2019 Châteaux d'Armailhac, Clerc Milon & Mouton-RothschildTuesday, 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.
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
2019 Château Clerc-Milon, Cru Classé Pauillac
"The 2019 Clerc Milon contains a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (72%) as more of their sélection massale comes "on line". It is quite intense on the nose, a mixture of red and black fruit, sous-bois and traces of tobacco. There is a fullness to the aromatics that I appreciate, hints of brown spice emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins. This is not a bold, structured Clerc Milon. This feels elegant and refined, gently building to a lightly spiced finish with judicious cracked black pepper and clove notes. Understated and classy. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 91-93 points." Neal Martin, Vinous.com
"A very tight, precise red with super fine tannins that are tight and focused. Medium-to full-bodied with linear tannins and a bright, vivid finish. It’s leaner and refined. Precise and driven. This is a very cabernet sauvignon-driven Clerc with 76% cabernet sauvignon. 94-95 pts." James Suckling"The blend this year is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, harvested from the 19th of September to the 9th of October. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2019 Clerc Milon starts out a little closed and broody, offering notes of tar, chargrill, tapenade and Marmite toast over an emerging core of stewed plums, black cherries and kirsch with a touch of garrigue. The medium-bodied palate delivers loads of freshness with crunchy black fruits and a lively line, backed up by grainy tannins, finishing long and savory. 92-94+ pts." Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
2019 Château Mouton-Rothschild, 1er Cru Classé Pauillac
"The 2019 Mouton Rothschild comes off the back of a succession of superlative wines that you would have to go back to the late Forties to see again. Deep in colour, it has a very composed and refined bouquet: very pure blackberry intermingling with bilberry and graphite, touches of Earl Grey and crushed stone emerging after several minutes in the glass. The palate is beautifully balanced with finely-chiseled tannins, a little spicier than the previous vintage from barrel last year, gently building and fanning out towards the poised finish. This is a sophisticated, classic Mouton-Rothschild that will require a little more cellaring than some recent vintages, but will surely be worth the wait. 96-98 points." Neal Martin, Vinous.com
"The blend this year is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, harvested from the 18th of September to the 5th of October. Opaque purple-black colored, the 2019 Mouton Rothschild simply shines, even at this very nascent stage, beaming from the glass with bright, vibrant scents of crème de cassis, blueberry preserves, boysenberries and black raspberries plus fragrant suggestions of lilacs, dark chocolate, sandalwood, jasmine tea and woodsmoke with a spicy waft of star anise. The medium-bodied palate shimmers with energy, featuring tightly wound layers of black fruits, exotic spices and mineral notions, framed by exquisitely ripe, fine-grained tannins and bags of freshness, finishing with epic length and perfume. This year's profound expression is without doubt a legend in the making. (For number crunchers, the alcohol is 13.5% this year, slightly lower than 2018, which came in at 13.8%.). Mouton’s grand vin is unquestionably one of the wines of the vintage...98-100 points." Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
“This shows purity of fruit with blackcurrants and cassis and hints of blueberries and fresh flowers. Toasted and roasted. The 90% of cabernet sauvignon really makes this special. Lead-pencil, tar and licorice notes. Powerful with finesse. Extremely persistent.” 99-100 points." James Suckling
LIMITED AVAILABILITY AT £1975 IB per six bottles (2nd tranche price) PLEASE ENQUIRE
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