James Handford MW
Jack Frost did not spoil the 2000 party. Bud burst and flowering
were more than a week early and so that came as a big relief. The main
threat was mildew as it remained humid throughout spring and in May
the temperature was a little higher than average. Dry weather came in
time and so little damage was done (mildew affects leaves and not
fruit). July and August were dry and warm even tropical though with
little or no rainfall and encouraging even maturation. September
brought a few showers heavier in the Southern Médoc but none too
heavy to alter what was fast becoming some wonderfully balanced and
Harvest of red grapes began around 14th September on the Right Bank
and 20th on the left. The Cabernet started
coming in on the 28th and continued into the second week of October.
Vendangeurs developed their tans but for a day or two of scattered
short storms at the end of September.
So there were plenty of smiles at the harvest festival but perhaps
for the slight reduction in overall yields in comparison to 1990 and
the better recent vintages. Over the past 10 years white wine
vineyards have been planted with Cabernet and Merlot but this
potential increase is countered by reducing yields to increase
Médoc and Graves
Many wines are profoundly true to their appellation. Margauxs are
fine elegant and persistent Saint Juliens and Pauillacs are rich and
supple. Saint Estèphes are black and a little harsh now but will
develop well and the Listrac-Moulis reds are deep and inky. Of course
there are exceptions where cultural and winemaking philosophies dilute
the virtues of terroir and I fear that the market may interpret these
as better rather than different.
There are some outstanding structures to the wines. Many show a
complexity of tannin that is a joy in itself. The acids are fresh and
give a great natural feel. They will also result in more even and
lengthy maturation. That means less chance of disappointment in 10 or
20 years time and a large plateau on the drinking window graph.
There was a little over-maturity, often cited as the cause of so
much variation in the eighties. By the same token some had
underachieved in the concentration department – still going for too
much volume I suspect. However, the general quality was excellent.
Though the Merlots did well the Cabernets ripened better than in
1990. This is reflected in the blend at some properties and will
result in vins de gardes (wines for long ageing) similar to 1986.
Indeed many have likened the vintage to 1989 and 1990, but with the
structure of 1986. To me there is a fresher feel crisp and cool
natural acids that is typical of modern winemaking and compares to
1996 and 1997 but with more concentration than 1989 or 1990.
There is a far greater concentration of great wines in the Médoc
with some bargains to be found amongst the lower growths and Haut
Médocs. Though the genuine finesse of the big guns is yet to be
matched there is a handful of lesser wines coming ever closer to true
Saint Emilion and Pomerol
In Saint Emilion the producer’s lot is a very happy one. In 1998
and 2000 the Cabernet Franc has ripened quite beautifully and proves
what a fine red variety it is and indeed why it is one of my big
favourites. The combination of ripeness and floral aromatic tones is
most seductive. This year though Merlot is on song too making these
reds the most interesting of the vintage at all levels.
Poor old Pomerol enjoyed its best year in 10 but is overshadowed by
its neighbours. I have a little feeling that time will show these to
be equally as good. They are certainly ripe, but are they over-ripe?
It is too early to tell but there is no doubting that Pomerol 2000
will be delicious in the short and medium term and that the Thienpont
wines le Pin and Vieux Chateau Certan are amongst the best of the
It is most important to be aware that these samples were prepared
from barrels and the wines are not yet finished. Appearances are
important though may be deceptive as the wines will be racked
(cleared) further and the shade will develop before bottling. The
absolute colour, however, is important and a good indication of
quality. In their extreme youth wines are often ‘closed’. This
means that the structure encases the aromas. At this stage this is a
good thing. On the palate I look for depth concentration complexity
(number of flavours) and length. There may be a feeling for fruit
rather than an abundance of flavours. These qualities also give an
indication of how long each wine needs to be kept.
For a balanced cellar select wines from different villages in the
Médoc as well as one or two St Emilions. Then try a case or two of
the more modern styles. Some Fifth Growths and Cru Bourgeois are on
very good form in 2000 and will certainly never be cheaper.
Same advice applies … buying en Primeur is the best way to
ensure that you have stock of the clarets that you want to drink.
Having said that Bordeaux has suffered recently from increased sales
in other wine regions. Though sales have doubled since 1990 much of
that growth occurred during a short period in the middle of the
decade. On the positive side the market is ever extending. The weight
of numbers and the array of nationalities in Bordeaux this March are
clear evidence of that. Furthermore, there is no doubt that the best
wines are getting better.
Many factors that slowed sales (though not necessarily prices) do
not exist now. The market is more diverse and the Bordelais have more
experience of their international markets. Fewer traders are loyal to
established contacts and merchants are better equipped to distribute
smaller quantities to more clients. The biggest single indication of
the immediate future are the polite request by négociants to cool
prices down from the 2001 vintage. It sounds as if they are happy to
milk the 2000 though.
The bandwagon stays in the rails though more people are squeezing
into fewer carriages.
Master Of Wine
Château Léoville Poyferré 2000, Saint Julien
These wines in Saint Julien are not only lovely to taste; they are
very good looking too. The Poyferré has a more juicy fruit nose and a
full, ripe Cabernet style that has been accentuated by the new oak.
Very supple and with savoury complexity and some spice. Softer that
its neighbour, Léoville Barton, but equally round and fine. 2013 to
Château Léoville Barton 2000, Saint Julien
Now here is a lavish glass of wine. Almost black in appearance
and, though closed on the nose, but for a hint of wood, this year’s
Barton gives us the expected weight of black fruit, chewy acid and a
great blend of firm and ripe tannins that will allow the wine to
mature well. The fruit gives fat, currant, and prune centre with a
generous helping of leather and spice with some cedar wood notes.
Sounds good and it will be even better if you can keep it for 15
years. A classic Léoville Barton.
Château Lagrange 2000, Saint Julien
Really attractive plum, purple colour with a soft, vanilla oak,
currant and leather nose. There is very big structure to this wine and
a very natural acid feel too. The ripe Cabernet feel epitomises the
vintage and the tannins are rounded. Great length and fairly full in
concentration, this down to some unusually harsh selection. Very good
and drinking from 2010 to 2018.
Château Beychevelle 2000, Saint Julien
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit
Verdot. Mid-cherry red with hints of blackness and a little opaque, an
appearance that hints at a great wealth that is vindicated on the
palate. There is enormous complexity of black fruits, spice, nutmeg,
and some pepper. Though the concentration is only fair, the length is
good and balanced. Very good and will drink well from 2012.
Château Talbot 2000, Saint Julien
The pundits seemed a bit undecided about this one. My first
impression was of a great example of a wine from a great village in a
great vintage. However, at this stage, when something appears to be
out of this world, it probably is and so I have to reserve judgement
on a wine that appears a little too sweet and rounded.
Château Lynch Bages 2000, Pauillac
This year’s Lynch Bages shows just the depth and concentration
that you would expect. Quite opaque in colour, signs of opulence on
the nose and a huge structure of crunchy new oak and acidity to
balance the ripe fruit characters. This will take a little time to
pull together but it is worth the wait, I assure you. 2013 to 2020
Château Pichon Longueville Baron de Longueville 2000, Pauillac
Mid red and quite black in colour and perhaps the sweetest and
ripest example of Saint Julien yet. It is one of those wines that, in
its youth, is so intense that it is hard to bear. The length is
fabulous and even, with pastille fruit, leather and so sweaty notes. A
wine of rich complexity and a classic expression of the ripeness of
this vintage. 2015 to 2023
Château Latour 2000, Pauillac
77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit
Verdot. Profound, red purple with some blackness. Almost completely
closed but for a delicate hint of cassis. But there is huge depth and
mouth-fill with some harder and some ripe tannins. Indeed the
diversity of tannins generates complexity in itself, never mind the
cedar, spice, cigar box and cassis fruit flavours. Raw now, but raring
to go. 2014 to 2028.
Château Pontet Canet 2000, Pauillac
Soft red with a subtle but enticing nose of spice, cedar and
nutmeg. The Pontet is pure with cool, black fruits and a hint of
minerals. Perhaps a little understated in comparison with its
illustrious neighbours but, nevertheless, an ugly ducking that’s
worth adopting. 2010 to 2016
Château les Ormes de Pez 2000, Saint Estèphe
Fairly deep black, purple in colour and the nose is very closed.
This is explained by a very tight structure and good blend of grape
acid and tannin firm the wood. Concentrated and lively, balanced and
mouthwatering – a good recipe for a fine wine for the future. 2009
Château Grand Puy Ducasse 2000, Pauillac
Soft pastille red colour and, though it gives nothing on the nose,
it opens into a beautiful flower of concentrated prune, berry, leather
and cinnamon. The length is even and gentle and the balance fine. This
is very good indeed and wins the battle of the Grand Puys. 2007 to
Clos Fourtet 2000, Saint Emilion 1er Grand Cru
Soft pastille red and a little more open on the nose than many –
gentle, strawberry toffee to begin, filling out in the mid-palate and
with near perfect balance. Very well put together and the taste goes
on and on. 2009 to 2018.
Château la Dominique 2000, Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Another St Emilion that is slightly more delicate in hue but that
has real class. On the nose there is some red fruit and vanilla and in
the mouth it shows that coolness that is a real hallmark of quality in
these wines. There are supple blackberry and raspberry ripple tastes
of super length. Charming and quite wonderful. 2009 to 2019.
Château la Mondotte 2000, Saint Emilion
Quite refined compared to recent years but that is not to say any
less concentrated. Clean and thick red, black colour with some green
notes on the nose. This though is not mirrored in the mouth where
berry and cassis fruit abounds and delicacy and finesse combine
uncannily with depth and concentration. Perhaps the best Mondotte yet.
2011 to 2025.
Château Canon la Gaffelière 2000, Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Certainly a more definite purple that many others from this
appellation and with a closed nose. But to taste this has a perfect
coolness, with chocolate, coffee and a hint of mint. This is elegant
and enchanting with black cherry and plum fruit of great length and
harmony. Fine. 2011 to 2018.
Château Angélus 2000, Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Thick, red in appearance and very tight on the nose. This was one
of the first St Emilions that I tasted and it quashed any rumours that
the Right Bank might not be so good as the left. Delicious, rich, ripe
and velvet textured plum fruit and chocolate notes with a dash of
vanilla and of great length. 2012 to 2020.
Château Troplong Mondot 2000, Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Very deep red, purple and with a disguised, but clean nose showing
some plum pudding and prune characters with cool notes too. This
explodes on the palate, offering a mass of piercing black cherry
fruit, char and tobacco with some spice and a tiny taste of mint.
Excellent and hugely complex and one of the great keepers of the
vintage. 2014 to 2022
Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2000, Pessac-Léognan
This Chateau has become one of the great stars of the region in
recent years and so it comes as no surprise that the 2000 is deeply
coloured, offers absorbing, currant and blackberry fruit flavours on
the nose with some char. It is big, ripe and quite fat with some leafy
currant fruit too. Lovely balanced length. Although this is clearly in
the modern, juicy, new oak style, it is very well constructed and will
improve over eight years.
Château Margaux 2000, Margaux
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 3%
Cabernet Franc. As at many properties, the proportion of Cabernet is a
little higher than normal in the premium blend. It is not that the
Merlot is poor, but that the Cabernets are so ripe and delicious. The
Margaux is thick and opulent to look at, though of a refined,
red/purple hue with little blackness. The nose is meagre, but fine and
focused, of fresh, blackcurrant fruit and some leather and anise from
the wood. Enchanting, soft, sweet cassis and red berry fruit dominate
the palate. Lovely richness and Reubenesque opulence. A wine that I
can still taste after 2 minutes. 2010 to 2030.
Château Haut Bailly 2000, Pessac-Léognan
Soft, cherry, plum red colour and quite opaque, the Haut Bailly
has fine but beautifully complex aromas of brioche, vanilla, ripe plum
and cassis. Fairly hard tannins now but the underlying quality and
texture of the fruit make this an excellent choice for the medium and
longer term. 2005 to 2012.
Château Beaumont 2000, Haut Médoc
Soft red black and showing a little blackcurrant character on the
nose. I enjoyed the ripe and classic Cabernet style that is fairly
persistent. Tannins are softer than in recent vintages and so I can
heartily recommend this for drinking from 2004. Very good indeed.
Château Belgrave 2000, Haut Médoc
I was first impressed by this Fifth Growth Château in the 1997
vintage. It is always a challenge to make the best of an average year
but in a good vintage this has become the star of the lesser wines.
Incredible weight and suppleness, some complexity of cedar and anise.
This wins you over with its sheer concentration and, though it would
be a shame not to keep one or two bottles, it will impress in the
first 5 to 7 years of its life.
Château Gruaud Larose 2000, Saint Julien
Very bright and clean, deep purple and showing an overt, freshly
pressed Cabernet smell. Very distinctive in its primary fruit
character and there is more complexity to come. In the background are
the seeds of diversity with a touch of new leather and spice. Fair
length and there is more structure to come as the wine lies in barrel.
More difficult to predict but unlikely to be ready before 2012.
Châtau Quinault 2000, St Emilion
I have never been a great fan and the simple and pulpy purple
appearance along with a dominance of new oak does not encourage me to
change my view. However, it is impossible to ignore the length of
black fruit and soft oak flavours of this wine. They combine well with
a certain coolness and bright acidity. Very good but still not a long
term wine. 2009 to 2014.
For details of Handford's 2000 Bordeaux offer, see: