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The Great 2005 Bordeaux Tasting

Left Bank vs. Right Bank

The contestants:

2005 Chateau d'Armailhac (#1)

2005 Chateau Cantemerle (#2)

2005 Chateau Destieux (#3)

2005 Chateau du Tertre (#4)

A disclaimer - all wines have been tasted blind (hence the tap on the bottle's neck.

The Tasting

Before going too far into the tasting, I do have to say, this was one of the most challenging tastings I have done so far. When I taste blind, I do not do it to find out which wine is which, or getting all the detailed notes out of them, but rather primarily to rank them to my liking. This continues to help me finding out what I like the most, what wine I like the most, but even more what style of wine I like the most. I do recommend this approach to blind tasting to everyone, to get an unbiased result of personal preferences, where there are no right or wrong answers.

But of course I also do these kind of tastings to learn every detail about each and every bottle, to make the perfect recommendation to anyone finding their perfect bottle, as someone else will quite likely have a different preference than I do, and I do not want to suggest my favorite to anyone, but rather what I think your, or to however I make recommendations will like the most.

I mentioned that this was a particular difficult tasting - BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL SO GOOD!!!

The Visual

When tasting blind, I start with the visual appearance, I score and rank the wines.

I would say #2 (Cantemerle) had the most appealing appearance to me, opaque clear hints of a brownish tone and an orange rim, signs of a great age Bordeaux.

#3 (Destieux) was also very opaque, violet and ruby with a orange-brown tint (signs of boldness)

#1 (d'Armailhac) and #4 (du Tertre) were lighter in color with orange-brown tints along the rim.

The Nose

On the nose #1 (d'Armailhac) impressed me the most. very full nose, primarily a lot of spice - pepper, brown spice, woodsy oak, ripe dark fruit and licorice, very well balance and full of power.

#4 (du Tertre) was a close second on the nose. Floral (very typical for Margaux), spice, graphite, fresh asphalt, juniper and deep ripe fruit - very bold and complex (probably the boldest and most complex of the 4, the Chateau d'Armailhac however just had that special something, a beautiful balance and harmony)

#2 (Cantemerle) has jammy red & dark fruit on the nose, black pepper and a hint of oak, a very tasty typical Bordeaux nose.

#3 (Destieux) came in very close 4th, and because it came in 4th doesnt mean it is not absolutely incredible, but one of the wines simply has to be ranked 4th, in a different tasting this wine could have easily ranked #1, but today the competition was simply better (to my liking - Barbara absolutely loved this one, more than others in this tasting). Its nose had a lot of very jammy fruit, licorice and herbal notes. The Chateau Destieux was clearly different than the other 3 wines in this tasting and stood out because of it. The simple explanation - while all other wines were from Medoc (left bank), the Chateau Destieux is a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru (right bank) and merlot dominant, while the other 3 were Cabernet Sauvignon dominant.

The Palate
Now to the actual tasting, which will decide the winner of today's tasting.

It took me quite some time to decided which bottle I wanted to award the winner of today.

The two bottles competing for the #1 spot were #1 (d'Armailhac) and #4 (du Tertre)

The 2005 Chateau d'Armailhac impressed with possibly the most balance and harmony I have tasted in a wine in a very long time. Coffee, tobacco, aged wood, a light floral bouquet, dark jammy berries, raspberry and plum. Lots of intensity and utterly complex. Velvety tannins, lots of them, yet not overly tannic, I would say medium +

The 2005 Chateau du Tertre impressed with its boldness. Graphite, minerality with ripe red and bark fruit. Spicy pepper, a beautiful floral bouquet and juniper. Leather, sweet tobacco - very complex and very intense. Bold velvety and chewy tannins.

The 2005 Chateau Cantemerle was extremely pleasant to drink with plenty of ripe red and dark fruit. The age could definitely be tasted very well, delicious spice and aged wood. It may be the lightest wine of the tasting today, to someone new to the world of Bordeaux wines, I would say this is the wines to go for!

But as some of you know, I do prefer more challenging wines with complexity in all aspects.

The 2005 Chateau Destieux was the perfect example of a well-aged Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. Merlot forward, it showed tons of very jammy fruit extremely bold and heavy (almost too much bold jammy fruit aromas for me personally, but Barbara was absolutely in love with it, for myself, i prefer more oaky notes, rather than fruit notes).

If you like a very heavy bold fruit forward wines, with medium oak, in form of especially vanilla, you will be in heaven with this wine!

The Verdict

The decision was honestly extremely difficult. The pleasure of tasting and enjoying these wines was about equal and on a different day, in a different mood and different environment, I may have made a different choice.

But today I had to pick the 2005 Chateau d'Armailhac as the winner, it complete package was simply perfect, harmoniously balanced with just the right amount of fruit, oak and tannin. If I were to repeat this very same tasting, I may pick this wine as the winner again, but I may also pick the 2005 Chateau du Tertre as the winner, as it has an absolutely gorgeous palate, definitely more bold, but today, I just made a very special to the Chateau d'Armailhac.

Today I ranked the 2005 Chateau Cantemerle #3, it has everything you want and love in a good classified Bordeaux, the reason of "only" number 3, it is definitely lighter than all other wines in this tasting, it sure will be the perfect choice to someone either new to Bordeaux, or preferring a wine with a lightly lesser punch.

Lastly, the 2005 Chateau Destieux, it actually made me a bit sad having to rank this wonderful wine "only" #4, as i have had and loved this wine many times already. But in comparison, it was too heavy on the jammy fruit and vanilla - lot of very sweet flavor notes (still a very dry wine though) - while I personally prefer a more savory wine. The great year of 2005, the Merlot and Saint-Emilion are beautifully reflected in this wine, and has definitely good chances ranking up top in a different tasting with different wines, yet i personally liked the other 3 just better myself today.

About the wines & wineries

2005 Chateau d'Armailhac

Formally Mouton d’Armailhacq and the only other wine, aside of the famous first growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild, to be allowed to carry on the name Baron Philippe Rothschild de Mouton in its name.

Chateau d’Armailhac, the wines official name from 1933 on, has since been owned by no other than Baron Philippe Rothschild himself, the owner of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

In 1740 the vineyard was sold to Dominique d’Armailhacq, purchased directly from Mouton Rothschild, in other words, this wine, this land and these grapes were once used to produce one of the world’s finest and most famous wines.

The quality has proven itself repeatedly, making it a wine not to be skipped by any true lover of Bordeaux wine. An almost Mouton Rothschild for a margin of the cost of the real deal.

Click here to purchase your bottle online ($140 Retail / $185 Dine-In)

2005 Chateau Cantemerle

I have written about Chateau Cantemerle before, as it is a very dear wine to me with a very unique, slightly controversial history, so I will make it short.

In the past Château Cantemerle has been questioned about being a fifth growth. To their own surprise, Château Cantemerle was not considered to be a part of the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux in the initial publication. After a lot of effort from the Chateau, the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux was adjusted in 1856, and since then included Château Cantemerle as a Fifth Growth Grand Cru. Adjusting this classification is not something that typically happens - ever.

A wine with lots of history, definitely worth a try!

Click here to purchase your bottle online ($116 Retail / $145 Dine-In)

2005 Chateau Destieux

Unlike most well-known Bordeaux wines, Chateau Destieux did not get its name from its founder or owner, but rather its natural beauty, not the wine, but where the vines and grapes grow that go into this stunning wine. Christopher Dauriac purchased the perhaps most beautiful estate in Bordeaux in 1971. So stunned by the estate, in particular the view, he wanted to name it after just that. Destieux is a French term coming from “Des Yeux”, translated into English “Of the Eyes”. The estate has a 360 degree view over all of Bordeaux, the Dordogne River (the river dividing right and left bank), as well as all of Saint-Emilion.

Click here to purchase your bottle online ($103.20 Retail / $135 Dine-In)

2005 Chateau du Tertre

Chateau du Tertre has 1000-year long history of making wine – dating back to 1143. Tertre mean rising ground or small hill, where the estate is situated, making it the highest point of the entire Margaux appellation. This situation also gives the vines perfect sun exposure for very full and bold wines. One of the most iconic wines of Margaux, on par with 2nd and 3rd growth wines from the possibly most famous Bordeaux appellation.

Fun fact: in the 17th century, the estate was owned by one of France’s most talented glassblowers, the one to be credited of inventing the (Bordeaux) Jeroboam bottle, which holds an impressive 5liters. (Not to be confused with the Champagne or Burgundy Jeroboam, which only holds 3 liters. Making at that time Chateau du Tertre the only Bordeaux estate with estate bottled wine and estate blown bottles.

Click here to purchase your bottle online ($140 Retail / $185 Dine-In)

Interested in any particular bottle? Check them out here on our wine store, purchase available for pick up, or delivery (in Michigan only, must be 21+)

Chateau d'Armailhac 2005

Chateau Cantemerle 2005

Chateau Destieux 2005

Chateau du Tertre 2005

Because I enjoyed this tasting so much, I would absolutely love to re-create this tasting with you!

If you find yourself in a group of 4-8 and would like to replicate this tasting (and of course after the tasting enjoy the wine) - please let me know and I would be more than happy to facilitate!

Normally the 4 bottles (as of June 2022) the dine-in price for these for bottles together would be $650, but again, since I enjoyed this tasting so much myself, and want others to experience the same - you can get the for bottles as a bundle (for dine-in), including blind tasting facilitating for only $550!*

If you prefer to do the tasting at home I will still give you a discount (on top of the retail discount)

Normally $520 for the bundle of 4, but for the next two months only $475 for all for bottles.*

*prices available until August 15th, 2022, limited availability (once i am out, i am out)

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