Head of Fine Wine, Will Hargrove had a stellar night at the St Pancras Renaissance hotel recently. Here are the wines he tasted with a select group of lucky enthusiasts. Sound like your kind of thing? Sign up to our newsletter to be first in the know. This blog first appeared on Duvault Blochet.
“Wine is not for sharing”
The above is a quote from Edouard Moueix and those that know him will know it is very much “tongue in cheek”, he was referring the fact that often the very end of a bottle in the kitchen late at night or the next morning when your guests have gone is the most delicious, and that glass is only for you…Quite the opposite of the sharing idea!
A few months back we (Corney & Barrow) were looking at which of the Moueix estates to focus on, to me it was a matter of going for two very special ones that compliment each other well – Latour a Pomerol and Trotanoy.
The format for this evening was a Masterclass and then dinner, both at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. The wines for the Masterclass were all served straight from the bottle and the dinner wines were double decanted gently late in the afternoon. Edward gave a good insight into both properties. I will not repeat these – I strongly recommend that people read the profile chapters on each in Neal Martins book “Pomerol”. One point of particular interest was that when asking if anyone had questions Edouard said “the blend, which is the most asked question, is Merlot with more Merlot”. In fact both properties are planted with 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, he was not trying to be awkward – merely pointing out that a blend is so much more that just grape varieties; different parcels, differently aged vines, different picking times, different clones and many other factors go into it”.
Latour à Pomerol 2009 – Succulent richness, soft yet deep, nothing over the top or overblown at all, mouthwatering and persistent. The fruit is both red and black on the nose with a redder side to the finish. Juicy but contained and good. This has all the positive (and there are many) aspects of 2009 with none of the bruised or overipe elements that there can be. Delicious. 18-18+
Latour à Pomerol 2010 – Edouard commented on the 2010’s when talking about them and the 2009’s that “everytime you open a 2010 you see something else”. This was really superb. Initially more muted on the nose, needing more coaxing and swilling. A cool nose with a power packed palate, tannin and acidity in abundance but so balanced. Ever so slightly saline to compliment the fresh intensity. A shade darker in fruit character than the 2009. Special. 18.5
Latour à Pomerol 2011 – A trickier vintage and only the 2009 and 2010 to follow on from! If wines could get nervous then this one should have been! Leaner and a little leafier on the nose, a little more standoffish. Then the palate has both more depth and a greater sense of properness, this wine has some grip and would love to be drunk with food. 16.5-17.25
Latour à Pomerol 2012 – It is quite a while since I had tasted or drunk this wine. I would say it was one of the big discoveries of the night for me and something I plan to add to the cellar pronto. The nose had a lushness but this was kept in check by a cool freshness, possibly that is a contardiction that just means it was balanced. It did not seem showey, just nicely complete. The palate in contrast was an explosion of lovely rounded open freshness and red fruits, really delightful. I asked Edouard, hoping he’d say “no not really” if the wine would shut down and he said “they all close down but for varying times”. 17.5-18
And so we moved to the same four vintages of Trotanoy. Edouard made one general observation on Trotanoy and that was that the wines can be “quite a ball” in youth, tight and sometimes hard to access. I found this the case, to a degree, with the stellar 2010.
Trotanoy 2009 – Bold, serious, delicious, more depth, darker fruits with flashes of red. Succlent without over doing it. The acidity it good but the over-riding impression is of generosity and depth. 18-18.5 (+)
Trotanoy 2010 – Big fruit, if muted, great acidity (can acidity be ripe?) bold but defined and perfectly ripe tannins. Other than the amount of time you will need to wait to see this at its best there is nothing not to like here. Boldly classy, like a novic chaser that you know will go on to compete in the Gold Cup one day…am I overdoing it? Possibly, but I really don’t think so. 19
Trotanoy 2011 – More closed on the nose then a little cherry as well as black fruit in a compote style. More red fruited on the palate and quite viscous. Almost like there has had to be a lot of selection. 17
Trotanoy 2012 – Saline, classical Trotanoy nose as my mind’s eye sees it. Then on the palate wave upon wave of fresh fruited intensity, long on the finish but so fresh and moreish. When it comes to scoring this wine, it really highlights the silliness of doing so because in a many ways I feel it is as good as the 2010 just entirely different but then to give it the same score doesn’t seem correct, anyway I’ll sort of dodge the issue and go for 18.5(+).
I really enjoyed the tasting – 2009 and 2010 is a debate that will go on for decades but the 2012’s are wines not to overlook and the 2011’s will gve pleasure while one “tries” to be patient with the others. Being able to chop and change amongst the 8 glasses was brilliant.
We then had a brief interlude and short talk from a historian who spoke about the background to the hotel whilst we drank some Wiston Blanc de Blancs 2010 from Sussex, and rather splendid it was too.
We were then seated for a dinner of:
Roast quail, warm spring pea salad and game consommé
Oven-Roasted Cornish Beef Fillet, 5 hour braised beef cheek, wild mushrooms, soft mash
Blue monday and Cornish yarg cheeses
The first two wines served, in drinking rather than tasting measures(!) were Latour à Pomerol 1990 and 1998. I found the 1990 to be so elegant, right in the drinking zone now, sure it’ll go on but you have everything where you want it now.The fruit was relaxed and balanced by the ripe tannins, there was just a shade of the soy arriving, a wine to just drink and enjoy. The 1998, in many ways still an insider’s vintage on the right bank – Merlot worked, Cabernet largely didn’t – was more primary, a wine moving into third gear, poised and whilst open it is still coiled quite tight, this will be luscious very soon I think.
With the beef it was time for the Trotanoy pair of 1989 and 2000. My note for the 1989, and notes were getting more basic by now, starts “wow, sexy and seductive”, this had such vibrant energy and hightoned fruit, some tar and sweetness, a lovely degraded extrovert character. This is a purely hedonistic wine that picks you up and demands you enjoy it, sweet and succulent. The 2000 is, accounting for the age difference, always going to be a more savoury, mineral and, arguably serious, wine. This has darker cooler fruit and is possibly a more clasical Trotanoy, either way a lovely pair and a real treat.
There was one more wine – Corney & Barrow Sauternes 2010 – served from halves. It’s from a rather top-end address but little more than that can be said!!
When you expect a lot – and I do from these two great Properties – you can often be left a little flat. Not a chance here!