A Decade In Bottle: 2004 Claret


“Ten years on, 2004 is a vintage which, at its best, shows both balance and finesse. Many crus classésare just hitting their stride. All three communes below (Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux) achieved notable successes, none more than Margaux, where Rauzan-Ségla is a wine of the vintage. All these wines may be enjoyed now, or cellared for a few more years – a neat tour of the 2004 vintage on the left bank.” – Joanna Locke MW

1. Château Batailley, Pauillac 2004

  • This fifth-growth property is owned and managed by Pierre Castéja, supported by the technical expertise of Denis Dubourdieu as consultant winemaker. Pierre believes this vintage will develop in the style of ‘96 or ‘86 but will eclipse both. Lovely firm black-fruit quality with typical touch of hazelnuts at this stage and with the charm and finesse of the 2004 vintage. 13%. Drink now to 2020. (£29)

2. Château Clerc-Milon, Pauillac 2004

  • An outstanding success for the vintage, but a wine that will require patience. Ripe cabernet gives lovely cassis bloom and structure but the wine is given complexity, richness and body too by the merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot elements which make it a very complete wine. 13%. Drink now to 2025. (£42)

3. Château Léoville-Barton, Saint-Julien 2004

  • The blend of 72% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot and 8% cabernet franc yields benchmark Saint-Julien, sweetly fruited, classically proportioned and long on the palate. Power and finesse in equal measure. 13%. Drink now to 2024. (£45)

4. Clos du Marquis, Saint-Julien 2004 

  • The second wine of Léoville-Las-Cases is outstanding in 2004, when it represented 66% of the crop, all harvested in October, with rich fruit and a long-lasting finish. 13%. Drink now to 2010.

5. Chateau Prieuré- Lichine, Margaux 2004

  • This vintage of Prieuré-Lichine has the elegance that defines the commune and layers of seductive fruit that make it deliciously approachable, but with plenty of time in hand. 13%. Drink now to 2020. (£35)

6. Château Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux 2004

  • Delightfully pure, soft, ripe fruit and true Margaux finesse with a glorious finish. 13.5%. Drink now to 2025. 
  • In 1661, this estate was bought by Pierre Desmezures de Rauzan, who named it after himself. It then passed through two centuries of his family, who maintained a high reputation for the château, so much so that it became a favourite of Thomas Jefferson. 
  • In the 1855 Classification, Rauzan-Ségla was placed top of the second growths – just after Mouton-Rothschild, which has since been promoted to a first growth. In the 20th century the property passed through a series of owners and suffered seriously from under-investment, but this changed when the Wertheimer family, who own the Chanel business, bought the estate in 1994. They recruited John Kolasa, previously manager at Latour, to run it, installed proper drainage and embarked upon a considerable amount of replanting. 
  • The 66-hectare vineyard lies in the heart of Margaux on deep but poor gravel soil, ideal for producing wine with fine bouquet, for which the appellation is famous. The average age of the vines – 27 years – may not be anywhere near the oldest in the Médoc, (thanks to the necessary replanting in the 1990s) but some vineyard plots are over 50 years old. Grape selection is very strict from start to finish: all grapes are hand picked, before being sorted twice at the winery, ensuring only the best fruit is used in the finished wine. They are then fed into stainless-steel tanks using gravity-flow technology, where they undergo temperature-controlled fermentation. 
  • Since the early part of the 21st century, Rauzan-Ségla has re-established itself as one of the finest wines of the appellation alongside Margaux and Palmer, with all three properties making very fine, balanced, potentially long-lived wines. The second wine, Ségla, is also an excellent buy. The wine is generally a blend of 54% cabernet sauvignon, 41% merlot, 4% petit verdot and 1% cabernet franc aged for 18 months in French oak, 80% of which is new. Rauzan-Ségla can be enjoyed for between 12 and 40 years.

The “Mystery Wine” was Warwick Trilogy 2008.


This seated, tutored tasting was held at the Masonic Hall in Harrogate on Thursday 31 July 2014, starting at 7pm. The wines were presented by Dr. Bernard Dias.

Chateau Doisy-Daene Sec, Bordeaux 2012 (£17.50) was served on arrival. (Consistently one of the most charming dry Bordeaux available, this is a pure Sauvignon Blanc made by Denis Dubourdieu and his sons, with perfectly judged use of oak and vivid freshness on the palate. 13%).


The tasting was followed by a two course supper prepared by Adam Vear of the Masonic Hall. Chateau Moncets, Lalande-de-Pomerol 2009 (£13.95) was poured with supper. (This vineyard is well placed on the border with Pomerol proper and its innate quality shows through the full, well-structured wine with impressive length of flavour. 13.5%).


Supper Menu: Slow braised ox cheek with celeriac mash, Strawberry and mango pavlova

The cost of the event was £37.50 pp (for members of the HMWS) and £ 40 for non-members inclusive of supper and wines.





2 thoughts on “A Decade In Bottle: 2004 Claret

  1. Dr. Stephen Cameron wrote on 1 August:
    “Ann and I greatly enjoyed a decade in the bottle last night. Many thanks for sourcing and buying such a good selection of mature Claret for us to compare. All were good but I enjoyed the Leoville-Barton closely followed by Rauzan-Segla most of all. The Warwick Trilogy, from 2008, was not disgraced in such company, and does not need to be cellared for years.”


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