SPECTATOR WINE CLUB
Gilbert Mornand, who has nine hec- tares of vines in the village of Clesse, describes his Macon Clesse 'Le Chateau'(' as 'comme un petit Meursault'. The panel,, few of whose members had actually tasted the 1988 meursaults yet, whose starting price appears to be £12.50 the bottle, were most excited by a wine which has all the characteristics of really proper white bur- gundy in smell and taste. Only the price, at £5.50, is different. To ensure the panel was not being carried away, as it is easy to be by good chardonnay, I put it against Latour's famous Macon Lugny Genievres 1986 and our own Macon Vire 1988 from Bonhomme at dinner after the tasting, and it stood proud and defiant against both of them. A thoroughly good wine.
All the rest of the wines in this offer are either clarets or claret substitutes. I am sorry about that, but one has to offer the best wines one has found, and this is how it has fallen out this month. First a yin de table at 11 per cent vol. which everybody Will recognise as pure, de-classified Bor- deaux, without any meridional additions. At £3.02 the bottle, the `Cuve-,e de Champfleury'(2) has a good cabernet smell, a proper body and makes a fine everyday drinking wine, better than much classified tnecloc. One would not complain if one was served a wine of this quality as yin de maison in a two-star Bordeaux restaurant.
Now back to Chile for a less proper but equally delicious crack at the same thing. The Villa Montes Cabernet Sauvignon 1988(3), from the Curico Valley, is fuller and fruitier than conventional claret, espe- cially at this price (£3.60 the bottle) with a distinct taste of violets and cigar smoke. It is very sweet'n'easy with no tannin at all that I could detect, but a proper stalky smell over the fruit and some residual sugar. It will not go down well with left-wingers who like their, clarets thin and austere, and I am not sure that even I would want to drink it every day, but there is nothing degenerate about it, and it will always make a welcome change from the chianti classico and other wines to which we are sometimes driven in our endless quest for self-fulfilment.
Iput the Montes Cabernet Sauvignon 1987(4) next in order not to confuse people, although of course at £5.12 the bottle it is slightly more expensive than the Chateau Pitray(5) at £4.82. The Montes Cabernet Sauvignon is a more conventional, rich- 'n'heavy Bordeaux, with enough tannin to keep it for a few years, although it makes a satisfactory drink now. The ungrafted vines of Chile produce a much higher concentration of pure varietal tastes which gives them an unfair advantage over Euro- pean producers. I am not sure that this wine will stay the course, in the way that a
An end to the quest for self-fulfilment
premier cru medoe can be guaranteed to do, and emerge as something rich and strange in 20 years' time. But I defy any except the most expert trade taster to taste this wine blind against any of the Bordeaux premier crus of '86 or '87 without thinking the Montes the better wine.
Finally, for the more conventional, two excellent wines from Bordeaux. I have offered Chateau Pitray(5) before, and notice that the great Robert Parker picked out the '85 as his Christmas claret in the Times a few years ago, among all the millions of wines he had tasted that year. The '86 needs decanting an hour in adv- ance if you are to drink it now, and a few may be put off by the initial whiff of pig manure or purin as the French call it, but it is a seriously good wine and the price of £4.82 strikes me as brilliant. There is no earthly reason why the Cotes de Castillon should not produce just as good wine as they do a few score miles to the west, and on this occasion Vicomte L. de Pitray seems to have done it.
The last wine, Chateau La Croix de Grezard 1985(6) from Lussac is a good conventional St Emilion — fine sewery merlot smell with Treat warmth and no problem of rats tails — which works out at £5.79. Once again, it is a solid, warm wine which, in a perfect world, would be kept another five or six years. Since practically nobody does this any more, one can only affirm that it is pleasant drinking now, characterised by the taste which those who drink wine too young will recognise and welcome as good, expensive St Emilion, but much cheaper than they will pay for a known chateau. Since most people know the names of only four or five chateaux, it makes more sense to give them first-class Lussac at half the price of a third-class unknown chateau from the centre of the area.
The sample case works out at £4.65, which is not a bad average for four conspicuously high class offerings, an ex- cellent yin de table and a new drink experience in the Villa Montes(3) at £3.60, which many find pretty exciting.