The solidly made 2003 Leoville Las-Cases (13.2% alcohol) is a blend of 70.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17.2% Merlot, and 12.6% Cabernet Franc. In this incredibly hot vintage, the alcohol is slightly lower than achieved in 2002, a cool-climate year. While not a profound example of Las-Cases, the 2003 is muscular, deep, and full-bodied with an impressive ruby/purple color, a tight but juicy bouquet of vanilla, black cherries, crushed rocks, and flowers, a sweet attack, and moderately high tannin. Backward and fresh, displaying impeccable delineation and purity, it can be enjoyed between 2012-2023. 93+
Montelena's 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate wraps around the palate with serious depth. Even with all of its intensity, the 2009 has a silkiness that makes it incredibly delicious at this early stage. Red berries, flowers, tobacco and sweet herbs all flesh out on the generous, radiant finish. While many 2009s are a bit tight today, Montelena's 2009 Estate is showing very nicely, although it is keeping some cards close to the vest. I imagine the 2009 will start to enter its prime drinking window around age 8-10 and drink well for at least another decade beyond that. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2029.
The 2005 Mouton Rothschild will have to take a back seat to the prodigious 2006, but administrator Philippe Dalhuin deserves considerable credit for pushing Mouton to higher quality levels over recent years. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest mostly Merlot, the dark purple-hued 2005 exhibits a restrained but promising nose of cedar, tobacco leaf, creme de cassis, and toasty oak. Full-bodied, tannic, and extremely backward, with the vintage's tell-tale acidity, it appears to be even more closed in the bottle than it was from barrel. It does possess a long finish and multilayered mouthfeel. This is an undeniably outstanding, yet restrained, shy wine for a Mouton Rothschild. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2040+
Once again proprietor Alfred Tesseron has produced a wine of first-growth potential. One of the superstars of the vintage, Pontet-Canet’s 2011 exhibits an opaque purple color and a glorious bouquet of incense, subtle toast and copious quantities of creme de cassis. There is a floral underpinning, decent acidity and ripe tannin to this full-bodied effort. Big, rich, round and generously endowed, it should drink well for 20-25+ years.