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May 18, 2015

Grand Puy Lacoste 2014

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Since this morning Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge and Blanc have released, for £440 and £575 respectively. We are huge fans of this Estate and both the white and reds are excellent efforts this year. However, the release price means collectors can source equal value physical vintages for less.

However, Grand Puy Lacoste 2014 has released, which is extremely exciting. In 2014 the left bank excelled, with Grand Puy Lacoste in particular wowing the world’s leading tasters. Grand Puy Lacoste has been scored 93-95 points from Neal Martin, equaling Pontet Canet (£675), Cos d’Estournel (£825), Margaux (£2,350), Palmer (£1,500) and Haut Brion (£2,350); at £375 per case of 12 Grand Puy Lacoste is one of the buys of the vintage. The other critics agree, Grand Puy Lacoste 2014 has received 93-96 from the Wine Spectator, 93-94 from James Suckling and 92-95 from Antonio Galloni. This places its potential score inline with the 2009 and 2010, which both trade above £500.

Grand Puy Lacoste, like Pontet Canet, is classified as a Fifth Growth. It is located behind Lynch Bages and on the same longitude as Mouton and Pontet Canet. Its terroir shares the same properties that makes these great Pauillac estates capable of producing beautifully structured, powerful and complex wines. It comes as no surprise that in vintages like 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2014 it makes stellar wines that compete with the leading Second and First Growths for quality. What is surprising is the price however, particularly as they produced less than 12,000 cases in 2014. Based on the critics scores the 2014 will be considered as a leading vintage from this Estate and as one can see from the table below, this makes today’s price of £375 hugely compelling. If you love Pauillac, at £31 a bottle Grand Puy Lacoste is a must buy wine, a wine Martin calls ‘One of the appellation’s most cerebral offerings.’

table 1

The vineyard, once shared with Grand Puy Ducasse, is roughly 36 hectares (90 acres) found on deep gravel top soil with a limestone base. Fermentation occurs in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wines see 50% new oak ageing for 18 months. The name Puy means small height or hillock and the estate stayed in the same family from the 16th century to 1920 before connecting with the Borie family; currently under the management of Francois-Xavier Borie. Interestingly Grand Puy Lacoste is known as the Crocodile Wine in China due to it sharing the same name as the well known French sports brand Lacoste.

Grand Puy Lacoste 2014, 12×75 – £375 or 6×75 – £187.50 EP
The Wine Advocate, Neal Martin 93-95
The Château Grand Puy Lacoste 2014 is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot between 25 September and 9 October at 33 hectoliter per hectare. The aromatics are not as immediate as the Haut-Batailley and demand more coaxing from the glass, but that comes with the territory. It unfurls with each swirl, black fruits at first, then GPL’s trademark, graphite and gravel scents storm into the room. Leaving the glass aside for 10 minutes there is a distant tang of shucked oyster shells. The palate is understated on the entry. This is not a powerhouse Grand-Puy-Lacoste, rather one that emphasizes finesse and precision. It is almost unerringly low-key and yet there is an enormous length already in place. As usual, I suspect that its secrets (or at least some of them) will be unlocked during its barrel maturation. One of the appellation’s most cerebral offerings.
The Wine Spectator, James Molesworth 93-96
Rock-solid, with a gutsy core of plum, black currant, steeped fig and melted licorice snap, all carried by a gorgeous, charcoal-edged spine. Long, and loaded with fruit and grip. As solid as they come.
James Suckling 93-94
This is a wine with a dense center, wonderful fruit, polished and refined tannins and a persistent finish. Full-bodied, long and intense. Beautiful pure cabernet character. Real wine. 82% cabernet Sauvignon and 18% merlot. Higher percentage of cabernet than normal.
Antonio Galloni 92-95
Vibrant and pulsating in the glass, the 2014 Grand Puy Lacoste impresses for its superb overall balance. The flavors are bright and beautifully expressive, with sweet floral notes woven throughout that give the wine much of its nuance, while the seamless, silky tannins speak to finesse. Even with all of its explosive energy, the 2014 is not an obvious or huge wine; rather it is a Pauillac that draws the taster in with its multiple shades of dimension. A wine of true class and pedigree, the Grand Puy Lacoste is shaping up to be a real gem in this vintage. 

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