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A Pair of Affordable Bordeaux from 2009

It has been a few months since we last drank an 2009 Bordeaux so the recent arrival of these two selections was reason enough to pull some corks.  Both Chateau Roland La Garde and Chateau Feret-Lambert are new to me.  This week we tasted both of these wines over a period of two nights.  The Chateau Roland La Garde is fresh with red berries and could stand a few years to finish integrating but I doubt it will gain complexity.  It is more for short-term consumption.  The Chateau Feret-Lambert is fruit-forward with an appealing lushness along with a structure to develop for a few years.  It should appeal to many.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Chateau Roland La Garde, Tradition, Premieres Cotes de Blaye – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 67% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a 26 hectare vineyard on soils of clay and limestone.  It is fermented in stainless steel and concrete vats and aged in stainless steel vats.  Alcohol 14%.  The color is a light to medium ruby.  The light nose reveals tangy berries.  In the mouth there is concentrated red fruit, a little brightness, lots of fresh acidity, and an almost pebbly texture.  There are drying flavors and still some tannins which have yet to integrate.  ** 2014-2018.

2009 Chateau Feret-Lambert, Bordeaux Superieur – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a 13 hectare vineyard on soils of clay and limestone on fossilized limestone bedrock.  The fruit is fermented in stainless steel and cement vats, followed by some malolactic fermentation in barrique.  It was then aged 12-14 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color is a medium purple ruby.  The light nose reveals a hint of vanilla and lightly jammy fruit.  In the mouth there is blue fruit, light gentle spice, decent acidity, and lifted red fruit.  It puts on some weight with air with more blue fruit, spice, and graphite as the flavors tighten up a bit in the finish.  There is more controlled, ripe fruit.  This medium bodied wine is balanced all around with some wood tannins in its structure.  ** Now-2019.

Six Bottles of 2009 Petit Chateaux

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

This week I had the chance to taste six more 2009 Petit Chateaux which were sampled by MacArthur Beverages.  These wines were tasted blind over two nights.  Of the six bottles there are four that I recommend you try.  The Haut de Poujeaux and Ch. Clement-Pichon both have a classic structure that will benefit from short-term aging and drink well over the medium term.  The Ch. Beaulieu and Ch. Bel-Air both deliver strong value for $14 with the Ch. Beaulieu showing more refinement and the Bel-Air a spirited nature.  Enjoy!

2009 La Demoiselle de By, Medoc – $15
Imported by Monnsieur Touton. This is the second wine of Chateau Rollan de By. It is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The wine was aged for 12 months in 20% American, 30% new French, and 50% of one year old oak barrels.  The nose was subtle with darker red fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were of simple red fruit with a simple finish and fine drying tannins in the aftertaste.  With air the flavors became high-toned red fruit, tart, with less than lively acidity.  This bottle was not that interesting and the tannins were on the verge of outpacing the fruit. *  Now-2015.

2009 Haut de Poujeaux, Haut-Medoc – $17
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  A wine of Chateau Poujeaux.  This is a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a 4 hectare vineyard of 20 year old vines.  It was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.  A light nose of scented red and blue fruit with some greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth the red and blue fruit was initially creamy then racier with minerals in the midpalate, and sweet spices in the aftertaste.  Showing more complexity than the La Demoiselle de By and Prieure Canteloup, this elegant wine has flavors which follows the nose, with both perfume and structure for aging.  **(*)  2015-2022.

2009 Chateau Prieure Canteloup, Cotes de Bourdeaux – $15
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  This is a blend of 65% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec.  A light to medium, aromatic nose of red fruit and old-fashioned perfume.  The good flavors have greenhouse notes, tart red fruit, overt structure, and a good dose of fine tannins.  With air the perfume component developed but the flavors became harder with the very fine, drying tannins increasing in amplitude.  *(*) 2015-2019.

2009 Chateau Beaulieu, Comtes de Taste, Bordeaux Superieur – $14
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  This is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from 20-year-old vines.  The nose contains nice, ripe blue and red fruit.  In the mouth the blue fruit flavors are immediately creamy with spices and cedar before turning dark and persistent in the aftertaste where there are plenty of fine, drying tannins.  This is a very polished wine which, with air, reveals dark flavors, perfume, and a structure for aging that is on the firm side of opulent.  **(*)  Now-2025.

2009 Chateau Bel-Air, La Chapelle, Cotes de Castillon – $14
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  A blend of mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon aged 12 months in oak.  The nose is light, not revealing much beyond dark red fruit.  In the mouth the red fruit mixed with a ripe, red grapefruit component with is initially expansive with spices lurking underneath, before turning racy in the finish and aftertaste.  The long aftertaste contains fine, drying tannins and turns a bit wild with air.  There is good complexity to this wine, which goes well with food.  *** Now-2019.

2009 Chateau Clement-Pichon, Haut-Medoc – $22
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  The nose reveals low-lying, dark red and blue fruits.  In the mouth the higher toned red fruit has a creamy mouthfeel supported by acidity as it mixes with flavors of stone.  It tastes as if it were aged in fine wood with enjoyably ripe, dusty tannins.  This was slow to unveil and will surely age well.  *** Now-2027.

2009 Chateau Daugay, Saint-Emillion

February 17, 2012 1 comment

After tasting the wines of Domaine Saladin at MacArthur Beverages I was able to taste this wine.  This 14 acre estate is co-0wned by Helene de Bouard de Laforest, also a co-owner of Chateau Angelus.  The bottle had been opened the night before.  It was remarkably approachable and I particularly enjoyed the scent and silkiness.  Certainly worth trying!

2009 Chateau Daugay, Saint-Emillion Grand Cru – $26
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  This is a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet sourced from 35-year-old vines.  An enjoyable scented nose of cedar and spices.  In the mouth the spices continued with black cherry flavors, a subtle ripeness in the finish, and sweet spices in the aftertaste.  The very fine tannins were well-integrated.  This silky wine may be drunk now.  *** Now-2019.

Three New 2009 Petit Chateaux

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

These three wines were recently purchased from MacArthurs so that I could continue exploring affordable 2009 Petit Chateaux.  All three have been favorably reviewed so I was curious to try them.  The Chateau Arnauton was my initial favorite with its clean flavors, acidity, and ripe tannins.  It is an affordable wine that may be drunk now or cellared for a bit.  The Domaine du Bouscat, Caduce is certainly a good drink at the price but the wee bit of heat was a little distracting.  Still, it is amazing what you can drink for $11 a bottle.  At first I was put off by the Domaine du Bouscat, Cuvee la Gargone.  Immediately out of the bottle it was rich, opulent, and flamboyant with its fruit and barrel influences.  It is a wine that will stand out in a crowd with its power and mouthfeel but I could not put my finger on what exactly I was drinking.  On the second night the flamboyance receded and it became a good last glass because it was rich but held in check.  All three wines will give strong drinking pleasure for the price.  To me the Chateau Arnauton is a modern Bordeaux, whereas the other two are modern.

2009 Domaine du Bouscat, Caduce, Bordeaux Superieur – $11
Imported by Jeffrey M. Davies.  This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Micro-oxygenated then aged for one year in tank and one year in French oak barrels and demi-muids.  This was a redder color than the cuvee la Gorgone.  The sweeter red fruit was grapey with a little heat and less concentration than the cuvee la Gorgone.  With air the clean red fruit became rich and tart in a creamy, spicy body.  Towards the finish there were cool, black fruit flavors, a little bramble akin to the Southern Rhone, and very fine, drying tannins coating the inside of the lips.  Drink now or over the short-term.  ** 2015-2022.

2009 Domaine du Bouscat, Cuvee la Gargone, Bordeaux Superieur – $18
Imported by Jeffrey M. Davies.  This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Malbec.  Micro-oxygenated then aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.  The nose was focused with rich aromas of black fruit and sweet vanilla/wood.  In the mouth this was very rich, racy, spicy with flavors of black fruit and stones.  It was a little salty with more fine tannins.  The intense aftertaste had notes of vanilla-cream, sweet spice, and a spicy note.  Drink now, after decanting, or over the next 5 years.  ** 2015-2022.

2009 Chateau Arnauton, Fronsac – $15
Imported by Jeffrey M. Davies.  This is a blend of 98% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. This wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.  Interesting enough, the benchmark wine for this is Vergelegen, South Africa.  This tasted best on the second night.  There was a light nose of raspberries.  In the mouth clean blue fruit flavors and black currant were enlivened by slightly salivating acidity on the back sides of the tongue.  The almost racy flavors stood up to the initially fine, coating tannins which eventually became ripe and chewy.  Drink now or over the short-term.  *** Now-2017.

Four More 2009 Petit Chateaux

One month ago Lou and Adrienne came over for a tasting of 2009 Petit Chateaux from the first offerings in Washington, DC.  MacArthurs recently stocked their shelves with 2009 Bordeaux from their latest container.   I was generally impressed with the quality for the price so I have been waiting for the next selection of wines.  I randomly grabbed the Chateau Thebot and L’Heritage de Chasse-Spleen.  The Chateau les Grands Marechaux and Chateau Clarke were still laying in my basement from the first wave.  The Chateau Thebot is imported by MacArthurs and available for $13.  The Chateau les Grands Marechaux is imported by Monsieur Touton and available for $18.  The L’Heritage de Chasse-Spleen is imported by MacArthurs and available for $19.  The Chateau Clarke is imported by MacArthurs and available for $22.

These wines fell into two groups, the two less expensive wines have broad appeal and should be drunk over the next several years.  While they are not evocative of any particular place they are enjoyable to drink and well priced.  The more expensive two are structured for aging and really should be cellared.  Even after several hours of air they retain their infancy.  I will follow up on other 2009 Bordeaux this month as there are ample selections available in the $11-$20 price range.

2009 Chateau Thebot, Bordeaux
In past vintages this has been a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was subtle with clean, scented fruit that showed some perfume (violets?).  In the mouth the flavors were focused with blue fruit, balanced acidity, and plenty of drying tannins.  The good flavors shortened in the finish but what remained were enlivened by juicy acidity in the aftertaste.  ** Now-2017.

2009 Chateau les Grands Marechaux, Blaye
This wine is a blend of 97% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon.  There were flavors of sweet, ripe fruit, delivered with ample mouth feel.  Notes of spice and cinnamon come out midpalate then wrapping up with drying tannins that coat the lips.  Very modern.  This is fun to drink now and I suspect will appeal to a broad range of drinkers.  Drink over the next several years.  *** Now-2017.

2009 L’Heritage de Chasse-Spleen, Haut-Medoc
The nose was full of cedar mixed with red and blue fruits.  In the mouth this medium-bodied wine was concentrated with tart red fruit which made way to black fruit.  There were some cinnamon flavors.  This was obviously structured with medium tannins.  On the second night the ample flavors of concentrated red fruit still existed in a young, tannic, structured frame.  This wine needs short-term cellaring.  **(*) 2015-2022.

2009 Chateau Clarke, Listrac-Medoc
This is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Tasted over three nights this wine exhibits dark blue fruit with a pebbly texture punctuated with a whiskey-like note.  There was a fine coating of tannins.  Though the flavors became perfumed with time, the wine generally stayed concentrated and tight.  I would recommend short-term cellaring before trying again.  **(*) 2015-2022.

Tasting Affordable 2009 Bordeaux

December 5, 2011 1 comment

Jenn and Lou

Late last month Lou and Adriene came over to taste affordable 2009 Bordeaux.  Lou, having drunk a few bottles, was generally impressed by the quality and suggested we put together a few organized tastings.  Unfortunately the selections are still thin in Washington, DC with containers due later this winter.  So Lou grabbed several bottles from Calvert-Woodley and I grabbed several from MacArthurs.  After reviewing our purchases Lou suggest we start with Merlot-based wines.

I was completely pleased by our selections of wines.  Having spent only $10-$20 per bottle this was our least expensive tasting, yet both nights I enjoyed drinking these wines.  I would group #1, #2, and #6 as my top three followed by #4, then #3 with #5 as my least favorite.  With the variety of styles I suspect many people could find an enjoyable, affordable bottle from the six bottles we tried.  Both nights I went to bed eager to try more 2009 Bordeaux.  I suspect there will be many quality wines that may be drunk now while others benefit from short-term aging.  Hopefully Lou and I may find evocative and interesting bottles.

The wines were double-decanted two hours ahead of time and served in brown paper bags.  The leftover wine was gassed with Private Preserve so they could be tasted the following night.  My tasting notes are in the order that the wines were tasted.

#1 – 2009 Chateau Cheval Noir, Saint-Emilion
This is imported by Shaw-Ross and available at MacArthurs for $19.99.  This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was a brighter color than #2 and #3.  Lorelei found “Strawberry” on the nose.  This was a little earthier in aroma with some cassis.  It was racy in the mouth with good initial weight.  The flavors became short midpalate which was followed by a simple aftertaste.  On the second night I found a subdued cherry nose and a little gravelly fruit.  There was still a simple finish and aftertaste.  Jenn preferred this wine over #6. ** Now-2015.

#2 – 2009 Chateau Croix de Jauge, Saint-Emilion
This is imported by MacArthurs and available for $16.99.  This wine is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.  This was darker than #1.  With greenhouse aromas it revealed good concentration, racy flavors, verve from acidity, and a classic profile.  There were very fine tannins that coated the inside of the mouth. There was a good aftertaste which was a tad more coarse/rustic and bigger in flavor.  Overall there was good balance.  On the second night the nose was still strong and interesting.  There were black fruit flavors in the mouth, enjoyable acidity, and tannins.  Quite nice. *** Now-2017.

#3 – 2009 Chateau Guillon Nardou, Montagne Saint-Emilion
This is imported by Monseiur Touton and available at MacArthurs for $10.99.  This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.  This was concentrated and more muted than #1 and #2.  There were dark flavors and herbs which were lean in the mouth.  This was structured, gave up the least, and modern.  On the second night this was a coarser wine with a very light nose, dark and simple in the mouth, almost watery midpalate but a bit a lift in the finish. * 2014-2017.

#4 – 2009 Chateau Grimont, Cadillac
This is imported by Calvert Woodley and available for $9.49.  This wine is a blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon.  This sported tarter red fruit and roast meats.  The more vibrant red fruit burst initially bursts in the mouth then falls over before the tannins come out.  On the second a meaty whiff blows off before bright, acidity red fruit (a tad cranberry or pomegranate like) comes out.  There are drying, fine tannins that coat the lips. * Now-2015.

#5 – 2009 Chateau Le Chene de Margot, Cotes de Blaye
This is imported by Calvert Woodley and available for $9.49.  This had a very fruity nose of ripe, red fruit that was almost sweet.  In the mouth it was powdery in texture with confected fruit flavors.  This would appeal to many people.  On the second night the sweet, simple fruit persisted into the nice aftertaste.  This was not reminiscent of Bordeaux. * Now-2015.

#6 – 2009 Chateau Lafont-Fourcat, Bordeaux
This is imported by Calvert Woodley and available for $12.34.  This wine is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec.  There was a dark nose of almost sour fruit with a wee bit of stink.  In the mouth, the concentrated dark fruit was a little spicy with drying tannins.  The wine was balanced and refined.  On the second night this was racy, enjoyable, and drank really well. *** Now-2017.

Aaron and Adrienne

We wrapped up with another selection from Lou.  Chateau Couhins was promoted to a first growth of Graves in 1959 and acquired by the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in 1969.  Supported by several researchers at the estate, they investigate both viticulture and vinification.  An Integrated Protection strategy for the vineyard combines natural parasite regulation and a decision protocol to minimize the use of tractors to reduce CO2 emissions and soil compaction.  Precision Viticulture allows the mapping of homogenous parcels in the vineyard down to one square meter.  Here is Lou’s description on how he acquired the bottle:

The wine was a gift when we were in Paris two summers ago. We had purchased a week’s stay at an apartment in Paris at a charity auction we had attended.  The family that had donated the place were ex-pat Americans who had lived in Paris for many years.  He was a scientist and she a musician. They lived in a place just next door to the apartment.  They were gracious hosts, and helped make our stay even more enjoyable.  At the end of the week, after a two day side trip to Reims we had dinner with our hosts. We drank some Champagne and another bottle we had brought. We never got to this bottle of Bordeaux that he had pulled from his cellar for dinner, so he gave it to me to take.  The wine was produced by the INRA, for whom he worked.  I’ve had the wine since then and just hadn’t found the right occasion to drink it.  The bottle, besides its charms as a wine, is a fond remembrance of part of an amazing trip with my family that summer.

1997 Chateau Couhins, Pessac-Leognan, Graves
This is made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvigon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot that was aged in 30% new French oak barrels.  With both a mature color and nose of mature fruit on the nose this was drinking at its peak.  Notes of wood box, a short phase of acidity, and mature short flavors left the impression of a completely pleasant wine that put on some weight.  So satisfying the bottle was finished the first night. ** Now.

Aaron and Lou