Château d’Armailhac 1999, Pauillac, Bordeaux. Medium-deep ruby in appearance, with a warm magenta rim; notable sediment. Pleasantly fragrant rather than aromatic, yet complex and enticing. Ripe blackcurrants dominate the nose, accompanied by an appealing greenness, vanilla and woodsmoke from French oak; olives and mushroom indicate some bottle age. A ripe fruit entry to the palate is followed up by smoky cedar, hazelnuts and intense bell pepper. This wine is complex, brooding and elegant. Moderate, balanced alcohol, crisp acidity, some viscosity to the body, forward tannins and a very long finish reminsicent of bitter chocolate.
Château d’Armailhac 2003, Pauillac, Bordeaux. Deep ruby in appearance with a magenta rim; cloudy. Fragrant nose, though notably muted compared to the ’99. Slightly soapy, with ripe blackcurrant, plums, vanilla and lavendar/thyme. Only medium acidity on the palate and silky but firm and aggressive tannins. The alcohol is not overt, but feels high due to the lower acid. This wine has a savoury onset to the palate, with licorish, some green pepper but not a lot of fruit. It feels ‘dilute’, and the finish is notably shorter than the ’99. The warm vintage shows through here with the aggressive tannins, lower acidity and muted aromas.