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Good value in Bordeaux


Jenn and I tasted through several value recommendations from Phil and John at MacArthur Beverages. At the budget end you cannot go wrong with the 2016 Chateau Croix-Mouton, Bordeaux Superieur or 2015 Chateau Camino Salva, Haut-Medoc. The Croix-Mouton is fresh, somewhat herbaceous with a slightly juicy core of fruit. It has balance. The Camino Salva offers a touch more fruit and fat with a saline aspect that I like. You should drink both of these wines over the next few years.  The 2015 Les Brulieres de Beychevelle, Haut-Medoc is more expensive but finer with creamy blue fruit and a juicy spiced finish. There are no coarse edges in this bottle. Jenn remarked on her enjoyment several times.

2016 Chateau Croix-Mouton, Bordeaux Superieur – $17
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14%. Bright with an herbaceous edge and spine of acidity. There are fresh flavors of black and red fruit supported by ripe, herbaceous tannins in the form of modest structure. It needs half an hour to an hour of air before it shows best, offering a fresh, slightly juicy core of fruit and grip. ** Now – 2022.

2015 Chateau Tour St Bonnet, Medoc – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.5%. An herbaceous nose. This is a bright wine has bright fruit, bright acidity, and dry flavor through the solid aftertaste. There is some grip and mouthfeel from the slight structure. Lurking underneath are blue fruits and cassis. ** Now – 2022.

2015 Chateau Camino Salva, Haut-Medoc – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%. Black fruit, greenhouse, and vanilla are delivered with almost crisp acidity. With air this improves, offering modest density to the flavor of cassis. It shows a slightly saline and savory edge that I find attractive. The freshness coupled with modest structure and fat should make for a good drink over the next several years. **(*) Now – 2023

2015 Les Brulieres de Beychevelle, Haut-Medoc – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%. A fine nose. In the mouth are weighty, almost creamy flavors of blue fruit and cinnamon before the juicy, baking spiced finish. The cool fruit flavors are of blue and black berries, though it becomes more black with air. A finely flavored wine carried by watering acidity into the modestly grip at the end. Closely played right now, but will open up over the next year or two. *** Now – 2025.

Before, during, and after: other wines at the Madeira tasting

January 16, 2018 Leave a comment

I have come to the carefully considered position that Champagne is required at a Madeira tasting.  The aroma of Madeira always fills the room but a glass of Champagne makes everyone jolly before sitting down.  A bottle served while service is performed on the second flight refreshes the palate.  Finally, a bottle at the end resets the palate for dinner wines.  Sadly, two of our four bottles of Champagne were not as they should be.  Fortunately, there were plenty of other bottles to occupy our interests.

Before

2000 Krug, Champagne Vintage Brut
Imported by Envoyer Imports.  Alcohol 12%.  Good, integrated bubbles with focused flavors of sappy fruit.  It finished with tart apples and acidity.  Young with good promise.  **** Now – 2033.

1990 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  Alcohol 12%.  Some corrosion around the cork.  A nutty straw color.  The nose is mature and oxidative, a bit more advanced than it should be.  In the mouth are fine, textured bubbles, dry apple orchard flavors, and exotic spices.  The bubbles quickly dissipate.  Completely drinkable but this bottle is probably heat damaged.  Not Rated.

During

NV Jacques Selosse, Champagne Brut Substance
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Disgorged 20 November 2007.  Alcohol 12.5%.  An attractive, rather mature color.  There are hints of yellow fruit in the mouth with yeast notes, and oxidative, tangy apple orchard notes in the finish.  It is a little foxy and earthy with tons of acidity and a sharp finish.  Not right.  Not Rated.

After

NV Ulysse Collin, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Lot No. 10.  Disgorged March 2014.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A light straw color.  The very fine bubbles are perfectly integrated with piercing acidity and some tropical fruit.  This wine has power with lemons and other citrus which puckers the mouth in the middle.  The bubbles mix with baking spices leaving chalk in the finish and a long, textured aftertaste.  Bracing stuff best with food.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 Trimbach, Riesling Cuvee Frederick Emile, Alsace
Imported by Espirit du Vin.  Powerful, dry, white fruit flavors of apple and citrus with a good vein of acidity.  Certainly a food wine.  Tart overall but there is some Riesling flesh.  This will be long-lived.   *** Now – 2028.

2014 Escarpment, Te Rehua Pinot Noir
Imported by Meadowbank Estates.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A black cherry, Pinot nose.  In the mouth are focused, fresh, and deep flavors of attractive black fruit which is almost bitter.  Watering acidity carries black cherry and licorice towards the dry and herbal finish where tannins are left on the gums.  The long aftertaste is clean. ***(*) Now – 2023.

2003 Chapoutier, Hermitage Le Pavillon
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  On the second night this is a seamless wine of brooding strength.  The savory and salty start builds incredible depth of flavor backed by tactile sensation of extract.  This is an inky, mouth coating wine with licorice, floral flavors, and new oak.  This is an intense, modern wine.  **** Now – 2033.

1982 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc
Shipped by Andre Labarda.  Imported by Majestic Wines & Spirits.  A mature nose with leather aromas.  It is off to a savory start with this medium bodied wine.  There is a nice mix of fruit, both red and black, along with hints of floral perfume in the finish.  I would drink these gentle wines now.  *** Now.

1977 Cassayre-Forni Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This offers a good nose of black fruit and leather.  In the mouth is a linear delivery of black fruit, integrity acidity, and some greenhouse notes.  Best within one hour.  *** Now.

1977 Simi, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
At first this was gentle with foxy, simple flavors.  But after an hour in the decanter it became mouth filling with darker fruit and a touch of greenhouse.  Good weight.  ***(*) Now.

A pair of Ridge and a blind Caronne Ste Gemme

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Lou and I managed to squeeze in several quick glasses of wine between our kids’ basketball games and dinner.  We kicked off with a bottle of NV (bottled in Dec 2000) Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coast Range, Sonoma County.  Both the capsule and label are darker, perhaps indicating this is a non-vintage winemaker’s blend.  It is clearly a Bordeaux blend on the nose with the greenhouse aromas indicating some cooler vintage(s) in the blend.  It is actually well made with an interesting finish and aftertaste, I just wish there was more depth to the fruit flavor.  The 2001 Ridge, Carignane, Buchignani Ranch, Sonoma County is a completely different beast.  The back label indicates that the sugar levels rose on the grapes and what we found in the glass were sweet, over ripe flavors.  I enjoyed it more on the initial pour but then found it too sweet.

Finally, Lou served a bottle blind.  I guessed it was either early 1980s California Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend or 1990s Bordeaux from a cooler vintage.  I was close as it turned out to be 1996 Chateau Caronne Ste Gemme, Haut-Medoc.  Caronne Ste Gemme was a daily drinker for Lou so he thought it fun to try a one.  This particular bottle bears its age very well.  With better balance than the NV Ridge, it is a lively drink at 21 years of age.

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NV (bottled in Dec 2000) Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coast Range, Sonoma County
This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 13.3%.  The nose is finely scented with greenhouse aromas and red/black fruit.  In the mouth this wine has fine grip and focus, showing tart red fruit and leather.  It builds flavor with air as well as a hard wood note, more leather, and delicate cranberry red fruit.  The aftertaste is surprisingly good.  ** Now but will last

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2001 Ridge, Carignane, Buchignani Ranch, Sonoma County
This wine is a blend of 99% Carignane and 1% Zinfandel.  Alcohol 14.3%.  There is a sweet, ripe dusty nose of fruit.  In the mouth the flavor is of very ripe berries, tea flavors, chocolate, and sweet fruit.  On re-tasting it tastes of over-ripe fruit.  Though there is still some grip. * Now.

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1996 Chateau Caronne Ste Gemme, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Adventures in Wine.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color shows some age and the nose reveals greenhouse accented fruit.  In the mouth is a focused cloud of fruit with some purple flavors and ink.  It taste of a cool vintage but the attractive structure is in balance, there is some wood box, and an inky hint.  **(*) Now but will last.

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Dump bin surprises from the 1970s

A small selection of wines recently hit the dump bin at MacArthur Beverages.  These bottles are the remnants of a collection accumulated by a person that is leaving Washington, DC.  They were stored in a wine fridge which gave some assurance.  In general the wines are in strong condition with very good labels, corrosion free capsules, and high fills.  The wines themselves are all French from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  It is a strange lot featuring from decent to off vintages, both negociants and major producers, and several different regions.  My first action was tasting the two worst looking bottles.

The 1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux is from a negociant once known for their Chateauneuf du Pape.  The company operated under the Brotte and Pere Anselme names.  The later name you might recall from my night at Bern’s Steak House.  This particular wine was produced before the company made a transition towards domaine named wines.  The bottle had slight signs of old seepage, yet the color and fill were good.  The 1978 vintage in the Southern Rhone is a great one so given the price this seemed like a good test of the cellar.  It was dry under the capsule, the cork was very easy to pull out, yet it was still solid.  The wine inside was quite lively!

The second test bottle came from Bordeaux.  David Peppercorn writes in Bordeaux (1991) that Chateau de Camensac would have been a very strong contender for the least known of the classified growth.  The estate was purchased by the Forner family in 1965.  They also owned Larose-Trintaudon, a frequent wine of my youth, and Marques de Caceras in Rioja.  The family put considerable effort into improving the vineyards and winery, they even hired Emile Peynaud.  Peppercorn writes that he liked the 1973 and 1975.  There are no Cellartracker notes for the 1973 vintage but there are favorable and contemporary notes for the 1975.  This must have been the peak of the estate because Stephen Brook writes in Bordeaux (2006) that numerous vintages from 1975 and onwards are disappointing.  The 1973 vintage had “quite good” weather but not the best vineyard work resulting in wines that could have been better.  Perhaps then the good weather, initial efforts at the Chateau, and Peynaud’s guidance resulted in a trifecta causing the 1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc to be a decent wine.

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The mid-shoulder fill did not bode well for this bottle but the cork was solid and so was the wine.  I knew nothing of the 1973 vintage in Bordeaux so I honestly expected the wine to be undrinkable.  Once described as “delicate and velvety” there is, instead, a substance to the red fruit, complexity from leather notes, and a sweaty/savory middle.  There is an appropriate amount of green pepper notes too.  In comparing the two wines, the 1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux is nervy from acidity and the 1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc is a mature, savory claret.  Pleased by the results I next took a group of wines to serve blind to Lou and David.  Stay tuned!

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1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux – $6
Imported by Chrissa Import.  Alcohol 12%.  For about two hours there were clean red, acidity driven fruit flavors.  The wine is tangy and still has ripe, citric pith tannins.  The minerally red fruit is bright, perhaps a little thin due to age, but some strawberry flavors come through.  *(*) Now.

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1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc – $4
Imported by Robert Haas Selects.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Merlot.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  There are aromas of green pepper, red fruit, and eventually leather.  In the mouth there is surprising depth to the red fruit supported by fresh acidity.  The surprise continues with a sweaty, savory mouth filling middle.  The tannins are largely resolved but the structure does come out by the finish.  It finishes with both leather and earth flavors.  After a few hours it takes on a greenhouse characteristic.  ** Now.

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A Diamond Creek vertical back to 1978 along with some other good bottles from the 1970s

May 13, 2016 1 comment

This past Friday we gathered at my house to taste a vertical of seven Diamond Creek wines from 1994 back to 1978.  It is only natural to taste more wine than what we gathered for.  So with mixed results we tasted some aged bubbly while we waited for everyone to arrive.  We then sat down at the dining room table to work through four blind mature wines of the California and Bordeaux nature.  Following the Diamond Creek vertical and dinner, we wrapped the evening up with some interesting dessert wines.

The Sparkling Flight

I rarely notice old bottles of Californian sparkling wine for sale.  While there could be a reason for this, Lou and I were sure to snatch up a bottle each from the Earthquake Cellar.  Only the 1996 Iron Horse, Wedding Cuvee, Sparkling Wine, Sonoma County turned out to be mature and completely drinkable.  The fruit is mature with added complexity from baking spices.  The bubbles are starting to dissipate so I would drink this up.  Unfortunately, no amount of sparkle could resurrect the past-prime flavors of the 1991 Beaulieu Vineyards, “100th Anniversary” Brut Reserve, Sparkling Wine.  To compensate I opened my second bottle of NV Besserat de Bellefon, Grande Tradition, Champagne (1970s release) hoping that this one would have bubbles.  It didn’t.  Despite the better looking bottle, the cork was saturated with fuzzy gray mold which did not bode well for what was inside.

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1996 Iron Horse, Wedding Cuvee, Sparkling Wine, Sonoma County
The mature and reasonably attractive nose revealed orchard fruit, some brioche, and baking spice.  In the mouth, the creamy and nutty start mixed with moderate bubbles that dissipated by the finish.  Fully mature. ** Now.

DC15

1991 Beaulieu Vineyards, “100th Anniversary” Brut Reserve, Sparkling Wine, Carneros
This smells old with plenty of apple orchard flavors.  In the mouth are ample amounts of aggressive, fine bubbles that yield a youthful framework for the wine.  Unfortunately, the flavors are old and short.  Not Rated.

DC16

NV Besserat de Bellefon, Grande Tradition, Champagne Brut (1970s release)
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Completely flat with aromas and flavors of a white wine way past its prime.  Not Rated.

The Blind Flight

We kicked off the red wines by tasting a blind flight at the dining room table.  I knew what the first wines were, but having only tasted one upon decanting, it was fun none the less.  The 1982 Niebaum-Coppola, Rubicon, Napa Valley is destined for a long life.  The nose is young, the fruit dark and in balance with the structure and acidity.  The wine is linear and firm, never giving up its flavor.  I believe there was a general consensus this was old California.  It will last but I do not see it improving.  The 1975 Chateau Palmer, Margaux tasted on the light and thin side when first decanted.  An hour of air only benefited the bottle for it offered up attractive aromas and flavors of sweet, mature fruit.  I like Palmer and this bottle of 1975 delivered all I could hope for from this vintage.  Most people thought this was old Bordeaux.  The 1975 Heitz Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley was a flawed bottle.  I could work my way around the nose but in the mouth the brief, hopeful start soon turned coarse.  Impossible to say what this was blind.  Finally, the 1975 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc threw me and others for a loop.  We soon knew the last two wines were from the same vintage but this did not help in any way.  The coffee and chocolate aromas had me leaning towards California but the flavors towards Bordeaux.  The wine turned out to be quite youthful with plenty of strength.  A good wine but not as seductive as the Palmer.

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1982 Niebaum-Coppola, Rubicon, Napa Valley
This smells young with cherry fruit.  The flavors are a bit linear becoming darker and blacker as the wine firms up towards the middle.  It is salty and savory with a structure of fine tannins woven throughout.  It does show some mature flavors in the middle before finishing up with salivating acidity.  ** Now but will last.

DC4

1975 Chateau Palmer, Margaux
Shipped by Caves Robert Michelle. Imported by Parliament Import. Alcohol 11% – 14%.  There is a good, mature nose of sweet old fruit with a hint of musk.  The sweet fruit fills the mouth in a gentle way.  There is a touch of fat with structure still present through the end.  It is a lighter wine, with attractive flavors, some bacon, and a sappy finish.  Drinking great right now.  *** Now.

DC2

1975 Heitz Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.5%.  Strong aromas of VA on the nose.  In the mouth is a brief bit of fresh, young flavors before the coarseness came out.  Shame.  Not Rated.

DC1

1975 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc
The aromas of coffee and chocolate had me on the fence about being from Bordeaux.  In the mouth this finely textured wine had a cedar hint before savory, weighty flavors came out.  There is good acidity.  The wine became even more youthful with air, showing dark fruit, and lurking power.  The finish was savory and a bit electric.  Needs more time?  *** Now – 2021.

The Diamond Creek Flights

Anyone with interest in Diamond Creek Vineyards should read the transcript of Carole Hicke’s interview of Albert Brounstein in 1998.  In fact, the entire Wine Spectator California Wine Oral History Series is great fun.  Diamond Creek Vineyards became California’s first all Cabernet Sauvignon winery when the 79 acre property was purchased in 1967.  Al Brounstein wanted to make the best possible wine from Cabernet Sauvignon instead of the more uneven Zinfandel.  He interacted a lot with Ridge Vineyards in those early days before Paul Draper.

The Diamond Creek vineyards were promptly planted in 1968.  Al Brounstein wanted to plant vines from France, but UC Davis said they would quarantine them for six years before they could be released.  Al Brounstein did not want to wait and he wanted the best cuttings possible so he approached the great First Growths of Bordeaux.  The cuttings went from France to Mexico City then up to Tijuana then over to Rosarita Beach.  Here Al Brounstein would fly them back up to his vineyard in his private plane.

The Bordeaux estates from which the cuttings came from are not revealed in the interview.  There is a cryptic clue however, “even though I’m going to tell you three names out of the five, of which two may or may not be included…I’m not revealing any names”.  He goes on to mention Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion, and Chateau Latour.

The Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties were planted as a field blend for this practice is what Al Brounstein observed during his vineyard visits in Europe.  The vineyards were first planted with 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot.   In the early 1970s he began to replace dead or damaged vines with Cabernet Franc, eventually coming to 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc distribution.  Wine was first produced with the 1971 vintage.  All of the 1971 vintage, except for the one case which was drunk, was used to top off the casks of the first commercial vintage of 1972.

There were three original vineyards: Gravelly Meadow, Red Rock Terrace, and Volcanic Hill.  The Gravelly Meadow lies on a prehistoric river bed which drains rapidly forcing the vines to search for water.  It is the second coolest microclimate and was equated to Chateau Haut Brion.  The 7 acre Red Rock Terrace faces north with red tinted soil from high iron content.  It has a warm microclimate and was equated to Chateau Haut Brion.  The 8 acre Volcanic Hill faces south where it lies on volcanic soils, producing what is considered the biggest wine of the three.  It was equated to Chateau Latour.

Wines from these three vineyards are what we tasted.  They have always been produced with an eye towards slow development which came out in the young vintages.  The modern 1994 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley is young and densely packed.  Though it will develop for quite some time, it is surprisingly accessible with plenty of fruit.  In contrast, the 1987 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley which also show great future potential, is a more savory wine with less fruit weight and quite attractive in its youth.

The 1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley gave the first taste of an old-school Californian wine.  It is attractively sweaty with more restraint and structure.  It will drink well for sometime and might even improve.  It certainly set the stage for the final pair from 1978.  The 1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley is livelier with brighter, red fruit, lively acidity, and very fine tannins.  In contrast the 1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley is deeper and darker in flavor, slowly unfurling its power which takes grip on your mouth.  It was my favorite red wine of the night.  I really enjoy this type of wine and all I wanted to do is drink it.

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1994 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The red fruit slowly builds intensity, taking on licorice as well.  The wine is quite fruity, packing in a lot of unique flavor, but is also rather young with fine tannins.  With this savory flavor, the wine maintains a dense core of fruit that is clean and thick.  **** Now – 2031.

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1992 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  Corked! Not Rated.

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1987 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The sweaty nose is dark and aromatic.  In the mouth are savory, mouthfilling flavors framed by structure and watering acidity.  This wine is on the upslope of development.  With air the red and black fruit is lighter in weight making the fine structure noticeable.  The flavorful finish is followed by an aftertaste of dark roast and soil.  ***(*) Now – 2031

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1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%. Off bottle! Not Rated.

DC7

1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is sweaty and dark, not showing the intensity of the 1978s.  The mature flavors exist in a touch more structure with fine tannins and a sweaty finish.  It shows a good balance between fruit, structure, and acidity. With air there are mature flavors of cherry mixed with dry spices, salivating to juicy acidity and very fine tannins.  ***(*) Now – 2026.

DC6

1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is more subtle but deeper with a crayon hint.  The red fruit is balanced by acidity making this more accessible.  The fruit flavors are bright but backed by depth and delivered in a lively, mature manner.  There is good balance with the acidity seamlessly bound in, matching the structure.  It wraps up with fine flavors of clean red fruit and a wood box hint.  **** Now but will last.

DC5

1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is a touch earthy.  In the mouth the darker fruit is rich with grip, steadily expanding in the mouth.  The fresh and tart structure is left on the gum as some sweet, not quite grainy fruit, persists through the aftertaste.  **** Now but will last.

The Dessert Flight

There were four dessert wines opened. The first two in full-bottles were served blind and the last two, in halves, were from Canada.  There is little in print with regards to 1976 Hermann Freiherr von Schorlemer, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.  Despite the greatness of Bernkastel wines, the von Schorlemer family is not mentioned in Andre Simon’s and S. F. Halgarten’s The Great Wines of Germany (1963), Frank Schoomaker’s Encyclopedia of Wine (1965), nor Ian Jamieson’s German Wines (1991).  There are a handful of advertisements for von Schorlemer wines in the late 1960s, usually featuring other offerings of Alexis Lichine.  Fortunately, Phil reached out to Johannes Selbach who promptly responded.  The von Schorlemer is a noble family that owned some of the best vineyard of the Mittelmosel which were highly regarded before World War 1.  They were still a top estate in the 1960s.  It sounds like interests changed so a large holdings of vineyards were sold off in 1969 which marked the slow decline of the estate.  Our bottle was in perfect condition with a supremely beautiful color.  Michael Broadbent rates the vintage four out of five stars noting it was a “supremely rich vintage”. With aromas of apricots and baking spices the sweet peach flavors were sported along by watering acidity.  If you happen to have a bottle I would consider drinking it.  The finish was a touch short but the wine resurrected itself with a very long aftertaste.  I freely admit I had no clue what the 1995 Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume was.  It was not as mature in color as the von Schorlemer and much younger in the mouth.  It needs time in bottle but you simply must love the fat and electric acidity that carries the residual sugar down your throat.

DC12

1976 Herman Freiherr von Schorlemer, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Imported by Woodley Wine & Liquor.  Alcohol 10%.  This golden colored wine smells of apricots, cream, and baking spices. There are flavors of textured sweet peach with watering acidity.  The intensity of the flavors fall off in the finish only to return in the incredibly long aftertaste.  **** Now.

DC13

1995 Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume
Shipped by Bertrand Bordeaux. Imported by Prestige Wine Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Though lighter than the 1976 Riesling, the color suggests maturity.  In the mouth is a very sweet start with fat, lots of sugar, and almost electric acidity.  ****  Now – 2046.

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Five flavorful and affordable 2009 Bordeaux

I am still at the beach so I continue to catch up on tasting notes with today’s post.  I recently tasted through five Bordeaux wines from the excellent 2009 vintage that are priced between $15 and $20.  There is no shortage of flavor and alcohol here.  At the more affordable end, the 2009 Chateau Martinat, Epicurea, Cotes de Bourg offers up a mouthful of powerful black fruit.  It dials in at 15% ABV so perhaps it is best one or two glasses at a time.  My favorites wines showed more potential for development like the 2009 Le Cadran de Fombrauge, Saint Emilion Grand Cru and the 2009 Chateau La Prade, Francs Cotes de Bordeaux.  The former follows the deeply aromatic nose with integrated and focused black fruit that will age for some time.  The later offers redder fruit in a more obvious structure that has an appealing greenhouse quality.  I clearly do not drink much young Bordeaux for I was surprised at how forward and generous these wines are.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2009 Le Cadran de Fombrauge, Saint Emilion Grand Cru – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 77% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 18 months.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed deep aromas.  In the mouth there was a creamy edge to this focused wine.  The black fruit flavors had a hint of tartness, licorice, and camphor that were all integrated together.  It finished up with sexy black fruit, and a softer, creamy finish.  **(*) Now-2027.

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2009 Chateau Martinat, Epicurea, Cotes de Bourg – $15
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 15%.  This powerful wine had black mineral notes and dark fruit.  The post lasted through to the end where there was some heat.  With air it showed focused clearly black fruit, black tannins, wood notes, extract, and a savory aspect.  There is good flavor in this wine but it is a mouthful!  **(*) Now – 2020.

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2009 Chateau Cote Montpezat, Cuvee Compostelle, Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were some odd aromas on the nose followed by coarse flavors of raisins and hazy fruit.  With air, this thicker wine developed an extracted core, almost sweet fruit (perhaps from alcohol) mixed with a foxy note and a drying structure.  ** Now but will last.

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2009 Chateau du Moulin Rouge, Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc that was aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The slightly savory black fruit had a cool, tannic grip and a greenhouse note.  While this savory wine took on a slightly round start it became drier with air taking on a cedar box note and firm finish.  ** Now – 2025.

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2009 Chateau La Prade, Francs Cotes de Bordeaux – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Merlot.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This powerful wine has tart red and black fruit, a hint of greenhouse, and structure with watering acidity.  The fruit flavors float above the structure of stems and tannins with pleasing ripe texture.  Will age.  **(*) 2018-2025.

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Christmas Claret with Lou

December 23, 2013 2 comments

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This past weekend we gathered at Lou’s house for what is meant to be an annual Christmas tasting…with dinner.  We had decided on Bordeaux ahead of time but in the hours preceding we focused in on the 1983 and 1989 vintages.  The red wines were double-decanted such that they had two hours of air prior to tasting.  We began with charcuterie, an old family crab dish, and a bottle of NV Duval-Leroy, Brut.  Lou and I agreed that it nicely revealed bottle age which made it quite integrated and with subdued bubbles, very easy to drink.  I am not entirely sure what the 2009 Strohmeier, Weisswein aus Trauben, Liebe und Zeit is made out of. Apparently Pinot Blanc.  Regardless this self-professed “natural wine” was aromatic and very complex on the nose.  The balance of acidity and skin-contact flavors was quite attractive.

We moved down to the cellar to taste through the red wines.  The 1989 Chateau Lalande-Borie, Saint-Julien was purchased over 7 years ago from MacArthur Beverages.  This was opened as a curiosity and surprisingly, the nose was quite deep and earthy.  Most people liked this bottle.  The nose was its strong point for the flavors came up a bit short.  For me the 1983 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc had a nose strong in old-school perfume but the flavors remained firm.  It should continued to live for some time but I do not see it improving.  The 1983 Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien was a perfect example of mature Bordeaux with a fill at the bottom of the neck.  From the beginning the nose was aromatic and deep.  In the mouth were fresh fruit, good acidity, and expansive flavors.  Completely mature but  in no way past its prime.  The 1989 Chateau l’Enclos, Pomerol was quite good by the end of the evening when it opened to show black fruit and minerals.  I wonder if it could develop further.  Unfortunately the 1989 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut-Medoc was a somewhat flawed bottle.  If you got beyond the musty nose there were veiled flavors of good fruit.  Normal bottles must actually be quite good.

Right before leaving I had a quick glass of 2006 Waitrose (Chateau Suduiraut), Sauternes from half bottle.  Lou had picked this up during one of his trips to the UK.  The wine is produced by Chateau Suduiraut using estate fruit.  I thought it already showed an attractive maturity which made it a satisfying drink.

NV Duval-Leroy, Brut, Champagne
Imported by Duval-Leroy Importers.  This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose revealed biscuit, dark yellow fruit, and some toast.  There were good, frothy bubbles at first which quickly dissipated.  The flavors were fresh before the wine became still.  It tasted as if it had some bottle age.  There were dried herbs and toast in the finish.  There was acidity at first then it returned in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2016.

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2009 Strohmeier, Weisswein aus Trauben, Liebe und Zeit
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Pinot Blanc.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine was slightly cloudy with a light golden yellow color.  The nose was very aromatic with Christmas spices, clove, orange peeling, mulling spices, and floral notes.  In the mouth the crisp acidity was immediately noticeable follow by weight from skin contact.  The wine then became light in flavor with laser acidity and focus to the flavors.  Really nice wine.  **** Now-2016.

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1989 Chateau Lalande-Borie, Saint-Julien
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The light was was quite inviting with earthy aromas of blue and red berries.  In the mouth there was good acidity to the black and red fruit then a slightly firm middle followed by a wood note.  The finish was shorter in flavor.  The acidity was present throughout.  The nose was the best part *** at first but overall ** Now-2018.

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1983 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 11%-13%.  The nose consistently revealed old-school perfume, it did not give up much fruit.  In the mouth the wine was firmer in flavor with black fruit, prominent acidity, and the sense that this will be long-lived.  ** Now-2024.

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1983 Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien
Imported by N & T Imports.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  There was a good nose with light to medium strength aromas of deep berries and roasted meat.  In the mouth were tangy berry flavors at first then fresher fruit.  The flavors were gently mouth filling and balanced by good, lively acidity.  It became higher-toned with powdery fruit.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2018.

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1989 Chateau l’Enclos, Pomerol
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a low-lying, serious nose.  In the mouth the black fruit tasted fresh and dense.  There was a tangy middle with a cedar note developing by the finish.  It had minerals, good complexity, and was developing well.  With air there was a gentle cedar note, soft finish, and both minerals and a fresh touch of earth in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2020.

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1989 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  This wine is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was affected by some TCA and was musty but there was fruit underneath.  In the mouth were muted but dense black and red fruit with good acidity and mouthfeel.  It tasted unevolved, muted, and unfortunately a little rough in the finish.  Completely drinkable.  ** Now-2023.

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2006 Waitrose (Chateau Suduiraut), Sauternes
This wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc which was aged for 16 months in 10% new and 90% used oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  No formal note but a nice wine, tasting mature already with thickness and spices.  Why wait?  *** Now-2018.

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