Thursday, February 5, 2009

2005 Bordeaux- Off the Beaten Path

Alright, so a little late, but when I was at the Boston Wine Expo I attended a seminar of 2005 Bordeaux, featuring "off the beaten track" wineries. It was supposed to be hosted by Jean-Christophe Calvet, the owner of Aquitaine Wine Company (who supplied the wines), but I guess there was a last minute change up and his wife and CFO of the company, Margaret filled in. We had a lovely spread of 17 different Bordeaux wines: 2 dry whites, 14 reds, and 1 dessert wine. Having recently worked in Bordeaux with a winemaker, I'm always interested to learn more about the area as my three months of meeting people only skimmed the surface of the approximately 10,000 châteaux in the area.

Aquitaine Wine Company's goal, described in one of the pamphlets, is "to provide hand-crafted, discovery, value wines from wines to meet the demands of consumers around the world." Awesome- count me in! In the Boston area, Martignetti distributes their wines.

The first two whites were both from the 2007 vintage (the rest of the wines were all 2005s). White Bordeaux is a blend that is usually made with sauvignon blanc, sémillon, and muscadelle, but can also use ugni blanc and colombard. These two whites were great because they showed two different sides of white Bordeaux: ones with fresh acidity and others that are more creamy, with a touch of oak. The Château Haut Peyruget, located in the Entre-Deux-Mers region. The blend was 60% sauvignon, 20% sémillon, and 20% muscadelle. It was a pale yellow color with apple Jolly Ranchers and lemons on the nose, with a nice attack of acidity, lemony Pinesol, and grassiness. The Château La Freynelle is in the same region, which abuts Château Bonnet, owned by the powerful and well-connected Lurton family. The La Freynelle was half and half sauvignon and sémillon and the winemaker did partial malolactic fermentation to soften the wine a bit. Malolactic fermentation dulls the acid and changes it to lactic acid, similar to the difference between Granny Smith apples (malic) and Golden Delicious apples (lactic). This wine was more golden in color than the last, had a lemony nose with a very apparent minerality. It was creamier on the mouthfeel than the last, with a wonderful freshness and a continuation of the lemons on the nose.

Off to the reds, all from 2005. Small primer: Bordeaux reds are blends and can only use cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot, and carménère. We had La Freynelle's red (blend of 65% merlot and 35% cabernet sauvignon). A lighter colored red, this had lovely floral notes and red berries; an extremely up front nose. It coated my palate, had sweet tannins, but was not a wimpy wine. There was some great backbone to it. Next off was the Château Bellevue Peycharneau. The color was extremely dark. It smelled like someone stuck some white flowers into a big pot of strawberry/raspberry jam, though on the palate there was a nice spiciness to it along with the red fruits and some pretty intense tannins, which gave the wine that mouth puckering feel. An extremely dry wine.

The next two wines were from Côtes de Blaye, an appellation located across the river from the Médoc. I've found that wines from this appellation generally do not please my palate; although the first wine was not to my liking, the second was a well made wine. The first, Château Haut Colombier was a very dark wine with bug spray smells mixed with blackberries and cassis. Ick. On the mouthfeel, it was a gamy and herbaceous play. Not for me. The second Côtes de Blaye was Château Roland La Garde. Again, this was a dark wine, but had a more spicy nose with hints of cedar box and cassis. The wine was incredibly dry with intense tannins, some fruit, but more earthy and herbaceous in taste. Although not my favorite, this was certainly a well made wine. The winemaker used 100% new oak, which usually scares me, but it was well integrated in the wine.

Now off to St. Émilion and its satellites. The Château Saint André Corbin (from St. Georges-St.Émilion) was lighter in color with oak and red fruit on the nose, tasted like strawberry Jell-O at first with a kinda sweet finish although there were lots of vegetables at the end too. Really could taste the 25% cabernet franc. The Château Coutet (SE Grand Cru) was a more interesting wine. Although it was probably the lightest of all the reds I had, it vanilla, red fruits, cassis, chocolate and cinnamon on the nose. The wine tasted like cherries, with some spiciness, and had an amazing structure, with some good tannins in there. It was quite an elegant and refined wine- something for your dinner party with the local celebrity.

The rest of my tasting notes will be in the next post.

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