Château Beychevelle Master Class at Barrière Frères

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Château Beychevelle Master Class at Barrière Frères
Château Beychevelle
Master Class at Barrière Frères
(January 2008)
Whilst the majority of our sales staff have
had multiple occasions to taste numerous
vintages of Beychevelle, our sister estate,
we finally got around to organizing an
extensive vertical with Mr. Philippe
BLANC, General Manager.
So many essential things to say about
Beychevelle … including the “lowering the
sails” legend … (please see below). We
will start with the tasting.
Nine different vintages of the Grand Vin
were presented as well as the last four
vintages of Amiral de Beychevelle.
Philippe Blanc, General Manager
Vintage 2007 … a particular treat ! 1st view at the latest baby !
Amiral : very much on the red fruit flavours, good grip and density. However
the wine is not yet in barrels but scheduled to do so by early February.
Beychevelle :
very silky, finesse and excellent constitution. Already a
wonderful marriage between the oak and the wine. A very gracious Beychevelle.
A complicated viticultural year with rains every 3rd day. However, due to an
excellent “after season” (meaning starting mid September), the harvest went
from the 27th Sept to mid October under much better conditions. The overall
natural sugar levels of 12,9% are a sign of the vintage’s overall health.
Vintage 2006
Amiral : toasty, caramel nose. Good density
& weight. Very gracious wine on the palate.
We are impatiently waiting for its release after
bottling.
Beychevelle : nose perhaps a bit closed but
very promising (ripe fruit and spicy, smoky
characteristics). Even within the classic 2006
characteristics of firm (but ripe) tannins, this
wine shows exquisite balance and depth of
structure. Sublime potential. 2006 Beychevelle
was the smallest production since 1997 with
only 19 000 cs (Grand Vin).
Generally, the Merlot’s were not particularly
favoured in this vintage which is the primary reason why the overall blend has
only 29% Merlot (versus an average of roughly 38-45%).
Vintage 2005
Amiral : Buttery and cacao (“torréfaction”) nose, a certain rigour (or precision)
in its tannins. Personally, I find an exotic « Chagal-esque » feel to the wine.
Complex, with good freshness. A very high 78% Cabernet Sauvignon blend.
Beychevelle : Deep colour, very ripe nose (chocolate and moka). Very, very
rich palate, warm and engaging, and superb length. For Philippe, this is clearly
“the best vintage in many decades”.
Vintage 2004
Amiral : Again, a toasty, coffee styled
nose. Wonderful balance, suppleness and
elegance. A high Cabernet blend wine
(77%).
Beychevelle : Complex nose dominated
by toasty/fresh bread aromas.
Grand
classicism in line with the characteristics
of the vintage.
Plus, this one has
particular charm and is very harmonious.
Beychevelle 2003 : The colour has not
evolved contrary to many other 2003’s.
The nose wanders towards cassis,
marmalade,
caramel
and
spices.
Discreetly exotic but not overly “heated”.
Tannins are well defined and precise. The
fruit is silky. The finish is again exotic and very seductive.
Beychevelle 2002 : Fruity nose. The wine is firm and imposing (see Médoc
classicism or “robustness” which some visually associate with a certain rubgy
player named “Chabal” (see suggested you-tube link below). And yet, contrary
to other 2002’s, this Beychevelle has enough fruit to envelope the relatively high
acidity and firm tannins.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uh_aWqm2I0&feature=related
Sebastien Chabal vs All Black (Amon Amarth)
Beychevelle 2001 : Slight evolution on the colour, the nose exudes dried
fruits, prunes, as well as fine leather and animal tones. The tannic structure is
perfectly enrobed in the expressive fruit flavours. Fine, long and fresh finish.
:
Beychevelle
2000
Here we have, in light of
the
exceptional
2000
vintage, a slight deception
with its animal and slight
vegetal (green pepper)
aromas. With a 2 hour
decanting, I am sure that
all would be resolved.
However, the palate is
full, rich and round with
all the classic Beychevelle elegance and tenderness and a long finish.
Technical Notes :
19 different soil types amongst the 70 hectares of vines
62% Cabernet Sauvignon
31% Merlot
5% Cabernet Franc
2% Petit Verdot
Amiral is aged 100% in oak barrels of which 25% are new oak barrels.
Interesting Notes :
Beychevelle is clearly one of the 3-4 major leading brands, baring the 1st
Growths, on the Bordeaux market and on all 5 continents ! Why ? In sum: its
transparency and its commercial honesty. All of this is clearly due to the
extreme professionalism of Aymar de Baillenx, CEO of Grand Millésimes de
France (holding company which owns Beychevelle, Beaumont ….)
•
•
•
Beychevelle sells 95% of its production en-primeur.
Beychevelle is always priced within its market, not their neighbour’s market!
Beychevelle’s average annual market price increase on the older vintages falls
just behind a handful of 1st Growths but above those of Leoville Barton,
Giscours, Lynch Bages …
st
Average annual increase between the initial release price and Bordeaux quotations on Dec 31 2006
Châteaux
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
% Average
Annual
Increase
1
Ch. LAFITE ROTHSCHILD
806
1098
80,9
364
153
393
113
208
309
131
365,6
2
Ch. AUSONE
428
163
49,6
281
177
502
1031
203
511
192
353,8
3
Ch. LATOUR
722
798
110
159
160
478
161
299
368
267
352,2
4
Ch. MARGAUX
746
808
98,4
166
186
393
116
196
260
244
321,3
5
LES FORTS DE LATOUR
318
350
40
98,5
179
216
290
293
261
233
227,9
6
CARRUADES DE LAFITE
283
513
94,6
141
306
234
175
164
171
156
223,8
7
Ch. HAUT BRION Rge
547
344
63,4
241
94,5
239
71,9
132
88,3
194
201,5
8
PAVILLON BLANC
325
225
142
242
188
164
208
222
151
146
201,3
9
Ch. CALON SEGUR
478
296
76,9
247
183
233
114
130
125
73,5
195,6
10 PAVILLON ROUGE
335
221
128
188
201
173
167
182
114
172
188,1
11 Ch. CHEVAL BLANC
568
315
40,1
433
50,3
316
30,5
39,4
22,8
50
186,5
12 Ch. MOUTON ROTHSCHILD
500
315
45,9
152
84,5
258
49,7
132
71,9
81,3
169,0
13 Ch. VALANDRAUD
984
262
153
89,4
26,7
51,6
15
13,1
12,3
13,3
162,0
14 Ch. CLIMENS
71,8
117
241
42,2
52
16,7
607
29,1
417
17,2
161,1
15 Ch. BEYCHEVELLE
255
248
80
187
176
192
85,4
85,7
84,5
73,3
146,7
16 Ch. LEOVILLE BARTON
297
156
16,7
85,7
65
270
68,9
102
322
81,8
146,5
17 Ch. GISCOURS
252
232
35,1
242
147
163
99,8
101
85,2
71,1
142,8
18 Ch. LYNCH BAGES
336
209
18,5
130
177
212
81,5
89,9
56,1
54,5
136,5
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
Beychevelle has no pretensions of immortal glory: neither their Parisian
shareholders, nor Aymar de Baillenx, have the personal ego to “out-do” other
Médoc Classified Growths. Hence, no need to super-concentrate productions and
no need to lead the price wars.
Lastly, but fundamentally, Beychevelle
understands its international customer base and desires to keep those customers
faithful. Brilliant!
•
Lastly, do note that Philippe Blanc arrived in 1996 and since then has
significantly improved all work in the vineyards and cellars. The reflections of
certain journalists (notably one American) who finally prints with the 2006
vintage that “Beychevelle appears to be achieving more consistency and
quality …” is baffling to my mind. I know that there is a certain inertia in our
trade but come on … ! As we say in Connecticut (and other states in the
USA) “wake up and smell the coffee”.
___________________________
Here is a picture of the infamous “Chabal” referred to in
the 2002 commentary. It is true that I personally like to
associate wine styles to various painters (example:
Chagall for many 2001’s, or Mondrian for wines like
2004’s or specifically for Château Latour (all vintages) or
again Vermeer or Georges de La Tour for Lafite
Rothschild …). In this case, it was one of our staff
members who made a more sportive association to one
of the wines tasted. Why not!
I am not a major rugby fan but I must say that I was
particularly privileged and notably impressed by the
fantastic spiritedness of rugby while attending my first
match at the 2007 World Cup semi-finals between France
& England.
In conclusion, let it be clear that Beychevelle’s overall style (vintage in, vintage
out) is not a Chabal look alike ! Far from it. It is mostly in the register of
freshness and elegance, a style which millions of wine fans adore for its delicacy,
honesty, straight-forwardness and drinkability. No one is looking for artificial
show-boats nor body-builders.
Laurent Ehrmann
Managing Director