Friday, 18 March 2011

Château Gigault dinner

By Matthew Hemming, Fine Wine Manager

Last Friday we were delighted to welcome Christophe Reboul-Salze to Bristol.  Christophe owns Chateau Gigault - the finest estate in the 1eres Cotes du Blaye.  Many of us think of Blaye as a relatively new addition to the famous names of Bordeaux, so it was fascinating to learn that Averys had actually listed Gigault in our 1935 Wine List!  Christophe's promised to send us a copy (but not a bottle...).

Over twenty of us - the wine advisers, team Culver Street, Liz Field from the buying department, Beccy from marketing, and me - took Christophe to my favourite Bristol restaurant, where they not only accommodated our large party (plus bottles) but served us some top notch food.  Over the course of dinner we worked our way through a vertical tasting of Christophe's top bottling: Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva.

We kicked off with Champagne from the restaurant's list - Pierre Moncuit's Blanc de Blanc.  This is a grower Champagne I really enjoy - it's ultra-fresh, pure and direct.  A lovely perfume of white blossom is followed by a creamy palate with a fine mouses and some yellow stone fruit.  The finish is brisk, dry and bracing - really sets you up for dinner.

As this was dinner rather than a tasting, I decided just to make a few brief notes and dispense with scores...

Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva 2007
Bright and youthful with a crisp red fruit aroma.  Mid-weight on the palate with some earthy tannin.  This is lifted and fresh with a sense of delicacy and a nicely fragrant finish.  A very tasty '07 for current drinking.

Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva 2005
Has a notable density and richness of colour and aroma.  Lots of glossy black fruit and spice on the nose.  The palate shows sweet, ripe fruit and supple, velvet tannins.  Despite the weight the wine has admirable density and precision.  Really good stuff this.  If you have any, I'd stay away from the corkscrew for just a little longer but you won't regret it if you do pull a cork now.

Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva 2003
Controversial vintage, this.  Many people feel it was just too hot to make classic Bordeaux and many of the Merlot-based wines, like Gigault, are already starting to tire.  The nose shows very ripe fruit, with a slightly fudgy edge to it - as you might expect from 2003.  The palate is better, with very ripe, sweet fruit but plenty of weight to make it rich and opulent for current drinking.  I wouldn't keep this too much longer, but it certainly gives lots of pleasure if you like a hedonistic claret - a bit of a guilty pleasure, with low acidity and loads of fruit.

Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva 1999
The first bottle I tasted was just a little bit oxidised but luckily we had two others to hand.  The next glass I poured was a lovely, mature wine with elegance and delicacy.  1999 was never going to be a powerful wine, but it offers delicious current drinking.  This is claret that's light on its feet and fine-boned, with lovely, silky tannin.  Drinking at peak now.

Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva 1998
A great right bank vintage, this was also Christophe's first harvest at Gigault so we were very lucky he shared some with us.  There's something very cool and controlled about the aroma, combined with classic, mature, notes of earth and sweet spices.  Absolutely at the peak of maturity, it perhaps lacks the precision of modern vintages - but a lot has changed in winemaking since 1998! - and is growing old gracefully.  Has a lovely, lingering finish.

To round things off, I'd brought along a few bottle of Chateau Raymond Lafon 2005 Sauternes - carefully chosen to go with my dessert of 'Apples & Pears: Tarte Tartin'.  2007 and 2001 might be better vintages for Sauternes, but in terms of pure richness and decadence, '05 is the way to go.  For those of us who can't quite stretch to d'Yquem, Raymond Lafon is a pretty good choice...this had an intense perfume of blossom and creme brulee with complex spice and toast notes.  Full and rich on the palate with crystalline fruit purity and nicely taut acidity to balance out all the sweetness and weight.  The gorgeously long finish drew the evening to an end in great style.

'Chapeau' to Christophe for doing such great things with Chateau Gigault and for being such good company over dinner.  Of the reds, 2005 - unsurprisingly - gets my vote as the wine of the night, but the 2007 gets an honourable mention in despatches for offering delicious current drinking whilst we wait for it's older sibling to really hit its stride.

Thanks also to Toby, Adam, Flo and everyone at the Pump House ( for yet another stunning meal and for once again being generally brilliant.

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