Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ch. Branaire-Ducru and Ch. Lagrange 2003

I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a hefty stash of 2003 Bordeaux half bottles at the local wine shop, so we'll be offering some notes on them for the next few days. According to most authorities, 2003 promises to be one of Bordeaux's better vintages (although it seems like they are saying this more and more lately). The weather in France was incredibly hot, so most of the wines are ripe and well-extracted.

Both of these wines come from the St. Julien appelation on Bordeaux's left bank. This means that they are composed of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with additions of Merlot, Cabernet France, and possibly Malbec and Petit Verdot. The Branaire-Ducru was exuberant and fleshy, with a smoky, toasty nose and a round mouthfeel. The tannins are firm, but reasonably well integrated with the fruit and acid. I found it a bit overdone at this stage in its life, but I suspect that the oak will mellow nicely, producing a rich, complex wine in a decade or so.

Chateau Lagrange is an up-and-coming estate, whose 2000 wine was very well received in the wine press. It too had a smoky aroma that I found a bit sweeter and baconier than the Branaire. The heat from the vintage shows in the significantly alcoholic aroma that detracts from the wine's overall impression. We both found it more fruity than the Branaire but offering less character, complexity, and substance.

Look forward to notes on the Smith Haut Lafitte, Duhart-Milon, and others in the next few days.

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