2019 Châteaux d'Armailhac & Aile d'ArgentTuesday, June 9
Châteaux d'Armailhac, Clerc Milon & Mouton-Rothschild have released their 2019 vintage wines this morning.
With predicted perfect scores for the First Growth, (98-100 points from Lisa Perotti-Brown MW and 99-100 from James Suckling), availability and allocations will be the challenge here. We have sold out of our initial allocation to those customers who pre-ordered and we are now trying to source more in Bordeaux. If you do have interest, please let us know as soon as possible.
D'Armailhac and Clerc Milon both attract more modest scores (91-93 points for d'Armailhac and 92-95 points for Clerc Milon). We think the wines are often under-rated. Both are Pauillac fifth growths, just like Pontet-Canet and Lynch-Bages. Each year when we taste them, the familial resemblance with Mouton grows a little stronger.
We normally go out of our way to avoid talking about 'brands' when it comes to fine wine, but we can see the increasingly powerful effect of brand-thinking at the top estates. The level of investment in the vineyard and winemaking is beyond what these estates could support if they stood alone and there is clearly a steely-eyed intent to make them the equal of those more famous fifth growths, as well as narrowing the gap with Mouton.
With this background and at 20% below the 2018 release price, d'Armailhac is great value, just £30 per bottle in bond. Clerc Milon, always a clear step up, seems to us by turns to capture more of the nuances and complexity of the First Growth wine. Lisa Perotti-Brown finds notes of "tar, chargrill, tapenade and Marmite toast over an emerging core of stewed plums, black cherries and kirsch with a touch of garrigue", whilst Suckling notes the clean, linear style (94-95 pts). We feel confident in recommending these wines as solid investments for your cellar.
Finally, we should also mention 2019 Aile d'Argent, the little-known white wine from Mouton-Rothschild, from a 4 hectares vineyard on the estate. The sandy, gravelly soil is planted with Sauvignon Blanc (53%), Semillon (35%), Sauvignon Gris (11%) and Muscadelle (1%), 50% of the wine is matured in new oak barrels. James Suckling awards an impressive 97-98 points this year, describing it as "A very exotic Aile d’Argent with dried-mango, fresh-pineapple, and sliced-lemon aromas and flavors"...a slice of the Mouton estate at just £360 IB per six bottles!
Offered En Primeur, landing Spring 2022.
Florent Fresse presents the 2019 vintage at Armailhac:
2019 Château d'Armailhac, Cru Classé Pauillac
"This year the blend is 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, harvested from the 19th of September to the 9th of October. The 2019 D'Armailhac sports a medium to deep garnet-purple color and notes of warm plums, stewed cherries, mulberries and blackcurrant pastilles with touches of aniseed, wild thyme and chocolate box. The medium-bodied palate has a firm frame of fine-grained tannins and bold freshness supporting the expressive black and blue fruits, finishing with a provocative herbal lift. 91-93 points." Lisa Perrotti-Brown, RobertParker.com(Jun 2020)
"Thoroughly enjoyable Armailhac, with concentration immediately apparent on the nose, more so than in many vintages of this wine. There's a pleasing austerity to the tannins giving a confident but not overbearing structure with lovely juiciness on the finish. Of the three Pauillac estates in the Mouton stable, this has the youngest vines as an average age (although also some of the oldest vines in the whole of the Médoc, dating back to the 1890s) which sometimes holds it back from reaching full complexity of expression, but that is not something you'll be complaining about here. Instead you get a fresh core, silkily textured blackberry and cassis fruits with good balance. This is the last vintage made in the old facilities, as they are about to re-do the cellars. Harvest began around one week earlier than average, on September 18, spread out through to October 9. Petit Verdot 2% completes the blend. Tasted twice one week apart. Drinking range: 2028 - 2042. 93 points." Jane Anson, Decanter
"The 2019 d'Armailhac was the last vintage made in the old winery that has since been demolished to make way for a new gravity-fed facility that will be equipped with 50 smaller vats tailored to the parcels in the vineyard. It will provide greater space that will permit longer élevage if desired. It is fascinating to juxtapose again its Clerc Milon stablemate. There is more amplitude on the nose, it is more forthright with blackberry, wild hedgerow, tobacco and a subtle leather aroma. It comes across less high-toned than previous vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannins and slightly more mid-palate depth/grip than the Clerc Milon. The crescendo here is wonderful, fanning out towards the finish with subtle black pepper, sage and mint notes. This is a delicious d'Armailhac in the making. 92-94 points." Neal Martin, Vinous.com
"I've always loved this château, and it offers lots of bang for the buck. The 2019 Château D'Armailhac reveals a dense purple hue to go with textbook Pauillac graphite and lead pencil notes as well as more cassis style fruits, background tobacco, and subtle oak. Medium to full-bodied and elegant on the palate, it's a seamless, balanced effort to drink over the coming two decades or more. 92-94 points." Jeb Dunnuck, Jun 2020
£360 IB per dozen bottles
2019 Aile d'Argent, Bordeaux Blanc
"A very exotic Aile d’Argent with dried-mango, fresh-pineapple, and sliced-lemon aromas and flavors. Full-bodied and very ripe, yet it’s framed by bright acidity. Tangy and vivid with a long, intense finish. Exciting. Contrastive. 38% semillon and the rest sauvignon blanc and gris. 97-98 points." James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, May 2020
Offered en primeur, ex-chateau, due to land in the UK in Spring 2022. Priced in bond, excluding UK duty, VAT and onward delivery, payable at the prevailing rate on release from bond. Stock subject to availability, E&OE.