The first flight on the Saturday included bottles from estates not quite so legendary. My favorite was Château Lagrange, a St.-Julien, which I found savory, pure and balanced. The group preferred a St.-Émilion, Château Grand-Pontet, which I found to be fruity, rich and opulent in the modern style.
The 2005 vintage came at the height of the wine culture wars, a time of sometimes sharp disagreements over styles and direction, with one side championing wines of power, impact and lavish fruitiness, and the other defending more classical wines of restraint and subtlety.
I’ve always been on the classical side, and I found in our tasting that the divide still exists, although on far friendlier terms. It occurred again in the second flight on Saturday in which the group liked best Château Gazin, a historic Pomerol estate, which I found dense, dark and highly concentrated. I preferred a Margaux, Château Malescot St.-Exupéry, which was medium-bodied and savory, with tannins that will need years to soften.
This divide continued on Sunday, though the group’s taste and mine aligned on our favorite in the first flight, a Margaux, Château Prieuré-Lichine, which was elegant, and balanced with gentle flavors of cedar and tobacco.
The tasting closed with another exalted flight that included Mouton Rothschild, Latour and Haut-Brion. Our consensus favorite in this superb group was the Mouton; it was inky, ripe and complex, yet graceful and harmonious, with the potential to develop for decades, as with many of these wines.
A tasting of this type is singular. While we all had our favorites, chances are that a similar tasting on another weekend would yield different results. The individual bottle evaluations are less important than the overall impression of the wines.