Several weeks following the Union de Grand Cru wine tasting in London, Neal Martin has released his in-bottle scores and tasting notes on Bordeaux 2008. His overall impressions? “The leitmotivs were ones of masculinity, firm tannins, freshness and a healthy but not overbearing sense of austerity."
Amidst the negativity that surrounded the 2008s’ release last year, the wine trade reacted with mild surprise when Martin published better-than-expected scores. Now, having retasted the wines, his notes reflect an even greater measure of enthusiasm.
"The ‘classicism’ of the 2008 had been accentuated during élevage… It was as if the personality of the growing season had reasserted itself in barrel. These traits were illuminated in several juxtapositions with the 2009 vintage: a completely different beast that is overflowing with fruité, brio and opulence."
Fortunately for those who purchased Classed Growths en primeur, the majority of the 08s appear to have improved with time and none of the big names have been downgraded. For the most part, Martin settled on the higher end of barrel-score spreads and has accorded a handful of wines slightly superior scores to those seen last year. Those on the up include Grand-Puy Lacoste, which was promoted from 92-94 points to a final score of 95, and Smith Haut Lafitte, which moves up from 89-91 to an in-bottle score of 94. Lafite 2008 – now trading at £12,050 per case – emerges as as a firm favourite at 97 points. With or without its intimidating price tag, the wine is “unequivocally a brilliant Pauillic.”
The table below shows Martin’s top ten Left Bank 08s. His notes on the Right Bank have yet to be published.