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The wines of Jean-Michel Cazes

Châteaux et Associés, BP 46, 33250 Pauillac, France Tel: +33 (0)5 56 73 24 20

Previously ignorant, I was surprised to see the star-studded list of properties gathered under the banner of M. Cazes, which was being presented by Daniel Llose. However, perhaps it is a reflection of the relative weakness of the 1997 vintage in Bordeaux that many of these were rather disappointing, considering my high expectations. However, there were no bad wines. The star wines in this line-up were undoubtedly the two sweeties -- the 1997 Suduiraut and the 1995 Disznoko 5 Puttonyos. In their own way, both were sublime examples of the heights than can be achieved by botrytised wines, and I would be delighted to spend an evening in the company of either.

Michel Lynch Red 1997
Clean, correct, simple mass produced Bordeaux that is not really of interest to wine geeks.

Villa Bel Air Red 1996
60% Cabernet Sauvignon/30% Merlot/10% Cabernet Franc.
Good colour. Young and quite tannic, with moderate complexity. OK.

Château Cantenac-Brown 1997 3èm Cru Classé Margaux
This Merlot-dominated wine is deep purple coloured and has an intoxicating nose with a hint of smokiness -- it is already quite open. It is medium bodied and quite tasty. Good. (Guide price, around £20 for the 1996 in Oddbins, so this will probably be a little less.)

Château Les Ormes de Pez 1997 Cru Grand Bourgeois, St.-Estèphe
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot. Attractive herby nose. Medium bodied with soft fruit and pleasing complexity. Overall a nicely put together package. Good. (Guide price: Oddbins has the 1996 for £17.)

Château Lynch-Bages 1997 5ème Cru Classé Pauillac
Lovely open nose. On palate, tannic and structures, with rich fruit and lavish oak. Perhaps a bit thin on the finish? Good, but save your money for a better vintage, in my opinion. (Guide price: Oddbins Fine Wine has 1996 at £37.)

Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron 2ème Cru Classé Pauillac
Lovely open nose of herbs, fruit and spicy oak. On the palate, which this is quite soft and approachable, it is also complex and mineral laden. Very good. I'd imagine this stuff is sensational in a good vintage. (Guide price: Oddbins Fine Wine has the 1996 vintage at £39.)

Château Suduiraut 1996 1er Cru Classé Sauternes
Huge botrytis nose. On the palate it is rich and nicely balanced with apricots, marmalade and spice. Bear in mind here that I am a real fan of this style of wine, but it is still stunning stuff by anyone's standards. Excellent. (Guide price: Oddbins fine wine has 1996 vintage at £13.99 per half.)

Disznoko Aszu 5 Puttonyos 1995, Tokaji, Hungary
This is heavily botrytised, with a spicy but perhaps slightly muted nose. However, on the palate this wine is sublime, with high acidity beautifully countering the rich, complex sweetness. Quite different in character to the Suduiraut, but every bit as good. Excellent. 135 g/l residual sugar.