"Max Sichel, fifth generation of the eponymous family firm of Bordeaux négoçiants, was our guide for the evening, impressing with deep-rooted knowledge of his wines as well as his ease at mastering the Bristolian accent!
We started with a real surprise of a Champagne: André Clouet’s Silver Brut NV which has no added sugar (as most regular marques do) yet, through extra ageing and starting with grand cru grapes from Bouzy, shows a depth and richness of flavour that belies its exceptional value. It’s a great choice for a summer event and deserves to be more widely known.
The main tasting was however of wines made at Sichel’s properties, and first up was their white from Château Argadens. It was from the outstanding 2017 vintage, just shipped from their cellars and demonstrated what a fabulous year this is for white Bordeaux. There’s a touch of lime, a hint of vanilla, all in a juicy, peachy mouthful, fresh and clean to finish.
Château Argadens 2014 kicked off the reds, matching the classic French brasserie dish of Onglet steak extremely well. This wine is from the cooler, but very reasonably priced 2014 vintage and showed what great wines you can buy from Bordeaux for less than a tenner. It was served from magnums and is an easy, everyday claret. From there we moved on to Reserve d’Angludet 2014, a classic ‘second wine’ that has more intensity than the Argadens, mimics the style of Château Angludet but matures earlier and has a lusher, rounder feel to it than its bigger brother. This is a wine on top form, a typically satisfying glass of good claret with depth and breadth.
And so to a ‘vertical’ of Château Angludet, Margaux. Max had brought three vintages: 2012, 1999 and 1989. All were distinctive, classic and wholly enthralling. The 2012 was perhaps the prettiest and most charming of the three, elegant to taste and more medium in weight. It changed subtly during the evening, with more aromatics in the glass and a round, spicier feel developing on the palate. Ben Sichel, Max’s uncle, lives at Angludet and he spends every moment checking the vineyards at harvest. His efforts in the relatively unheralded 2012 vintage have created one of the best that Margaux produced that year.
Pouring from magnums, Max then described the two older wines that he had brought from the family cellars. The 1999 was quite a firm, straight-laced claret with a bold structure and layers of rich blackcurranty flavours mingling with toasty oak. The length of flavour in your mouth was impressive, and this is a wine that will last a bit further. The 1989 in contrast, which is a much fêted year, was pretty much spot-on; mature with truffley hints and a round, all-spice flavour mixed with leather and tobacco.
To finish we were lucky to get a share of the wonderful Château Guiraud 2002, a sweet white Sauternes from half bottles. Richly sweet butterscotch and barley sugar were balanced by a fine stream of acidity, an exquisite glass of nectar and reminder we don’t drink enough pudding wine!
It was a fantastic evening put on for The Week Wines' partner, Sanlam Wealthsmiths. Being able to meet the winemaker and learn and taste different vintages is a truly unique experience, and Max Sichel was the perfect host for the evening.
Due to the rarity of some wines featured on the evening, not all are available to purchase, but we have been able to provide worthy replacements in limited quantities. They are all available in cases of six bottles. You can view the full collection here. As always, you'll enjoy FREE UK delivery on all orders."
Cheers! Robert Boutflower, Private Sales Director, Tanners Wine Merchant