, a trade organization currently on a North American tour to sell what many are calling an excellent and classic vintage.

Previous great years like 2003 and 2000 have been tinged with controversy because they were exceptionally hot, altering the style of Bordeaux. The 2005s, however, are amply ripe and almost perfectly structured. Many are too firm and closed to drink now but they are beautifully proportioned and concentrated for long cellaring.

The wines are not yet on store shelves, but rather are being offered by the LCBO’s Vintages division as Futures, a campaign which ends February 8. You pay 50% now, 50% when the wines arrive later this year.

Make sure your pocket book is topped up. Prices are sky-high for this vintage, especially for the best-known wines. There is a growing price gap between the big names and lesser-known properties within the Grand Cru Classé group. Many of the top names—1er Grand Crus from St. Emilion and Pomerol, as well as deuxième crus from the Medoc—have cracked the $300 mark, while other classified properties remain more comfortably under $100. There is credibility gap too, as many of the triple-digit wines are not doubly or triply good. There are still some fairly priced wines to be found.

I wish I could provide a complete list and thorough review of all the wines to assist in your purchasing decision. But the LCBO only provided the media and restaurateurs two hours to assess over 100 wines. These are wines that merit careful assessment due to their price and complexity; such a small window for the local media is a high-handed disservice to the tens of thousands of readers who are looking for guidance from critics they have come to know, and to the producers who have spent so much to bring their wines and themselves to this market.

I was able to taste 47 wines—that’s less than half and I completely missed the white Pessacs and Sauternes. Here are best quality wines that I encountered, and the best values, with an approximate score range and very brief description. Given the tasting circumstances I don’t think its fair to attempt more detailed descriptions and more precise ratings.

Twelve Best WinesChâteaux Lynch-Bages ($215; 95 to 97 points; complete, tidy)Châteaux Troplong Mondot ($329; 95 to 97; exotic, lush)Châteaux Figeac ($173; 94 to 96; seamless, woodsy)Châteaux Pichon-Baron ($197; 94 to 96; amazing grace)Châteaux L’Angelus ($391; 94 to 96 points; massive)Châteaux La Lagune ($109; 93 to 95; vibrant, great length)Châteaux Canon ($133; 93 to 95; fragrant, fine herbs)Châteaux Leoville-Poyferre ($199; 93 to 95; dense, powerful)Châteaux Beausejour-Becot ($114; 92 to 94; svelte elegance)Châteaux Langoa Baron ($113; 92 to 94; gentle, complex)Châteaux La Conseillante ($309; 92 to 94; plush, fine)Châteaux Leoville Barton ($309; 92 to 94; ripe, open-knit)

Twelve Best ValuesChâteaux Beaumont ($19; 87 to 89 points; complex, short)Châteaux Clarke ($32; 90 to 92; harmonious, earthy)Châteaux Camensac ($36; 89 to 91; plush, cedary)Châteaux Grand Puy Ducasse ($46; 89 to 91; rustic, powerful)Châteaux Poujeaux ($47; 90 to 92; lifted, firm)Châteaux Dufort-Vivens ($54; 90 to 92; ripe, plush)Châteaux Dassault ($54; 89 to 91; very ripe, firm)Châteaux Chasse-Spleen ($61; 90 to 92; firm, elegant)Châteaux Phelan-Segur ($70; 91 to 93; charming, present)Châteaux Talbot ($71; 90 to 92; supple, woodsy)Châteaux La Dominique ($73; 91 to 93; great fruit)Châteaux Lagrange ($96; 91 to 93; taut, structured)