Bordeaux 07 – A Tale of two Rothschilds
Author: Berry Bros. & Rudd
Today saw us visit two of the behemoths of Pauillac: Ch. Mouton-Rothschild and Ch. Lafite-Rothschild. Originating from the traditional French (Lafite) and flamboyant English (Mouton) branches of the Rothschild family, there has always been a bit of needle between these two great First Growths.
The 2006 vintage was the first year in a very long time that we had preferred Mouton over Lafite. The question was whether this was a temporary blip or a sea-change in the pecking order of the First Growths.
We visited them one after another today, with Ch. Lafite first up. In line with what we had seen at other châteaux, the quality of the second wine, Carruades de Lafite, was disappointing. It did possess a glimpse of that glorious silky, Lafite texture, but it was lightweight and lacked density.
The Grand Vin, Ch. Lafite was very good indeed, but it didn’t bowl us over. The quality bar for the First Growths is incredibly high these days – and rightly so given the prices they charge – and within that frame of reference, the Lafite lacked the concentration and multi-layered complexity that marks out great vintages of this wine. Its unmistakable aethereal fruit and beguiling, lacy texture was straight out of the Lafite copybook – and if this is the main thing you look for then you will love this – but the greedy souls that we are, we just wanted more. We gave it 17/20.
Mouton Rothschild has undergone a velvet revolution in the last few years, and is so much better for it. Managing Director Hervé Berland (left) has orchestrated the renaissance with administrator Philippe Dalhuin (formerly of Branaire Ducru). However, it is nice to see that Mouton has lost none of its idiosyncratic glamour – where else would you be transported by golf carts 150 yards from the reception area to the tasting room?
With the exception of Le Petit Mouton, which continued the trend of unimpressive second wines, the Mouton stable was excellent. They were just so much riper and generous than most other wines we had tasted. D’Armailhac (16/20) was voluptuous and seductive, Clerc Milon (16.5/20) more structured and serious, and Mouton itself was the first wine to really hit the spot this week. It was sensual yet brooding, flamboyant yet elegant. It had all the concentration you could ask for along with firm yet supple tannins and a long creamy cassis finish. We decided it would be churlish to give it less than 18/20.
Who knows what will happen in 2008, but at this stage, as far as the 2007 instalment of the Rothschild rivalry goes, Mouton definitely wins the day.
At Berrys we pride ourselves on pushing back the boundaries of technology wherever we can, so we are delighted to trial a new piece of internet software with this blog. Using the process of techno-osmology you can now taste the wines for yourself by licking the wine names on your screen. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work at first. It often takes several licks for your screen to release the flavours. We’ll try to work on the aromas too for next year.
And if you can’t wait that long…don’t forget to listen to Our First Bordeaux 2007 Podcask which looks at the vintage from a Hong Kong perspective.
Nick Pegna, MD at BB&R in Hong Kong and Jeannie Cho Lee, head of the The Fine Wine School in Hong Kong give their thoughts on the vintage.