Drunk on Saturday, these two from Bordeaux actually show up the conundrum when scoring wine. Do you allocate a score based on how a wines drinking right now, or do you include potential?
I have always stuck to the former and let the addition of a ‘+’ or so on the end indicate the potential for the score to increase over time. However, this got me thinking – is the ‘+’ really doing the wine justice? Or am I just giving it a seal of cellaring surety? A ‘+’ could mean just about anything in truth…
I’ve always believed that great wines are great from the word go, but not everything follows that rule. Pinot maybe, Riesling sure, but Cabernet? Probably not and definitely not in the case of the second wine below.
Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2005
Its sad to say, but I have never had a ‘good’ white Bordeaux. Looking at the prices of the better examples I can’t say that will be changing in a hurry either. I am however a massive fan of the style (Cape Mentelle’s Wallcliffe SBS, for example, is a wine I consistently enjoy) so its something to look forward to experiencing.
This wine however is nothing to get excited about. Quite rich and cheesy, with lemon, custard and cheddar on the nose & surprisingly obvious oak sitting on top of the fruit. Its doesn’t taste like new oak as such, but it still sticks out. The palate is quite lean, dry and refreshing but that cheesiness just becomes annoying after a while. 16.5
Chateau Brane Cantenac Rouge 2005
At the $150 asking price this is actually pretty fair value, particularly given the structure and style on offer here. Bay leaf, a hint of old cupboard, cedar and a smidgen of sappy red fruit on the nose which leads to a dense, dry and deeply tannic palate with the flavours largely wrapped in the back end. The whole wine does feel quite vibrant however, the tannins of the long, fruit derived variety.
Impressively structured and very tight it feels like a long term wine, but at present it gives very little away – not one skerrick of immediacy here, the potential largely hidden. The net result is that its not much of a drink at the moment and unless you are familiar with the style and how it will change in the bottle, I think very few would enjoy it (I’m not familiar with the wine either. I’m lucky to have tried a few similar wines both young and old, otherwise I’d probably struggle to understand it and write the wine off all together).
So, in conclusion, I think this is a top wine to buy and stick away for a decade, but there is no love yet. The score then is a middle ground – two ambiguous ‘+’s on the end to signal serious potential, and a good (but not great) score to indicate the current state of affairs.17.5++