The Fives at Château d’Issan


Following the vertical that I conducted at the estate back in 2018, I recently joined Emmanuel Cruse via Zoom for a small tasting of recent vintages of “The Fives”, including the 2000 d’Issan that was not included in my The Marital Margaux: d’Issan 1945-2015 article. These were delivered as small glass bottles, so it was interesting to compare with tasting notes from regular bottles. In this respect, I was pleased to see a strong correlation between the two. Readers will find all the background information in my original report, so I will crack on with the wines.

The 2000 Château d’Issan, which Emmanuel Cruse describes as the last of the “old style” of d’Issan, has an open bouquet with red plum, strawberry and touches of soy coming through with time. Touches of cooked meat also join the chorus line. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly rustic tannins, but quite sharp with pointed acidity. It is missing a little grip and displays a peppery, savoury, hickory-tinged finish with clove and white pepper on the aftertaste. Fully mature, I would drink this millennial soon. 88/Drink 2021-2026.

The 2005 Château d’Issan is one that Emmanuel Cruse describes as “the first great wine of the modern era”. It has more Merlot than previous vintages as some plots were replanted. It also displays more fruit intensity on the nose compared to the 2000. Blackberry and briary, wilted rose petals and violets are nicely focused, though you could argue not as complex as more recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins, a fine bead of acidity and gentle grip. It has a lively finish with a subtle marine influence on the aftertaste. This 2005 is drinking beautifully now and will continue to give pleasure for another 15-20 years. 92/Drink 2021-2032.

The 2010 Château d’Issan has a very intense bouquet with layers of black fruit interlaced with wild hedgerow, touches of iodine and brine that I noticed on the same bottle a couple of years ago. This still requires a couple of years (or 2-3 hours of decanting) before serving. The palate is much more refined than the 2005, particularly the tannins that are less prominent. Very harmonious and lightly spiced, there is bewitching symmetry about this d’Issan and it is just as sophisticated as I found back in 2018. Wonderful delineation and clearly more persistence on the finish compared to the aforementioned 2005. Superb. 93/Drink 2022-2040.

The 2015 Château d’Issan has an intense bouquet, even more than the 2010 when juxtaposed side-by-side, with multilayered black fruit, bilberry and light marine scents and hints of wild heather that I did not notice three years ago. The palate is beautifully balanced with very supple, lithe tannins. There is more red fruit compared to the 2010, with a little more sapidity. In fact, I suspect on this showing that the d’Issan may ultimately edge ahead. This is very elegant and harmonious with an almost pixelated finish. 94/Drink 2023-2045. 

There was one additional second wine. The 2015 Blason d’Issan has a little more black fruit on the nose compared to the Grand Vin, ergo there is a very subtle pencil box scent that develops with time. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, a fine bead of acidity, quite elegant and poised with commendable purity towards the cedar-infused finish. This Deuxième Vin is drinking superbly right now and should not be overlooked. 89/Drink 2021-2025.