I am back and reminiscing of my two-day stay in the city of Bordeaux. As I stated in Part 1 of ‘Getting Around Bordeaux: Via My Glass’, going about Bordeaux to really get a full taste of it all would have taken much longer than the two days we had, and we still had other parts of France to visit with aspirations for Spain as well, and all in three weeks. There was simply no time. As my job requirement consists of educating my palate with all the quality libations I can get my hands on, well, sometimes you have to take shortcuts. However, though a shortcut might have been implemented in an effort to taste as much wine as possible, there was no such cut on quality or standards. So here goes, as promised, the in-depth overview of the wines I enjoyed so much in Bordeaux, of course in the best of company, which always makes a difference. <wink, wink>. You know who you are.
Clos des Lunes “Lune d’Argent” 2013 - Grand Vin Blanc Sec. (Bordeaux) From the well-known estate of Domaine de Chevalier, this property dates back to the 17th century and as recently as 1984 and 1991, the architecture underwent some expansion and renovation. State-of-the art equipment was implemented without trying to mimic any of the original construction. Their main goal was to expand into modern times, taking advantage of what is available in making quality wines of our day while maintaining the history and consistency that has gifted this Domaine its success for generation after generation; the vineyard in respect to its location and the terroir.
This wine is a simple blend of two classic Bordeaux whites; Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Only a small batch of it is spent in oak for around seven months, while the rest gains richness in stainless steel vats with some time on the lees. I often get very excited which always leads to some inspiration when I taste a good white wine. It was not overly complex, but the scent led into some wet stone and lime juice, with refreshing flavors of fresh squeezed lemon-lime, yellow grapefruit and some lychee; this wine would pair well with steamed clams. Short to medium finish. I am going to implement a rating for these wines as well, based on a 1 to 10 scale. In my opinion, this one scores a 7.
Domaine des Rochelles ‘Breton’ 2011 – Anjou-Villages Brissac (Loire Valley)
As our helpful bartender/sommelier was so excited to share all he knew about the wines during our visit, it only seems right that I give a bit of a shout out of this wine for him, with the Loire Valley being his home. Run by the fourth generation of the Lebreton family, this 19th century operated vineyard consists of 60 hectares, finding its home in blue slate, clay-schist soils offering their wines very distinctive character. The lengthy growing season extended by Indian summers, offer more sunshine and gentle breezes.
The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. There is no aging in oak, only stainless steel for one year. One might expect a very different wine simply from that information, which it is! The nose is earthy, flinty and full of dark, late summer berries. Lacking the oak to cover, the lush fruit comes flowing forward; flavors of elderberry, lingonberry with the lingering notes of the just-washed chalkboard and blackberry pie. Nicely concentrated with a medium-long, smooth finish. 8.
Francois Villard L'Appel des Sereines 2012 Syrah - Collines Rhodaniennes (IGP Rhone)
Not your beaten-path Rhone wine, I love a rare find now and then. It is not an AOC, but that does not mean it cannot be a good wine. It is known that most of these wines have a slight amount of residual sugar and the aging of their wines is done in barrels made of acacia wood. The main grape in this wine is Syrah with some Marsanne and Roussanne mixed in (both white grapes). It is full-bodied and bold, as most Rhone wines are, with notes of baked berry pie and dusty earth on the nose. The flavors are unmistakably some of those roasted and jammy fruits just caramelized on top of said pie, mixed in with the toasty crust. Yum. 8.25
Albert Mann 2011 Pinot Noir Les Saintes Claires (Alsace)
I could not resist trying this Pinot from Albert Mann. Located in Wettolsheim, the Domaine is run by two brothers Barthelme and Maurice alongside their wives. They run the 21-acre organic and biodynamic vineyards dispersed over eight towns. This particular wine comes from vines on a south-facing slope situated in rocky limestone. Its name, ‘Claires’, is meant to refer to something sensual and soft.
The name suits and this wine was something of an unexpected gem. Really, here I am in Bordeaux, tasting an Alsatian Pinot! Its terroir comes through on the nose like the casting powder before it is gently mixed with water. There is also some cranberry, but just slightly sweetened, delicious oil-cured, meaty black olive, and even a hint of red apple. The palate is quite interesting with rounded earthy notes and wild mushrooms alongside subtle spring berry fruit, which came a bit more forward from the duck pate on our charcuterie plate. Overall, a pleasant find. 8.5
Chateau de Pourcieux 2013, Rose (Provence)
It would not be fair if I had tasted all of this wine without at least one rosé on the list. Chateau Pourcieux dates back to the 18th century of the Marquis d’Espagnet family, with many of them having served in the Provence Parliament. Their vineyards are regarded as some of the best in all of Provence. In the cellars of the chateau, you can still find 18th century ‘hogshead’ oak vats that were assembled on site and are still utilized today.
This rose is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. I am very picky when it comes to rosé , so believe me when I say that this is truly lovely. Refreshing. Interesting. Have a sip. It is not just layered with fresh wild strawberry, but with almost-ripe peach, gooseberry, fresh currant combined with a hint of saltiness and the dusty earth just getting a few drops of rain before the real downpour. The palate reflects the layers of fruit in its flavors. Get yourself some good mussels or a picnic with some cured ham, to enjoy this with. 8.5
Chateau Pontet Canet 2006 (Pauillac, Bordeaux)
As a Grand Cru, the Pontet-Canet speaks for itself, but I was very happy to have a chance to try the 2006. It is not often you can try a Grand Cru on tap that has been aged ideally for good sipping. The history of the Chateau begins in the early 18th century with Jean-François de Pontet, the royal governor of Medoc, purchasing a few vineyard plots in Pauillac. The heir of his vines later on added some additional property from a small place called Canet. From that purchase, it became one of the largest estates in all the Medoc. It was given the Grand Cru classification in 1855. Ten years later, it was purchased by one of the chief Bordeaux shippers of the time, Herman Cruse, who modernized the facilities. The estate was owned by the Cruse family for over 100 years when it was bought by a shipper from Cognac, Guy Tesseron in 1975. Two centuries and three families, it is run by Alfred Tesseron with his niece Melanie who together have diligently worked in replanting vines and making some modern renovations.
Here is your blend: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit-Verdot
2006 was a challenging year, but they managed quite well, considering their weather was hotter than normal. A savory wine at this point with nothing but classic layers, I think we referred to this one as ‘polite persuasive seduction’.. The wine was talking, what can I say? Full of black mission fig, sweet tobacco, cigar, bitter chocolate, elderberry, blackberry, some hints of clove and black licorice with dry cocoa spice that floats up to your nose when adding it to your chocolate cookie recipe. From all of that, you might gather that the wine is as delicious as it smells. Layer after layer comes through from start to finish and though it is complex, it is satisfying, on even a simple level: even and rounding tannins, lingering finish and perfume. 9.5
The first gold medal of this Grand Cru of Saint Emilion was given in 1907, and the consistency of great wine has not been lost as the years continue. The estate has been passed on from one generation to the next from Dominique Lauret-Mesteguilhem, who dubbed the estate ‘Pindefleurs’ or ‘forest of flowers. The 17 hectares of 35 year old vines consist of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which make a home in classic clay and limestone Bordeaux soils. We like to say ‘gritty’.
This is one of the classic Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux which you can enjoy in its developed youth to older age. It all depends on what you like. The 2009 vintage is drinking quite well at the moment and still has maintained fresh berry notes: ripe blackberry and dark cherry, with some sweet pipe tobacco, dried cinnamon bark, bitter chocolate and subtle notes of dusty gravel emanating its earthiness and warmth to the underside of your face in the hot sun. On the first sip, the tannins are still slightly young but balanced. We enjoyed this with some nicely done warm-spiced chorizo and salami on the charcuterie platter which helped bring out the fruit. 8 (With plenty of potential!)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christie Kiley, International Sommelier and Chef, has over a decade of experience in both restaurants and wineries. She began working kitchens under talented chefs. Nights off from the kitchen, she would work at the same restaurant as a server. Her passion for food grew into the wine industry. She has worked wine harvests in Napa, learning the nature of the product from soil to bottling. Working the back- and front-of-the-house in restaurants and wineries in sales, and as a food and wine educator, has given Christie an in-depth knowledge in both food and wine throughout many aspects. She currently lives in Buenos Aires, where she has just received her International Sommelier Certificate from the Escuela de Argentina Sommeliers (EAS) after two years of study. She works as a wine and food writer and Sommelier at a boutique hotel in Palermo where you can catch her most nights of the week entertaining guests with her unique wine tastings.