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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Think you know Bordeaux Superieur?


"Talents are best nurtured in solitude. Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.” - Von Goethe

Mrs. Cuvee and I go to one USC Football game each year, it's quite far from the remote corner of San Diego we live in, and nonetheless we manage the trek to LA because we love the team. This year we had tickets for the Stanford game and had no idea what to really expect [we didn't even know it was homecoming]. Most of the early part of the season had been a bust [to say the least] under the [so called] leadership of Lane Kiffin and his father who's now running the defense for the Dallas Cowboys [how's that working out?]. 

An interim head coach was found internally, he's simply known to players, students and fans as Coach O. But Ed Orgeron, a simple D-line coach who had been with the team since 1998, had finally got his chance. We watched a few of the games he coached on TV, Mrs. Cuvee and I were both impressed with the new direction of the team and sense of pride this coach brought with him to the field. 

Once we arrived at the game, we tailgated a bit and we could already sense the buzz in the air. This was going to be a big game, one that would go down in the annals of sports history. If you're reading this and you're not a fan of team or of the sport feel free to look away for a moment or two. [Yes, I will eventually get back to discussing the reason you clicked over here.]

We arrived at our seats, purchased some freshly made kettle-corn sacked into a bag the size of small child [nope not kidding]. We had the unfortunate pleasure of being seated directly behind a very loud and proud Stanford fan, who seemed have every possible annoying utterance down to an artform. Who could forget his seemingly favorite phrase, whenever a USC player would get stuffed on a run play, "party in the back field, everyone is invited" haha, chuckle-chuckle. 

As fate would have it, Mrs Cuvee and I had the last chuckle at his expense watching him tuck his tail between his legs, head bowed low, shuffling out of the coliseum, ha-ha indeed.  

There was something tangible in the air, being at the game that simply could not be felt or even imagined had we only watched the game on TV. We went from sitting to being on our feet so often, I started to think, "Sheese, what are we were in church or at a football game" ha. The crowd was really into this game, the noise level clearly affected the ability of Stanford to call their plays and early on in the game we thought SC was going to crush them, but this was the number five team in the nation playing a non-ranked school. 

Stanford at halftime must have thought "We will not go quietly into the night, we will not vanish without a fight..." and they of course played like it [a real slugfest]. The second half, did not start out to well for USC, Stanford had figured out the Trojans game plan and it seemed as if the tide had turned against USC. But it was not to be their night; late in the second half a seemingly improbable interception [on third and goal to go] turned away what would have been a certain touchdown [The defense played lights out].

And then it was time for the offense to shine, way late in the fourth quarter the Trojans decides to go for it on 4th and 2 yards to go [the fans were urging the Coach to go for it]. An injured Marqise Lee tells the coach “I’ve got one more in me” and goes back in for one more play. 

That play just happened to be the nail in Stanford’s coffin that evening, but a shaky USC kicker had to make a long field goal attempt to be the hammer on that nail. It’s interesting to note, that same kicker who had missed a point after attempt earlier in the game, far before his pivotal moment on the field, fellow player Mr. Lee comes by, puts his arm on his shoulder and says, “I believe in you”. 

When the ball sailed through the uprights, the coliseum erupted and it was only a few tense moments after the last few seconds ticked off the clock, and the final victory was sealed that a good majority of the fans spilled out onto the field to celebrate.

In that moment I thought “there’s nothing like being there” in this great moment. Seeing USC upset Stanford reminds of an often overused motivational phrase, “that it is not the size of the dog in a fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. 

What is true in sports, also happens to be true in wine. Wine really? Yes, and it’s why I adapted that phrase to describe something I see in the wine world all the time, “It’s not the size of the price on that bottle that counts, it’s the size of the wine in the bottle which makes all the difference”. 

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you imagine."- Thoreau

Just because you pay more, it doesn't all mean you'll will get more. Take the example of Lane Kiffin who I'm sure was paid exceedingly more than the current coach is making and we all know what the results of that decision were. 

This underdog status that Bordeaux Superieur seems to have in the wine world, from my recent experiences I think these wines need to be looked at in new light [discovery]. And being there seeing it for myself, meeting the great folks behind the labels and fancy Chateaus really did make all the difference. 

To be honest, I’ve never given those wines much thought myself and rarely went out my way to secure these wines for my own cellar. When I was asked earlier this year to take a week long journey into the heart of Bordeaux Superior I was intrigued by the opportunity and readily agreed. I've been back a few weeks now and I think about the adventures nearly everyday. 

I think many of you will most likely be surprised by some of the discoveries I've made, or perhaps you're just old jaded wine fossil who knows everything there is to know about wine. Either way, I hope you'll stick around for this fascinating adventure into the Bordeaux Superior and the great wine values just waiting for you. 

 "We delight in the beauty of a butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone thru to achieve that beauty." ~ Maya Angelou

One of the most amazing wine discoveries came the day our team visited Chateau Recougne, it was also one of the very best dining experiences I had while I was in France [mind blowing really]. Robert Parker at one time called Recougne the finest Bordeaux Superieur [personally I think it still is]. 

It is an estate that has produced wine for over 400 years, and its name is said to have come from King Henri IV in the early 17th century, in "recognition" of the quality of its wine. It would appear that even then, their wines were very well regarded not only for the quality, but for their inexpensive prices. So in drinking their wines it would be safe to say you can actually drink like a king.

Their vineyards [which surround the Chateau and the Crush Pad] were classified under the Fronsac Appellation back in the day, where Merlot is the majority planting taking up 75% of planted vineyard space. Merlot also happens to be the best suited to the terroir, which is then complemented by both Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (10%). 

As you can see from the picture above we tasted the 1966, and the 1999 as well as the 2010 [not pictured]. Folks, you may not believe but look closely they have not changed the label too much in all those years. They also have not changed the recipe for producing uber high quality wines that won't break the bank. These wines sell for $15 to $19 each most places. 

These wines are not suppose to age well if you listen to the so-called experts who purport to know all and see all in the wine world. But I'm here to tell you that they're dead wrong. The bottle from 1966, a 47 year old bottle had aged amazingly well, I was blown away by the depth and polish this wine was still displaying. While you can no longer purchase the 1966, it's a reminder to all guest of the great aging potential of their Bordeaux Superior.

The 1999 wow, it wanted to party like it was still 1999. This wine [decanted] still had nice body to it, and smoothly textured; a wine with light tannin and a long finish, tasting of dark plum, under brush, cassis, licorice, vanilla, and toasty oak in the background. Another amazing blast from their past, that I thought had to be from a much finer pedigreed background, but no a Bordeaux Superior drinking like Grand Cru Classe [no I'm not kidding]. 

Their 2010, uh I'd grab all you can and then grab some more because it's off the charts good [to great] and will only get better with some more bottle age. If you have a case or two socked away, you'll will thank me later because it's that amazing. 

Folks, if you've not encountered their wines before [and to be honest I've never had until that day] you owe to yourself to give their wines a swirl at your earliest convenience. These are wines of real substance, wines with a soul that definitely taste like the region they come from, there's no mega purple here, no fillers just solid well made wines that may not blow your mind, but they will having you believing you really are drinking like a king for a pauper's price [don't doubt me]. So until next folks remember life is too short to drink bad wine, so sip long and prosper cheers!

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