Ponti Wine Cellars, Central
25th May 2010
Day two of the Ponti Wine Cellars master classes and it was time to move from Italy to France. I was very excited about tonight’s tasting and the opportunity to try some old Bordeaux. I’m usually pretty sceptical about Bordeaux; I’ve had bottles I’ve loved, but have also had gallons of rubbish. I suppose though, what really gets me is poor value I perceive as coming out of the region. We were guided through several decades of Chateau Corbin Michotte wines by proprietor Emmanuel Boidron. When Emmanuel arrived he was exhausted after travels in China, but with a glass in front of him he quickly warmed to the topic and warmed to his audience. His Grand Cru Classé estate is located on the north-west corner of St Emilion; just up the road from Cheval Blanc. It has been owned by the Boidrons since 1959. The wine is usually a blend of 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc and matured in big, new oak barrels.
The vibrant, ruby Chateau Corbin Michotte 2005 was truly a beautiful proposition with plenty of red and black fruit, spice and floral notes. While truly delicious, what impressed me most about this was how refined it was; medium bodied and with fine, perfectly integrated tannin. The 1998 was noticeably firmer and richer than the 2005. It was still ruby in colour with just a hint of orange and a little cloudiness. The nose had lots of spice coming through, with more black fruit than red – boysenberry and blackberry – alongside some sweet red capsicum. The palate was all about sweet black fruits with a lovely herbal edge. Again this was really drinkable with excellent length and masterful, firm but alluring tannins.
Apparently 1981 was a hot year in Bordeaux and Chateau Corbin Michotte 1981 was distinct in that it was made from 50% Cabernet Franc. Perfumed, complex nose had aromas of red liquorice, cassis, spice and leather, while the palate started sweet and moved through gamey flavours before finishing with a taste of liquorice. When we opened the 1975 Emmanuel was really impressed with the cork; I’d have to agree that it was holding up remarkably well (for a cork). Orange fading to brown this had lots of mint on the nose along with aniseed, cinnamon and violets. It was really savoury and tasted of red fruits, tar, tobacco, and aniseed. The acid was noticeable on these older wines and the length excellent on all. The final wine got me a touch excited; a Chateau Corbin Michotte 1964. Light brown in colour the nose on this was initially withdrawn, but as it opened with hints of flowers and spice. The earthy palate was much more inspiring and had leather, aniseed, game and red fruit flavours.
What a tasting; the 1964 was the oldest wine I’ve ever drunk and a truly memorable experience. However what impressed me most was the consistency and quality across the whole selection. The older vintages weren't from the best years, yet all these wines we were beautifully balanced; medium bodied with particularly stylish tannin; and most importantly they were all so, so drinkable. I mentioned price before and at $389 for the 2005 vintage I really can't complain about value either.