A few weeks back I was lucky to be a guest when Sotiris hosted his tasting group. We tasted seven wines blind of which one was a ringer. Now I could not peg that we were tasting 2000 and 1996 Bordeaux but the 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley did stick out for it is certainly different. Though the flavor is good, the structure is rather intense at this point so I suggest cellaring it for years to come.
The 2000 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien is a particularly fine wine which you may drink now and over the coming years. From the nose to the flavor and mouth feel I could not help but to enjoy it. I thought the 1996 Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe showed well too. The nose demonstrates how it is entering a mature phase but the power and acidity will see this through for some time. As for the other bottles, the 2000 Chateau Quinault, L’Enclos, St-Emilion is a wine to drink now whereas the 1996 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien needs time to come into its own. Our bottle of 1996 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves was sadly musty but the 2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage was spot on. This group loves Rhone wines so what a treat to finish up with Chave. This is a fine, impeccably balanced wine that is still very young in flavor but the saline and fat notes hint at future complexity.
1) 2000 Chateau Quinault, L’Enclos, St-Emilion
Imported by Wine Markets Intl. Alcohol 13%. A garnet hint in the glass. There are hints of maturity on the nose, ripe fruit, minerals, and Kirsch. The mature ripe start soon brings minerals but is not as expansive as I expected. There is a prominent vein of acidity, some herbaceous flavors, floral middle then less apparent acidity and spices in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2022.
2) 2000 Chateau Magdelaine, St-Emilion
Imported by Maison Marques et Domaines. Alcohol 13%. The nose is more subtle. This is a redder wine with fuzzy cranberry and red berry flavors. It has a core of sweet fruit in the middle then takes on more body, grip, and an herbaceous bit. *** Now – 2022.
3) 2000 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators. Alcohol 13%. This is a dark violet garnet color with an elegant nose. There is power in the mouth which builds until the very finely textured flavors fill the mouth. It also coats the mouth with structure. Despite the strength this is an elegant wine with red fruit, minerals, and quite the aftertaste. **** Now – 2027.
4) 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%. There is a eucalyptus start followed by a red fruit burst with acidity. The flavor is interesting and different than the others. This is a powerful wine with very, finely coating flavor. With air flavors of blue fruit develop, warmth, and fresh grip. The very fine structure is intense and there is a bit of a rough patch with heat right before the finish. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.
5) 1996 Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Ginday Imports. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose is fine and mature with a eucalyptus component. The wine is bright with focused flavors of red fruit that takes on a citric hint in the middle. With good power, the vein of acidity will see this wine develop for some time. A lovely wine. **** Now – 2027.
6) 1996 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. Alcohol 13%. There is a tough of cream to the nose. The tangy and ripe, powdery blue fruit builds grip as it leaves flavor on the gums. Powerful structure. With air the wine develops attractiveness as the components balance out. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.
7) 1996 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13%. The musty nose makes with to a mature, mouth filling wine. The flavor is lighter, the structure is there, as is mineral and cedar box but no denying this is flawed. Too bad. Not Rated.
2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage
Imported by Langdon Shiverick. This is a tense wine with a saline note that adds complexity to the red fruit. The structure is perfectly integrated, the balanced impeccable. With air a very fine perfumed finish makes way to an aftertaste of gently coating fat. **** 2022-2032.
This past week I attended the 14th Annual Heart’s Delight Press and Sommelier Luncheon held at the Hotel Sofitel Washington, DC. The luncheon is just one part of the Heart’s Delight Wine Tastings and Auction which was spread over five days. This event began in memory of Bruce Bassin of MacArthur Beverages in 1999 with the intent to raise money for the American Heart Association.
The tasting and luncheon was held in Le Bar. The space was arranged with the 13 wineries located across two sides of the room, the luncheon buffet on a third side with the bar itself holding water and plenty of wine glasses. Within the center of the room were cocktail tables for tasting and eating. A small number of us gathered for the event including Ben Giliberti (Calvert-Woodley), Dave McIntyre (The Washington Post and DMWineLine), David White (Terroirist), Don Winkler and Mike Potashnik (International Wine Review), Christian Schiller (Schillerwine), Dick Rosano (Weekly Wine Pick), Karen Taylor (France Magazine), and Rebecca Canan (Terroirist). For Christian Schiller’s thoughts on the event you may read Heart’s Delight 2013 – A Bordeaux and American Wine Feast in Washington DC for a Good Cause, USA.
I decided to visit the tables in clockwise order. Many others had the same idea so despite the small number of attendees there was a bit of a jam where Chateau Palmer met Chateau Clerc-Milon. In the end I ran out of time and was unable to taste the wines of Chateau Clerc-Milon and Martinelli. What I did taste was a highly pleasurable array of distinct wines with even the most structured and tannic wine was still enjoyable. Besides the outstanding quality of the wines I thought the feel of the room was calm. The number of wines being poured, the number of attendees, the size of the room, and food worked together. The event became a social affair. Attendees and winemakers freely chatted and towards the end of the luncheon, everyone started to mingle and small groups formed.
The Blanc is produced from a smaller 6 hectare plot. Due to its size there is no rush for harvest so they pick the fruit over three tries. Véronique commented that the Blanc ages well, developing minerals as it does. The oldest vintage of Blanc in the cellar is the 1945! The red varietals encompass 43 hectares so it is harvested all at once, plot by plot.
2010 Château Malartic-Lagravière, Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
This wine is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon which was fermented in barrel then aged on the lees for 11 months in 50% new oak barrels. The nose was floral with light raspberry and a little grassy aromas. In the mouth there was acidity driven flavors which built weight to reveal ripe, spiced texture, tang, and increased intensity. There was a very good, persistent aftertaste. Nice wine.
2010 Château Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Leognan
This wine is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel and oak vats then aged for 18 months in 75% new oak barrels. The nose revealed a little ripe fruit, red aromas, vanilla, and bramble fruit. In the mouth the red and blue fruit was youthful with vigor. There were ripe tannins which coated the lips and teeth as part of the ripe structure. The flavors became blacker and racy in the finish turning to tart black fruit in the aftertaste. It sported fine acidity. This was quite approachable.
This wine is composed of 20% fruit sourced from a very old vineyard located by hind the left read of the Chateau. These old vines are approximately 120 years old, being just post-phylloxera. This vineyard includes plots where six varietals are coplanted. In order to differentiate between the early and late ripening vines they are tagged with ribbons.
2010 Château Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Leognan
This wind is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc which was aged in 55% new barrels. The nose revealed concentrated fruit, berry bramble, and an attractive funk. In the mouth the black and grapey fruit flavors showed firm focus. This wine has obvious structure with fine ripe citric/wood tannins mixing with black berries in the finish. This needs age and will be quite comfortable in the cellar.
The estate was acquired by the Cuvelier family in 1920. Since then they have constructed a new winery, planted new vines, and just in time for the 2010 vintages was the installation of new stainless steel cuviers.
2010 Château Léoville-Poyferré, Saint-Julien
This wine is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc which was fermented in stainless steel then underwent 50% malolactic fermentation in barrels followed aging in 75% new French oak barrels for 18-20 months. There was a youthful nose of vintage perfume, grapey aromas, and a good greenhouse aroma. In the mouth there was an underlying darkness with firm, spicy structure supporting the red and black fruit. There were drying tannins and some integrated, salivating acidity. This was a lip coating wine which will clearly benefit from age.
Château Palmer is the classical wine with Alter Ego the contemporary. Alter Ego features a larger percentage of Merlot along with shorter barrel aging which makes it more forward. Any fruit not deemed for the Grand Vin or Alter Ego is sold off.
2010 Château Palmer, Alter Ego, Margaux
This wine is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Merlot. The nose bore good perfume. The mouth followed the nose with dark perfumed flavors, good acidity, and a racy aspect towards the finish. This was attractive and probably the most forward of the Bordeaux.
2010 Château Palmer, Margaux
This wine is a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot. There was a dark, perfumed nose with pungent berries which stepped out of the glass. In the mouth the seductive fruit mixed with dark perfume and some tart red flavors. The structure was integrated with the flavors taking on a berry quality leaning towards blue and black fruit. Already very nice in its youth. Effortlessly flavorful.
This wine is produced from fruit sourced from a tiny 10 acre vineyard under the consultancy of Michel Rolland.
2010 Clos Dubreuil, St. Emilion
This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The nose was tight In the mouth there was focused blue and black fruit, structure, hint of vanilla, and some extract. There were ripe, grapey tannins which stuck to the lips.
Château Troplong Mondot
With 33 hectares of vines Troplong-Mondot is one of the largest estates in St. Emilion. The vines themselves average 65 years of age.
2010 Château Troplong Mondot, St. Emilion
This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The nose stepped out with lipsticky aromas of bramble fruit. In the mouth there was ripe fruit, black, inky fruit which was mouthfilling and attractive. The vein of flavor stood up to a fair amount of structure. The tannins coated the lips and gums. This was drinking well.
The Tesseron family has slowly replanted the vineyards and improved the winery since they acquired it in 1975. The fruit is fermented in both wooden vats, without temperature control, and modern concrete vats installed in 2005.
2010 Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot which was fermented in oak and cement vats then aged for 16 months in 60% new oak barrels. The nose was of ripe, mixed fruits. In the mouth the soft forward fruit had blue flavors with both integrated acidity and tannins. It was approachable and soft in a sense with some low-lying flavors and a grapey finish. A fair amount was going on with absolutely no hard edges.
Meteor Vineyards dates to 1998 when Barry and Tracy Schuler purchased a proper in Coombville. The vineyard was planted in 1999 on a rocky knoll at 500 feet. The soils are volcanic and might be part of a caldera. The vineyard is planted with only Cabernet Sauvignon and this particular wine is produced from three different clones.
2009 Meteor Vineyards, Perseid, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 22 months in 65% new French oak. The nose preceded the mouth with dark, racy Cabernet Sauvignon fruit. It has a sweet vanilla beam with a cool aspect and pervasive, dark perfume. It was almost lush but the structure was inside to provide a framework.
This is an 18th century estate which since 2006 has been run by Robert Peugeot, Olivier Bernard, Stephan Von Neipperg, and Xavier Planty. The fruit is sourced from some 85 hectares of vineyards.
2010 Château Guiraud, Sauternes
This wine is a blend of 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. RS 132 g/L. Alcohol 13.7%. The nose was fruit with fresh, mandarin oranges. In the mouth the residual sugar was noticeable before the very attractive body coated the tongue. There was a glycerin feel along with flavors of baking spices and some creme brulee. The acidity was integrated. An inviting young wine.
The estate has been producing wine since the 17th century. Today it is the largest Barsac property with 35 hectares of vines and is owned by the Baly family.
2010 Château Coutet, Barsac-Sauternes
This wine is a blend of 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle. RS 154 g/L. Alcohol 14%. With warmth this showed more apricot flavors and that balance was such that the residual sugar was lessened by the acidity. The finish wrapped up with peaches and stone fruits. A lively young wine.