2004 Petrus, Pomerol, Bordeaux
Neal Martin - 01/03/2017
About this WINE
Pétrus, one of the world`s rarest and most expensive wines was virtually unheard of 30 years ago. It was only when the Moueix family bought a half share in the property in 1962 that its true potential began to be fully realised. Pétrus is now under the direction of Christian Moueix and oenologist, Jean Claude Berrouet.
The 11.4 hectare vineyard is located on a plateau on the highest part of Pomerol in the far east of the appellation. The topsoil and the subsoil at Pétrus is almost all clay (in neigbouring properties the soil is a mixture of gravel-sand or clay-sand) and Merlot flourishes in this soil. Pétrus' vineyard is planted with 95% Merlot.
The vines are unusually old and are only replanted after they reach 70 years of age. The grapes are hand harvested only in the afternoon, when the morning dew has evaporated, so as not to risk even the slightest dilution of quality. The grapes are fermented in cement vats and the wine is aged in 100% new oak barrels for 22-28 months. It is bottled unfiltered.
Pétrus is extraordinarily rich, powerful and concentrated, often with characteristics of chocolates, truffles, Asian spices and ultra-ripe, creamy, black fruits. Petrus is usually approachable after a decade or so in bottle, but the wines from the very greatest years will continue improving for many more years.
Pomerol is the smallest of Bordeaux's major appellations, with about 150 producers and approximately 740 hectares of vineyards. It is home to many bijou domaines, many of which produce little more than 1,000 cases per annum.
Both the topography and architecture of the region is unremarkable, but the style of the wines is most individual. The finest vineyards are planted on a seam of rich clay which extends across the gently-elevated plateau of Pomerol, which runs from the north-eastern boundary of St Emilion. On the sides of the plateau, the soil becomes sandier and the wines lighter.
There is one satellite region to the immediate north, Lalande-de-Pomerol whose wines are stylistically very similar, if sometimes lacking the finesse of its neighbour. There has never been a classification of Pomerol wines.
Recommended Châteaux : Ch. Pétrus, Vieux Ch. Certan, Le Pin, Ch. L’Eglise-Clinet, Ch. La Conseillante, Ch. L’Evangile, Ch. Lafleur, Trotanoy, Ch. Nenin, Ch. Beauregard, Ch. Feytit-Clinet, Le Gay.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
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The 2004 Petrus is a vintage that I had not tasted for a while and whilst it is an exemplary Pomerol, it does not rank within the top tier of wines from the iconic estate. Nevertheless, it has a wonderful, quite powerful bouquet with kirsch and crushed flowers, violets and truffle, perhaps even a seam of cinnamon in the background. The palate is gently moving into its secondary stage of evolution. The fruit is darker than the 2004 Cheval Blanc tasted (blind) alongside, fine structure, a little broody perhaps but with satisfying depth. Perhaps like the 2004 Haut-Brion, it ticks all the boxes but does not quite deliver the personality or the charm of other vintages and as such, it has never quite achieved the promise it showed from barrel. My comments are begrudging given the quality. But this is Petrus. Tasted September 2016.
Neal Martin - 01/03/2017
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