A Different Perspective on Bordeaux wines 03-07-13By
Bordeaux is a geographically defined appellation in France. When one really delves into understanding the wines of Bordeaux, it really can be based upon the soil….& the winemaker.
The other night, we did a tasting of 7 wines from Bordeaux for the staffs down at Sansei Waikiki & DK Steakhouse. The challenge really was “how can we focus the VERY involved information, culture & history to make it more understandable”…..to the point of the server can use it on the “floor” the very next night of service.
Here is what we did………
2010 Chateau Graville Lacoste & 2011 Chateau Ducasse
We started off with TWO white Bordeaux wines. We specifically chose these two to showcase how soil can influence the resulting wines. BOTH are from the same winemaker, with similar grape mixes (largely Semillon based) & winemaking practices. The Ch. Graville Lacoste comes from Graves…..& its gravelly soils….is stony, pure, transparent, amazingly light & mouthwateringly crisp. The Ch. Ducasse, on the other hand, comes from the Barsac/Sauternes appellation (& is atypical of their wines), it is labeled simply as “Bordeaux” (as it tastes of Bordeaux). The wine is definitely more floral, high toned, ethereal in nose & character. On 2 different visits to the Chateau, I was told, this vineyard has limestone (which the importer’s website does NOT note).
In any case, when having fresh seafood, reach for a bottle of either of these tasty, crisp, refreshing, citrus edged white wines. You will be happy you did.
2007 Chateau de Pez
Located west of the town of St Estephe….this Chateau is reputed to be the oldest in the St Estephe appellation. Purchased in 1995 by the house of Roederer, it currently has roughly 59 acres under vine, especially on the high plateau & well exposed hilltops. The soil is gravel with a calcareous argilaceous bedrock. The 2007 was 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Cabernet Franc, which spent 12 months in oak (40% new, 40%– 1 year old barrels & 20% in vats). The resulting wine has a dark character, more masculine in style, intriguing, not so forward or open, even though it is 6 years old. Noted for its dependability over the years for delivering quality for the dollar, the current price surprised me at how much it has increased.
2007 Chateau Aney
Here is a relatively obscure Chateau from the Haut Medoc (an area which lies between St Julien & Margaux on the Left Bank)….which is imported into the U.S. by Kermit Lynch. The soil is gravel & round stones…..& the wines smells & tastes as such. It really reminds me of the Bordeaux wines of ol’….which is thankfully so different from the more internationalized styles we readily see from all of the subregions of the Bordeaux appellation today. We purposely showcased this wine to the staff for that very reason. For us to understand where we are or where we are going, I believe we also need to understand where we came from….AND here is the wine to do that.
2010 Saint Glinglin
Here is a new arrival/discovery for the Islands….from superstar Master Sommelier Richard Betts. Since selling off his Betts & Scholl label & wines, Betts has resurfaced with at least 3 NEW, innovatively put together wines….with I am sure more to follow. In this case, Richard has teamed up with the Thienpont family of Le Pin fame & here is the first we have had from this project. We love its sublime elegance, purity & wonderful refinement & class. “It’s a sommelier approach,” said Betts of how he’s putting the wines together. I let the wine inform my decision by tasting lots and making a blend, rather than worrying about geology or vinification first. There’s nothing wrong with working a problem backward.” The 2010 comes from two Chateaux–Larcis Ducasse….& Trimoulet…..from a combination of limestone parcels…AND mid appellation clay……70% Merlot & 30% Cabernet Franc, done in a mix of cement & wood (30% new). Kudos to Richard Betts & his new chapter of wine.
On this night we tasted TWO different vintages of this intriguing Chateau. Located in the southern part of Pessac-Leognan, their 45 hectares is comprised of a pale-grey gravel with a sandy, ferrous sandstone bedrock. Domaine de Chevalier never gets the high scores or write ups, which is surprising given their long history of being one of the TOP 3 chateaux of the Pessac Leognan/Graves appellations alongside such iconic wineries as Chateau Haut Brion & Chateau La Mission Haut Brion. Still, I enjoy the wines….their classic cigar box, cedar, tobacco, earthy nuances which for the newer generations would give an inkling of what Bordeaux of the Old Days smelled like. AND then, to have a 1995 side by side with the 2004, gave tasters an idea of what happens to wines with bottle age, as the 1995 showed the harmony in the mouthfeel, texture & provocative, completely changed perfume/aromatic characteristics.