There is a lot of press on 05 Bordeaux vintage. But I recently found an 01 Chateau Larmande, that I thought was spectacular. You can find it for under $40 — and I bet it would be difficult to find something similar in terms of quality in an 05 for less than $65.It is old world in style but very lush and dense. Extreme purity, excellent structure and great acidity — it is drinkable now but would certainly benefit from at least 5 years of cellar time.The history of Chateau Larmande begins as long ago as the 16th Century; records indicate that wine was produced here in 1585. The vineyards of Larmande lie a little over one kilometre to the north of the town of St Emilion itself, and are planted on a variety of terroirs, principally (accounting for 70% of the vines) on ancient sandy soils as is typical of much of the right bank, but with some more desirable but admittedly smaller zones of clay with flint (15% of the total) and clay with limestone (again, 15% of the total). The vines which are pruned in a double Guyot fashion have an average age of 30 years, and are predominantly Merlot, which covers 60% of the vineyard, with 30% Cabernet Franc and just 5% Cabernet Sauvignon making up the balance.The wines themselves are of very good quality, and the estate has in the past been regarded by some as the best of the Grand Cru Classé estates, this being the level at which the property has long been ranked in the St Emilion classification. This was the opinion of Clive Coates, who has also claimed that Larmande has been “…freely acknowledged, even by most of its rivals in the Saint-Emilion area, to be the best…” at this level.This is lot of wine for under $40 — and I would certainly buy some of the 01 Larmande with as much enthusiasm as any of the 05s.
The finest Larmande I have ever tasted, this sleeper of the vintage is a seamless classic that transcends its terroir and pedigree. The 2001 Larmande exhibits a deep purple color as well as a striking perfume of charcoal, black currant and cherry liqueur, incense, and vanillin. Medium to full-bodied, with a sensational mid-palate, wonderful persistence, and a beautifully balanced style, it can be drunk young or cellared for 10-15 years. Bravo!