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Posts from the ‘Bordeaux’ Category

1996 Chateau Clerc Milon – Bottle Notes

The history of Chateau Clerc Milon dates back to the early 1800’s. In 1970 Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the owner of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, acquired Clerc Milon and put the Chateau on course to becoming worthy of its 5th growth status in Bordeaux. In 1983, the illustration for the Chateau Clerc Milon label was changed to a pair of dancing clowns made of precious stones. The original art was created by a 16th century German goldsmith. The 45 hectare vineyard of Clerc Milon in Pauillac is planted to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere.

This bottle was decanted for about 30 minutes and served with steaks. I bought the wine on release in the late 90’s and the bottle has been cellared properly ever since.

Garnet in color. 12.5% ABV. Textbook nose of red fruits, cedar, leather and cigar box. Drying fruits on the palate with medium acidity and a healthy dose of tannins. Cherries, currants, creme de cassis and earthy mushrooms on the palate. The finish is long and smooth with pronounced tannins. I think it is clear the tannins are going to outlive the fruit here and I would be inclined to drink over the next few years.

My rating: 90 points.

Chateau Clerc Milon is one of the great values in Pauillac. The 2014 version can be found for about $50 and will certainly drink well for the next decade or two.

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1995 Chateau Calon Segur – Bottle Notes

The 1995 Chateau Calon Segur was the winning bottle in the April Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

Chateau Calon Segur is one of the oldest estates in Saint Estephe dating back to 1147. In 1894 its vineyards were purchased by Georges Gasqueton and Charles Hanappier. The Gasqueton family managed the estate until 2012.  In July of 2012 Chateau Calon Segur was sold for 170 million Euros to the French Insurance Company, Suravenir Insurance. Jean-Pierre Moueix , the owner of Petrus and the massive negociant company Duclot, took a minority stake in Chateau Calon Segur.

This bottle was decanted for 1 hour and served with marinated flank steaks.

Blood red in color. 12.5% ABV. Dried red fruits, leather, tobacco and soil on the nose. Medium body with good acidity. Plush and powerful with a sweet fruit profile. Graphite, cassis, currants and plums on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with ever so silky tannins. Fantastic showing for Calon Segur from the polarizing 1995 vintage. I’ve followed this wine closely over the last 15 years and it never fails to deliver. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 94 points.

The 2014 Calon Segur is a compelling buy at just under $100. Be patient though as Calon Segur is typically a 20 year wine.

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2005 Chateau Quinault L’Enclos – Bottle Notes

Chateau Quinault L’Enclos, located in Saint Emilion, is situated in the city of Libourne. However, the estate was not always considered a part of the Saint Emilion appellation. Prior to 1973, Quinault L’Enclos was actually part of the satellite appellation of Sables St. Emilion. The winery was renovated and some of the vineyards were replanted by Alain Raynaud who acquired it in 1997. In 2008 Alain Raynaud sold Quinault L’Enclos to the owners of Chateau Cheval Blanc , Bernard Arnault and Albert Frere. Today, Pierre Lurton and the team from Cheval Blanc manage Quinault L’Enclos.

I decided to open this bottle after reading on WineBerserkers that many of the 05’s from Saint Emilion are not aging well. The wine was decanted for an hour.

Violet in color. A touch cloudy. 14% ABV. Traditional nose of red fruits, tobacco, graphite and roasted herbs. Medium to full body with nice balance. Cherries, currants, cassis and a dose of wood on the palate. There are drying tannins on a long finish. Just one data point but there is nothing here that sets off alarm bells about the 05’s from the Right Bank. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 90 points.

Current vintages including the ’14 and ’15 are worth searching out and attractively priced at $35 or so per bottle.

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1995 Chateau Lagrange – Bottle Notes

Chateau Lagrange is a third-growth St-Julien owned by the Suntory group since 1983. The 270 acre estate is situated next to Gruaud Larose. The winery went through major improvements and huge investments through the in the decades that followed the purchase by Suntory. The vineyard is planted to 67% Cabernet Sauvignon , 27% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot . Over the years, the vineyard has continued to increase their percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, the average age of the vines is more than 35 years of age.

The wine was decanted for 1 hour.

Crimson in color. 12.5% ABV. Sensational nose of red fruits, cigar box and graphite. Medium body with medium acidity. Big, structured and sweet with still substantial tannins. Cherries, cassis, currants and roasted herbs on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with chewy tannins. Well stored bottles will drink well for the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 91 points.

Lagrange is a great value year in and year out. Outstanding vintages like the ’09 and ’10 can still be had for about $65 per bottle.

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2003 Chateau Pontet-Canet – Bottle Notes

The 2003 Pontet-Canet was the winning bottle in the September Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. This bottle was decanted for one hour and served with steaks.

Chateau Pontet-Canet is situated next to Mouton Rothschild in the Pauillac region of Bordeaux. Pontet Canet was granted Fifth Growth status in the 1855 classification. Herman Cruse purchased the estate in 1865. The Cruse family owned Pontet-Canet for 110 years, until another negociant , Guy Tesseron, acquired it in 1975. Since Alfred Tesseron took over in 1994, this property has continued to improve year after year. The wines are consistently on par with most, if not all, of the Second Growth wines.

Violet in color. 13% ABV. Absolutely fantastic nose of red fruits, leather and cigar box. Medium body with perfect acidity. Lush and silky on the palate. The wine is incredibly powerful and concentrated. Flavors of currants, cassis, lead and black licorice. The finish is exceptionally long with silky tannins.  This wine has none of the flabby, roasted characteristics many associate with the ’03 vintage. On top of that this is unmistakably Bordeaux and any comparisons to Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon miss the mark. It should drink well for another decade.

My rating: 94 points.

The very best wines from 2003 seem to be aging beautifully. Will they age as long as their counterparts from classic vintages like ’00 and ’05? Perhaps not, but I’ll continue to enjoy them for what they are over the next 10 years or so.

Pontet-Canet from the best vintages has become quite pricing with the ’09 and ’10 retailing for over $200. My advice would be to search out Pontet-Canet from less heralded vintages like ’04, ’06 and ’08. Anything in the $100 range can be considered a really good deal.

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The Cru Bourgeois Wines of Bordeaux

The Cru Bourgeois classification lists some of the Chateau from the Médoc that were not included in the 1855 Classification of Classified Growths. The first Cru Bourgeois list was drawn up by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce in 1932, selecting 444 estates for the classification. A substantial revision of the classification in 2003 reduced the number of Chateau listed to 247. This list is now revisited every year and currently stands at 251.

The Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc did an online tasting earlier this week. I was fortunate to participate. All the wines below were provided as samples.

2012 Chateau Fonbadet Pauillac – Crimson in color. 13% ABV. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon. Powerful nose of scorched earth, red fruits and graphite. Medium body and rustic on the palate. Flavors of currants, cassis and plums. Coarse tannins on a medium length finish. Drink over the next 4-6 years. $38 at retail. My rating: 87 points.

2012 Chateau Bellevue De Tayac Margaux – Dark red in color. 13% ABV. 70% Merlot. Super nose of red fruits, cocoa and graphite. Plush and fruit forward on the palate with medium acidity. Flavors of cherries, plums, earth and bacon fat. The finish is long with soft, caressing tannins. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $35 at retail. My rating: 89 points.

2012 Chateau La Haye Saint Estephe – Purple in color. 13.5% ABV. 50% Merlot. Savory nose of red fruits, leather and pipe tobacco. Rich and plush with nice acidity. Tart cherries, currants and minerals on the palate. Supple tannins on a medium length finish. Easy to drink. Best over the next 2-4 years. $20 at retail. My rating: 88 points.

2012 Chateau La Cardonne Medoc – Ruby red in color. 13% ABV. 50% Merlot. Succulent nose of red fruits, leather and tobacco. Medium body with a hint of richess. Cherries, currants and minerals on the palate. Coarse tannins on a lengthy finish. Drink over the next 3-5 years. Not yet released. My rating: 88 points.

2012 Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin Listrac-Medoc – Purple in color. 13.5% ABV. 60% Merlot. Super nose of red fruits, iron and plums. Medium to full body with nice mouth feel. Licorice, cherries and spice on the palate. Graceful tannins on a medium length finish. Drink over the next 3-5 years. $30 at retail. My rating: 89 points.

Bordeaux is more often than not associated with the Classified Growths and in years past has drawn criticism for exorbitant prices. What flies under the radar is that some of the very best wine values in the world also come from Bordeaux. The wines above are available at retail right now. The super 14’s will be coming to market in the next year or two. Exciting times for an exciting region.

What are your go to Cru Bourgeois?

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2004 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte – Bottle Notes

The 2004 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte was the winning bottle in the January Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for one hour and served with steaks.

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte has a history in Bordeaux that dates back over 800 years. The estate started out life as part of the Du Boscq holdings in the Graves region. It was Du Boscq who planted vines in 1365 on a gravelly plateau called Lafitte. This attributed to a portion of the Chateau’s name. Jumping ahead a almost four hundred years, George Smith bought the Graves estate in 1720. Smith added his name to the property which we now know of as Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. Today, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte is owned and managed by Daniel and Florence Cathiard. The Cathiard’s purchased the the winery and estate in 1990 from well known Bordeaux negociant Louis Eschenauer.

Dark maroon in color. 13% ABV. Fantastic nose of red fruits, smoke, leather and graphite. Rich and elegant with tons of structure. More full bodied than expected with prominent tannins. Cherries, currants, tobacco and cassis on the palate. The finish is tremendous. This wine is drinking beautifully right now and should continue to do so for another 5-7 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The 2012 version of this wine is widely available for $75 and should be on every Bordeaux lovers shopping list. More broadly wines from the 2004 vintage of Bordeaux can be picked up at a discount to recent vintages like 2009 and 2010 and represent a great value in today’s market.

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The Cru Bourgeois Wines of Bordeaux

The Cru Bourgeois classification lists some of the Chateau from the Médoc that were not included in the 1855 Classification of Classified Growths. The first Cru Bourgeois list was drawn up by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce in 1932, selecting 444 estates for the classification. A substantial revision of the classification in 2003 reduced the number of Chateau listed to 247. This list is now revisited every year.

The Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc did an online tasting earlier this week. I was fortunate to participate. All the wines below were provided as samples.

2012 Chateau Les Ormes Sorbet – Crimson in color. 13% ABV. Red fruits, dark chocolate, espresso and graphite on the nose. Medium body with light acidity. Cherries, currants and a touch of vanilla on the palate. Soft and round. No tannins to speak of. Not yet imported into the US. My rating: 87 points.

2012 Chateau Rollan de By – Bloood red in color. 13% ABV. Dark fruits, cedar and coffee beans on the nose. Soft and supple. Medium body with light acidity. Licorice, plums and cherries on the palate. Enjoyable and easy to drink. No reason to wait on this wine. $25 at retail. My rating: 86 points.

2012 Chateau Bibian – Bright red in color. 13.5% ABV. Big nose of red fruits, smoke and leather. Medium body with light to medium acidity. Cherries, cassis and cranberries on the palate. A touch on the green side. Drying tannins on a medium length finish. Drink over the next 1-3 years. $21 at retail. My rating: 87 points.

2012 Chateau Landat – Light crimson in color. 13% ABV. Plums, tobacco and earth on the nose. Light body yet medium acidity. Tart cherries, cassis and currants on the palate. Decent structure with drying tannins on a  nice finish. Drink over the next several years. $22 at retail. My rating: 88 points.

2012 Chateau Lestage Simon – Dark crimson in color. 13.5% ABV. Red fruits, graphite and anise on a seductive nose. Rich and full bodied. The Merlot jumps out of the glass. Currants, cassis and cherries on the palate. Delicious wine that should drink well for the next 2-4 years. $22 at retail. My rating: 91 points.

2012 Tour Des Termes – Dark red in color. 13.5% ABV. Nice nose of black fruits, leather and plums. Rich and plush with medium body. Blackberries, currants, cassis and tobacco on the palate. Dusty tannins on a long, silky finish. Really delicious. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $30 at retail. My rating: 91 points.

2012 Chateau Le Crock – Purple in color. 13% ABV. Cigar box, cocoa powder and red fruits on the nose. Power and concentration in this full bodied wine. Raspberry, graphite and cassis on the palate. Supple tannins on a long finish. Drink over the next 3-5 years. $45 at retail. My rating: 90 points.

2012 Chateau Lilian Ladouys – Bright crimson in color. 13% ABV. Smoke, earth and lavender on the precocious nose. Medium body with nice structure. Black cherry, herbs and light cassis on the palate. I was hoping for just a little more fruit. Dry, dusty tannins on a medium length finish. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $30 at retail. My rating: 89 points.

It may be a coincidence or perhaps a reflection of the vintage but the two wines of the tasting, Lestage Simon and Tour Des Termes are both Merlot dominant blends.

Bordeaux is more often than not associated with the Classified Growths and in years past has drawn criticism for exorbitant prices. What flies under the radar is that some of the very best wine values in the world also come from Bordeaux. The wines above are available at retail right now. The super 14’s will be coming to market in the next year or two. Exciting times for an exciting region.

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1996 Léoville-Poyferré – Bottle Notes

The 1996 Léoville-Poyferré was the winning bottle in the August installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for an hour and served with Beef Stew.

Château Léoville-Poyferré is in St.-Julien. The estate is a Second Growth Bordeaux. Along with Léoville-Las-Cases and Léoville-Barton, Léoville-Poyferré was part of a large estate in the Medoc owned by the Marquis de Léoville. After the French revolution the estate was divided and sold at public auction, where the portion that is now Château Léoville-Poyferré was bought by Monsieur Poyferré. Today the estate is owned and run by Didier Cuvelier and his family.

Blood red in color with some bricking at the edge of the glass. 13% ABV. Great nose of cigar box, cedar and leather. Medium body with a sense of power that belies the 19 years of bottle age. Flavors of currants, cassis, cherries, graphite and earth. The wine finishes strong and still shows some complex tannins. This vintage of Léoville-Poyferré is showing really well right now but well stored bottles should continue to develop for another 3-5 years.

My rating: 94 points.

Léoville-Poyferré is on a roll as of late. The 2009 and 2010 scored 100 points and 98 points respectively from the Wine Advocate. If you are interested in purchasing the wine I would suggest futures of the 2014 vintage which is compellingly priced at right around $60.

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1995 Chateau Lynch Bages – Bottle Notes

The 1995 Lynch Bages was the leading vote getter in the January installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The winery is located in Pauillac, and is designated a 5th growth as determined by the classification of 1855. At release time, the wine received a rating of 91 points from the Wine Advocate.

I purchased this bottle on release and the cork was in respectable condition when I opened it. The wine was decanted for an hour and served with meatloaf.

Light crimson in color. Almost the color of rust. 13% ABV. Great big nose of red fruits, pencil shavings and leather. Initially somewhat lean on the palate but the wine gained some weight after a couple hours in the decanter. Typical flavors of cherry, plum, tobacco and graphite. There are tannins in spades on a really long finish. If you are a fan of old world, masculine Bordeaux then this is a wine for you. This wines lacks the opulence of great Lynch Bages like the ’89 and ’00. Drink over the next decade.

My rating: 91 points.

Recent vintages of Lynch Bages including the 2006 and ’08 can be found for under $150. The ’09 and ’10 will be significantly more expensive.

Let me know if you have any requests for the February installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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