Monday, 12 October 2009

The measure of a wine.....the "lesser" vintages - Trotanoy

I am a firm believer in the idea that it is the wines produced in less that perfect years by an estate/chateau/domaine that really reflect how good it is overall. This was the mindset I took when tasting a four vintage vertical of Trotanoy at our tasting last thursday (more about which later).

Background - The name Trotanoy (pronounced Trotanwah apparently....I prefer Trot!!) is derived from trop ennui - referring to the fact that working the heavy soils here is just too much work. The dense mixture of clay and gravel is treacherous when wet but bakes like concrete when it dries. It is easy to imagine how the name came about when one thinks of working the land with a horse-drawn plough. made from 90% Merlot & 10% Cabernet Franc fermented for between 1 week and 10 days in small concrete vats, followed by 1 week’s maceration with the skins. Aged for 20 months in 50% new oak barrels. The Chateau is positioned on the plateau of Pomerol, 130 feet above sea level and is 8 hectares planted with 6,200 vines per hectare; averaging 35+ years.

The Wines:

2001 - A really good vintage to be honest, often forgotten amongst the hype around 2000. The dense and full nose was classical Pomerol with a hint of savoury, earthy leather. Serious stuff. Sweet ripe attack but then savoury again with black fruits. Enjoyable now but if I had a case I would leave alone until the wines 10th birthday. 17-18/20

1999 - A charming drinkers vintage, never profound but generally reliable. Slight colour development compared to 2001, a touch of the gamey character of older wine on the nose with a hint of red fruit and licorice coming through. Palate was more delicate and less masculine than the 2001. Good now, Savoury balance. 17/20

1997 - A vintage that was overpriced when released and bombed as a result, never serious but some good, elegant wines. No brownness but more age to the rim than 1999. Cedar and a touch of spice on the nose with just a bit of the classic Pomerol brown sugar. Lighter than the 1999 but very balanced. Almost more in the style of serious Burgundy than Bordeaux. Alive and well. The most pleasant surprise of them all. 17++

1994 - A vintage that was a massive relief after the three "washouts" of 1991/2/3 and the first vintage I really sold in the wine trade! The wines have often lacked charm with structure more evident than anything. Some age showing on the rim but still a good solid colour in the core. Subdued nose not giving much away. Palate was very "clarty", a phrase I use for slightly old school claret character. Honest and drinking well now for those who like fully maturity, the most in need of food, I am not convinced that this was the best of bottles of this wine. (15-16+)

The general feeling I got was of masculine styled wines with good structure and a richness in the more old fashioned savoury sense.....really encouraging from these *** or **** star vintages. In the best of years 1998, 2000, 2005 Trotanoy often rivals the mightly Petrus.........

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