Friday, December 28, 2007

Mini Vertical #5: 1999 vs. 2001 Chateau Carbonnieux

I couldn't do a series of mini-verticals without stepping into Bordeaux. Tonight's two Bordeaux come from the unheralded 1999 and 2001 vintages, sandwiching yet another one of the "vintages of the century" - I can't fault the Bordelais for trying, but as one of their primary customers I find it all a bit annoying.

Anyway, I was curious about these two "inferior vintages" of a wine that my tasting group seriously enjoyed a few years ago. Carbonnieux is based in Pessac-Leognan, and is unusual in that it produces nearly equal amounts of red and white wine. For red grapes the vineyard is planted 60% Cabernet and 30% Merlot, with the balance being Cab Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere.

The 1999 Chateau Carbonnieux was cherry red, with some bricking at the edge. Vegetal and roses at first, some blackcurrant, prunes, blackberry, musk, leather, black pepper and gravelley wet stones, medicinal as well. On the palate it was a classic Bordeaux - very dry, crisp and spicy. Light to medium bodied, with powerful tannins and ample acidity that seemed a awkward, but developing improved elegance with more air time. I recommend drinking now, or over the next few years. Note this tasted nothing like my notes from 2005.
cork. 12.5% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$65 (SAQ)

The 2001 Chateau Carbonnieux was cherry red, with a caramel nose at first, but shifting quite dramatically to vegetal, then mushrooms, truffles, and black earth, roses and crisp berries. Very nice. On the palate were dry, firm tannins and good acidity, very powerful and rough around the edges at first, but developing and improving over the evening at a rapid rate. Despite the awkwardness this was a much more complex and interesting wine that I believe needs more time to develop - stick it away for another five years.
cork. 12.5% alcohol
Score: 17.5/20
Price: C$66 (SAQ)

A few observations: (1) Despite both being awkard, I felt the 2001 has potential and should develop nicely, while the 1999 does not appear to have that potential (2) Another major split between RP and WS tonight - the '01 was an 89 for Bob, but Suckling gave it a 79 - that's a very big gap (3) The prices on these were way too high - bad QPR.

Those following my Mini Verticals will notice that I have not made any comments on the actual vintages I am tasting. I have done that purposely - tasting first, reviewing the vintage commentary afterwards to compare to my notes. I will review this series in greater detail soon.


Estelle said...

From your 2005 report I understand that the 1999 Carbonnieux at age 5 showed much fruit. Now it still needs aeration time to "develop improved elegance". Therefore I concur with you that the wine could age. If somebody would open a bottle soon then she should give the wine air time.

Joe said...

Hi Estelle - yes, it has changed and should age, I am just not sure how much poise it will regain. Definitely needs air time today.