Bordeaux Uncorked: A Blind Tasting
“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”
― Paulo Coelho,
Ahh yes, just Bordeaux. I looked forward to this tasting all week and finally, it had arrived. Like the title indicates this is purely an all "Bordeaux" event. I tasted through a series of six different wines, ranging in price from $92 to $31 a piece. The vintages from 1996 through the often celebrated 2005 vintage.We tasted these wines blind, the glasses were labeled 1-6 from left to right, the tasting notes and identities of the wines were not revealed until after the evaluations were complete. I am not sure if the wines were properly decanted beforehand, but I don't believe so.
Number one, The 2005 Chaumount, Premieres Cotes De Bordeaux, $31.00 and referred to in the tasting notes as a sexy, seductive ruby-colored effort, exhibiting chocolate-covered black cherries intermixed with tobacco. My notes: In the glass, displayed a dark velvet core, the nose was full of dark fruits, after the first sip, soft tannins and a velvety mouthfeel with black cherry and touch of leather. This wine shows promise, that would be rewarded by further cellaring. However far from sexy or seductive, more like demur and timid, I scored this wine 86 Pts. My Recommendation: Nothing special, definitely not worth $31.00 compared to its peers in a similar price range.
Number two, the 1996 Lagrange Saint-Julien: composed of Cabernet, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. $92.00 Winemakers notes assert, opaque purple-colored, with a backward yet promising nose, nicely layered, plenty of structure and a layered mouthfeel. My notes: Looking at the wines brick orange rim and pale ruby core, I knew this was an older wine. So I allowed this wine to open further before tasting some the first sip, the essence of cherry cola, leather and earthiness and a sophisticated structure and but lacking any appreciable notes of dark fruits, in a word restrained. My Score: 88 Pts. Seriously, folks, this wine was in a word, disappointing. My recommendation: don't bother for $92.00 you could get much better wine for half of this price.
Number Three: The 2003 Ferriere, Margaux: composed of Cabernet, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. $40.00. Provided notes indicate, aromas of blackberry, toasted oak, a beautiful nose, chewy tannins and an austere finish. After the first swirl, the core is a pale ruby and a fading to a garnet colored watery rim, not much in the way extraction. The first swirl, the nose is not particularly inviting. The first slurp, chewy tannins dominate the faint appearance of dark fruits with a subtly spicy finish. It did however nicely pair with the lamb ravioli, served at the tasting. My recommendation: The notes say best after 2008, but in my book, this wine scored a paltry 84 Pt's and I would not waste my money on the asking price when there is a wine of better of a better caliber for a lower price waiting on the shelf of your local wine store.
Number Four: The 2005 Petit BOCQ, Saint-Estephe; composed of 80% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc with a $33 price tag. The back label notes refer to this wine as the "little bug" a primarily Merlot based, medium bodied with fine tannin's and considered "fresh and fruity" with a fantastic black fruit finish. My notes: Gave it a swirl, medium bodied ruby core and fading to a garnet colored rim. The aromas left the room, I had to send out a search party as none could be found. After the first sip, it has a nice mouthfeel, some interesting yet tight intermingling of dark fruits and the fully integrated tannin's linger nicely into a complex yet austere finish. My recommendation: the lush fruit promised on the label does not exist, and I am not sure if the recommended 14-15 years of further cellar time in bottle will benefit the patient. If you do decide you want to pursue this bottle, decant for at least 2-3 hours beforehand as this wine is tightly wound.
Number Five: The 2004 Lucia, 'Bortolussi', Saint Emilion Grand Cru with a price tag of $47. Winemakers note: This Garagiste made wine is committed to the wine consumer and limited production winemaker/artist. This estate sits on a 'tiny' 7.5 acres and Stephane Derenoncourt Feature Teaser - Stéphane Derenoncourt Wine Spectator consults on the decisions surrounding this wine. Terrific textures, with a flamboyant modern style. (Read that as austerity is out the window)
My notes: Here we go St. Emilion Grand Cru, after the first swirl, tilting the glass, a deep crimson core surround by a lighter ruby rim. Sniff, aromas of an elegant bouquet of cherries, and spice effortlessly float upward, delighting my senses. In the glass are what I would call super-ripe dark berry fruit and my palate spent an afternoon upon "blueberry hill" lingering gracefully upon my mid-palate and with a long but mildly restrained finish. This wine, by the way, paired the best with the Lamb Ravioli. In a word wonderful and magical.
My recommendation: make sure you have more than a few of these in your cellar. This wine is complex and is built to age and consume over the next 12 years. This vineyard takes boutique to a new level, with fewer than a 1000 cases produced/ This is a run don't walk, to snatch up a few of these beauties. I scored this wine 91 points and included availability and price in the score. Chateau Lucia 2004 - Vintage 2004 - Saint-Emilion Grand
Number Six: The 2001 Beau Soleil, Pomerol; A delightful blend composed of Merlot and Cab. Franc and a price tag of $40.00. The winemaker's notes, say this 2001 possesses abundant amounts of dark fruit flavors and notes of vanilla and espresso, complete with nice texture and structure and maybe the sleeper of the vintage. My notes: After the first sniff, the nose is subdued and "chilling like a villain", but is gorgeous in the glass. After the first swirl, the color is very interesting. The core is rose petal and amber colored rim. Upon the first sip, the wine featured a chunky personality of raspberry and blackberry melding nicely together with spicy vanilla notes leading to a persistent and long finish. This wine paired ever so nicely with our meal much more eloquently and unobtrusively than the rest of the lineup, as if the meal was prepared with this wine in mind.
My Recommendation: this wine is well built and dressed to impress. I would seek out 3-4 bottles to keep on hand as a food pairing champion, ready for a place at your table. I'd consume within the next few years as this wine is already in it's already in the maturity window, enjoy.
While I'm not an expert on Bordeaux, here's what I do know, the wines of Bordeaux takes time to understand, it's not a region of monolithic blandness. This means, take some time to attend a few tastings, to figure out if you're a left or right bank kind of person. Here's some unsolicited advice; many wine stores and wine bars will feature tastings of certain types of wine from different areas of the world. After attending a few of tastings you really start to get a sense of where your palate lies, so if you been drinking mainly California red wines or what some folks call "new world" wines. The wines of Bordeaux will take a little time to appreciate and understand their focus is different than many new world wines, once you do, I believe you'll have a better understanding of what New World vs. Old World means. Until next time, Cheers everyone!