Thursday, February 5, 2009

2005 Bordeaux- Off the Beaten Path: Part Two

OK, so to finish up the 2005 Bordeaux seminar I attended at the Boston Wine Expo.

Now, it was time for wines from the Left Bank, starting with the Haut Médoc. The Château Doyac was a garnet color that you could see your fingers through. It had an amazing and very distinct mocha latte smell (i.e. chocolate and espresso), with a dab of red fruits. The mouthfeel carried on that mocha effect with extreme amounts of chocolate, but with some hints of vegetal greenness. Then to the Château Trois Moulins Cru Bourgeois, with a lighter red color. On the nose was extremely complex (I had to keep smelling it as it kept evolving), with leather, vanilla, floral and vegetal components, that it almost smelled sweet. This complexity on the nose carried through to the taste, with the same characteristics coming through, and with sweet but firm tannins. This wine had great fruit and an interesting blend: 50% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon, 18% cabernet franc, and 2% petit verdot. The Trois Moulins was my favorite of the entire tasting. An absolutely delicious wine. Seek it out if you can.

The Château Pique Caillou from Pessac-Léognan was a lighter colored red with a beautiful spiciness on the nose (cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg). The cinnamon was intense though- it smelled like Big Red chewing gum! The smells on the nose carried through to the palate. It was just good for the price of admission to smell the whole spice rack! Then I tried the Château Larose de Gruaud from Saint-Julien. It was a darker colored wine, one I could just barely see my fingers through. The wine was earthy, plasticy, barnyard-esque, with a hint of red fruit. Awkward in my opinion. On the mouthfeel, the wine was almost totally fruity, mostly cherries and cassis, with some tight back-end tannins.

The Château Deyram Valentin Cru Bourgeois from Margaux was outstanding. The color was very dark and the nose was beautiful: lovely ripe red fruits (raspberries, cherries), extremely fresh and floral. This was an extremely elegant wine that started off sweet and fruity, became drier with hints of oak, and a lovely floral finish. The Château Fonbadet Cru Bourgeois Supérieur from Pauillac was a dark wine, but just light enough to see your fingers through it. It had a very earthy and spicy nose, with dashes of cinnamon and graphite. It was a dry wine with some great red fruits and spiciness that followed through to the palate. This vineyard abuts some of the big name châteaux, including Latour, Mouton-Rothschild, and Lynch-Bages.

Now for another of my favorites, the Château Tour de Termes Cru Bourgeois from St. Estèphe. This was a dark wine that you couldn't see your fingers through. The nose was a complete surprise: tropical fruits (pineapples and mangos) and it smelled like those candy necklaces I used to eat as a kid. The tropical fruits carried on to the palate, but brought some more traditional fruits and a surprising earthiness on the finish. It was a 60/40 of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, which is interesting considering this is the Left Bank, a place more known for its cabernet.

Finally, we finished with the biggest red wine of the bunch, the Château L'Écuyer from Pomerol. The owner/winemaker of the vineyard, Emeric Petit, learned how to make wine with Jean-Claude Berrouet, the winemaker at a little place called Pétrus. The blend is 85% merlot and 15% cabernet franc. The wine was a deep, dark red and the nose was full of dark fruits (blackberries, cassis, blueberries), with hints of white flowers and some nice hints of oak influence. On the mouthfeel, this wine had some lovely red fruits, graphite, and overall was a simply lovely wine. This, my friends, was a wine nerd wine. It coated your palate and brought something different to the table each time. I can certainly see why it was last in the lineup of reds. (Even after the seminar, when people were meeting Margaret Calvet, this was the talk of the tasting).

Finally, we finished with a dessert wine from the Sainte Croix du Mont appellation, the Château Bel Air Vieilles Vignes. Before this seminar, I had never heard of this appellation. I guess that what happens when there are 57 different ones to keep track of! This is located in the Entre-Deux-Mers region facing the Sauternes appellation. As Margaret Calvet pointed out, this is a place that can give you some wonderful value wines, as most people have never heard of the appellation before. This wine is made by the noble rot, or when the botrytis fungus attacks the grapes; it's quite amazing something so nasty, as a fungus, can create wines that are so delicious. The wine is 100% sémillon, with classic notes of peaches, apricots, and that greasy, oily petrol smell. The mouthfeel had a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. It was a nectar of peaches and honey with a hint of petrol. Now this was a wine I most certainly did not spit out. I savored my pour of this wine. If your only experience with dessert wines has been with ice wines (where the grapes are frozen and then crushed) and you find them to be too sweet and over the top, these types of wines are the ones to try instead. Thanks to the botrytis, it maintains acidity that cuts through what would otherwise be an overwhelmingly sweet wine. Now I've found something else to obsess about. Hurrah.

Overall, this was an interesting seminar, if for the wines alone. Most of the information I already knew, having taken a class at the CIVB's École du Vin in downtown Bordeaux. However, I had never heard of any of these châteaux before and it was a treat to be able to try them.

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