Aline Conus – 2003 vintage tasting

Aline Conus was born in 1978 in Jura, Eastern France. She is a successful French business woman and marketing expert specialised in luxury goods, e-commerce and the Chinese market who lived in China for over 7 years. She studied at the Institute of Political Studies of Bordeaux in Bordeaux, at the famous University of Columbia and at the London School of Economics.



By Aline Conus

Cantenac Brown (14.5-15)                                                              


Intense, ripe Cabernet nose with good mid-palate flavour and good grip.


Chateau Margaux (19.5-20)                                               


This is wonderful, sweet fruit, great depth of flavour, ripe, soft tannins and great weight for Margaux. I love this wine; it is very long and still very typically elegant despite its intense fruit. A bit like ’83. Brilliant.


Pavillon Rouge de Margaux (17.5)                                                 


I liked this as well, ripe concentration of flavour, fine tannins, elegant, refined classic fine claret in a ripe year. Bravo.


Giscours (15.5)                                                                                


Attractive, intense ripeness here, really attractive, quite weighty and long.


Palmer (Not tasted)                                                                         


But most commentators I respect say this was fine wine with elegance.



Rauzan Ségla (15)                                                                           


Attractive, deep fruit, open nose, perhaps lacking a bit in the middle, but elegant.


By Aline Conus

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By Aline Conus


Chasse Spleen (16)                                                                                      


I liked this, big round, tight-knit tannic wine; it has bags of fruit and structure.


Sociando Mallet (17)                                                                       


Opaque – lovely ripe nose with lots of mid-palate intensity, a big wine with good length; a crowd pleaser – very good.


By Aline Conus

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By Aline Conus

Overall, I found this region disappointing, for both Whites and Reds. Most red wines had a dearth of mid-palate intensity and dry, unripe tannins.


Bahans Haut Brion (16)                                                                  


Bright, floral, sweet fruit, chewy and very open now, this is quite long and attractive.


Carbonnieux Blanc (15½)                                                               


Bright, floral nose, good class mineral and citrus flavours, reasonable length.


Carbonnieux Rouge (15)                                                                 


Good depth of flavour and mineral and ripe fruit character, tannins a bit dry.


Carmes Haut Brion (15)                                                                 


Attractive concentrated black fruit, good, firm structure.


Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (15)                                                   


Bright citrus flavours with good weight and bright long fruit.



Domaine de Chevalier Rouge (16)                                                  


Lovely balance, elegant mineral and spicy fruit flavours, a long of charm.


Haut Bailly (15.5)                                                                            


Elegant restrained minerality with plenty of fruit behind the tougher exterior. Classic Graves.


Haut Brion Blanc (17)                                                                     


Full, rich character with lots of concentration and powerful in the middle – a great result, complex citric and flower aromas, and mineral on the finish.


Haut Brion Rouge (18)                                                        


A big mouthful of succulent fruit and good bright acidity, great structure, lovely black cherry, mocha, spicy character, nice intensity, with very firm tannins, quite masculine; very good indeed, but for me not at 2000 level.


La Mission Haut Brion (17)                                                


Sweet fruit, good structure and lots of charm, complex flavours of violets and cherries – mineral spicy notes, but not a blockbuster. Good wine with more immediate appeal than its neighbour.


La Tour Haut Brion (16.5)                                                             


Open and appealing fruit, with good structure and firm tannins with a long, spicy finish; very good.


Pape Clement Rouge (15.5)                                                            


Big ripe flavours, sweet and good structure, typical of the vintage, but better mid-palate flavours.

By Aline Conus

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By Aline Conus

One of the highlights of this vintage’s tasting, the pleasure of tasting so many top wines, then lunch was provided of sushi – stuffed with foie gras, and Roquefort – pure heaven!


Climens (?)                                                                                      


Not tasted, but from all commentaries, a great wine, if not one of the greatest Climens. This is my favourite for its elegance and, combined with the luscious year, should be great.


Coutet (18)                                                                                                  


A stunning Coutet, intense, honeyed richness, but with characteristic brightness of citrus and flowers, very long, delicious.


De Fargues (17.5)                                                                                       


I loved this, completely above its class, with an intensity and rich honeyed nose of acacia, orange blossom, very sweet, rich, wonderful.


Filhot (16)                                                                                                    


Very open and complex orange peel and honeyed nose, not as intense as some but lovely, long and elegant.


Guiraud (16.5)                                                                                            


Honeyed and luscious, with bright citrus balance. Beautifully precise wine, not overpowering but long.


Lafaurie Peyraguet (17)                                                                             


Very good, mature sweetness but elegant and stylish, a very long classy citric finish, excellent.


La Tour Blanche (17.5)                    


Very intense, sweetness, a blockbuster with an attractive, long finish, and nice, bright acidity. This is very good but for me does not have the sharp definition of some.


Rieussec (19)                                                                                               


For me, one of the best, all the sweetness and balancing acidity, all the flavours of the rainbow, the one thing for me is this wine’s intriguing complexity. This is a great wine.


Suduiraut (19)                                                                                                         


Quite excellent. I tasted it on two separate days, both the same. This has all the intensity and sweetness, but also great class, and great length, and again wonderfully intriguing complexity and definition of flavours. Fabulous.

By Aline Conus

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Aline Conus – Introduction

Aline Conus – Introduction

I have been visiting Bordeaux since 1997, but 2003 was a once in a lifetime experience since I was lucky enough to have a one to one master class in wine tasting with one of the most impressive Bordeaux Grand Crus taster of our times. We spent 4 days driving a lovely car around the vineyards and go from one Chateau to the next, more often than not being warmly welcomed by the winery owner or the Maitre de chais him/herself.


There has been so much dissention amongst critics and this is testimony to the very unusual nature of the vintage. As you will know, this was one of the hottest summers in living memory, and having spent a week in the region tasting pretty well every wine, my, how this has had an effect.


Technically, there are a multitude of factors, which cause some wines to be a disaster and others to be one of the greatest wines a property has ever made. These range from micro-climate through to soil and subsoil, through to grape variety, age of vine, viticultural techniques (such things as leaf plucking and green harvesting), harvesting date, tannin management in the wine making, level of extraction, to name but a few of the most important. One could write a whole thesis on why some properties did better than others and I find it almost impossible to generalise, only to say that Cabernet Sauvignon by and large faired better, and the greater terroir of the Medoc seemed to make a marked difference. One can generalise about the sweet wines, where I believe the top Sauternes & Barsac are some of the greatest in recent years.


There are three major difficulties I have faced in making a definitive evaluation, and as a result, I have only included in my notes wines where I have no question mark. The first difficulty and the most worrying are the nature and balance of the tannins in many wines. There are wines with extremely dry and sometimes bitter tannins. Some are balanced by reasonable acidity and equally powerful fruit and flavour, but many are not, and seem, at this stage, to be strained and constricted by the hot weather and lack any balance. The ‘elevage’ (barrel ageing, fining and filtration) will I believe play a most important role in all wines, particularly in this vintage, and particularly where a wine is marginal in its balance of tannins and fruit.


The second concern is that some wines seem to lack flavour development, although the colours and aromas seem wonderful on first approach, there is something missing in the mid-palate.


The third concern is less prevalent but is where a wine, is ‘overripe’ and ‘overblown’. Some wines have come out almost ‘port’-like, are heavy fruit driven alcoholic and massively intense and concentrated. This is not the ‘English’ taste in Bordeaux and is more appreciated by Americans and Australians who are used to these sort of wines.

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