Grand Corbin is Legendary Cheval Blanc’s Neighbor
The cellars of Château Grand Corbin Manuel are situated in northwest Saint-Émilion, less than one mile from the Pomerol border and a mere 2,600 feet from Château Cheval Blanc. One particular bin in those cellars housed 600 bottles of the 2004 vintage that hadn’t moved an inch in 11 years since bottling — that is, until we took them all, direct from the Château. Antonio Galloni’s Vinous had noted that “the best 2004s will offer serious buying opportunities for Bordeaux drinkers,” and based on our personal tasting, it is entirely true. And the Wine Access clients who snapped up every single bottle of that allocation? They are nodding in agreement right now. Now for the punchline: another bin — possibly the last — of 600 more bottles earmarked for us are due to arrive stateside any day. So, if you delay this time, neighboring Cheval-Blanc we hear runs about $410 — if you can find it. However, this drink-now, gem is in perfect condition and provenance at $29.99 per bottle. You make the call.
The 2004 growing season got off to a perfect start, with one of the largest crops on record in Bordeaux. The owners of Château Grand Corbin Manuel weren’t scratching their heads about what to do however. Spitting distance from some of the greatest châteaux in the world — Château Cheval Blanc is just 2,600 feet away — they went on a dropping frenzy, and ruthlessly thinned bunches down to one grape bunch per shoot. Their grapes maintained excellent natural acidity as workers finished the harvest before things deteriorated later in the month. Despite the feeling that the château’s 2004s exhibited the power and concentration of the 2003s, they chose to cellar them.
In his “Annual Red Bordeaux Report,” Vinous’ Stephen Tanzer pointed out that buyers mainly took a “wait-and-see” approach to the 2004s. He followed up with a prediction that “the best 2004s will offer serious buying opportunities for Bordeaux drinkers” who take a selective buying approach. Robert Parker was more optimistic: “The 2004s generally possess excellent color saturation, crisp, crunchy fruit, and elegant, finesse-styled personalities,” adding that the finest wines will come from producers who made “strict selections” in the vineyards.
To those who of you who took the “wait-and-see” approach as Parker and Tanzer suggested: We don’t blame you. But now is the time to see.