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by Paul Lin

Paul's interest in wine extends beyond simple appreciation and enjoyment.  As an academic, he's never without his notepad and pen, and he loves to analyze a wine the way a scholar might pore over a fine piece of literature.  After being bitten by the wine bug during graduate school, Paul embarked on his wine journey out of a sense of intellectual curiosity and romantic self-indulgence.  Recently, he has turned his sights from simply drinking and writing about wine to actually making the stuff.  In 2007, under the label Terra Novus, Paul produced his first barrel of Pinot Noir from grapes from the Sonoma Coast. 

2005 Bordeaux - February 16, 2008


Tasted February 16, 2008 at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. According to the organizers, all the 2005 red Bordeaux were opened the previous day and then double-decanted before the tasting. The old wines and the Sauternes were opened about 40 minutes prior. (Prices per winex.com at time of publication.)

Right Bank

    • 2005 Château Rauzan Despagne - $17 - Bordeaux Supérieur
      Aromas of smoked meats, crushed rocks, and cherries flambé. On the palate, dark cherries, minerals, smoke and earth. A bit light in the mouth and the finish fades rather quickly. In spite of its lack of depth, this is an easy wine to drink and enjoy. RP88-90, WS84. (87 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Marjosse - $16 - Entre-Deux-Mers
      Begins with a muted nose, but with heavy swirling I was able to coax out some faint herbal/vegetal (in a good way) aromas. On the palate, black cherry, cassis, and minerals. OK, but not the most interesting wine of the tasting. RP87-88, WS86. (85 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Puygueraud - $23 - Côtes de Francs
      Dusty yet feminine aromas of roses, geraniums, and wet earth. On the palate, tart cherries, black tea, and clay soil. Nice structure and balance. Flavorwise, I actually prefer the Rauzan Despagne, but the longer finish on this wine merits the slight edge. 87-88 points. RP88-90, WS92. (88 pts.)
    • 2005 Château La Vieille Cure - $29 - Fronsac
      This is a bold and dark-fruit wine. Intense aromas of dark berries, sweet cherry reduction, crushed rocks, and wet soil. On the palate, more juicy dark fruits. Minerally tannins. Mouth-filling and very concentrated. 88-89 points. RP89-91, WS90. (88 pts.)
    • 2005 Château La Fleur de Bouard - $38 - Lalande de Pomerol
      Exhuberant aromas of sweet black cherry, crushed rocks, and smoke jump out of the glass. On the palate, sweet dark fruits (centered around a plum core), smoked meats, and loamy earth. Refined and balanced. Although I slightly prefer this wine to La Vieille Cure, I really think the two wines are comparable in terms of quality. 88-89 points. RP90-92, WS90. (89 pts.)


    • 2005 Vieux Clos St. Émilion - $18 - St. Émilion Grand Cru
      Funky aromas of shoe polish, red clay, and cherry. On the palate, some simple cherry and earth flavors. Flat in the mouth with a tart cherry finish. Really nothing to write home about. RP88-89. (83 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Faizeau Vieilles Vignes - $21 - Montagne-St. Émilion
      Earthy aromas of wet tobacco leaf and dark cherry. A layered palate of cassis, dark cherry, and smoke. Sweet tannins. Begins with a good degree of depth, but the finish tapers off rather quickly. 86-87 points. RP90-92, WS90. (86 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Bellefont-Belcier - $38 - St. Émilion Grand Cru
      Gorgeous aromas of scorched earth, grilled meats, spice, and cherry crepes -- just the kind of nose that one would want from a Bordeaux. Dense dark fruits on the palate with shadings of smoke, graphite, and earth. Ripe tannins. Refined and balanced. Really excellent stuff and a fantastic QPR to boot. 92-93 points. RP92-94, WS93. (92 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Destieux - $47 - St. Émilion Grand Cru
      Sweet nose of ripe plums, black raspberries, and dark cherries -- if served blind I probably would have guessed it was a New World wine. On the palate, protracted and dense dark fruits accentuated by graphite and white rocks. 90-91 points. RP92-94. (90 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Bellevue St. Émilion Grand Cru - $100 - St. Émilion Grand Cru
      This is another flamboyant wine with a New World nose of cassis and dark chocolate. Not as explosive as the Destieux, but still rich and little sweet. Dense dark berries on the palate, good length, and ripe tannins. A delicious wine, with a good deal of elegance, but for the money I would probably choose the Destieux. 90-91 points. RP94-96, WS91. (90 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Troplong Mondot - $275 - St. Émilion Grand Cru
      Can you say wow? Intense and seductive aromas of scorched earth, smoke, cherry crepes, and brown spices. On the palate, dense and mouth-filling plum and cherry fruit, rich dark chocolate, accented with graphite and crushed rocks. Incredible structure and depth. An outstanding wine that embodies both grace and power. A classic! RP96-100, WS96. (95 pts.)

    Left Bank

    • 2005 Clos Manou - $35 - Médoc
      This is a modest wine with a lot of personality and IMO another relative QPR for the vintage. Aromas of scorched earth, cherries flambé, and sweet tobacco. Palate mirrors the nose. A handsome wine that drinks pretty well now. If I had to pick a nit, however, I would have to say that the finish tapers off sooner than I would have liked. Starts out strong but finishes just a bit on the weak side. RP90-92, WS87. (90 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Boyd-Cantenac - $50 - Margaux
      Aromas of scorched earth, roasted coffee, leafy tobacco, and a bit of shoe polish kind of funkiness. On the palate, dense black fruits, dark chocolate, and charred wood. Full-bodied with gripping tannins. I might have scored this wine a bit higher had the nose been a little better. RP91-93, WS92. (88 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Kirwan - $70 - Margaux
      Dusty aromas of sweet cherries, dark chocolate, and tobacco leaf followed by dark cherries, cassis, and tobacco on the palate. An elegant wine with a surprisingly velvet-textured finish. Very nice! RP91-94, WS93. (91 pts.)
    • 2005 The Winemakers' Collection Michel Rolland Cuvée No. 1 Château d'Arsac - $45 - Margaux
      Muted aromas initially, but with heavy swirling the nose opens up and reveals sweet black raspberries, dark chocolate, and cassis. On the palate, cassis, chocolate, and cherry flavors are married together in a seamless package. A polished wine that might have come from anywhere. 89-90 points. RP92-94. (89 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Haut-Bages Libéral - $45 - Pauillac
      A rather sharp nose of burnt tobacco, herbs, and sour cherries. On the palate, more tart red fruit and a slightly vegetal component on the finish. OK, but I was not really digging this wine too much. RP88-90, WS93. (86 pts.)
    • 2005 Château Branaire (Duluc-Ducru) - $100 - St. Julien
      Exotic nose of sandlewood, Indian spices, antique shop, and dried cherries. The palate mirrors nose. Might be more interesting to some, but I was not a huge fan of it. RP94-96, WS92. (87 pts.)

    Les Vieux Vins

    • 1970 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot - $80 - St. Émilion Grand Cru
      An interesting wine to try. Mature aromas of mushrooms, truffles, smoke, red clay, minerals, and sweet tobacco. Still quite lively, but I feel that this wine is off-prime. OK, but not really my cup of tea. (86 pts.)
    • 1989 Les Tourelles de Longueville - $100 - Pauillac
      Sharp nose of dried mushrooms, tobacco, cedar and soy. On the palate, nice cassis fruit with shadings of beef jerky, truffles, and sandlewood. Medium-short finish. 87-88 points. (87 pts.)


    • 2005 Château de Cosse (375ml) - $20 - Sauternes
      Notes of dried apricot, peaches, and pecans. Not as much acidity as I usually prefer, but just enough to keep this wine playful and light. Fun to drink. (92 pts.)

    In comparing my scores to some of the professional critics, while my evaluations alternated between the Wine Spectator and (the lower end of) Parker on the lesser expensive wines, it seems I tended to score my wines closer to the Spectator on the more expensive ones. Whether that means that my palate is more closely aligned with Suckling remains to be seen, as my experience with Bordeaux is still in its infant stages.

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