Lafleur bottle line up

Enigma Variations: Lafleur 1955-2015

featured, France: Bordeaux

Neal Martin, Nov 2018

Lafleur is a property that I have researched and written about extensively over the years. And yet something enigmatic remains about this Pomerol château. This article lifts the lid on its history, the vineyard, its winemaker, and the Robin and Guinaudeau families, charting the progress of its wines over several decades courtesy of two extraordinary verticals and some spellbinding wines.

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Cellar Favorite: 1956 Château Léoville Barton

France: Bordeaux, cellar favorite

Neal Martin, Oct 2018

I have a soft spot for off-vintage Claret – the more “off,” the better. There must be a masochistic side to my personality that draws me inexorably toward vintages that should come with a government health warning. They don’t come riskier than the annus horribilis 1956, when Bordeaux infamously turned into the Arctic for a prolonged spell in February and vast swaths of vines perished in a mass execution by frost.

Cru bourgeois 2018 room

Where Value Lies: First Look At 2016 Bordeaux

featured, France: Bordeaux

Neal Martin, Oct 2018

Given the price of its elite, it seems absurd to claim that Bordeaux is one of the best value regions in the world. But it is true. In my first look at the 2016s in bottle, I examine what I call the “real Bordeaux”. Away from the glitz and glamour lies an ocean of Cru Bourgeois and Bordeaux Supérieur that can offer quality at exceptional value. All you need to know is what to look for.

Henri jayer cros parantoux 1987 copy

Cellar Favorite: Domaine Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée Cros-Parantoux 1er Cru

Cellar Favorites, France: Bordeaux, cellar favorite

Neal Martin, Oct 2018

It is now almost impossible to separate myth from reality with respect to Henri Jayer. It has almost become an existential domaine, as if Jayer never made mortal fermented grape juice. Prices are irrational, and yet the wealthiest wave blank chequebooks in the air at auction, feverish demand fuelled by the fact that fewer and fewer bottles will come onto market as time goes by. Domaine Henri Jayer is rarely seen. It is even more rarely consumed.

Hero image cos d estournel

Fairest of Them All: Cos d’Estournel 1928 – 2015

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Bordeaux

Neal Martin, Oct 2018

Cos d’Estournel is without doubt one of the most eye-catching châteaux in Bordeaux. It stops passers-by in their tracks and, likewise, so can its wine. This extraordinary vertical tasting spans ten decades and covers the entire history of the property from its origins to the present day. After reading, you may be compelled to pay a visit to the gentleman seated under the tree.

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Sharing Alike: Petrus 1947 - 2015

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Bordeaux

Neal Martin, Sep 2018

News that the family of Jean-François and Jean Moueix sold 20% of Petrus to Colombian-born billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo sent shockwaves across the world. I know what Alejandro Santo Domingo is thinking. He is thinking: “I’ve splashed out millions on a minority share in Petrus. I wish an experienced wine critic would provide me with tasting notes of multiple back vintages.” Well, let me be of service.

Chateau darche 1906

Cellar Favorite: 1906 Château d’Arche Crème de Tête

Cellar Favorites, France: Bordeaux, cellar favorite

Neal Martin, Aug 2018

It seems difficult to believe now given the current state of the market, but Sauternes was the most sought-after and most expensive Bordeaux at the turn of the 20th century. This Cellar Favorite hails from that era, testament to the greatness and unerring longevity of Sauternes...and it does not have to begin with the 25th letter of the alphabet.

Haut condissas jean guyon nmwantsthisascover

Aiming High: Haut-Condissas 1997–2015

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Bordeaux

Neal Martin, Aug 2018

I rarely travel to the far northern reaches of the Médoc. Beyond Calon-Ségur, the Médoc is a mystery...like Narnia...or north Essex. However, when Jean Guyon invited me for a complete vertical of Haut-Condissas back to 1997, I was intrigued to discover whether or not it fulfills its lofty ambitions.

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The Marital Margaux: d’Issan 1945-2015

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Bordeaux

Neal Martin, Jul 2018

Château d’Issan is one of the most ancient estates in Bordeaux, and traces its history all the way back to the 12th century. D’Issan, at the time known as La Mothe-Cantenac, hosted the nuptials of the future King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152. Amazingly, some 866 years later, visitors can still tour the château and imbibe the wine that Henry and Eleanor purportedly drank on their wedding day. This article focuses on a comprehensive vertical that I undertook with co-owner Emmanuel Cruse that spanned the entire postwar period.

Deuxieme vin margaux 1900

Cellar Favorite: 1900 Château Margaux Deuxième Vin

Cellar Favorites, France: Bordeaux, cellar favorite

Neal Martin, Jul 2018

The wine was astonishing in so many ways, not least, in prosaic terms, how damn delicious it remains. Tasting it blind, nobody had any inkling of its age until the bottle was revealed with its slightly torn Pillet-Will label, owners at the time. My mind began imagining what the Grand Vin must taste like. One day, I hope, one day...